October is a sacred month for horror movie fans. Tis the season for getting scared out of your wits with your favorite scary films. But it’s also a fun time to explore titles you’ve never seen before. Netflix Streaming offers the best of both classics and under-the-radar gems, the latter of which we’ve compiled the top 13 worth your time (be sure to check our 2013 edition as well, with several titles still available for streaming).
So without further ado, here are the films you need to add to your queue this month.
13. ‘The Believers’ (1987)
This 80’s tale of a cult that abducts children played right into the “satanic panic” fears of the 1980’s. It’s a campy pleasure now, with Martin Sheen fighting against the clock to rescue his missing son. Director John Schlesinger’s (“Marathon Man”) assured filmmaking elevates the material above its genre leanings.
12. ‘The Vineyard’ (1989)
Horror is one of the few genres where awful films are often just as enjoyable as great ones. And this bizarre, disjointed film of a evil winemaker from actor-director James Hong (known for supporting roles in “Blade Runner” and “Big Trouble In Little China”) will have you laughing while scratching your head. Hey, at least its confused concept is original. Click here for our full review.
11. ‘The Conqueror Worm’ aka ‘Witchfinder General’ (1968)
This Vincent Price-starring vehicle is a fictional account of witch-hunting in 17th century England. Price plays a sadistic persecutor of those he deems witch-worthy, enjoying torturing the accused, even when the evidence against them is inconclusive.
This movie is quite brutal for its time, indulging in sequences of torture and assault that are now of course common-place in modern horror. But it still packs a visceral punch that might offend more sensitive viewers.
10. ‘The Stuff’ (1985)
Director Larry Cohen’s tale of the evils of consumer culture is more timely than ever. When a mysterious food-stuff becomes central to the majority of American food products, a corporate saboteur discovers that it’s dangerous to humanity. It’s more comedic and bizarre than scary, but it’s entertaining regardless.
If there was ever a film deserving of a remake, this would be it, given its fears of not knowing what we’re ingesting ties into the current debate over GMO’s.
9. ‘Maniac’ (2012)
This flawed but fascinating remake is a slicker affair then its grimy 1980 predecessor, but the narrative decision to have the entire film shot from the P.O.V. of the killer (played by Elijah Wood) is a novel and interesting touch. The film is beautifully shot and offers some fun and disturbing scares.
8. ‘The Sacrament’ (2013)
Click here for our full review of Ti West’s 2013 film, but in a nutshell, this found-footage entry is a contemporary look into the danger of messianic cult leaders, drawing strong parallels to the 1974 Jonestown massacre. And while you might know where its headed, the suspense is still gripping and horrific.
*West’s “The Innkeepers” and “House of the Devil” are also currently available on Netflix Streaming, and well worth checking out.
7. ‘I Saw The Devil’ (2010)
The serial killer sub-genre gets a sadistic twist in this tale of a government agent’s pursuit of the man who murdered his wife. But the sadistic and careless nature of the grieving husband threatens to eclipse his psychopathic adversary. Warning: This brutal South Korean entry is only for the strong of stomach and nerve.
6. ‘You’re Next’ (2011)
This horror-comedy is a send-up of the home-invasion horror sub-genre (think “Funny Games”, “The Strangers”, “Them”). But while it has some laughs it’s still plenty scary. This was a box-office flop upon its release that deserves greater attention.
5. ‘Shivers’ (1976)
One of director David Cronenberg’s earliest films, “Shivers” is a perverse tale of a mad doctor who creates a parasite that is both an aphrodisiac and venereal disease. As it spreads like wildfire through a high rise apartment building, a physician tries to combat the threat. Cronenberg’s obsession with “body-horror” began with this compelling entry, which has been overshadowed by his bigger budget productions.
Click here to see where it ranks on our list of best Valentine’s Day horror films.
4. ‘Shadow of the Vampire’ (2000)
What if Max Shrek, the actor who played Nosferatu, was actually a vampire in real life? That’s the bizarre premise of this horror-comedy, starring Willem Dafoe as the aforementioned actor.
Boasting scares and chuckles in equal measure, it also features John Malkovich as film director F.W. Murnau, a egomaniacal drug addict who engages in a battle of wills against his cranky bloodsucking lead.
3. ‘Let The Right One In’ (2008)
A film thats received much love from critics and art-house audiences, but remains off many horror fans radars. A young boy strikes up a friendship with a mysterious girl which turns into a crush. She holds a dark secret that will change his life forever.
“Let The Right One In” is a beautifully shot film, and one that defies convention. It was remade as “Let Me In”, which is a great film in its own right, but the original remains superior.
2. ‘Manhunter’ (1986)
Fans of Hannibal Lector take note: this was his first cinematic appearance, pre-dating “Silence of the Lambs”. Actor Brian Cox (“X-2”) plays the killer cannibal, and one can argue his performance is far more nuanced than Anthony Hopkin’s portrayal.
Director Michael Mann defined the serial-killer genre with this film, with actor William Peterson (CSI) playing FBI profiler Will Graham, who needs Lector’s help in stopping another serial killer in his tracks. Later remade as “Red Dragon” (based on the original novel” and NBC’s “Hannibal” series, “Manhunter” hasn’t fully received its due. 80’s movie lover will get a kick out of the synth-pop score and neon-drenched visuals.
1. ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978)
“Invasion” is one of the best horror remakes ever, and while acclaimed upon it’s first release, is lesser known to younger viewers of the genre. Its tale of alien organisms that take over human identities in 70’s San Francisco is creepy, and it’s effects still impressive. A cast including Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Veronica Cartwright make this a classy and timeless classic.
So that’s our list of 13 great movies to watch on Netflix this October. Have any streaming releases that you’d add to the list? Tell us in the comments.