No other holiday serves up the perfect excuse to binge movies all month long like Halloween. Some poor suckas may partake in the 25 Days of Xmas (a marathon of Christmas themed made for TV trash) and lonely hearts will always use February as an excuse to watch their favorite rom-com’s but for everyone else who doesn’t fall into either of those categories and is too old for trick ‘r treating, the Halloween season is built for binge-watching movies, horror specifically. Many channels will be playing the classics all month long but unlike Xmas and lovey-dovey rom-coms, there’s only so many Halloween themed horror movies, which means their line up is probably stale.
Luckily, the SAW crew has made a list of new classics you should watch this month. Some are psychological thrillers, others are splatter flicks and there’s even a kid-friendly movie or two thrown in. The only criteria was that it had to be horror or Halloween adjacent, so much like the trick ‘r treating of days past, every day will be a new surprise. If you’re looking for an alternative to the same old Halloween classics or want ideas for your own marathon, check out the recommendations below.
Day 1—Candyman (1992)
Before you see the NEW Candyman – and even if you don’t – you should definitely check out the original film by Bernard Rose (Paper House). Adapted from Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden,” Candyman is dreamlike, eerie and frightening – catching a bit of what makes Barker’s work so distinct, the marriage of unique and unsettling ideas with concrete and horrific violence. Virginia Madison is great as the main protagonist, but Tony Todd’s eponymous creation fascinates and terrifies in equal measure. It’s one of the best Clive Barker adaptations and one of my favorite horror films of the 1990’s.
Order the Candyman Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 2—Ginger Snaps (2000)
One of the best werewolf movies of all time. Ginger Snaps juxtaposes the werewolf mythology with puberty and coming of age as the titular Ginger becomes empowered through the transformation. The movie is an excellent study of two connected sisters and it has a killer setting for Halloween, taking place in Bailey Downs, Ontario and reaching its climax on Halloween night. It has a great early 2000s energy and comedy with a lot of bite, plus scares aplenty and real heart.
Order the Ginger Snaps Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 3—Saint Maud (2019)
Psychological horror is one of my favorite sub-genres and Saint Maud is up there with the best I’ve seen in recent years. The story follows Maud, a reclusive young woman who gets struck off from being a nurse due to a horrific accident. For better or worse, this leads to her going down the path of Christian devotion. It can be quite a slow burn at times but a very engrossing slow burn. Things pick up as Maud is tasked with the responsibility of hospice care for a retired dancer, as she lives out the last days of her life. This is where Maud’s obsessive faith spirals out of control, as she feels she must save her ward’s soul from eternal damnation, whatever the cost. Morfydd Clark is fantastic in the lead role, as we see things from her point of view, delusions and all. All this leads to an absolutely spine-chilling finale that will make your skin crawl.
Order the Saint Maud Region 2 Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 4—The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
I read John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies many years ago and it’s still one of the eeriest books I’ve ever read. The movie – by Arlington Road director Mark Pellington – is NOT a faithful adaptation of the book, but it manages to capture that sense of creeping unreality. The Mothman Prophecies is not an in-your-face horror film. There’s not much in the way of shocks, no gore, no real violence. What it does is create a mood, a growing sense of unease, and leaves you with that feeling that things are not quite right and connections are being made all around you that you’re not privy to.
Order The Mothman Prophecies DVD on Amazon here.
Day 5—We Summon the Darkness (2019)
Alexandra Daddario gives one of her best performances in this ’80s-set horror-thriller. We Summon the Darkness follows three teenage girls who attend a heavy metal show with ulterior motives. You can see the twists coming a mile away in this film, but that doesn’t make the film any less enjoyable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that every twist in We Summon the Darkness only enhances the viewing experience. If you have been searching for a movie that has Daddario in a lead role then your prayers have been answered.
Order the We Summon the Darkness Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 6—Get Out (2017)
Justifiably an instant classic, featuring an incredible performance from Daniel Kaluuya that really put him on the map, Get Out takes the horror of meeting the family of the person you’re dating and makes that horror literal, while putting a racially conscious spin on proceedings. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out has got a million imitators now. It also led to every project Jordan Peele does being extremely buzz-worthy. We know next to nothing about Peele’s third feature right now, other than the title Nope. A title which, much like Get Out, sounds like the response from an antsy cinema audience. Until we’re a part of that audience, we’ll just have to watch Get Out again.
Order the Get Out 4K Blu-ray on Amazon here.
