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Halloween Horror Nights Watchlist

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

It is that time of year again. Spooky Season. Fall. October. When we simultaneously crave the comfort of a warm sweater and the feeling of fear. We want to feel like we are going to die but also cozy.

Every year I put together an October horror watchlist because there are far too many spooky movies to watch in just one night. This year I thought I’d share my first listicle to the world. One a day and 13 on Halloween.

I’ve only seen a few on the list this year so I can’t vouch for their quality.

This list will be released in chunks throughout the month, and I will be updating it with my takes of each movie as I watch them. I likely won’t get through the entire list, but that’s what next year is for, right?

I don’t know everything that is going to be released this year, so I might add some stuff as it comes out.

I am not a horror fan. I actually have historically hated the genre. I don’t like the feeling of being frightened, and I don’t understand the appeal, but Liz loves horror, and I have grown to appreciate it. The last decade has had a sort of horror revival with the genre coming of age into a smart, well-crafted filmic space.

These are not my favorites nor are they recommendations. This list is just what I will be watching this year. I have tried to limit the picks to those that are available on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/HBOMax/Disney+. A few will have to be rented, but I only picked those I think are worth the $3.99 or so.

This first film this year is:

October 1st: Nightbooks

We are starting it off light with Nightbooks, a Netflix adaptation of a middle grade novel by J. A. White. Released in September, it is about a boy who is imprisoned by a witch and has to tell a new scary story each night to stay alive. Krysten Ritter is the witch. Everyone else is a kid, so I don’t know or care what they’ve been in. Should be wicked fun.

My take:

This was a delightful children’s movie in the vein of Roald Dhal’s The Witches (1990) meets Studio Ghibli’s Earwig and the Witch. It does not shy away from truly scary moments and has some points that genuinely brought me to tears. It is not perfect, but what ever truly is? 9/10.

84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix.

October 2nd: Under the Shadow

Let’s move into the second day of October with a bang! Under the Shadow is a psychological horror set in 1980s Tehran written and directed by Iranian-born Babak Anvari. Here is the description from google: “After Shideh’s building is hit by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, a superstitious neighbor suggests that the missile was cursed and might be carrying malevolent Middle-Eastern spirits.”

Yeah, I’m hooked, too. This is in Persian with English subtitles, but I know you millennials love subtitles even when the audio is English, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

My take:

A fantastic film! Wow! An extraordinarily stressful ride. Terrifying. All of the horror is also a metaphor for the trauma of living as a young mother through a modern war under an oppressive regime. This movie will stick with me for the rest of my life. My favorite line: “A woman should be scared of exposing herself more than anything else.” 10/10.

99% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 3rd: Midnight Mass

The latest from Mike Flanagan, creator of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. A 7-episode limited series, Midnight Mass follows the arrival of a mysterious priest to a dying town. If you’ve seen any of Flanagan’s other work you will be excited about this. While I find his writing weak, he does have a cinematic style that incorporates jump scares and spoopy easter eggs in an interesting way.

Here’s what we are going to do. Get a cup of hot spiced apple cider, a pumpkin pie, and a sweater. Then sit on the couch and spend the Lord’s day binge watching this entire thing.

Or you could watch an episode a day for 7 days as a pregame to each day’s movie.

My take:

God I hate Mike Flanagan. Midnight Mass suffers from the same exhausting melancholy of his previous two series with none of the frights. There is an interesting story here buried beneath a refusal to write a second draft. It’s literally just a string of character backstories held together by an excellent use of bible verses and Christianese. Oftentimes it seems like the first session of a D&D campaign.

This was a slog down monologue town that genuinely captures what it is like to go to church.

My favorite review: “Flanagan's study of religion and immortality sometimes rekindles memories of actual midnight masses in that it can be a little exhausting in its preachiness with a few too many monologues.” - Brian Tellerico,

Individual monologues can last upwards of 20 minutes. Seriously.

He really does make you care about these characters, but there isn’t any sort of pay off and the mystery isn’t really a mystery if you still have any brain cells left in October of 2021.

