What to Watch This Halloween

Let’s be honest: no scary movie compares to reality at this point. So before settling in to watch a horror film, go and vote yourself out of a horror film before November 3rd. Information on how to vote and the exact contents of your ballot based on where you live can be found here: https://www.ballotready.org/. Voting is one of the rare times you can have a say in who represents you as a leader, and there are many crucial local issues and races your vote can have a big impact on.

The Quarantine Stream: Shudder's 'Ghoul Log' Series Has All the Halloween  Ambiance You Could Need – /Film

Now that we got that out of the way, here are my top suggestions for horror movies to check out this year whether you are a connoisseur or just watch a scary movie or two every October.

I realized after a couple people asked for suggestions, we are becoming increasingly tied to our specific subscription services. So these are grouped by streaming service to make it easy to know which ones you have access to.

The Sweet, Sweet Price of Free

These movies are available for free online. Most come with ads breaks so just be prepared. A lot are available on other streaming services so double check yours to see if it has it in order to skip the ads.

Top Pick: Ghostwatch (1992)

A Halloween special turned honestly scary movie complete with some excellent early use of the found footage style filming. The BBC used real BBC correspondents and TV news conceits to blur the lines between fact and fiction, leading to quite a controversy surrounding the film. This would be perfect for Halloween night.

When Can I Put Out My Christmas Decorations? Better Watch Out* (2016)

Better Watch Out is an extremely clever play on home invasion films that will delight fans of Home Alone ready for a darker variation of the iconic holiday film. Ever wondered if the paint can booby trap from Home Alone would actually kill someone? Wonder no longer after this film!

*Also available on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

Modern Classic: Train to Busan* (2016)

A zombie action thriller that will have you going from disliking characters to sobbing hysterically when those very same characters die. Be prepared to be riveted and emotionally spent by the end.

*Also available on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

I Want to Laugh a Bit Too: Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps is a smart and witty coming-of-age werewolf film that conflates lycanthropy with the onset of menstruation. It has deeper themes, but it still a fun and spooky movie on the surface if you just want to laugh.

Maybe Just a Documentary For Me: Haunters: The Art of the Scare* (2017)

If you need a haunted house fix, consider watching this engrossing documentary on the people who bring us haunted houses. It ranges from amatuer haunted house designers to professionals who make their living as haunters.

*Also available on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare: The Descent* (2006)

The Descent is a really scary film about a group of female friends who go spelunking together only to encounter horribly mutated humanoid creatures. You have been warned, but also you should still watch.

*Also available on Hoopla

I Want to Watch a Movie that Scared Tracy: Last Shift* (2015)

This is one of two movies (the other being The Strangers) that scared me throughly as an adult. A new police officer on her very first day is tasked with what should be an extremely easy task: watch over the old precinct building that will be closing the next day. Redirect anyone who stops in to the new precinct just down the street. As an increasing amount of disturbing and unexplainable things happen, it becomes apparent there is a reason this building is being closed.

For more information: Why You Should Watch: Last Shift

*Also available on Hoopla

Vintage Fun: The Exorcist III* (1990)

Often overlooked thanks to a truly atrocious second entry in the franchise, this movie deserves a watch. It features what most would consider to be the BEST jump scare of all time.

*Also available on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

Netflix

Although Netflix quickly became the top dog for streaming, its horror film selection is majorly lacking compared to others. Still, here are my top picks from the behemoth.

Top Pick: Session 9 (2001)

An asbestos cleanup crew is tasked with clearing out an abandoned mental asylum in record time. Great dread with minimal jumps. This film often uses sound design to incredible effect to scare you.

For more information: Why You Should Watch: Session 9

Modern 80s Nostalgia: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

A father and son conduct an autopsy only to discover an increasingly bizarre amount of puzzling inconsistencies. Who is this woman and how exactly did she die? This feels like it could have been filmed in the 80s so its a perfect little spoop for anyone who’s already seen everything from the 80s but still want more.

Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare: Hush (2016)

A Deaf writer is stalked by a masked maniac in her isolated cabin in this feature from modern horror director icon Mike Flanagan aka the man who brought us The Haunting of Hill House.

Psychological Horror: The Invitation (2015)

A tense dinner party hosted by a couple who may or may not be in a cult? Sign me up. This film is directed by Karyn Kusama and features a refreshingly diverse group of characters.

I Just Want to Watch a Horror Movie: The Boy (2016)

A superior haunted doll movie with some deeper character development than most horror films grant their protagonists. If you want something a little more Gothic this is a great bet.

I Want to Laugh a Bit Too: Creep (2014)

Nervous Laughter* What the Fuck? - Album on Imgur

If you want to be realistically creeped out by another human being, look no further than this underseen found footage flick about a camera man hired to film Josef for a day. Although Josef seems earnest at first, he gradually reveals some bizarre personality quirks. If you like cringy humor and things that make you laugh nervously, this film will deliver. It will also creep you out.