–D. N. Williams
Day 7—Ready or Not (2019)
Grace has just married into the affluent Le Domas family and is taken aback when her in-laws insist on following Le Domas tradition by playing a game on the wedding night. Grace decides to humor them and agrees, but things take a strange and sinister turn when she chooses to play Hide and Seek and Grace soon finds the only way she is going to win the game is to survive the night. Ready or Not will take you on an extremely entertaining, macabre journey with a brilliant ending. An underrated gem of 2019, this movie is a darkly funny and blood-drenched take on ‘til death do we part.
Order the Ready or Not Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 8—Murder Party (2007)
Made for roughly $200,000, this film holds a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, although the film is so small it garnered just six reviews. The movie follows a lonely man who finds an invitation to a Halloween party and decides to attend, only to find the party is a trap by a group of college art students who plan to murder him as an act of performance art in hopes to land a grant from their patron. The film is a bizarre dark comedy that plays up the nature of art students as they argue about which method of murder would be most artistic while also dealing with personal relationship drama within the group. Everyone is in costume and it eventually boils over into a comedic bloodbath for a really nice Halloween treat.
Order the Murder Party DVD on Amazon here.
Day 9—The Brides of Dracula (1960)
The Brides of Dracula, a Hammer horror film released in 1960, has a slightly misleading title, as the infamous vampire does not appear in the film apart from several passing mentions from other characters. Putting that aside, this is a delightfully spooky film to watch during the Halloween season. Set in Transylvania at the end of the 19th century, the story follows the young Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) as she falls afoul of the sinister Baron Meinster (David Peel), a dangerous vampire with designs on the young women of the village once he tricks Marianne into setting him free. It takes the help of Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) to eliminate the devious Baron once and for all.
I’d never seen The Brides of Dracula before today but it will now be annual rewatch for me as it is a lot of fun to watch. The scenes where each of the vampire “brides” rise from their graves had my hair standing on end. Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing is a different take on the character than what I’m used to, but I really liked watching how he played the vampire hunter and I think all of you will too. I also want to mention the enthralling performance that Martita Hunt gives as Baroness Meinster. From the moment she enters the room, you can’t take your eyes off her. The Brides of Dracula is definitely a must-watch Halloween film.
Order The Brides of Dracula Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 10—The Invisible Man (2020)
A really great reimagining of a classic story, The Invisible Man’s stroke of genius is taking the focus off the titular man altogether, and shifting it to a terrorised victim – the victim here being an ex-girlfriend played by Elisabeth Moss. It may not seem like focussing on the victim is a particularly novel approach to horror, but where the original novel and classic James Whale adaptation were preoccupied with the plight of a violent man cursed by his own genius, this version is freed up to be about much much scarier ideas. What if the power someone else wields over you is inescapable? What if your very real fears are dismissed as paranoia? What if the threat to your life and sanity is unseen? A strong allegory for gaslighting and abusive relationships, wrapped in a relentless thriller, and anchored by a sterling performance. A total must-see.
Order The Invisible Man Blu-ray on Amazon here.
–D. N. Williams
Day 11—A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This is the thing, I think people have forgotten that Freddy used to be scary. By the time the second movie came around he had already entered the cultural zeitgeist and with each subsequent film he became less frightening and more a figure of sinister fun, a bogeyman who was also a clown, dispensing one-liners and murderous set pieces with equal aplomb. Not that those movies weren’t fun, but over the years they left this impression on me that Freddy was ALWAYS more comedian than killer. I recently watched this again for the first time in a LONG time, I suddenly remembered that Freddy was freakin’ TERRIFYING when he first arrived. That burned face, the tattered red and green sweater and those claws… coming at his victims when they were the most vulnerable and taking a fiendish glee in his work. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, it’s well worth taking another look – just be prepared to be nervous when you go to bed that night.
Order the A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray collection on Amazon here.
Day 12—Hush (2016)
Whenever this showed up in my Netflix “Must Watch” list I brushed it of thinking it was a shitty low budget film. And man was I wrong. It’s a REALLY GOOD low budget thriller. The way things are set up from the get go you feel the tension and the lack of audio due to the main character’s lack of hearing really intensifies things. Luckily I saw it before Mike Flanagan blew up with The Haunting of Hill House and Doctor Sleep, but honestly not by that much. It was probably mere weeks before his Netflix series hit. I watched this and 2017’s The Vault in the same night and I enjoyed both.
