Boys and girls of every age – wouldn’t you like to see something strange? Yes, it’s coming up to Halloween, and on top of all the hanging of spooky decorations and stocking up on sweeties, this is also the time of year when even the more casual viewers like to sit down to some good old-fashioned horror.
Netflix has no shortage of entertainment on offer that’s just right for the night of 31 October, from old favourites to ones you might not have seen, and from the family friendly to the anything but.
Here’s a list of ten great choices for Halloween viewing that can be found on the video streaming service right now.
Dreamworks Spooky Stories
Starting out with something that’s okay to watch with the kids, you can’t really do better than this anthology of Halloween-themed shorts from Dreamworks Animation. Kicking things off is ‘Scared Shrekless,’ which joins Shrek and co on Halloween night as they tell each other a series of scary stories. As is customary for the ‘Shrek’ movies, there’s an abundance of film references that only the adults are likely to get; e.g. one story is entitled ‘The Shrexorcist.’
This is followed by ‘The Ghost of Lord Farquaad,’ a fun but rather gimmicky short originally shown in theme parks as ‘Shrek 4-D;’ as you can imagine, a lot of stuff gets thrown at the camera.
They end in style with ‘Monsters Vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space,’ which honestly is more entertaining than the original full-length ‘Monsters Vs Aliens’ movie.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Too soon…? Given the recent trend for creepy clown sightings all over the globe, this one might be a little close to the bone for coulrophobes right now, but it still keeps things relatively family-friendly (rated 15 in the UK, it was originally a PG-13 in the US).
This colourful 1988 comedy horror sees a UFO shaped uncannily like a circus tent land just outside a small middle-American town, and the clown-faced aliens inside soon head out to start eating up the locals by turning them into candy floss.
As might be self-evident, ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space’ isn’t a particularly serious movie, and as such it’s a good pick for those who prefer their horror a bit more light-hearted.
What We Do in the Shadows
Also on the light-hearted side is this 2014 film from New Zealand, easily the funniest comedy horror movie in years. Shot in a ‘mockumentary’ style, it follows the day-to-day life of a small group of vampires living in modern day Wellington.
While it certainly isn’t for younger viewers (there’s quite a bit of gore and swearing), this really is one of the funniest films of its kind for some time, likely to appeal even to those who don’t usually care for vampire films.
Marvel movie fans will also want to check this out, as the film’s co-director Taika Waititi is now at the helm of ‘Thor: Ragnarok.’
Night of the Demons 2
Definitely make sure younger viewers are tucked away before you put this one on. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have Kevin Tenney’s original 1988 cult favourite ‘Night of the Demons’ nor its 2009 remake (which, dare I say it, is the better film), but this 1994 sequel from exploitation master Brian Trenchard-Smith is plenty of fun on its own.
Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the original, as it’s easy enough to catch up: a bunch of boarding school teens pay a Halloween night visit to a local haunted house, and all hell breaks loose. If you like your horror trashy, it doesn’t get much better than this one, as it piles on the corny over-acting, cheesy one-liners, goopy practical FX and gratuitous nudity.
Plus as is customary for unseemly horror sequels, it boasts an early performance from an actor who went on to break big, in this case Christine Taylor (wife of Ben Stiller, his co-star in ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Dodgeball’).
Beyond the aforementioned ‘Night of the Demons 2,’ there aren’t too many horror movies actually set on Halloween night that you can find on Netflix right now, so the short film from writer-director Kevin Smith in this holiday-themed anthology movie is one of your few options in that department.
Sadly, neither Smith’s chapter nor the film overall is particularly great, plus the Halloween theme is a bit tangential to Smith’s story which centres on a trio of webcam girls (the director’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith among them) who take a rather lurid revenge on their abusive boss.
Still, as a short sharp blast of shock it may prove an eye-opener, and the joy of any anthology horror is that you don’t have to spend too long with any one story before the next comes along. ‘Holidays’ is filled out by similar shorts based around such occasions as Valentines, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and more.
As you may have ascertained, because Netflix only has a few movies set on Halloween, that means it doesn’t have any movies from the ‘Halloween’ series. No matter, though, for if you’re looking for an above-average slasher movie, you’re unlikely find anything better than this 2016 movie from director Mike Flanagan.
‘Hush’ centres on a deaf novelist (Katie Siegel) who lives alone in a house in the woods, which comes under attack by a madman in a mask armed with knives and a crossbow. So begins a frenzied battle for survival, made all the harder by the would-be victim’s handicap.
A masterclass in tension and pacing, ‘Hush’ really marks out Mike Flanagan as one of the most exciting filmmakers working in horror today. His latest film, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil,’ is in cinemas on 21 October.
Another recent horror movie which doesn’t seem to have reached as wide an audience as it deserves, this 2014 movie from writer-director duo Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer is a compelling vision of a Hollywood dream that turns into a living nightmare.
Alex Essoe wows in the lead as Sarah, a deeply insecure but hugely ambitious young actress. Desperate to find her big break in the movies, she enters into a series of increasingly bizarre auditions which take their toll on her already fragile mind. Is she being groomed for stardom, or inducted into some sort of cult?
Those who like their horror movies stylish, bizarre and gruesome in the style of Dario Argento are bound to find plenty to enjoy here.
Entertainment Weekly just named this the perfect Halloween movie, and who are we to disagree? While director Stuart Gordon remains best known for his 1985 debut ‘Re-Animator,’ his 1986 follow-up (also based on the writings of HP Lovecraft) is equally worthy of attention – and is one of the few films weird enough to make ‘Re-Animator’ seem down to earth by comparison.
‘Re-Animator’ stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton reunite with Gordon, this time playing scientists experimenting with a strange device which somehow opens a gateway to another dimension – but the things that lie on the other side are horrific beyond belief. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ actor Ken Foree co-stars.
A 1980s horror through-and-through, ‘From Beyond’ is dripping with pink neon lighting, utterly bizarre special FX creations, and some rather kinky S&M action. Not necessarily one to watch with the grandparents, then.
He Never Died
Another one that didn’t get the attention it deserved on release, this 2015 movie from writer-director Jason Krawczyk is a gripping genre-bender which boasts a career-best performance from leading man Henry Rollins.
Rollins is Jack, an ageing, enigmatic loner doing his best to live a quiet life, but with an unerring tendency to attract trouble – not that this matters too much as he’s seemingly impossible to kill. But when Jack’s reunited with a daughter he’s never known, things only get more intense, and soon his past catches up with him.
An unorthodox blend of supernatural thrills, crime thriller and black comedy, ‘He Never Died’ is one of the more unique horror movies of the last few years, and an ideal choice if you’re after something that bit different this Halloween. Just don’t watch the trailer beforehand, as it gives away everything.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s outrageous crime thriller/vampire movie crossover – which, lest we forget, gave George Clooney his first big screen leading role – celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. So what better time to reunite with the Gecko brothers on their mad dash from the law, which unwittingly leads them straight to Hell?
With Tarantino’s signature whip-smart dialogue, effortlessly charismatic performances from Clooney and Harvey Keitel, a super-cool soundtrack, ridiculous gore FX, and of course Salma Hayek’s unforgettable dance scene, FDTD remains a joy even two decades later.
And if it leaves you in the mood for more, Netflix also has ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’s two straight-to-video sequels from the late 1990s, as well as the current ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ TV series.
Picture Credit: Dimension Films, Dreamworks, MGM, Metrodome, Paramount, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Netflix, Gilt Edge Media