Vintage Thrills: Poltergeist (1982)

It’s a classic for a reason, and surprisingly scary even to this day.

Big Dumb Fun: Unfriended (2015)

Netflix added this film about a haunted Skype call filmed entirely through the perspective of someone’s computer screen. If you need some more 2020 realness, here ya go.

HBO Max

Top Pick: The Invisible Man (2020)

This movie is incredible and everybody should watch it. It takes a lot for both my wife Carrie and I to go “holy shit that was a really good movie” so take our mutual endorsement.

I Wanna Laugh A Bit Too: Ready or Not (2019)

An eccentric family (each character constantly stealing the show) invites newly married Grace to participate in a bizarre family tradition on her wedding night to their prodigal son. As Carrie described it, “like Knives Out, but even more murdery!” it is a fun romp that plays with horror film tropes while making you laugh a lot.

Creepy & Fun: Us (2019)

Jordan Peele’s Us is fun and darkly subversive, with some standout performances that really drive it all home.

Vintage Thrills: Eyes Without a Face (1960)

A creepy and thrilling 60s French film with some effective shocks.

Big Dumb Fun: Final Destination 5 (2011)

No you don’t need to see these films in order and yes the fifth is really the best one. This is a VERY rare slasher that allows you to like the characters.

Hulu

Top Pick: Oculus* (2013)

Estranged siblings attempt to defeat a haunted mirror that may be responsible for the deaths of their parents when they were children. Sounds silly, but it is good and scary. Once again from modern horror icon Mike Flanagan who brought us Hush and The Haunting of Hill House.

*Also available on Hoopla and Kanopy

Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare: Ghost Stories (2018)

A paranormal debunker (who may or may not be doing the right thing by debunking peoples’ need to believe in the afterlife) is tasked with researching three allegedly true ghost stories. This has got some really great scares and an engaging premise.

Big Dumb Fun: Crawl* (2019)

A giant alligator movie that knows just how seriously to take itself and its characters without forgetting its a giant alligator movie.

*Also available on Prime

Amazon Prime

Top Pick: The Cabin in the Woods* (2011)

Slaughter house rules in 'The Cabin in the Woods' – The San Francisco  Examiner

This satirical take on slasher film tropes culminates with one of the coolest third acts in any horror film. And you will laugh a lot along the way.

*Also available on Hulu

Maybe a Documentary Instead? Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)

This excellent and engaging documentary that will leave you with a list of movies to checkout if you haven’t seen them already.

I Just Want to Watch a Horror Movie: Hereditary* (2018)

A psychological slow burn that gets better with every subsequent viewing. Like The Shining, I think this will continue to build in popularity and interest in the years to come.

*Also available on Kanopy

80s Cheese: Poltergeist III* (1988)

Fight me! This is a fun cheesy 80s movie with some creepy mirror and doppelganger action. And it takes place in the John Hancock building.

*Also available on Hoopla

Showtime

Top Pick: The Final Girls (2015)

Women in Horror: The Final Girls - Psycho Drive-In

A meta slasher that will make you laugh and cry. This movie is amazing and I have made it my mission to suggest it to pretty much everybody. If you have Showtime, you can watch it anytime you lucky duck!

I Want To Laugh a Bit Too: Tales from the Hood (1995)

This anthology is well deserve a visit whether it’s been a while or you never got around to watching it before. Sharp political commentary is made easier to stomach and appreciate thanks to splashes of humor throughout including the iconic Mr. Simms.

Hoopla

Hoopla has a lot of great horror films, but many are also available on Tubi or for free elsewhere, so I’m not going to list them all out here, and instead focus on things you cannot find elsewhere.

Top Pick: Halloween H2O (1998)

It is fun, and still holds up in its own way. LL Cool J is incredibly charming as a security guard moonlighting as a budding romance writer, and it is a different take on how Laurie Strode would handle and process her trauma.

Kanopy

Kanopy has a lot of great horror films, but many are also available on Tubi or for free elsewhere, so I’m not going to list them all out here, and instead focus on things you cannot find elsewhere.

Top Pick: What We Do in the Shadows* (2014)

If you want a horror comedy that leans entirely comedy but happens to have vampires, check this out.

*Also available on Hoopla

I’m More of A Disney Fan: Good Manners (2017)

A fantastical story involving a very unexpected same sex love story between two very different women infused with magical realism and occasional musical numbers. And some third wheel lycanthropy. Can’t leave that part out. It would be generous to consider this a true horror film despite the werewolf elements, but it is an entrancing and unusual movie more people should know about.

Happy Halloween Everybody!

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