By J’Mel Davidson
October! Wooo! (That was the sound of a ghost.) Candy and falling leaves and hell-bent revenge murder!
But the BEST part about Halloween is that a lot of channels start showing horror flicks day in and day out for the entire month. That is, unless you’re one of those new-fangled cord-cutters. Then you have to make that Halloween film fest happen on your own.
I got you though, Boo. (Note: Some of the flicks I recommend could be gone from Netflix by the time you read this. Some new flicks might appear that I was completely unaware of.) Also, it was originally 31 flicks, but that almost tripled my maximum word count, so now it’s a nice tight 13.
So take my hand and close your eyes as we jump into this together—but open your eyes, so you can see the list. Also, wash your hands before you take my hand. I’m crazy susceptible to infection.
Lots of people have called this one of the greats. William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, called it the scariest film he’s ever seen. That’s a pretty strong statement. I found the kid in the film frightfully annoying, but I’ll let you decide.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The original Elm Street. This was the entry into horror for an entire generation. Not for me—by the time this flick dropped, I’d already been 70 percent desensitized. Still, if you haven’t seen it in a while, it’d be worth your time to visit Freddy before he was a punch-line spewing cut-up that occasionally spit rhymes with his nephews, the Fat Boys (Google it.)
The Devil’s Rejects
A more straightforward and less stylized sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses. It’s like a 70s indie horror flick mated with a snuff film. And it attempts to make you feel for the obvious villains by the end. I saw it in the theater and immediately took a shower afterward.
WWII Russian soldiers vs. steampunk Nazi cyborgs. What are you still doing here?! Extra points for being one of the few “found footage” flicks that didn’t give me motion sickness and the special effects are just plain sweet.
Wanna see Frodo Baggins murder women in first person then create creepy mannequins out of the leftovers? Me too! BFFs?
I saw and enjoyed this grungy 80s science-gone-wrong zombie flick way before I realized that source writer H.P. Lovecraft was a screaming yellow racist. But don’t punish yourself for that idiot’s crimes. Take comfort in the fact that lots of non-racist people have been biting his style and making money from it for more than a century after his death!
If you want to see a perfect horror anthology, watch Creepshow. If you only have access to Netflix, then watch VHS 2. It’s not perfect, but the segment “Safe Haven” is bonkers bananas!
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
This is a rough entry. When I saw it, the two leads Michael Rooker (of Walking Dead fame) and Tom Towles (House of 1,000 Corpses) were unknown. And that just lead to a feeling of seeing something real. Like a documentary. Even today, it’s just a grimy horrifying ride that’s fun for ages 8 to 80!
Day of the Dead
The third part of George A. Romero’s original Dead trilogy, featuring more over-acting than the first two and a guy who’s so Jamaican it hurts.
Here Comes the Devil
What starts with hot foreign sex ends with devil possession and murder. Just as Dianetics told us it would. Get some!
House of the Devil
Another devil movie?! This one is an atmospheric slow burn with a classic horror vibe, starring Tom Noonan. If you don’t know who he is, just stop reading this list and get out of here. Go on, GIT!
Go into this one blind. The less you know, the better. Not really as “scary” as the other horror movies listed so far, but it juggles some classic tropes in a way that was simply delightful.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
OK. If you’ve never see this movie, first, go watch this movie. And don’t read any further…
(Have you watched it yet? Good, now go watch it again paying close attention to the public and people in the background. Now spoiler! Watch it again, but think of this twist—Donald Sutherland wasn’t a pod person at the end of the movie. He was just maintaining his cover. Didn’t I blow your mind this time?)