“Hey, you like horror movies, right? Well, can you recommend me some spooky movies to watch for Halloween? Oh, and they have to be on Netflix.” If you watch horror movies all year, you can easily get jaded and dismissive when fair weather fans want a comprehensive list of horror movies they can watch by expending as little energy as possible. I get it, I know where you’re coming from, where are these people the rest of the year?! Why aren’t they going to screenings throughout the year and why do they celebrate your genre like it’s a seasonal novelty? WHY IS LIFE SO UNFAIR?! Well, just shut up for a second. You should be happy that 1) Anyone is talking to you at all because you sound insufferable, and 2) Encourage people to watch your favorite horror movies that they might not have seen and maybe horror will become a new passion for them. Oh, or 3) Send them a link to this list of horror movies available on Netflix that they might enjoy!
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Although it’s hard to call this film an enjoyable watch, it is often considered one of the very first horror movies. A prime example of German expressionism, Caligari puts primal emotions and fears up on-screen with nightmarish visuals that will haunt you for quite some time to come. Every horror fan owes it to themselves to watch this at least once to pay tribute to the filmmakers who ignited the flames of horror cinema.
Rosemary’s Baby – One corner of what I’d consider the “Unholy Trinity,” this masterpiece features a riveting performance from 23-year-old Mia Farrow and confirms Sartre’s words, “Hell is other people.” Damn, this movie is so creepy and amazing.
The Omen – My second pick for the Unholy Trinity (with the third being The Exorcist, not on Netflix), The Omen features a series of tragic, shocking deaths of seemingly unrelated victims, until a father (Gregory Peck) begins to investigate the circumstances around his son’s birth. The Omen reminds you that horror movies didn’t always feature clichéd filmmaking tropes, but commanded top acting and directing talent and played more like suspenseful dramas. [REVIEW]
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – This classic serial killer tale represents a time and place that will never again exist. The sadistic Henry (Michael Rooker) roams the streets of 1980s Chicago in this grimy, sleezy profile of a murderer completely detached from reality. [REVIEW]
The Monster Squad – A group of young kids take on classic monsters like a vampire, a werewolf, and a mummy in this not-quite Universal Monster mayhem set on Halloween night that’s fun for all ages.
Day of the Dead – Although I prefer Dawn of the Dead, this is often considered the best of the George Romero zombie films because of its bleak outlook on humanity and for conveying the experience of enduring the zombie apocalypse for the long-haul.
The House of the Devil
Re-Animator – Mad scientists, re-animated corpses, science going too far, and a literal interpretation of a sexual colloquialism come together (haha!) for the best theatrical adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story to date!
House of the Devil – A slight twist on the traditional “babysitter alone in a house” concept, this deliberately paced throwback to the ’80s features a compelling performance by Jocelin Donahue and a chilling atmosphere, courtesy of director Ti West. [REVIEW]
Starry Eyes – Young actress Sarah (Alex Essoe) wants nothing more than to live her dream of becoming an actress, and when an opportunity with an old production company presents itself, Sarah must embrace the sacrifices she’s willing to make in this creepy tale of Hollywood obsession with an explosive third act. [REVIEW]
The Babadook – Writer/director Jennifer Kent brings you the most terrifying fairy tale you’ve never heard of, featuring a great performance from Essie Davis as a mom dealing with the grief of losing her husband while also trying to raise her son. Oh yeah, and there’s a terrifying, German expressionism inspired monster called “Mr. Babadook” trying to kill them.
Monsters – Rather than focusing on the titular creatures, Monsters focuses instead on two people trying to navigate their way through a deadly environment and proves that character development far outweighs cheap scares in this tense, less-is-more approach to a standard monster movie. [REVIEW]
The Sacrament – Inspired by the real-life events of Jim Jones’ cult, The Sacrament uses the filmmaking style of VICE documentaries to investigate a potential cult. It might have predictable results, but that doesn’t make the road to get there any less terrifying, featuring a charismatic and terrifying performance from Gene Jones as a figure known as “Father.” [REVIEW]
New Nightmare – I’m pretty open about not being a huge Freddy Krueger fan, but when I first saw the film a few years ago, I was surprised at how well it holds up. A precursor to the self-referential Scream, New Nightmare features both Freddy Krueger AND Robert Englund as two separate characters. Highly recommend checking it out if only as proof that a franchise can bring a quality installment with its sixth sequel. [REVIEW]
Wolf Creek 2 – This sequel takes the inherit charm in backwoods murderer Mick (John Jarratt) in a highly entertaining slasher sequel that shows no one is safe, as protagonists continually bite the bullet in both literal and metaphorical ways. [REVIEW]
Witching & Bitching
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead – The original film featured the simple premise of Nazis coming back to life to attack college kids in a snowy, remote cabin, but luckily that film garnered enough word-of-mouth support to pursue a sequel. All bets were off in this follow-up, which expands on the gory backstory and channels a new and highly entertaining approach to well-worn zombie lore. [REVIEW]
Insidious: Chapter 2 – My issues with the original Insidous stem from the combination of solid horror scares and atmosphere combining with goofy sequences in a blend that didn’t really work for me. Chapter 2 still combines solid scares and atmosphere with humor, but it’s much more obvious which scenes you should laugh with and which sequences you should be frightened by in a much more effective installment in the franchise. [REVIEW]
