Halloween falls on a Monday this year which means that if you have to get up early the next day, you probably will be too tired from a weekend of festivities to do much of anything except sit on the couch and eat leftover candy. Or maybe Halloween parties aren’t your thing and you’d much rather watch something scary on TV.
I remember trying to rent some scary movies for Halloween during the death throes of the video rental chain stores and it was not a pretty sight. Thankfully, we have Netflix now.
Here’s a list of some of Netflix’s best offerings for this, the spookiest of all weekends.
1. The ABCs of Death 2: Horror anthologies can be hit or miss, but the good thing is that there is usually something for everyone. This second installment in the franchise features genuine scares (“K is for Knell”), creepy weirdness (“D is for Deloused” and “W is for Wish”), uncomfortably funny frights (“B is for Badger” and “G is for Grandad”), and some sobering reminders that reality is often scarier than fiction (“F is for Falling”).
2. Dawn of the Dead: If there’s one thing horror fans love to complain about, it’s remakes. This 2002 revamp of George A. Romero’s 1978 classic ups the gore factor with an obviously bigger budget for makeup effects and casting. It’s actually surprisingly scary and features a depressingly bleak ending.
3. Deliver Us From Evil: Scott Derrickson’s follow-up to Sinister (see below) got a lot of hype and then vanished from theaters, which is a shame because we can all use more of Eric Bana’s awesome job at doing a Brooklyn accent. There are some truly unsettling things going on in this movie; Derrickson knows how to use flashlights and dark corridors to their maximum effect.
4. Evil Dead: Another remake, another round of complaints from horror fans. As someone who isn’t exactly in love with the original film (blasphemy, I know), I thought Fede Alvarado’s take was superbly gory and deeply unsettling. Jane Levy is unrecognizably scary as Mia and Lou Taylor Pucci (Spring) is great fun as Eric.
5. Hush: Not so much a straight-up horror movie as it is an exercise in sheer suspense, Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus: see below) takes the film’s conceit (a deaf woman being stalked by a serial killer) to its zenith. There’s a lot of subtext in this one and lead actress and co-actress Kate Siegel is a uniquely badass Final Girl.
6. It Follows: Sometimes horror is just horror. Sometimes it’s social commentary. When it’s both, it’s the best. By turns sad, sobering, and scary as all get out, It Follows shares its DNA with movies like The Ring and The Grudge, but also puts a fresh, intelligent spin on the slasher film.
7. Oculus: Writer/director Mike Flanagan’s bigger-budget follow up to the excellent and underrated Absentia, Oculus is both frightening and emotionally engaging. It takes the Gothic trope of the cursed object (in this case, a haunted mirror), and offers a grueling examination of the futility of fighting fate.
8. Sinister: Scott Derrickson’s film provides a terrifying twist on the “found footage” subgenre by having the film’s main character actually find the footage in question during the course of the film’s narrative. The horrifying home movies shown will haunt your dreams; the score from Christopher Young blends well with music from metal and experimental bands like Accurst, Ulver, and Sunn O))) helps ramp up the fear factor to considerable heights.
9. The Witch: If you go into this, as many viewers did, expecting some over-the-top tribute to Satanic Panic, you’re going to be disappointed. The Witch is an exceedingly atmospheric period piece that slowly but surely gets under your skin. It takes existing horror tropes and turns them upside down using inspirations from folklore and Puritan dialect. Who knew rabbits could be creepier than goats?
10. You’re Next: If the only Adam Wingard/Simon Barrett movie you’ve seen is Blair Witch, don’t let that stop you from watching this delightfully twisted send up of slasher/home invasion films featuring one of the greatest Final Girls in film history. It’s creepy, funny, and downright brilliant.
11. Hannibal: I’m biased; I have a Hannibal Lecter tattoo based on this show. Yes, it was cancelled after three seasons but people are still waxing nostalgic about other shows that have fewer episodes (Freaks and Geeks, Firefly) so that doesn’t mean it’s not totally worth watching if you haven’t yet. It’s a delightful reimagining of Thomas Harris’s novels from the twisted mind of Bryan Fuller and it is one of the most horribly beautiful things you’ll ever see.
12. Stranger Things: Whether you haven’t gotten to this yet because you just got Netflix or have been avoiding watching because the Internet hype scared you away, now you really have no excuse. It’s such a terrific combination of so many things – sci-fi, horror, childhood fears, ‘80s nostalgia – that manages to be bracingly original and ridiculously enjoyable at the same time.
13. The Walking Dead: If you want to compare this week’s brutal Season 7 premiere with the humble beginnings of the most popular horror TV show of all time, you can! I think you’ll find that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s a good thing.
Bonus: Enjoy these Stranger Things-inspired recipe videos from Netflix, “French Onion Barb” and “Demogorgon Pie!”