I can't really recommend you watch or don't watch this. It's like taking the sacrament, you have to make that decision for yourself.


92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 4th: Scream 2

I watched Scream for the first time last year. Yes, I know, I’m late to the party. This one doesn’t have Skeet Ulrich, so I’m skeptical. I don’t love slashers, but I do like the postmodern self-referential nature of the Scream franchise. Plus we are going to need to come down after the day of stress that was Midnight Mass. Should be fun.

My take:

It’s Scream 2. What else is there to say? The Scream franchise is smarter than it has any right being. It's weird to think the screenwriter also created Dawson’s Creek and Vampire Diaries. Kevin Williamson sure as hell knows how to make incredibly popular franchises.

Not much happened in this one. With the exception of the opening scene starring Jada Pinkett before she was Jada Smith, the set pieces were underwhelming. The ending was pretty stupid. I liked Scream better but still had a great time. 8/10.

82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

This one is a rental or you could watch it with ads on PlutoTV

October 5th: Midsommar

Yeah, I know, how have I not seen this? Starring Florence Pugh from Black Widow, Midsommar is a nordic sex cult thingy that I don’t care much about but I’ve heard it’s good, so let’s watch it! All you film bros out there can rest easy tonight knowing this made the list this year.

My take:


My first impression was not a good one. I got bored about 40 minutes before the end of the two and a half hour run time because I knew exactly what was going to happen the entire time. I was told “it’s not what you think”, but it was 100% what I thought it would be. The heavy handed “foreshadowing” is force fed to the viewer robbing us of any suspense that could have been. There wasn't much of a story. The characters were underdeveloped existing only as props in a series of events.

I was not disturbed by the graphic violence or weird ritualistic sex scene. I didn’t gag at any of the feasts. I wasn’t upset when any of the characters were dragged off to their deaths. I didn’t feel manipulated by the ending. I wasn’t impressed by a horror movie taking place almost entirely in sunlight.

But then I tried to go to sleep and the horror hit.

This movie does something to you. It turns off your ability to question your anxiety. It presents the idea that sometimes certainty is more horrifying than uncertainty. We often imagine the worst case scenario and the idea that that will come true every single time is terrifying.

I admit that I’m probably overthinking this because of my incessant need to rationalize the feeling of having wasted two and a half hours of my life, but I think there is a sort of genius here.

I won’t recommend that you watch this. But if you choose to, then I give you my blessing. 8/10.

83% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Streaming on Amazon Prime

October 6th: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Seeing as October 6th is a New Moon, I thought it fitting to watch the major motion picture adaptation of book two Stephanie Meyer’s steamy vampire saga. Twilight: New Moon is easily the second most horrifying film on the list. The performances alone are guaranteed to give you nightmares.

I took the plunge last year and watched the first one, and it was infinitely more glorious than I could have imagined. This will be my first time watching this. Please send your thoughts and prayers. You might want to grab an alcohol, this is going to be a rough ride.

My take:

Wow. A cinematic masterpiece. You can't fault Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson for their performances here. They played these characters perfectly. Robert Pattinson may be one of the greatest actors of our time.

The more Twilight I watch, the more I realize Chris Weitz and Melissa Rosenberg leaned as far as they possibly could into the campy absurdity that is The Twilight Saga. There is no better way to make this into a movie. It is perfect. 10/10.

28% Certified Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 7th: The Wicker Man

I don't know much about the widely acclaimed 1973 British horror film starring a young Count Dooku, The Wicker Man. The visual aesthetics of this film are far reaching even making their way into World of Warcraft's Halloween celebrations. It was obvious inspiration for Midsommar, and that is primarily why it is on this list. I probably should have watched it first but I was eager to get Midsommar out of the way. I'm betting this one ends with a sexy sacrifice.

My take (Spoiler Alert):

Well. Wow. Okay. Let's start out with this creating an entire sub genre of horror, the sacrificial heathen cult ritual mystery. It is often incredible how imperfect stories inspire more than the perfect ones. Almost everything here is reproduced in countless movies since.

I went in blind and I was right about the sex. There is lots of sex. It is a primary theme.

