CINE-WEEN is really getting going, and if you’re like many folks this spooky season, you’re looking for some spooky stuff to watch (likely over streaming). Running on Stream was a weekly column I abandoned due to time where I would highlight cool stuff on streaming services you may have missed. I promise, if I ever have the bandwidth to write regularly, I will bring it back; for now, I wanted to give you all a Halloween-specific edition. Of course, many in our audience are true horror hounds who have had their 31 days of horror playlist planned for weeks, and will find many of my suggestions obvious and pedestrian. This piece is not for you. If you want me to be a deep cut nerd about horror, check out my podcast with Justin Lore, Horror Business, where we regularly reveal what nerds we are. This piece is for those more casual among us looking for some less-than-obvious-but-not-too-obscure choices they can find easily streaming this season!
I scoured streaming services to find these 15 titles I love, and while some of them might seem too obvious or too strange, they were all things I enjoy that were not too hard to find. Now, I apologize in advance if, at whatever time you are reading this, one of these movies has left the service it was on. Unfortunately, while the internet is forever, streaming is not. Still, most of these have been available somewhere for some time, so I don’t think you should have too hard a time finding them. Check it out and have a spooky streaming time!
- Dead & Buried – You don’t have to start your season with my first choice, but it wouldn’t be a bad place to start. This thing is dripping with atmosphere and that atmosphere is cute coastal town terror. Is this the Pacific Northwest or New England? Who cares, people who live by the sea are always weird one way or another. This is kind of gross, but not too gross to kill a chill vibe, but oh man is it still upsetting. Available on Amazon Prime.
- Phantasm – Come on, if you know you know. If you do not, treat yourself to one of the most haunting independent films ever made, a series of weekend shoots coalesced into a piece of dark nightmare fuel that has been creeping under the skin of audiences for as long as I have been alive. It is best for those who are patient and engaged as viewers, but has enough strange stuff to keep most folks invested. Available on Shudder and Amazon prime.
- Night of the Demons – Perhaps the most obvious choice on my list, this is set on Halloween, features punk and goth characters, and was written by a Philly native. This is a weird choice because I kind of hope everyone reading this has already seen it, but just in case, you have to watch this fun romp of a possession film. It is ridiculous, but also unrelentingly intense and gorey at times. Even if it has been awhile since you saw it, it is basically essential. Available on Shudder and Pluto.
- The Wicker Man – I admit, this is such a spring movie that it might feel out of place for your fall season (unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere). However, I just need some Folk Horror when I do spooky season and as far as I could tell this is the most readily available title on streaming. If you can find a Viy or Witchfinder General or something of the like, that might fit better. I guess I should have recommended The Blood on Satan’s Claw (which is on Tubi) but whatever, fuck it, watch them all! The Wicker Man is available on Amazon Prime.
- Eyes Without a Face – So haunting, this meditation on beauty and identity is the kind of almost sci-fi nightmare I love to work in during the season. This is a film that feels very artistic but still manages to be a bit of a gut punch. You can definitely share this with your less horror interested friends, it is approachable, but it is no less powerful for that. Available on HBOMAX.
- Rawhead Rex– Oh, you thought this whole list was going to be films everyone is in agreement on? Just a catalogue of critically acclaimed horror with no shlock or trash to be found? Fuck all that. This movie is inarguably bad, and yet somehow super fun for me? Not just fun either, it has some real moments of fear, as well as some food for thought if you like to think about the ways English colonialism is fueled by an anxiety about their own pagan past. FUN RIGHT? Look, the monster pees on a priest, what else could you want? Available on Shudder and Kino Cult.
- Toad Road– Okay this is a strange choice so let me get into it right off the bat by saying, I have a bias towards 70’s and 80’s horror and sometimes I have to force myself to break out of that. I also don’t want only good time fun things on this list, sometimes I want stuff that hurts a little bit. Toad Road is a contemporary under seen horror film that is basically a meditation of isolation and drugs. It is upsetting and strange. It is not a feel good film, and it is best couched between stuff that gives you good feels on your watch list. You might hate this if you prefer a direct and gripping narrative. This is a mood piece though and sometimes I want my mood to be bad. Available on Kino Cult.
- Equinox– What if we combined an atomic era teen horror with a 70’s satanic horror and then blew the whole thing up into a Harryhausen claymation monster fest? Does that sound cool? Of course it does. This film is such a strange combination of ideas and vibes it should not for any reason work but it does. Starts slow but stick with it and it will be a fun, mind melting ride. Available on HBOMAX and The Criterion Channel.
- Kwaidan– An anthology of Japanese folk tales that is, quite simply, one of the greatest horror films ever made. Beautiful, haunting, and emotionally challenging, this is what cinema is about. Granted, maybe a bit artsy for some during the season but trust me, a brief break for healthy will make the candy taste all that much better. Plus, it is simply amazing. Available on HBOMAX.
- The Hunger– I was feeling self conscious that, with the exception of Night of the Demons, this list felt very unsexy to me, as well as not featuring a ton of classic monsters. Easily solved with one film, a horny exploration of Vampires that is more style than fear but all the better for it. Wanna know why folks think Bauhaus is cool? Here you go! Available on HBOMAX.
- Madhouse-Any list of Halloween films that doesn’t feature at least one Vincent Price film is not worth your time. This list has two, so I expect an award, thank you. No really, this film is a little slow but still fun as hell and will add the gothic goofyness your film marathon needs. Available on Amazon Prime.
- Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse– I needed at least one more modern film. You could argue this film functions as much as a Christmas film as a Halloween one, but this story of witchcraft, early European insanity, and actual madness is upsetting and artistic in all the right ways. Definitely another bummer on the list but don’t be a coward, you need to toughen up a little bit. This one is also on the Arrow app so this gives me an opportunity to remind everyone there is an Arrow Video app and it is well worth the money. You could do a full 30 day marathon just on that app so get it.
- Hellraiser– This walks the line, for me, between feel good classic and actually upsetting. There are some moments in this film that STILL show up in my nightmares. It is also a classic though I feel comfortable putting on at a costume party in the background. If you have seen it before watch it again, but if for some reason you have never been exposed to the gorey psycho-secual magic of Clive Barker this is as gross a place to start as any. Available on Shudder, Amazon Prime, and Tubi.
- Theater of Blood– Our second Vincent Price movie of the list, this one features a scorned actor getting revenge on his critics and haters. It is over the top and ridiculous, but in a way that is entirely satisfying. Vincent Price is doing SO MUCH in this while surrounded with an unbelievably stacked cast of british actors. The talent in this film is overwhelming, and then the film itself is just so crazy and fun. I love it, and I suspect you will as well. Give it some of your time. Available on Hulu.
- Blacula / Scream Blacula Scream- For folks who don’t know any better, these films have become punchlines. If you have ever tried to watch Blackenstein I could see why, sight unseen, you might assume these films are silly. They are not. Yes, there is an amount of camp involved, but never in a regrettable way. They are fun, they have a lot of interesting details, and besides being incredibly entertaining they exist as documents of a time and place too quickly forgotten. I know doing two films is cheating, but both are now on Shudder so just do a double feature and thank me later.