Halloween Night is upon us dear readers, and on a Saturday night, no less. Any other year that would be cause for celebration, for the biggest party you can find in the most elaborate costume that you can come up with. This year we’re all stuck inside though, and what better way to spend the night with some Halloween movies.
So here are nine movies and three binge-watch suggestions for you to watch this Halloween, and which streaming services to find them on.
Attack the Block (2011)
A group of teenagers and a nurse fight off an alien invasion in a London project housing block. Excellent direction from Joe Cornish, a brilliant monster design, the first big break for John Boyega, and some on-point social commentary to boot. You should watch this one no matter what time of year it is.
A widowed mother and her son deal with the twin demons of grief and a literal demon summoned via a storybook. The Babadook has excellent performances and an affecting emotional core, plus metaphor and symbolism for days.
Color Out of Space (2019)
A modern adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story, filled with unsettling imagery, mind bending horrors, and some primo Nic Cage crazy. What’s not to love?
A true classic of the teen slasher genre. One of the most influential horror films of all time. I mean, what else do I even need to say?
Made on a limited budget during the pandemic we’re all living through, Host has a group of friends conduct a seance via zoom which goes horribly, horribly wrong. We already knew that computer screen-based storytelling could work thanks to Searching, and now thanks to Host we know it can scare. Taking full advantage of its setup, it delivers a ton of effective moments, including one scare that might be one of my favourite of the year.
The Invitation (2016)
One of my favourite movies of 2016, The Invitation follows a man played by Logan Marshall-Green who is invited to a dinner party at the home of his ex-wife. I don’t want to tell you any more than that because that would spoil the fun. Suffice to say that The Invitation is one of those films that will keep you guessing about what exactly is going on right up until the moment you know exactly what’s going on. Once you know what’s going on, it shifts gears and keeps the thrills coming.
The Suspiria of 2018 less of a remake of the 1977 Italian horror classic of the same name than it is a homage. However you slice it, this film seems custom made to burrow under my skin and take up residence there for hours, days, and weeks after seeing it. Incredible visuals and direction from Luca Guadagnino as well as an entire cast committing entirely to the story of a dance studio run by a coven of witches, this is not one for the faint of heart.
The Mortuary Collection (2020)
A big hit at this year’s Fantasia Festival and recent addition to Shudder, The Mortuary Collection is a fun anthology of four horror shorts surrounded by a frame story featuring Clancy Brown and up-and-comer Caitlin Custer. Your mileage may vary from short to short, but each of them is produced with a clear love of old school horror and gore effects, and distinct visual flair. There are a few great threads that tie each story to the next if you watch carefully, too.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
A 1990s classic. Yes, it’s a Halloween movie. Also, I feel like we all forget that Tim Burton didn’t actually direct this. I wonder how Henry Selick feels every year. Anyway, you know the story, you can sing along with the songs, and this is the perfect time to revisit it.
Maybe I have this wrong, but I feel like not enough of you saw this World War II set action horror film that has American paratroopers fighting against Nazi Zombies. This might actually be the most video game movie ever, without actually being a video game movie. It’s also a ton of fun.
Scare Me (2020)
This one is a recent favourite of Simon’s and with good reason. Scare Me is a ton of fun from start to finish and features great performances by Aya Cash, Josh Ruben, and Chris Redd. Note to theatre and drama kids; this movie might have been made specifically for you.
Before James Gunn was making superhero movies, he made weird, dark comedies. Slither is gory, gross-out horror-comedy film in which a parasitic alien being invades a small town colonizes starting with Michael Rooker. It’s up to the sheriff (played by Nathan Fillion) to fight back and repel the invaders.
Not all the jokes have aged particularly well, but the practical makeup and gore effects are pretty great and the jokes that still land are hilarious.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Another slasher classic, maybe the slasher classic. Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece is an iconic piece of horror cinema, but have you actually seen it? I know quite a few people who haven’t seen it. And you should all have seen it.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Set in Tehran at the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Under the Shadow tells the story of a mother and daughter trapped in a building with the fear of the war raging around them, and the torment of a djinn in their home.
This Persian-language film finds scares in both situations, and also has some solid effects despite obvious budget constraints.
The Criterion Channel’s 70s Horror Collection
The Criterion Channel is already the best streaming service you’re probably not subscribed to, but if you do happen to subscribe (or use up the free trial) this month, they added a 28 film collection of 70s horror classics. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is in there, along with The Hills Have Eyes, Season of the Witch, Don’t Look Now, Theatre of Blood, The Wicker Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Driller Killer, to name just a few.
I am not in any way affiliated with Criterion, I just think they’re great and you should subscribe.
The Exorcist TV Series (2016 & 2017)
A television adaptation of The Exorcist seems like it might not be a good idea, but this series ended up being one of my favourite discoveries of 2016 and 2017. Two 10 episode seasons were produced (with each focusing on a different possession) starring Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels as the young and old priests respectively. Their chemistry is a big reason the show works, but each season is cast really well overall, too.
Geena Davis, Alan Ruck, and Sharon Gless all have major roles in season one (which also ties into the Exorcist franchise in surprising ways) season two features John Cho and Deadpool scene-stealer Brianna Hildebrand.
This series was criminally under seen, but the whole thing is on Netflix for you to catch up on.
Hannibal is one of the most visually stunning and effective horror television series that I have ever seen, and it’s kind of a miracle that it lasted as long as it did on NBC of all places, rather than on a specialty channel.
Three seasons of 13 episodes each follow Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his dance with Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) as the former tries to catch the latter, and the latter tries to push the former into psychopathy. It’s complex, dynamic, and both Dancy and Mikkelsen give amazing performances throughout. The smartest thing it does is adapt pieces of the Hannibal Lecter canon rather than directly adapting any of it, allowing the showrunners to create something familiar but unique. It is one of the best TV series of the 2010s and Halloween is a perfect time to start your binge( or revisit).
The Haunting of Hill House (2018) / The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Mike Flanagan here at Awesome Friday HQ. A big part of that is these two series, both of which are excellent. The first a meditation on grief and trauma (but with ghosts) and the second a gothic romance (but with ghosts). Each is expertly created and acted, with a close attention to atmosphere and detail.
Bonus game, see how many ghosts you can spot in Bly Manor