This is objectively a bad movie. But there is oh so much to love about it. Sometimes more of a musical (the songs are the best and scariest part) than anything else. I can imagine if you were a Christian in the 70s this might be horrifying, but in our current cultural climate we all pretty much want the detective to get sacrificed. 8/10 for giving me the May Pole song.

88% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Amazon Prime

October 8th: Creep

Starring that guy from Office Space, 2014's Creep promises to be the perfect Friday night fright. Feature debut from writer-director Patrick Brice who just released There's Someone Inside Your House on Netflix. It is a low budget, small cast, small set production. My favorite kind of horror film. I'm expecting this to be genuinely frightening and full of jump-scares.

My take:

Creep is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I absolutely loved this. It not only delivers on the sort of frights you expect, it drives the narrative to unexpected places with near perfect pacing while managing to say something about the human condition.

Mark Duplass is wonderful. The dialogue is smart and, more importantly, real. It really captures the feeling of seeing red flags and then immediately being reassured that everything is okay. If you've ever had the displeasure of having an extended conversation with someone who is creepy then you will know what I'm talking about. My favorite moment is the end of the bathroom scene when he says, "I'm sorry, I just have a weird sense of humor." I am very excited for the sequel on Monday. 9/10.

89% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 9th: OATS Studios Volume 1

OATS Studios Volume 1 is a series of 11 science-fiction-with-a-horror-leaning short films from the writer-director of 2009's District 9 (one of the best movies I've only seen once). We get performances from stars such as Sigourney Weaver and Dakota Fanning. Expect this to be more like The Twilight Zone than traditional horror. Originally released on Steam (yes the video game platform), this promises to be an interesting-at-the-very-least ride through unconventional modern filmmaking focused on evolving the craft of CGI.

My take:

I didn't really know what to expect here. Most of the stuff online was about the first short, Rakka, starring Sigourney Weaver. I had a good time watching these but it's hard to recommend that you watch them. I like that Neil Blomkamp gave younger writers and directors a chance at creating something. There are a lot of really good ideas at work that don't, ultimately, come into themselves.

My advice for Volume Two is to cut the voice overs and just let the narrative unfold visually.

If you have a passing interest in the art of CGI then you will appreciate these far more than the average viewer. The second half are all showcases of real-time rendering tech focusing primarily on ray-tracing and cloth physics.

The highlights:

Firebase - a Vietnam era take on the zombie genre.

Cooking with Bill - a genuinely disgusting and horrifying series of cooking infomercials.

Zygote - a sort of homage to Resident Evil starring Dakota Fanning.


Stream on Netflix

October 10th: Apostle

It's Sunday again. The lord's day. And we must continue with the theme of Christian-inspired movies. Apostle has been on my list since its release in 2018. From writer/director Gareth Evans of the supposedly excellent The Raid: Redemption fame, Apostle is a period atmospheric horror dealing with yet another cult. There were an awful lot of movies released between 2016 and 2020 dealing with cults, specifically Christian cults. Hmmm, I wonder why that might be. Cough Cough.

Send your thoughts and prayers.

My take:

The first half of this film is good, great even. Then it devolves into some sort of action-forward gore fest. All of the elements of a good story are present but they don't lead to where we end up. This could have been an exceptional horror film, but just isn't, and its maddening because it seems like it's by choice, like the writer just decided half way through to give up.

The weird part is this seems to be the primary influence for Midnight Mass which has much of the same problems but not for lack of trying.


79% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 11th: Creep 2

I loved the premise of Creep so much I decided to put it's sequel on the list as well. Supposedly this one is even better. I just really love the lo-fi horror genre. I expect the Creep movies to check all of the boxes for what I think makes a great horror film.

This one has Deadpool's driver from the Deadpool movies in it.

My take:

Another masterpiece from the Duplass brothers. While I liked the first one better, Creep 2 improves on everything that made Creep so good. They somehow make you question everything even though you go in knowing everything about the villain. I spent most of the movie wondering who was creepier. The use of perspective as part of the narrative is exceptional. I loved it. 10/10.

100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 12th: Picnic at Hanging Rock

Continuing with the theme of movies that probably inspired Midsommar but are also probably better, 1975's Picnic at Hanging Rock is a period piece from the director of Dead Poets Society and Witness about some girls that mysteriously disappear on some sort of weird field trip. It is based on a novel of the same name by Joan Lindsay.

This is on the list almost solely as a film nerd flex.

I really don't know what to expect here. Atmospheric, strange, very 70s, and Australian. I'm excited.

My take:

This movie was groundbreaking in a lot of ways. It influenced so much that has come since. I got bored part of the way through, but that didn't stop Picnic at Hanging Rock from forever changing me. The visuals, the character development, the barely hidden queer narrative, the anti-colonialism, there was so much here, so much before it's time. This movie wasn't about the missing girls, but the hole they left behind them. And it leaves you asking so many questions genuinely caring about the answers. 9/10.

90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBO Max

October 13th: The Lighthouse

The 13th night of October necessitates a masterpiece. 2019's The Lighthouse, starring The Green Goblin himself, Willem Defoe, and Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame, written and directed by Robert Eggers, promises to check all of the aforementioned boxes of what makes a horror film great. Small cast, confined spaces, mysterious, atmospheric, character focused, and suspenseful.

I have been resisting watching this because I have been afraid I will be disappointed. My expectations are high.

My take:

I really disliked this film. The performances of Defoe and Pattinson partially lift an unliftable script full of laughable dialogue. Although they did give us the line about the smelly farts. "I hate your goddamn smelly farts!"

There wasn't much here as far as story. And let me tell you, I am well acquainted with the post-modern rejection of the meta narrative, but this wasn't that. This wasn't saying something by saying nothing. This was saying nothing and packaging it as intentionally obtuse so that the self-indulgent critic will think they are smart to say they liked it. I kept looking around to see if I was in an art museum. This was like a student film project on a cliff notes reading of Moby Dick.

The Lighthouse is the best scene from Jaws over and over and without any of the character development or story that made Jaws so great.

My advice to the Eggers brothers for their future projects is to hire a writer. 3/10.

90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Amazon Prime

October 14th: Ghost (1990)

After the intense week we've had, we are going to need something to help wind us down. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore star in this Academy Award Winning 1990 Fantasy/Romance from writer Bruce Joel Rubin, who would later go on to write Deep Impact and The Time Traveler's Wife, and director Jerry Zucker (Airplane!).

The plot, from what I understand, is about a woman whose husband is murdered and she reconnects with him through a psychic and they have ghost sex. Our parents were swooning over the iconic pottery scene with all of its bizarre paranormal romance. No wonder us millennials have so many problems. We get some peak Whoopie Goldberg here too. Please, don't skip this one.

My take:

I half put this on the list as a joke, but WOW, what a fantastic film. I LOVED it! There wasn't any ghost sex, but there was a scene where Demi Moore was basically making out with Whoopi Goldberg even though the camera showed us Patrick Swayze because he was possessing her. The storytelling was extraordinary. The writing near-perfect. They actually created a believable world for a ridiculous premise. I am still surprised at how much of a good time I had watching this movie. 9/10.

74% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 15th: The Trip (2021)

The Trip is a Nordic Horror Comedy from the writer of 2013's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the director of 2017's What Happened to Monday coming to Netflix on Friday October 15th. It's about a husband and wife who go to a remote cabin with the intention of murdering each other. This film isn't out yet so I'm going in blind. It should, at the very least, be fun.

My take:


The entire story is built around the set piece sequence of cuckold rape. While horrifying, this sort of thing is completely juvenile, pointless, and unnecessary. If you are writing scenes like this you need to ask yourself why this is something that you are imagining and probably go to therapy, but at the very least maybe go to the next thing on your brainstorm list. The sheer amount of people a script has to go through to become a movie and no one said this wasn't a good idea? 0/10.

Stream on Netflix

October 16th: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Another Feminist Iranian horror. Another filmed in black and white. Just look at the poster. It's terrifying. I have been avoiding this movie for years because the title is just too spooky.

It's about a skateboarding vampire who preys on men who disrespect women. I'm sold. I'm ready to sink my teeth into this one.

You'll have to rent it but I'm certain it will be worth the price of admission.

My take:

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is fantastic. Wonderful. Visually stunning. I think I read somewhere this is a Vampire Western and after watching I think that is true. It is for this reason I believe if you get the opportunity to watch this on the big screen you should take it. There is a lot of cultural symbolism here that I am not able to quite pick up on. If you are Iranian, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Some might find the low budget and slow pacing off putting. 9/10.

96% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent on Apple TV

October 17th: Werewolves Within

A horror comedy based on a video game no one has even heard of. I actually saw the trailer for this watching Ubisoft's E3 presentation because I'm a nerd. It's got Guillermo from WWDITS in it! My mom met him at Dragon Con. Honestly this movie could go either way. I'm not expecting much. The vibe reminds me of the delightful The Dead Don't Die.

My take;

A fun movie that I wouldn't consider good in any way but also not bad in any way. The humor was fine. The acting adequate. The writing good enough. Nothing stood out about this film other than I had a good time watching it. It reminded me of watching movies at youth group. The characters were enjoyable but they didn't really have time to develop properly. The story should have stayed exclusively within the Inn but decided to incorporate the entire town which apparently only has a population of 12. I got Knives Out lite vibes. There wasn't much as far as werewolves. No standout performances except maybe from the guy from season one of True Detective, but he didn't really get the opportunity to shine. It reminded me of that Dax Shepard Christmas movie at the gas station which reminded me of Maximum Overdrive. 7/10.

85% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent on Apple TV

October 18th: The Silence of the Lambs

Yeah, I haven't seen this. I was three when it came out, and I haven't really wanted to subject myself to cannibalism or whatever. I think it's time though. We can all go into this together holding hands every step of the way. It's going to be okay.

I am excited for the legendary performances from Jodie Foster (Contact) and Anthony Hopkins (The World's Fastest Indian).

My take:

This movie has influenced almost everything even remotely in the genre that has come since. As a film, it is great. But I can't get passed the transphobic narrative. The horror comes from someone harvesting the skin of women in order to tailor themself a woman skin suit so that they can finally feel on the outside how they feel on the inside. The script makes a passing mark that the killer isn't really trans but thinks they are. This is nonsense.

All of The Silence of the Lamb's greatness is overshadowed by its effect on the American consciousness. How much violence against trans people has this story sparked? How far did this set back trans rights? When creating, it is our responsibility as the artist to ask the question "why?"

96% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent on Apple TV

Uh oh. I've been a naughty list maker. I put three rentals in a row. Oops. If you can't afford to drop $12 on movies over the weekend then just watch Squid Game or Season 1 of the critically acclaimed 2019 revival of Are You Afraid of the Dark? which just dropped on Netflix.

October 19th: The Ravenous (2017)

I am sucker for a good zombie flick. I once saw a screening of Diary of the Dead introduced by George Romero at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. I even enjoyed the mostly awful Warm Bodies. I hate The Walking Dead. Except Season 1. Season 1 is a masterpiece. I'm sure this will hit different since we are currently living in a global pandemic.

I'm curious what will happen to the future of the genre. Are we still going to be making pandemic horror? Are we going to have another 9/11 effect where we don't show planes flying into buildings anymore? Or will we add realism to the genre and just have a shit ton of gritty post-pandemic worlds similar to the anti-terrorism boom of the 2000s?

Who knows, but this movie is in French and set in upstate Quebec. Je suis brains!!!

My take:

This was almost an incredible movie. The visual storytelling was top notch. But it was bookended with unnecessary expository dialogue. In a film where the characters talk so little, wouldn't you use that time to have them say something?

Fantastic until the nonexistent third act. The world building, tone, continuity, character development, it all falls apart about 10 minutes before the climax. 7/10.

88% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 20th: Night Teeth

Debut screenplay from writer Brent Dillon and director Adam Randall, the guy who brought us the absolutely terrifying I See You, Night Teeth releases on Netflix on October 20th. This looks to be full of sexy vamps. Real-life vampire Megan Fox makes an appearance. I'm genuinely excited.

My take:

Better than it should be in many places. I had a good time watching Night Teeth, but this should have been so much better. There was a good idea here but the camera always focused on the space outside of the action. The character's motivations weren't believable. Things shifted and twisted without any real reason. Several scenes were repeated throughout the second half of the second act. Can we get rid of the Avatar openings to fantasy stories? We don't need you to tell us how the world works in voice over animations for a minute before the movie starts.

I did like the soundtrack and overall vibe. The vamps were hot. I had a good time watching this and that's really what movies are all about. 6/10.

36% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes (It's important to note the audience score is currently sitting at 76%)

Stream on Netflix

October 21st: Cats

The most terrifying film on the list. I haven't seen the original musical or any adaptation. The cast is star studded. Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson.

I don't know what's creepier the CGI or the fact I'm weirdly turned on by it. I am seriously going to watch this and Liz will be live-tweeting. Prepare yourself for plenty of bad luck after crossing these black cats.

My take:

I had a ton of fun watching this. I've never seen any version of Cats before and I'm sure if I had this would not have been an enjoyable experience. I wouldn't say there were any standout performances (except for Jason Derulo) or that this was anywhere close to a good rendition of the musical, but I laughed almost the entire time and Andrew Lloyd Webber's songs stick with you forever.

The CGI was somehow more terrifying and disturbing than I could ever have imagined. It worked when the cats were wearing clothes, but if they were naked it was a living nightmare. I can imagine the filmmakers, who I'm sure had worked with CGI before, kept getting assured that it would look better once it was done (which it usually does), and then when it was done, it did not look good, so they just said fuck it. Let me tell you this was NOT a Jurassic Park miracle. Objectively a terrible movie, in the right context it can be a delightful experience. ??/10

20% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBO Max

October 22nd: Hereditary

From Ari Aster, the same writer/director as Midsommar, Hereditary is a classic supernatural family horror. After watching Midsommar I considered removing this from the list, but that movie has stuck with me in some positive ways over time. I think I'll give Mr. Aster another chance. I am intentionally going in as blind as possible so I don't have much else to say here except that I am creeped out by the premise.

My take:

Honestly, I didn't watch this. I watched Dune instead. Go watch Dune. Dune was a solid 8/10.

89% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Showtime

October 23rd: A Quiet Place

I put this on the list once I heard it was a part of the Cloverfield Universe. I don't love those movies, but I am a hardline sucker for shared universes. Plus it has that kid from The Undoing.

Starring and Directed by John Krasinski of Amazon's stellar series Jack Ryan, A Quiet Place is about blind alien monsters that you will likely never get to see except for the giant spoilers in A Quiet Place Part II. But, let's face it, this movie was never really going to be about the monsters, but the struggles of being a woman in a world where you aren't aloud to speak. I bet The Rock let's her talk. Come join me as we watch a married couple work out their problems on the screen instead of in therapy.

My take:

Hated it. 5/10.

96% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Paramount +

October 24th: The Invitation

This slot was originally taken up by another Robert Eggers film but I hated the Lighthouse so much that took it off.

The Invitation has been on my list for a few years now but I haven't felt like it was ever the right time to watch it. It's about a dinner party that gets weird. From Karyn Kusama, director of the 2009 feminist horror Jennifer's Body, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the guys who would go on to write the wonderful The Mysterious Benedict Society, and made with a budget of only $1 million. I have heard nothing but good things and expect the same.

My take:

Loved it. When I'm talking about the perfect recipe for my kind of horror flick, this is it. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi know how to write. The ending made me want to finish The Mysterious Benedict Society. 9/10.

89% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Tubi

October 25th: Cargo

Starring Bilbo Baggins of Black Panther fame, Cargo is an Australian post apocalyptic zombie retelling of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Just watch it.