Pontypool – We’ve seen countless films about viruses, contagions, diseases, and zombifications that travel through the air, water, and saliva, but Pontypool explores a madness that spreads audibly. If that wasn’t enough, the ambitious film takes place entirely in one building, leaving DJ Stephen McHattie to wonder if he should believe the people calling in or if it’s all a War of the Worlds type of prank. [REVIEW]
Almost Human – This no frills splatterfest has fantastic practical effects and throws a sci-fi spin on a slasher-esque plot, featuring an intense performance from Graham Skipper, sure to become a new generation’s Jeffrey Combs. [REVIEW]
Witching & Bitching – Simply put, Witching & Bitching is Crank meets Hocus Pocus. Insane, over-the-top witchy madness. [REVIEW]
Here Comes the Devil
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – Far more of a comedy than a horror film, Tucker & Dale subverts expectations of the “creepy redneck” genre and shows that even people who live in the most rural parts of the country like going on vacation and it can be annoying when college kids accidentally die on your property. [REVIEW]
Housebound – From New Zealand, masters of the horror-comedy, comes another horror-comedy! What a shocker. Thanks to a botched ATM heist, a young girl gets placed under house arrest, but when spooky things start happening in her supposedly haunted house, hilarity and horror ensues! [REVIEW]
Here Comes the Devil – When a couple take a moment to themselves for some romantic shenanigans, their kids go missing. When the children return, something seems off in this creepy kid flick. [REVIEW]
The American Scream – One of my absolute favorite films to watch in October, this documentary wonderfully captures the unbridled, wholesome enthusiasm surrounding this time of year. Following three Massachusetts families and their quest to create haunted houses to entertain the masses never fails to get me choked up over how many memories you can associate with a time of year.
The Houses October Built – Think of The American Scream, but evil. Following a group of college kids seeking out the gnarliest haunted mazes they can find, The Houses October Built has a genuinely terrifying premise. Even if the film ends up falling a little flat by turning into a somewhat generic horror movie, the premise will be sure to resonate with anyone who’s wondered if the people behind the mask at a haunted house is a creepy weirdo.
Sleepy Hollow – Tim Burton’s gory version of the classic horror tale still holds up as a moody, gothic interpretation of the Headless Horseman. I mean, honestly, how the hell would YOU stretch the plot out to be feature-length? YEAH, THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT. [REVIEW]
Honeymoon – When a couple goes on their honeymoon (which I think is where the name of the movie came from?) to a remote cabin, Bea’s (Rose Leslie) behavior becomes erratic. As the reasons for her behavior become clear, the body horror begins in this gross realization that the woman you married might not be who you think she is. [REVIEW]
Stake Land – When most vampires get romanticized on film, Stake Land embraces the bloodsuckers as the beasts they are. More of a post-apocalyptic story than vampiric pursuit, Stake Land shines a new light on vampires without them bursting into flames. [REVIEW]
Let the Right One In – A chilling atmosphere sets this vampire movie apart from countless others, and it also features fantastic performances from the young lead performers in this story of an unlikely relationship that shows the power of finding someone to connect with, even if they might be an immortal vampire trapped in a young girl’s body.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – Part David Lynch, part Quentin Tarantino, and part Nicolas Winding Refn, this reinvention of the vampire love story focuses more on the loneliness of immortality instead of bloodlust. [REVIEW]
Maniac – With the original Maniac being one of my all-time favorite horror films, this remake had the odds stacked against it. Luckily, an all-new filmmaking approach, a moody soundtrack, intense gore, and a passionately creepy Elijah Wood made Maniac far better than it had any right to be and was one of my favorite horror films the year of its release. [REVIEW]
We Are What We Are – One of the few remakes I prefer to the original, We Are What We Are focuses on a family who refuses to give up their right to practice their religious beliefs, even if it means cannibalizing residents of their town in this gothic horror story. [REVIEW]
Ravenous – Set shortly after the Mexican-American War, the cowardly Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is sent to a remote fort in the heart of winter when he meets a mysterious stranger (Robert Carlyle) who tells the tale of consuming other men to become supernaturally powerful. A twisted tale of cannibalism and the power of the Wendigo, the supernatural being powered by eating other men.
The ABCs of Death – This ambitious project featured 26 of the best up and coming horror filmmakers being given similar small budgets, a timeline, and a letter of the alphabet to create whatever sick, twisted, entertaining short film they could come up with. The good segments are great, the bad segments are terrible, but the amount of ideas and a variety of filmmaking styles is nothing short of impressive. [REVIEW]
V/H/S/2 – Helping lead the charge of the current wave of horror anthologies, V/H/S introduced the concept of compiling a sequence of terrifying tales all committed to videocassettes, but V/H/S/2 really perfected the formula, featuring segments from the minds behind Hobo With a Shotgun, You’re Next, and The Blair Witch Project. V/H/S/2 also features the segment “Safe Haven,” from the filmmakers responsible for The Raid: Redemption, and is arguably the best horror short of any anthology film. [REVIEW]
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie – Unofficially referred to as “Creepshow 3,” seeing as it brought Creepshow filmmakers John Harrison, George Romero, and Stephen King, this film continues the campy anthology trend. Like all anthology films, some are better than others, but this is worth checking out if you’re a Tales from the Crypt fan.