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October is upon us, and as such, it's time to break out the spooky, the scary, and the chillingly funny films that make Halloween one of the best damned holidays of the year! And what better way to entertain yourself, or even a party full of your dearest friends, than a good night's worth of Netflix streaming titles!
Of course, seeing as the selection on your Netflix queue can be both bottomless and extremely limited all at once, a handy guide is always useful for when a choice must be made. Which is why we're glad to be of service, and provide you with a list of 13 delightfully frightful picks that will either have you keeping the lights on, or pumped up with the Halloween spirit!
Despite their top notch efforts with films like You're Next and the newest Blair Witch, writer/director duo Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard are still not household names. Yet if you talk to any horror junkie worth their salt, they'll tell you that this talented duo are two of the best personalities working in the business of scaring and thrilling audiences. A perfect example of their powers turned up to 11 is the sly thriller The Guest, which takes the story of a soldier returning home from Iraq and tells it through the lens of 1980's horror. The end result is Dan Stevens being impossibly charming, yet also a total badass, worthy of a place next to both Patrick Swayze and Michael Meyers in their respective canons.
What can you say about The Babadook that hasn't already been said? As if the concept of a children's story coming to life isn't scary enough, the film manages to work a fair amount of emotional and psychological pathos into its story, dealing with single parenting and grief as part of its overall story. While the film is definitely a stellar creature feature on the surface, the depths below the face of Jennifer Kent's directorial debut contain a subtle arc that is both impressive, and incredibly moving. But above all else, it's really damned scary.
Much like the horror genre itself, Halloween just wouldn't be the same without the works of Clive Barker somehow playing a part in the festivities. This is an especially valid concern when you take into account that his directorial debut, Hellraiser, was the birth of one of the most memorable cinematic villains of all time: Doug Bradley's Pinhead. While there's plenty of sequels that vary in quality, there's nothing like the original foray into the series' particular brand of scares, which mixes BDSM and religious overtones in with a good heaping dose of body horror. A winning recipe if we've ever seen one.
If Bruce, the mechanical shark at the heart of Jaws, worked the way he was supposed to, then Steven Spielberg's big ticket debut as a director would probably fit more comfortably in the genres of sci-fi and even just fun summer blockbusters. Thankfully, that damned shark gave the legendary filmmaker so many problems that the film was practically forced to develop an air of mystery and dread that scared people more than any mechanical creation ever could. And as a bonus, whenever Bruce actually DOES rear his toothy grin, it's super effective.
Anthologies are a fun way to gather a group of talented filmmakers, surround them with a common premise, and sit back to revel in the varied results that they put into the collective creative pot. V/H/S couldn't be a better example of such an experiment succeeding, as some of indie horror's finest were assembled to put together a found footage bonanza that ranges from Hitchcockian thrills to creature features, with sci-fi and ghost stories serving as spectacular stops in-between. With a spin-off on the way, and two sequels already available for enjoyment, V/H/S is a beautifully dirty exercise in a genre that needs its fresh perspective.
From Dusk 'Til Dawn
A serious question to all of you readers out there: has George Clooney ever been as cool as he was in From Dusk 'Til Dawn? We'd certainly like to think so, as Out of Sight and the Ocean's Eleven trilogy didn't appear out of nowhere, but even in the wake of those two films, Clooney's collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and a steady stable of their favorite actors is a pretty hard act to beat. If you don't know why this film is on the list, do yourself a favor and skip the trailers. Go into this film as cold as possible, and make sure to have some tequila on hand to help lighten the evening.
Paul W.S. Anderson has become a figure that's looked upon with the same respect and artistic merit as Michael Bay, meaning his money making franchise days have brought him much scorn, yet a fair amount of dollars to wash out the hate. Yet much like Bay, Anderson has some home runs in his catalog, and Event Horizon is one of those big, fat hits. Expertly blending sci-fi devices, horror-inducing imagery and concepts, and the fantastic castings of Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill, in a cast already loaded with genre favorites, Event Horizon is like Lovecraft in space... only with a lot more spectacle mixed in with the atmospheric dread.
If there's anything scarier than a good horror movie, it's a bad remake. Yet Martin Scorsese beat the odds when he tempted the fates with his remake of Cape Fear, and it's mostly thanks to his friend and frequent collaborator Robert DeNiro. While the story of Max Cady and his torment of prosecutor Sam Bowden and anyone in his sphere of influence wasn't a new concept, it was given a more modern, and certainly more brutal spin in Scorsese's retelling. While his contemporary, Al Pacino, is more known for putting in a full tilt performance as a baddie, Robert DeNiro's Max Cady is truly the stuff of nightmares... and it's a nightmare well worth experiencing.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
Horror and comedy swim so closely together in the world of film that their constant collaboration is no surprise. What is surprising though is when a truly smart satire comes along that can mock the genre conventions and tropes we're all familiar with, while at the same time playing those concepts to their own advantage. That's exactly what Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil does, as it takes your normal "murderous redneck terrorize a bunch of attractive, stranded teens" film, and turns it into a laugh out loud comedy of errors. How we haven't seen a sequel with Tucker & Dale taking on another form of evil in the horror realm is beyond us.
Before it was no longer cool to see Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teaming up on a film together, the two men made quite a few indelible films that are still well regarded to this day. Sleepy Hollow may rank closer to the middle of our Burton canon ranking, but the reinvention of Ichabod Crane as a police constable investigating some very witchy goings on in the titular location actually provides a fresh enough spin on the time tested classic to make it thrilling. Also, it really helps that Tim Burton's love of Hammer horror films is felt in every frame of the film's proceedings.
Wes Craven will always be one of the masters of horror, especially considering he not only helped write the rules of the genre with A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, but he also helped subvert them with the Scream series. While the second film is the only one available on Netflix's streaming service at this time, it feels only appropriate to suggest a film that not only makes fun of horror movie rules, but also their penchant for endless sequels. Take the fact that two more entries and a TV show would follow as you may, Scream 2 is as relevant today as it was when it was released.
As we had previously mentioned both HP Lovecraft and comedy factor into the world of horror, why not take the two together in the dosage that's known as Re-Animator. Seeing Jeffrey Combs' iconic performance as the nerdy yet dastardly Herbert West is something that really takes us back to the days where practical effects and some quick jokes were de rigueur in the world of Horror. Not to mention, some of those effects still have us looking for a modern successor to their lega
If you like your mad scientist films without the comedy aspects mixed in, then the original version of the horror / sci-fi classic The Fly is your ticket to greatness. While most immediately think of the David Cronenberg remake from the 1980's, the 1959 original is less brutal with the body horror, opting for a more classical sense of tension and a sequel bait ending that has been spoofed several times over. Somehow, this is our only horror pick with Vincent Price in its cast, which is all the more reason to add The Fly to your Netflix queue.