Stream Hush on Netflix.
Day 13—Endangered Species (1982)
For years, the only thing I could remember about this movie was something about cattle mutilations and black helicopters and a scene where a guy brushes his teeth and then begins bleeding from his mouth. I had no context for the scene, but it was kind of frozen in my mind I guess from late night watches of this movie with older cousins. Anyway, before search engines got really powerful, this scant information was not quite enough to produce a title, so I had no idea what the movie was called. Every so often, though, that scene would pop into my head, and I would suddenly wish I could figure out what the movie was so I could see it again after so many years.
Eventually, I stumbled upon the title and watched the movie on Amazon Prime. I have to say that it lived up to whatever vague memories I had of it. It’s an eerie movie with great atmosphere, and it’s just obscure enough that maybe you haven’t seen it. If that’s the case, I recommend you add this little gem to your list this October. The full movie is currently on YouTube, if you’re having trouble finding it.
Day 14—Gerald’s Game (2017)
Stephen King adaptations can be hit or miss. King is known for writing lengthy novels which can sometimes be hard to adapt since you have to cut out so much to fit it into a two hour run-time. I’ve always found that his shorter works have made for the best adaptations (such as Misery, Stand By Me, and Shawshank Redemption to name a few). Gerald’s Game is a tense psychological thriller that follows an unsatisfied wife (Carla Gugino) battling her inner demons after her husband has a heart attack leaving her handcuffed to their bed in their isolated cabin. Gugino gives a terrific performance as the wife battling her past and her future. The film definitely has its moments of suspense and will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Stream Gerald’s Game on Netflix.
Day 15—Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
October is about horror movies all month long, but sometimes you just need a break from all the scares and tension. So stay in the horror theme but replace screams with laughs with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. The story follows good friends and country bumpkins Tucker and Dale, who are simply trying to fix up an old cabin in the woods as a place to vacation. Meanwhile, stereotypical horror teens cross paths with the duo and mistake them as killers, hilariously leading to their own deaths in the process. Tucker and Dale are gold as they are sincerely good people horrified by what is happening, and the laughs just keep coming all movie long.
Order the Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 16—The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Ever since The Exorcist took the horror world by storm in 1973, we have seen numerous exorcisms and actors portraying being possessed. Jennifer Carpenter’s performance is the best hands down. There are more iconic and scarier performances but Carpenter’s portrayal of Emily Rose being possessed is some of the best physical acting ever done. Even before special effects are introduced into her being possessed, the way she was able to contort her body and facial expressions was freaky good. Carpenter gave Emily Rose depth from being the sweet and innocent country to a maniacal entity possessed by six demons. This is an often-overlooked character and performance.
Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson turn in strong performances as well to go along with an eerie setting mixing the exorcism and courtroom drama to effectively tell this story while it crawls under your skin.
Order The Exorcism of Emily Rose Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 17—Bedevilled (2010)
Thanks to Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar win with Parasite, Korean cinema has experienced a huge popularity boost with Western audiences in recent years. There are dozens of hidden gems from the Korean library, with Bedevilled being one of the most brutal. A horrifying film in multiple ways, it starts off following Hai-wan, a stressed-out bank clerk who travels to a remote island to meet up with a childhood friend, as she looks for some solace. One of the distressing aspects of the film is the harsh reality of everyday life that her friend suffers, being treated as not much more than a slave by the despicable people on the island. There are a number of twists and turns throughout, resulting in a brutally gory final act that’s hard to watch but also guiltily satisfying. Not for the faint of heart but highly recommended.
Order the Bedevilled Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 18—Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The first and some would argue best of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead is a perfect blend of low-key British comedy and large scale splatter horror. The movie was partially responsible for a resurgence in zombie popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Proving Wright’s visual imagination belongs on the biggest screen possible, Shaun of the Dead sees perfectly executed visual gag after perfectly executed visual gag, unforgettable characters, and some of the most quotable lines in movie history. You’ve got red on you.
Order the Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray on Amazon here.
–D. N. Williams
Day 19—Nightwatch (1994)
A good thriller should keep you engaged and on edge even when nothing is happening and a good mystery should keep you guessing up till the closing credits. Nightwatch manages to do both. Soon after Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) starts his job as the night watchman at a mortuary, a serial killer starts targeting prostitutes in the area. That coincidence wouldn’t be enough for the police to suspect him, nor the fact that all the bodies end up at that mortuary but after a stupid bet he makes with his friend starts to implicate him, all eyes point to him. Is he a criminal mastermind toying with the police for fun, a case of split personalities, the target of a serial killer or is there something supernatural going on? Nightwatch is a slow drip of tension and dread that Hitchcock himself would be proud of. Just make sure you check the dates, the American remake that came out years later is terrible.
