It's October once again, which means the very best time of the year is at hand. As is the new tradition, every streaming service has launched into full Halloween mode with new and old entertainment selections of everything to get you in the spooky mood.
This year's selections from major services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and of course Shudder offer a wide variety of scary and bloody movies for everyone. Here are our top choices at the moment.
'Fear Street' (Netflix)
The slasher genre is in the midst of a current revival with many new and original additions to the blood-splattered halls of fame as well as fresh reboots of classics like Halloween. But few feel as ambitious and as stylish as Leigh Janiak's take on Fear Street, R.L. Stine's popular book series for young adults. That youthful spirit and energy is present in this trilogy of films, but Janiak appears to have also been given free reign to make things as gory as possible as well. The three movies, each of which take place in different time periods - 1994, 1978, & 1666 - are fun, super violent, and also earn strong emotional moments. The intertwined story follows a group of people on a desperate quest to break the murderous curse that's been haunting their town for centuries.
Creature features definitely aren't in short supply, but finding a genuinely great one is no easy task. Thankfully, we've done the searching for you, so look no further than Crawl from director Alexandre Aja. Part of the film's genius is that it's both a horror movie about killer alligators and a disaster movie all in one. The story follows a woman named Haley (Kaya Scodelario) who must rescue herself and her father (Barry Pepper) as a major hurricane begins to flood their Florida home and, as if things wouldn't be bad enough, the rising waters unleash the local hungry alligators. Quentin Tarantino named it one of his favorite movies of 2019, and it's not hard to see why.
'Suspiria' (Amazon Prime Video)
1977's Suspiria is an undeniable classic, but Luca Guadagnino's fresh take on it is distinctly its own thing and just as terrifyingly disturbing in different ways. His 2018 version follows the same story: a new student arrives at a prestigious dance academy only to discover that it's being run by a coven of powerful witches. It's a profoundly visceral experience, with shocking body horror (among other things) and weighty themes to go with the scares. While it wasn't a success at the box office, it definitely deserves a second life online.
'Blood Quantum' (Shudder)
It's almost impossible to pick from Shudder's vast collections of horror classics and underground cult favorites, so we've gone with a couple of new and original films that deserve the spotlight. Blood Quantum, written and directed by Jeff Barnaby, is a brilliant and fresh take on the seemingly oversaturated zombie genre. The film takes place on an indigenous reserve as the world begins to crumple from a zombie apocalypse. The residents appear to be the only ones who are immune to the undead plague, and must contend with the zombie horde, refugees seeking sanctuary, and everything that goes with the world coming to an end. There's plenty of zombie brain bashing to go with the obvious social commentary, and it's one of the most entertaining additions to zombie movies.
'Freaky' (HBO Max)
Christopher Landon is one of those filmmakers that has contributed greatly to the slasher revival thanks to Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U (we want a third one, dammit!). His latest, the aptly titled Freaky, switches out the time loop shenanigans for body swap ones. The film stars Kathryn Newton as a high schooler named Millie who ends up switching bodies with a ruthless serial killer known as The Butcher (Vince Vaughn). It's hilarious, smart, and filled with plenty of gooey horror goodness, absolutely do not sleep on this one.
'The Strangers' (Netflix)
2008's The Strangers has your standard home invasion setup: A couple spending time in a vacation home fall under attack by a trio of terrifying masked intruders. But the film, written and directed by Bryan Bertino, is far more psychological than most, building up the suspense and ramping up dread in expert ways. With strong performances from its two leads Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and extremely effective direction, the film is an undertalked about turning point for the genre.
'Little Monsters' (Hulu)
Yet another exciting and entertaining take on the zombie genre, 2019's Little Monsters tells the story of a teacher (Lupita Nyong'o), a struggling musician (Alexander England), and a kids' show personality (Josh Gad) who join forces to protect young children during an unexpected zombie invasion. With its all star cast and a script that's filled with blood, guts and tons of genuine heart, Little Monsters is a supremely underrated modern classic.
'The Blob' (HBO Max)
A classic if there ever was one. 1958 horror landmark The Blob is the definition of a B movie, and even with decades having passed since its release, it's still one of the gold standards whose influence is still felt. The film, directed by Irvin Yeaworth, is about a gelatinous blob from outer space that arrives on Earth and begins to rapidly grow in size, eventually making its way towards consuming a nearby small town. For those looking for a piece of iconic horror game changers, The Blob is a good one to cross off the list.
Speaking of game changers, last year played host (pun intended) to an inspired film called Host from filmmaker Rob Savage. Released exclusively on Shudder, the film takes place entirely on computer screens. While that's not a new concept, Savage's film takes the modern subgenre (or is it a medium? or a style? or all of it?) and takes it to new and terrifying heights. It follows six friends who are still adjusting to the new normal of lockdowns and decide to hire a medium to lead them in a seance via Zoom. Things go horribly wrong and an evil spirit begins wreaking havoc. It's honestly genius, please go see it for yourself.
'The Monster Squad' (Amazon Prime Video)
For our last pick, we're going 80s. Fred Dekker and Shane Black's 1987 horror comedy The Monster Squad is great no matter what your age is and has solidified a cult following for itself in the years since its release. The film is about classic movie monsters led by Count Dracula (Duncan Regehr) who emerge to take over the world. The only thing standing in their way is a group of movie monster nerds, who are suddenly tasked with saving themselves and everyone else. It's goofy and lovingly crafted family horror fun and a perfect pick for a Halloween party.
Knotfest 2021 Halloween Horror Coverage: