If you’re anything like me, you likely don’t wait until the Halloween season to seek out scary movies. Sitting down to a random slasher flick is a boring old weeknight habit around the House of Slay, but I know that there are a lot of people for whom October brings a sudden desire to seek out the spooky, the gory, and the macabre for their Friday night movies in. It’s certainly the right time of the year — even ABC Family trots out themely programming for ghouls of all ages to enjoy.
For now, we’re going to look at what offerings Netflix Instant brings to the table. Netflix used to have a moderately good horror movie selection, but when a lot of their big Hollywood movies started disappearing off their instant service due to competition and licensing issues, their scary films suffered the same fate. Gone were classics and well received films, in came a lot of movies you’ve never heard of, with third and fourth tier actors and reality show celebrities, and a lot of “erotic” horror movies, which is to say many of the titles featured things like “Strippers versus (something)”. You know, crap. Not even enjoyable crap. Just the stuff you suffer second hand embarrassment through.
Happily, at least for October, Netflix has beefed up their options; you can watch the entire Scream series, or almost all of the Hellraiser movies, including the first one, which is a personal favorite. A bunch of the modern classics have returned, so if you’re not in the mood for chainsaws and mutant cannibal families, you can get some good old Satanic possession stories.
A brief note, for those of you with the magical ability to make your internet think you reside in a different country than you actually do, UK and US Netflix have different movies and TV shows available, so it’s always worth checking both of them out.
The Mist — “A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.” A fantastic Stephen King adaptation from Frank Darabont, the man behind the television adaptation of The Walking Dead. It’s a film that stays faithful to the intent of the King novella if not the actual letter, which is where a lot of book-to-screen translations fall down. A real gut punch of a movie.
Army of Darkness — “A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.” The IMBD synopsis leaves a bit to be desired, like mentioning that this is the third film in the Sam Rami Evil Dead franchise, and falls more into the “funny/slapstick” kind of genre film than “I’ll eat your face.” Grab your boomsticks and queue this one up.
Teeth — “Still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a physical advantage when she becomes the object of male violence.” Yes, the title does refer to vagina dentata.
The Strangers — “After returning from a wedding reception, a couple staying in an isolated vacation house receive a knock on the door in the mid-hours of the night. What ensues is a violent invasion by three strangers, their faces hidden behind masks. The couple find themselves in a violent struggle, in which they go beyond what either of them thought capable in order to survive.”
Night of the Creeps — “Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.”
Mutants — “A virus has transformed the vast majority of humanity into bloodthirsty, zombie creatures. Marco and Sonia are a young couple fleeing the ‘mutants’ and trying to fight their way to a military base. But when Marco himself becomes infected in an attack, the pregnant Sonia must fight the worst enemy – the man she loves.” In French with English subtitles.
The Abandoned — “An adopted woman returns to her home country and the family home that she never knew and must face the mystery that lies there.”
Battle Royale — “Forty-two students, three days, one deserted Island: welcome to Battle Royale. A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school have been forced by legislation to compete in a Battle Royale. The students are each given a bag with a randomly selected weapon and a few rations of food and water and sent off to kill each other in a no-holds-barred (with a few minor rules) game to the death, which means that the students have three days to kill each other until one survives—or they all die.” Dubbed in English.
Carrie (1976) — “Carrie White is a shy young girl who doesn’t make friends easily. After her class mates taunt her about her horrified reaction to her totally unexpected first period one of them takes pity on her and gets Tommy Ross, her boyfriend and class hunk to invite Carrie to the senior prom. Meanwhile another girl who has been banned from the prom for her continued aggressive behaviour is not as forgiving and plans a trick to embarrass Carrie in front of the whole school. What she doesn’t realise is that Carrie is … gifted, and you really don’t want to get her angry.”
The Frighteners — “After a tragic car accident that killed his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people but when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead.”
The Evil Dead — “Five friends go up to a cabin in the woods, where they find unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. They find a tome called the ‘Necronomicon,’ Book of the Dead, and the taped translation of the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released. One by one, the teens are possessed. With only one remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle the evil dead. ”
Rosemary’s Baby — “Farrow plays a pregnant woman who fears that her husband may have made a pact with their eccentric neighbors, believing he may have promised them the child to be used as a human sacrifice in their occult rituals in exchange for success in his acting career.”
Hellraiser — “Clive Barker’s feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature — the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover — hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons, the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him his necessary human sacrifices to complete his body… but the Cenobites won’t be happy about this.”
Red State — “Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.”
The People Under the Stairs — “The People Under the Stairs is the story of a young boy (Fool) from the ghetto and takes place on his 13th birthday. In an attempted burglary (along with two others) of the home of his family’s evil landlords, he becomes trapped inside their large suburban house and discovers the secret of the ‘children’ that the insane brother and sister have been ‘rearing’ under the stairs.” Another personal favorite, this overlooked gem of a film is worth the popcorn and couch time.
Re-Animator — “A medical student and his girlfriend become involved in a bizarre experiment into reanimating the dead conducted by the student’s incorrigible housemate in this campy sendup of an H.P. Lovecraft story. The emphasis is on humour but once the dead walk, there is gore aplenty.”
I Spit on Your Grave (1978) — “An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men whom she systematically hunts down to seek revenge.” TW warning — I personally think it’s a classic of the rape revenge film genre, but this is a graphically violent film and not necessarily appropriate for all audiences. Trailer omitted accordingly.
Black Sunday — “A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch’s beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl’s brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way.”
The Signal —”A horror film told in three parts, from three perspectives, in which a mysterious transmission that turns people into killers invades every cell phone, radio, and television.”