31 Best Horror and Halloween-Themed Movies on Streaming: Part One

That magical time of year is finally here. The leaves are turning, the air is chilling and pumpkins and apple-centric foods are everywhere.

With social distancing and the world in the middle of a pandemic, I think it’s safe to say that most of us won’t be partaking in a lot of the ordinary festivities. Which is fine, if you’re like me and instead of going bobbing for apples or begging for candy from strangers (or whatever normal people do) you instead spend the season watching all of the best horror/aesthetically spooky movies the history of cinema has to offer.

So, I figured I’d make a list of the best, most iconic, most enjoyable horror and otherwise Halloween-centric movies that the biggest streaming has to offer, Shudder notwithstanding because that’s cheating.

Now, I will say before we begin that this list is big. It covers a full 31 days, so I had to split it in two. This first part will get you through the first sixteen days. The rest will be up in a few days.

Beyond that, know that there are plenty of movies that didn’t make the list. It doesn’t mean that I think those movies are bad (except in the case of some) or that those movies aren’t worth your time. This is just as complete a list as I can accomplish given 31 slots.

In picking movies I tried to follow a few guidelines.

  • First, my personal preference, this is my list after all. 
  • Two, I tried to pick movies that were iconic or deemed mostly iconic.
  • Three, beyond how “iconic” or “important” a movie is deemed, I tried to also fill the list with some unknown gems that don’t get enough credit.

It’s not a perfect list and I would certainly love to see other people’s lists, but it’s mine.

So, without further adieu, let’s start this here list. In no particular order, these are the “Best Horror and Halloween-themed Movies for the 31 Days of Halloween.”

  1. Addams Family

Streaming Service(s): Netflix

I’m of course referring to the original 1991 film by Barry Sonnenfeld. Based on the Charles Addams created a comic that satirized American life in the early twentieth century and featuring brilliantly iconic performances by Angelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd, and the sadly missed Raul Julia, it is required viewing for anybody looking to get into the spooky spirit.

There are so few movies that have that beautiful mix of gothic weirdness and also are infinitely rewatchable.

  1. Pan’s Labyrinth

Streaming Service(s): Netflix

Guillermo Del Toro, now an Oscar winner for “The Shape of Water,” made perhaps his best film with this radical fairytale of a young girl in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

It is rich with fable and myth, criticizing the rise of fascism during the first half of the twentieth century, and also a brilliant allegory for growing up under the weight of great tragedy.

  1. The Evil Dead

Streaming Service(s): Netflix

Sure, it might seem hokey now, especially considering how the whole “cabin in the woods” horror film has become a pastiche cliche so ubiquitous that it is nearly its own genre of horror.

But at the time of Sam Raimi’s brilliant low-budget debut, its homemade feel was revolutionary. Especially when you consider that its first-person POV via a camera carried on a board has inspired both horror films and otherwise, the shot eventually showing up in films by the Coen Brothers (who happened to be friends and collaborators on later films).

  1. Evil Dead II

Streaming Service(s): Hulu

Speaking of Sam Raimi, it’s kind of hard to recommend The Evil Dead without recommending its arguably better sequel.

The second film is basically just a remake (kinda) of the original but it makes the brilliant decision of leaning into the hokeyness of the first film, making a horror film that feels a bit like a cartoon mixed with a dash of horror. Regardless, its tone was revolutionary in horror further opening up the genre to the mixing of comedic elements. In other words, we probably wouldn’t have films like “Shaun of the Dead” or “What We Do in the Shadows” without Evil Dead II and other films like it. 

See: “Dead Alive,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “Re-Animator” and others.

  1. Night of the Living Dead

Streaming Service(s): HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Hulu

Speaking of horror classics that created genres, it’s hard to not recommend George Romero’s eternal classic. Without it, we wouldn’t have, well, basically anything zombie-related after 1968.

Before Romero’s film, zombies weren’t the aimless, wandering bags of flesh we know them as today. Taking inspiration from occasional Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson’s book, “I Am Legend,” Romero took a creature of Haitian folklore that was anything but what we think of as zombies and made them a metaphor for a society on the brink of social revolution.

  1. Let the Right One In

Streaming Service(s): Hulu

Based on the Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist and directed by accomplished Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, “Let the Right One In” takes the vampire mythos and brings it into modern-day Sweden, taking apart a bevy of social norms in the process.

Its emotional tone makes you empathize with the monster, as many of the best of the genre and takes its name from a Morrisey song. I’d also recommend the American version, which used to be on streaming but isn’t anymore, unfortunately.

  1. Les Diabolique

Streaming Service(s): Amazon Prime

A 1955 black and white French film that is insanely watchable, even with today’s standards. “Les Diabolique,” which translates to “The Devils” or “The Fiends” had a major influence on Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho.”

In the states it is often called simply “Diabolique,” and it features some of the best twists in early cinema, including one of the most famous shots in all of film, a revelation so shocking it still hits almost a century later.

(Horor fans might be familiar with “Pan’s Labyrinth” director, Guillermo del Toro. His films, like many of the greatest horror films of all time, tackle big societal issues with intertexuality that delves back to, arguably, the original horror tales: fairy tales. Source: YouTube/Nerwriter1)

That’s it for this week. Look out for the second part, and seven more films next week. Till then, enjoy the best month of the year.

Richard Foltz
Associate Editor

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