One of the best parts of October after you get too old to dress up for Halloween (unless you feel that you’re never too old to dress up, in which case, good for you!) is getting into the spirit of the season by watching horror movies. Whether you’re a through-and-through aficionado that could watch a gory flick on Christmas Day or only watch scary fare at the witching hour on All Hallow’s Eve, October is a month made to settle in and watch a good horror movie.
And thanks to the futuristic world we now live in, it’s never been easier to watch a violent, explicit film made to spook the bejesus out of you. Instead of travelling into that part of the video store that was filled with misshapen box art that was three-dimensional or for some other reason three sizes larger than a normal video box, or else whose primary color scheme was black and featured disturbing artwork that leaned into just how gruesome the film it was advertising is, now it’s just neatly arranged columns and rows under a genre label on your preferred streaming service.
Of course, actually picking a movie is still something we all struggle with. In a world with so many options to choose from, it can feel like there are just too many options to pick your evening’s entertainment. Here at Me Like Movies, we’re big fans of the horror genre (in fact, this site is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, having started as a horror movie recap blog) and are more than happy to give you suggestions of the best horror movies streaming this month on the “Big Three” streaming services–Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. So scroll down (if you dare!) and check out our favorites on offer for the month of October 2017 to give you a fright–or maybe just turn your stomach a little bit.
Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser 2: One of the first articles ever written for Me Like Movies was a recap of the original Hellraiser, and for good reason: it’s an excellent horror flick. Opening with a degenerate named Frank who opened the door to an alternate dimension, which led to the decimation of his body, years pass and his brother Larry moves into the supposedly abandoned home in which Frank once lived. Along with Larry’s new wife Julia and daughter Kirsty, Frank–who had an affair with Julia years earlier–unexpectedly regains corporeal form in the room he died due to some spilled blood. He plots with Julia to murder men so he can use their flesh to reconstitute completely. Meanwhile, Kirsty discovers the puzzlebox that originally summoned the otherworldly hellish beings–the Cenobites–in the first place, finding herself similarly tormented while trying to figure out a way out of her predicament.
Directed by Clive Barker, this film is based on a novella he wrote and was his directorial debut–and it’s a stunner. Visually explicit and even iconic in the creation of the Cenobites, Hellraiser is a horror fan’s horror flick. Its equally top-notch sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is also streaming on Netflix this month, which makes for a great double feature option that offers “pain and pleasure, indivisible” one dark and stormy night this month.
V/H/S & V/H/S 2: Another great double feature option for a spooky evening is V/H/S and V/H/S 2, two anthology movies whose framing device is that the short films that comprise its running time are filmed “real life” scenarios that were taped on VHS and watched by some hapless character, who are themselves in a fair amount of danger. Alternately fun, interesting, and at times truly horrifying, the V/H/S series features a solid high-concept framing device with a nice variety of horror shorts within each film.
The ABCs of Death: Yet another anthology horror series, The ABCs of Death pushes the anthology concept even further, with a full 26 horror shorts that make up its running time, each one made by a different director. Filled with a great amount of variety, fun, and the unexpected (and often gruesome), The ABCs of Death is for the horror fan that’s looking for something quite different this Halloween. They may not all be gems, but if you don’t like the short film you’re watching, just wait a few minutes: another new one will be following it directly.
Mad Ron’s Prevues From Hell: Does any other genre produce better trailers than the horror genre? Tantalizing, bizarre, and tinged with gore and hinting at even more to come in the main feature, horror trailers are sometimes even better than the actual movie–mostly because they get right to the point (and the scary part) without having to wade through a plodding movie. Mad Ron’s Prevues From Hell is just one long collection of horror movie trailers, featuring gory and forgotten trailers from grindhouse and exploitation horror films of the past. With a wraparound frame of a deranged projectionist showing a theater full of zombies his horror trailer collection, Bloody Disgusting has recommended this a perfect feature “ to have running in the background of your next Halloween party.” So keep this one in mind for just that purpose this year!
Donnie Darko: Richard Kelly is a filmmaker who has (so far) only made three films before seemingly retiring forever from making movies. Which is unfortunate, since his work–although wildly uneven (The Box) or outright inexplicable (Southland Tales) showed a real talent for creating indelible, memorable, and mysterious narratives. Case in point is his first film, Donnie Darko, which quickly became a midnight movie and a cult favorite.
Following the increasingly strange experiences of the eponymous main character (played by Jake Gyllanhaal), a high school student who seems to suffer from some psychological issues but may also have some undefined superpowers due to time travel (or tempting fate, or…well, it’s unclear), Donnie Darko is an entertaining, spooky, and fascinating sci-fi thriller dramedy. Set in the 1980s around Halloween, it’s also a perfect movie that captures the feel of the first blush of autumn and the tingly nervousness of adolescence.
Pontypool: Perhaps the most truly unnerving horror film streaming on Netflix, Pontypool is about a radio DJ who finds himself at ground zero of some unknown event that’s affecting people, turning them into mindless, violent shells of their former selves. As he raps along on-air as the situation grows increasingly out of control, he also discovers that it’s some sort of virus that’s spreading via language. This low-budget indie packs a punch, set in mostly one location and driven by dialogue and the unseen horrors occurring outside. But it’s not a film that scares you with gore or violence: it gets you with its concept and how it plays on the increasing paranoia of the viewer as they slowly begin to realize just how far (and how bad) the situation has become. A must-see this Halloween season.
From Dusk Till Dawn: Two fugitive bank-robbing brothers take a family hostage while trying to get across the Mexican border to freedom. They stop at a bar to rest for a while, only to discover that it’s a vampire bar. From there, they have to survive until dawn while battling against a horde of vampires, with the film never shying away from detailing the gore and dismemberment such a survival gambit would entail. Gritty, violent, and filled with more lurid sleaze than most horror films from the 1990s, it should come no surprise that the screenplay was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez in a sort of precursor to their Grindhouse team-up. It’s often completely nuts and completely over-the-top–which makes it a perfect movie to watch in this, the most insane popular holiday celebrated in the Western world.
High Tension: French horror in the 21st century has stepped up its game, entering a new level of brutality and graphic violence that few would have expected from the same country that brought us the whimsy of Jacques Tati and haute cuisine. 2003’s High Tension has built a reputation since its release for its explicit violence and NC-17 rating, for which it deserves. Alex and Marie travel to Alex’s parents’ house for the weekend, only to be awoken that night by an intruder who murders Alex’s family and chains and abducts Alex. Marie gives chase, trying to find a way to save her friend–but only after a long, ultra-violent battle to survive is the disturbing truth revealed.
High Tension is a horror film that justly deserves its notoriety for being a bloody, savage horror film, but its twist ending is what makes the film. If you’ve never seen this film before, please do not look up any more information before watching it. Not only is it more satisfying not knowing the ending but it makes the film ultimately all the more disturbing.
Hostel & Hostel 2: Hostel did not invent the so-called “torture porn” subgenre, but it sure did popularize it in the US. With a bare-bones story that follows a group of young American tourists who take a recommendation in Amsterdam to visit a hostel in Slovakia that is apparently filled with beautiful–and available–young women. They can’t believe their luck when it turns out to be true, but if it sounds too good to be true…
Indeed, young men begin disappearing from the hostel until only one is left. As he tries to leave, however, he is tricked by two women his friends had been partying with just a few nights before and is taken to what appears to be a complex where wealthy businessmen pay large sums of money to mutilate and murder human beings. Just as his friends were, the young man is a new acquisition of this enterprise, and he’s about to fight through hell on earth to try and escape.