Order the Nightwatch DVD on Amazon here.
Day 20—The Changeling (1980)
George C. Scott is John Russell, a man who lost his wife and child in a car accident and subsequently rents a haunted Victorian mansion. What follows is a twisty, chilling murder mystery complete with ghosts and paranormal phenomena as John tries to uncover the truth about the mansion’s previous occupants. I don’t use the word “harrowing” very often, but I could use that to describe this movie. The scares are simple but incredibly effective. The haunting imagery alone is enough to put a chill down your spine. The Changeling an underrated gem of a horror film and one of the scariest I’ve seen. Definitely worth a watch if you’re a horror lover.
Order The Changeling Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 21—Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
This might just be the most Halloween movie ever made. Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology film that tells five different stories taking place in the same town on Halloween night. Although the stories are mostly self-contained, the cross paths in interesting and sometimes enlightening ways. Sam, a mysterious, trick or treating ghoul, serves as the perfect Halloween mascot. Every shot of this film just oozes Halloween, from trick or treating legends to pumpkin carving to classic monsters, it is all there. Overall, the film packs some chills and thrills with plenty of dark humor throughout.
Order the Trick ‘r Treat Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 22—The Lost Boys (1987)
Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die.
The Lost Boys is one of the most 80s movies you will ever, ever see. It has the Coreys Feldman and Haim. A gang of vampires that look like a hair metal band. The whole thing is just a vibe — a thoroughly kitsch vibe, but a vibe nevertheless. And who better to bring that vibe to the screen than the dearly departed Joel Schumacher? Kiefer Sutherland is tonnes of fun as the leader of a super cool gang of immortal bikers. If you’re looking for teens with teeth on Halloween, this is the best possible choice.
Order The Lost Boys Blu-ray on Amazon here.
–D. N. Williams
Day 23—The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Horror and comedy make strange bedfellows, but when the partnership works it’s great. Return of the Living Dead is SO good, so full of awesome lines – “Send more paramedics.” “Brains!” “Watch your tongue boy if you like this job!” “Like this job?!” – so full of awesome effects (the Tarman alone is worth watching the film for) – and so full of classic characters (don’t get Kane and Sailor started on Trash). This is where pulp culture got the idea that zombies like brains specifically. This is where Linnea Quiggly got her first big break. This… this is not really the first zombie horror comedy (probably Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things takes that spot), but it’s the best. I’m sorry Shaun of the Dead – I dearly love you too – but Return is still the rotting corpse at the top of the heap.
Order The Return of the Living Dead Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 24—Annabelle: Creation (2017)
A toy-maker and his wife open their farmhouse to a group of orphaned girls after losing their own daughter in a car accident. When one of the girls, suffering from polio, sneaks into a forbidden room, she unlocks a powerful demon inhabiting one of the toy-makers dolls. Watching the Annabelle trilogy, I felt a bit like Goldilocks, trying to find the one film that was just right. The first was disappointing, and the third, Annabelle Comes Home, was more or less okay. But the second film, Annabelle: Creation hit the nail on the head when it came to atmospheric horror. With some genuinely tense, chilling moments, Annabelle: Creation is a solid horror film that cleverly ties itself to its predecessor while remaining the strongest of the trilogy and one of the better chapters in the entire Conjuring Universe.
Order the Annabelle: Creation Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 25—The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Taking place in October in the woods of Maryland, The Blair Witch Project is the perfect movie for Halloween watching. Reigniting the found footage style of filmmaking, the film actually shows very little frightening imagery, but the progressing paranoia and isolation of the group is unnerving and the darkness of the woods is the perfect setting to soak in the Halloween flavor.
Order The Blair Witch Project Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 26—The Caller (1987)
I watched this late one night on Tubi with no expectations and no prior knowledge (Sailor might have recommended, but I can’t remember for sure).
That is how I want you to go into it. Blind. Just put it on, and let yourself experience it. The odd, stilted dialogue. The strange atmosphere. The puzzling plot. Just let it all unfold and hold your questions until the end. And then come back here and let’s chat about it. Deal? Awesome. Happy Halloween.
