It’s that time of year again, friends!
The one month that we all dedicate to spooky movies and shows – whether it’s a creature feature, zombie flick or wholesome cartoon adventure. Putting together a watchlist can be daunting! There’s only so much time in October, and it can be difficult to narrow your options or even find out where you can watch them. For my list, I wanted to give you just a few fun and scary options that you can watch on some of your favorite streaming services.
“Alien” – Hulu, HBO Max
Starting with an absolute classic of both the sci-fi and horror genres, “Alien” is everything you could ask for in a scary movie. You get a claustrophobic setting on a ship in the depths of space, an iconic monster design in the form of the Xenomorph, and a smart and resilient hero in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. Come for the scares, stay for the all-time great production design and special effects.
“Cabin in the Woods” – Amazon Prime Video, Hulu
This is going to be your best option if you’re looking for a more fun and comedic horror entry. I won’t go too deep into the film’s premise because “Cabin in the Woods” benefits from going in with as little knowledge as possible. This one is full of surprises and laugh-out-loud moments, standing out as the most meta horror film since “Scream.” It also marks the directorial debut for Drew Goddard, who would go on to earn an Academy Award nomination for adapting “The Martian.” He also wrote and directed “Bad Times at the El Royale” in 2018, which is another fun mystery/thriller.
“Creep” – Netflix
This is a film I came across on Netflix a few years ago. I was watching it by myself and eventually had to pause it and finish it later with my siblings. It freaked me out that much. Don’t be discouraged by the found-footage style, because I bet this movie is scarier and smarter than most others you’ve seen before. If you’re a fan of this, “Creep 2” can also be found on Netflix, which is a respectable continuation of the story.
“Don’t Look Now” – Amazon Prime Video
Save for Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and the instant classic “Hereditary,” this is the best horror film I’ve ever seen. I studied it in college and wrote a paper on it, which sometimes kills my enthusiasm for a film, but this one actually made my appreciation grow. It’s an uncanny, psychological horror film rooted in the death of a child – a tragedy that his English parents can’t seem to escape, despite leaving for Venice. Director Nicolas Roeg uses the skills he learned as a film editor to show that sometimes it isn’t the story that is particularly special, but the way it is told. The use of color and perspective are two particularly special aspects to look out for.
“The Evil Dead” – Netflix
If you’re a fan of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films, go back to where his career began with this campy horror flick. If “Cabin in the Woods” is a deconstruction of the, well, cabin-in-the-woods horror trope, “The Evil Dead” is the construction of it. This film also helped launch the career of Bruce Campbell, who stars as the hero Ash.
“Green Room” – Netflix
This siege film is mostly set during one gloomy night in the Pacific Northwest and it’s one of the gorier movies you’ll find on this list. When a small punk rock band goes touring, things go south fast as they unknowingly schedule an appearance at a white supremacist bar in the middle of nowhere. The cast is loaded with familiar faces, such as the late Anton Yelchin and the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart in one of his few villainous roles.
“The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” – Netflix
I finally got around to watching “Hill House” after two years and binged it all in one weekend last month. I had very high expectations and am happy to say they were almost entirely exceeded. This is the most epic haunted house story you can imagine, anchored by a wonderful ensemble cast and emotionally based in tragedy, grief and familial trauma. “Bly Manor” – a new story with new characters, but many of the same cast members – will begin streaming Friday, October 9.
“Night of the Living Dead” – Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max
This is the granddaddy of the zombie sub-genre of horror and the first film ever made by the legendary writer-director George A. Romero, who also worked as editor and cinematographer on this classic. It’s old, black-and-white, and based in one location on one night. That may sound intimidating, but it’s a breezy watch at 96 minutes and is loaded with socio-political commentary that will offer more than just brains for you to chew on.
“Over the Garden Wall” – HBO Max
My most kid-friendly pick has quickly become a holiday favorite of mine. My college roommate showed it to me a couple years ago, and I fell in love right away. This wholesome and imaginative miniseries originally aired on Cartoon Network in 2014 and has become a cult favorite among older viewers for its dark sense of humor and surprisingly mature themes. While there may be 10 episodes, they’re only 11 minutes each, meaning you could knock this whole show out in less than two hours!
“The Silence of the Lambs” – Netflix
Zach and I both ranked this as one of our Top 5 Detective Films of All Time in our most recent podcast – and for good reason. It’s the only horror film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s also the third film in history to win all of the big five Oscar categories: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay. “The Silence of the Lambs” is a piece of flawless filmmaking that gets a lot of attention for its towering performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, but everything about this film is special.
“Suspiria” (2018) – Amazon Prime Video
Finally, we arrive at Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of the 1977 Italian horror classic. He swaps out the iconic, neon-drenched imagery of the original for a dark, dreary and cold color palette that is fitting for 1977 Berlin at the height of the Cold War. It’s a shocking, brutal examination of motherhood and how abuse of power in matriarchies can mirror those in the patriarchies of most real-world institutions. Its intense moments of sexuality and violence are heightened by Thom Yorke’s chilling score and 35mm film cinematography that utilizes snap zooms and slow motion.
Johnny Sobczak is an entertainment journalist and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Media and Journalism and minored in Global Cinema. Johnny is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has been with Inside the Film Room since August 2019. He was named Senior Writer in January 2020 and co-hosts the Inside the Film Room podcast with Zach Goins. Johnny spends his days job-hunting, watching films and obsessing over every new detail of Denis Villeneuve's "Dune."