Hostel is not a horror film for the squeamish–or the relatively well-adjusted. Instead, it’s an unrelenting barrage of graphic torture scenes being applied to the innocent by the sadistic for their shallow pleasures. Kind of sounds like horror films in general, doesn’t it? This film put director Eli Roth on the map and inspired a wave of copycats in its wake, but none as truly unnerving as the original. The sequel–which features more of the same- is also available on Hulu this month for you to have one long, disquieting night watching people torturing other people.
Pet Sematary: One of the most horrifying films ever made, Pet Sematary still hasn’t really ever found a successor to its unbelievably dark and disturbing story. Based on a novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary follows the increasing tragedies and disturbances that befall a doctor after his family moves to rural Maine. After being told of the mysterious pet cemetery that local legend says can bring beings back from the dead, he encounters a jogger who is gravely injured in a car accident, warning the doctor of the cemetery before dying. Soon after, his son dies after being hit by a truck (which is monstrously depicted on-screen), and the doctor–stricken with grief–begins considering using the pet cemetery to bring his son back. Despite warnings from his elderly neighbor, who says that those who come back aren’t right anymore, and that “sometimes, dead is better,” the doctor digs up his son’s body and buries it in the pet cemetery. However, what comes back isn’t quite the boy he remembers…
Chilling, disturbing, and surprisingly graphic considering it involves a dead child, Pet Sematary is one of those movies that fucks you up for life after watching it. But if that’s what you’re looking for in a horror film (and really, aren’t we all?), then please do watch Pet Sematary. Also available on Amazon Prime.
Carrie: A classic horror movie, and adapted from Stephen King’s book of the same name, Carrie is a familiar enough film among horror fans: an isolated young woman, who’s been traumatized by her overbearing religious zealot mother and an outcast at school, also finds that she has powerful psychic powers. Invited to the prom as part of a cruel joke from a group of popular kids, she’s humiliated in front of the school when she’s named prom queen. So she does what so many of us wished we could have done at one point or another in our high school days and kills every single person in the school in a horrific manner by unleashing her telekinetic powers.
Directed by Brian de Palma, Carrie was the first film adapted from a Stephen King story and remains one of the best among them. A gigantic hit upon release and recognized as one of the best horror movies ever made, for those who have never seen it before–or haven’t seen it in a while–it’s a worthwhile horror film that holds up even over 40 years since its release.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Sure, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a stone-cold classic, but Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a whole lot of fun and even more nuts than the first. Leatherface and the rest of the family are back in action and have expanded their barbeque operations (whose meat source shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who’s seen the first film). Buckets of blood and plenty of mutilations follow as Lt. “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), the uncle of Sally and Franklin from the first film, decides to take down the cannibal clan from the Lone Star state.
Unlike the first film, which was light on gore, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 decides to go all-in with the viscera and graphic eviscerations to great effect. With Hooper’s signature sly satire in play, this time commenting on 80s excess, and a game performance by Hopper, the kind of brutal violence that would become the franchise’s signature truly started with this, a worthy sequel to a great American horror classic.
The Witch: The Witch (or The VVitch) is a truly unique horror film that has both found its fans and detractors. Even this humble writer disliked the film the first time he watched it, only to find an appreciation for it upon viewing it a second time. Set in the 17th century, a Puritan family goes into self-exile after the father has a disagreement with an interpretation of the New Testament with the village they inhabit. Moving to a remote farm in the seemingly desolate woods, the family struggles to survive and stay together as a stable unit during trying times. Then one day, the baby of the family disappears during a game of peek-a-boo with the daughter of the family. From there, the situation goes from bad to worse as the son falls ill after an encounter with a witch in the forest and the twins claim to speak to the billy goat. Events spiral out of control, with the daughter accused of being a witch and a mysterious ending that leaves the viewer questioning what exactly they had just watched.
Unique in taking place in the now-distant past and with the dialogue spoken in the argot of the time, the clothing, housing, farming, and technology period-appropriate, and even being filmed only with natural light and candlelight, The Witch is a horror film unlike you’ve ever seen before. Now, whether or not you like the film–or even think of it as a “good” horror film–is left open to your own interpretation.