Order The Caller Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 27—Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005)
One of my favorite movies to watch during the Halloween season is Corpse Bride, a 2005 film from Tim Burton. This spooky stop-motion romp tells the story of Victor (Johnny Depp), a timid would-be groom whose mundane life is turned upside down when, while rehearsing his wedding vows, he suddenly finds himself married to an undead bride! While trying to wrangle his way out of this unexpected mess, Victoria, his would-be bride, finds herself in danger from a conniving would-be groom, Lord Barkis. While it all sounds terribly spooky and Gothic, it’s one of my favorite Halloween films because of how much fun it is to watch. The difference between the bland world of the living and the lively underworld never fails to enthrall me. There’s a delightful musical score from Danny Elfman, who also provides the singing voice of Bonejangles the singing skeleton, with some rather poignant moments scattered throughout, particularly a piano duet between Victor and his corpse bride. This movie also has my favorite example of “the villain gets what’s coming to him.” This movie never gets old, as there is always something new to spot during each watch-through. Without a doubt I recommend watching Corpse Bride this Halloween.
Order Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 28—Night of the Living Dead (1968)
I came late, very late, to Night of the Living Dead. Having never seen it before, my sister took me to watch it when it was playing in the theaters a few years ago for Halloween. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had only seen stills and a couple of clips over the years. But I distinctly remember walking out of the theater after it was over, feeling a bit speechless. Despite this movie being released in 1968, it’s amazing how well it holds up even today. It’s genuinely scary. The isolation and slow burn of tension and suspense stay with you long after the credits roll. I could get into how symbolic the film feels today, considering the ending, but I don’t have enough time or space for that. All I know is this even after 50 years, Night of the Living Dead is still one of the best horror films of all time.
Order the Night of the Living Dead Criterion Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 29—Misery (1990)
I love this movie so much. This is not only my favorite Stephen King book, but my favorite adaptation of his. James Caan and Kathy Bates give excellent performances as an author and his fan in this suspenseful thriller. You are constantly rooting for Caan’s author to escape the clutches of his crazed fan. It’s agonizing to watch at times especially during THAT SCENE. If you haven’t seen Misery yet for some reason, drop whatever you’re doing and rectify that right now!
Order the Misery Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 30—The Haunting (1963)
Based on the greatest haunted house novel of all time – Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House – Robert Wise’s 1963 film may well be the greatest haunted house FILM of all time. I say that despite it being a horror movie in which nothing overtly horrifying or supernatural is ever seen. Even without that the film manages to do an excellent job of creeping you out. The banging noises, the voices, the way the camera screws with your sense of proportion. Whatever was holding Eleanor’s hand. Mrs. Markway. Wise uses his knowledge of how we view film to leave us unsettled and uncertain as to where we are in the house, just as lost as the characters. There’s also a subtle and maliciously dark humor to the film that’s easy to miss. The plot is familiar now from dozens of similar setups – parapsychologist investigates sinister house, brings sensitives along, bad stuff happens. Very few, if any of them, have succeeded on the level that The Haunting does. It’s psychologically horrifying in a way that the (terrible) remake could never hope to match. Regardless of your interpretation of events – is it all in Eleanor’s head? Does she cause the events? Or is the house truly haunted? – it’s a terrible and unsettling tragedy.
Order The Haunting Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Day 31—Eyes Without a Face (1960)
This early French horror film is about a plastic surgeon who is simply trying his best to repair his daughter’s face after it was disfigured in a horrible accident. Doesn’t sound that bad, does it? Daddy just trying to take care of his baby girl, right? Sounds good until you find out he is murdering and removing faces from other women in order to transplant their skin to his daughter’s face. A daughter who is also going a bit crazy at the same time.
By 1960, we had seen the mad-doctor story done a few different times but what help set this film apart was the imagery that was seen on the screen. The scene of the surgeon removing one of his victim’s faces by cutting around the edges with a scalpel and then removing the loose skin was very unnerving for that time. Many critics hated this film for the grotesque nature of its content. This means documentary director Georges Franju’s first foray into horror was a success. Well, by horror standards at least. Since its polarizing debut, the film has become one of the most regarded horror films in history often described as horrific poetry come to life on screen.
Order the Eyes Without a Face Criterion Blu-ray on Amazon here.
Check out past editions of ScreenAge Wasteland’s 31 Days of Halloween!
Keep track of the films you’ve watched with our ScreenAge Wasteland 31 Days of Halloween Checklist.