My take:

Not as good as it could have been. I loved the indigenous anti-colonialist themes; I wish it would have leaned more into that. I'm getting annoyed with these survival films where the problems are almost entirely caused by stupidity and incompetence. It was okay in this one because it played into the larger theme of white privilege. Excellent performance from Simone Landers. 7/10

88% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 26th: Crimson Peak

I debated putting this on the list, but Liz has been wanting to watch it for years so this one goes out to you, Liz. Directed by the wildly inconsistent Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pacific Rim), written by him and Matthew Robbins (writer of The Sugarland Express, Spielberg's theatrical debut) Crimson Peak promised to be good, but the reviews cry disappointment. The cast is wonderful: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska. Crimson Peak is a classic haunted mansion horror mystery.

We should get the one thing Guillermo consistently does well, fantastically spooky visual aesthetic. But really, if you haven't seen it you should watch The Shape of Water instead.

My take:

I had a great time watching Crimson Peak. Normally I hate long first acts, but the exposition here was entertaining and added to the story. The story is not what I would call good or clever in any way. The set design and costumes were extraordinary. The mystery was believable, the ghosts as well. The important thing is I had a good time and for that reason I'm willing to look past its imperfections. 8/10.

72% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 27th: Hypnotic

Another new release. Hypnotic, a psychological horror/thriller written by Richard D'Ovidio and directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote and starring Kate Siegel of Mike Flanagan fame. It follows a woman who undergoes hypnotherapy.

It looks like it could be good. I'm going in skeptical since all the new releases I've put on the list this year have been disappointments. It has everything I like in a horror film though, small cast, small budget, small spaces, small plot, big mystery.

My take:

I didn't watch this. It was on the list because I had gotten it confused with the Ben Affleck project of the same name.

Stream on Netflix

October 28th: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm not really a Charlie Kaufman fan. I didn't watch this when it came out last year because I thought it was about suicide and I don't love stories about suicide. Supposedly it's not, supposedly the title is referring to ending a relationship. I also didn't know this was horror. So, with that in mind. A horror/thriller entitled I'm Thinking of Ending Things referring to wanting out of a relationship when the movie takes place at that person's partner's secluded family farm written and directed by the guy who brought us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you've got the recipe for a potentially great movie experience.

Prepare to be confused. Prepare to spend far too much mental energy trying to figure something out that is actually infuriatingly shallow. I haven't seen this, so these are just my predictions. Let's get our sweaters and wine and let's GO! The height of the ceilings on the poster are horrifying enough!

My take:

I didn't end up watching this because I didn't want to.

82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (Note the audience score is only 49%)

Stream on Netflix

October 29th: Fever Dream

Fever Dream is a horror film from Peruvian writer/director Claudia Llosa (The Milk of Sorrow) that released on Netflix on the 13th. It's about a woman dying and telling a boy what happened to her. It's based on the novel of the same name by Samantha Schweblin. I'm intentionally not reading too much about it. I'm expecting a weird, atmospheric, nonsensical experience.

My take:

Why did I put so many movies on this list that I didn't actually want to watch? I'm skipping ahead to It and It Chapter 2. I finished the book on Wednesday and have been losing my mind. If you are still reading this, I can feel It inside my head. It is calling me back. Back to somewhere I can't quite remember. Like a thought at the edge of experience. Like when you change rooms and forgot why. There is a terror buried deep inside. Locked away. Someone (something) has inserted the key and began to turn.

69% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 30th: Aliens

This is one of the two movies on this list that I've seen. I haven't seen it for at least a decade. I'm excited for some young Bill Paxton.

Rent on AppleTV

We made it. It's time for the real meat of the list. What comes next is more horrifying than you could possibly imagine. A list so spoopy, so smooky, you might not ever be able to sleep again. Grab your popcorn. Lock the doors. Turn off the porch lights, because we are not going to be giving out candy this year. I tried to alternate the tension between light hearted and intense. We don't want anyone to have a heart attack. Not all of these are movies, some are shorts, many of them Stephen King. Are you ready for The 13 Frights of Halloweenie!?

October 31st Part One: Jennifer's Body

First off is the allegedly criminally underrated 2009 feminist slasher from fempire writer Diablo Cody (Juno) and director Karyn Kusama (The Invitation). I don't feel like there is anything else to say, oh yeah, it's starring Megan fucking Fox! And it's inspired by a true story.

45% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream free with ads on Amazon Prime

October 31st Part Two: Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark is a New Zealand thriller that released October 1st. It's a low budget indie thing debut from James Ashcroft. It's been generally well received as smart, well-acted, and scary. The synopsis from the googles: "Ruthless drifters take a school teacher and his family on a nightmarish road trip that forces the man to confront his past self."

92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent from Apple TV

October 31st Part Three: Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales

The latest in the wonderful Disney+ Lego specials. This is 46 minutes of goofy horror spoofs a la Lego Star Wars. If you've played any of the Lego video games you know what to expect: modern day Vaudeville comedic antics.

Stream on Disney+

October 31st Part Four: It Comes at Night

Honestly this is just on here because Liz and I were trying to help one of her writer friends brainstorm a new name for her upcoming book. It looks good. Low budget, small cast, confined spaces. All the ingredients are there, let's see if they can put it together.

87% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 31st Part Five: The Muppets Haunted Mansion

I fucking love The Muppets. I have been so freaking excited for this since I heard about it. I don't know how I've managed to wait all month to watch it. Gonzo is our star in this 46 minute Disney+ special, studded with star cameos such as: Will Arnett, Taraji P. Henson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Pat Sajak, Danny Trejo, John Stamos, and many more.

79% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Disney+

October 31st Part Six: Misery

I haven't just been watching horror movies all month, I've also been reading horror novels. While I am by no means a Stephen King devotee, Misery is an excellent book and I'm excited to cap off the experience with the movie. Starring the legendary James Caan and Kathy Bates, directed by Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap), and written by William Goldman (All the President's Men, The Princess Bride). This is peak 1990 Hollywood folks.

90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBO Max

October 31st Part Seven: It

Part two of the Stephen King mini movie marathon. I have been reading It. Hopefully I will have finished It in all of It's 1150 pages of glory. A huge amount of the horror in the book comes from how long It is. The horror in the movie comes almost exclusively from Bill Skarsgård. Like he is terrifying even when he's not wearing the It costume and makeup. I've been pretty stoked to watch this. Both It and It Chapter Two are on HBO Max.

86% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBO Max

October 31st Part Eight: It: Chapter Two

For some reason this one has Bill Hader in It. They have to kill It. Kill It with love and friendship and the power of imagination.

62% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBO Max

October 31st Part Nine: 1922

Capping off the Stephen King segment is the 2017 Netflix adaptation of Stephen King's Novella of the same name. This one has been on the list for years, but I haven't quite been in the headspace to watch it.

91% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Netflix

October 31st Part 10: Ready or Not

Starring one of my favorite actors of this generation, Samara Weaving, Ready or Not was one of those slasher/thrillers that I dismissed out of hand because the premise was so absurd, a bride is hunted by her in-laws and must survive the night. But then I saw Samara Weaving in The Babysitter, Bill and Ted, and Nine Perfect Strangers. This should be a lot of fun.

88% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent from Apple TV

October 31st Part 11: The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

We should see a lot of the same themes we saw in Ready or Not in this classic horror film. A group of people are invited to stay the night in a haunted mansion that is both fake and also actually haunted. It's supposed to be funny. We'll see.

Stream on Amazon Prime

October 31st Part 12: Halloween

That's right, I haven't seen Halloween. I feel like it's time. Starring the legendary Jamie Lee Curtis and Mike Myers (Shrek), the 1978 film from John Carpenter established so many genre tropes that I'm sure it will seem juvenile through my 2021 eyes. The inspiration for violence against women for generations to come. This is really the capstone to the list. There is one more but how many of us are actually going to get through 13 movies in one day?

96% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Rent on Amazon

October 31st Part 13: Coco

Coco isn't really a Halloween movie, it's a Día de los Muertos movie which is celebrated on Nov 1st and 2nd. If you've made it this far it is probably passed midnight which means it is Nov 1st. This is on the list as a palate cleanser to usher out the bad spirits and welcome in the good spirits as we move out of spooky season. Also it's a masterpiece.

97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on Disney+

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