Halloween is rapidly approaching, which means many cinephiles & genre nerds out there are currently planning to cram in as many scary movies as they can over the next month. In that spirit, here’s a horror movie recommendation for every day in October from the Swampflix crew. Each title was positively reviewed on the blog or podcast in the past year and is currently available on a substantial streaming service. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to add some titles to their annual horror binge. Happy hauntings!
Oct 1: Season of the Witch (1973)
“Influenced by second-wave feminism, Romero made a fantastic film about a dissatisfied housewife who dabbles in the occult, and he did it all with a budget of about $100,000 (it was originally $250,000 before his funding dropped). […] The first spell she casts is a love spell that results in her having a tryst with her daughter’s lover. It’s so scandalous! As she dives deeper into the occult, she has progressively intense dreams about someone in a rubber demon mask breaking into her home. The dream later becomes infused with her reality, leading to a shocking act that I won’t spoil in this review.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy or free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 2: Parents (1989)
“One of those 1980s grotesqueries that takes satirical aim at the Everything Is Dandy manicured surface of 1950s Leave It To Beaver suburbia. Bob Balaban directs the hell out of this pop art horror comedy, landing it somewhere between Blue Velvet & Pee-wee’s Playhouse. It also fits snugly in one of my favorite genres: the R-rated children’s film. A delightful, unsettling novelty.” Currently streaming on Amazon Prime or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 3: The Stuff (1985)
“I’ve watched the classic trailer for this one so many times on VHS & DVD rentals of other schlock over the years that I felt like I had seen it before, but it was entirely new to me. It’s no Q: The Winged Serpent but there’s still plenty overlap with the Larry Cohen Gimmickry and Michael Moriarty Acting Choices that make Q so delectable. Tons of goopy, cynical fun.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla or free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 4: Lucky (2021)
“A high-concept home invasion horror about a woman who’s cyclically attacked by the same masked killer night after night after night. This works best as a darkly funny act of audience gaslighting and a surprisingly flexible metaphor about gender politics. Recalls the matter-of-fact absurdism of time-loop thrillers like Timecrimes & Triangle, with a lot of potential to build the same gradual cult following if it finds the right audience.” Currently streaming on Shudder.
Oct 5: Saint Maud (2021)
“Spoke both to my unquenchable thirst for the grotesque as a horror nerd and my unending guilt-horniness-guilt cycle as a lapsed Catholic. I appreciated even more the second time for what it actually is (an intensely weird character study) instead if what I wanted it to be (a menacingly erotic sparring match between Maud and her patient). Currently streaming on Hulu.
Oct 6: The Haunting (1963)
“A masterpiece. Impressively smart, funny, and direct about even its touchiest themes (lesbian desire, generational depression, suicidal ideation) while consistently creepy throughout. It’s also gorgeous! The camera is incredibly active considering it was shot in early Panavision. Loved it far more than expected, considering how often this same material has been adapted.” Currently streaming on Shudder.
Oct 7: Daughters of Darkness (1971)
“Highly stylized Euro sleaze about young newlyweds who are seduced & corrupted by bisexual vampires on their honeymoon. The main villain is named Elizabeth Báthory but she’s played like a breathy, half-asleep Marlene Dietrich, and I love her. The whole thing is just effortlessly sexy and cool all around. Lurid in every sense of the word but somehow still patient & low-key.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 8: The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973)
“Some great images & a consistently sleazy vibe wrestling with a super confusing plot that falls apart the second you think about it too long? That’s a giallo.” Currently streaming on Shudder or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 9: Madhouse (1981)
“Gorgeous, uneven schlock about a woman who’s hunted & tormented by her disfigured twin sister in the week leading up to their birthday. The escaped-mental-patient plot is clearly a riff on the Halloween template, but its style feels much more like an American take on giallo than it does a first-wave slasher. Cheap, delirious mayhem with equally frequent flashes of embarrassing broad comedy & impressive visual craft.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy or free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 10: StageFright: Aquarius (1987)
“The director of the play-within-the-movie, a possible jab at Argento, is fully invested in his artistic vision … but that vision proves to be completely malleable if it sells a few extra tickets. There’s also a moment in which the director is confronted by the killer wielding a chainsaw and just throws a woman directly into the path of the blades, which, as someone whose knowledge of Argento is … extensive, seems like a pretty good jab at the older filmmaker’s less-than-modern take on gender dynamics.” Currently streaming on Shudder or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 11: Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)
“Loving giallo movies means loving digging through piles of the same-old-same-old to find the gems hiding among the tedium. This one is one of the glorious payoffs that makes the hunt worthwhile. It starts with a man awake but paralyzed in a morgue having to piece together how he got there before he’s buried alive. The answers to that mystery are familiar, but told in a sober, coherent way that’s rare in the genre. And it looks characteristically great in its Technicolor indulgences in the moments when it feels like flexing. A highlight of the genre, but one I hadn’t heard of until I saw its disc on sale.” Currently streaming on Shudder.
Oct 12: The Power (2021)
“A British body-possession horror about a religious zealot nurse with a mysterious past and a deeply damaged relationship with sexuality; the stylish debut feature from a young woman filmmaker, clocking in under 90min. And somehow I’m not describing Saint Maud??? This actually might work especially well for people who wish Saint Maud was more of a straightforward horror film. For me, they’re about equally great, but this one’s definitely a lot more immediately satisfying in delivering the genre goods and thematic sense of purpose.” Currently streaming on Shudder.
Oct 13: The Vigil (2021)
“A pretty standard haunted house horror in its broadest terms, but it crams a lot of unexpected details into its Orthodox Judaism context: cult-deprogramming, Evil Internet tech, found footage video cassettes, body horror, demons, etc. Reminded me most of the movies Demon (2015) & The Power (2021), and mostly holds its own among them in its mood & scares.” Currently streaming on Hulu.
Oct 14: The Descent (2005)
“One of those warrior transformation horrors where a traumatized woman emerges from absolute hell stronger, crazed, and doomed. Also super effective as a creature feature creepout but I like that it took its time arriving there, getting you invested in the characters before immersing them in mayhem.” Currently streaming on Amazon Prime or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 15: The Toll (2021)
“Like a malevolent fae, The Toll Man traps wayward travelers who have the scent of death if they should be unlucky enough to find their way onto his road; someone with suicidal ideation or bound for an accident is then diverted into his realm so that he can extract his toll: death. This has the potential to be more goofy than scary (The Bye Bye Man, anyone?), but in spite of its possible pitfalls, this one manages to work.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on The Roku Channel.
Oct 16: Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020)
“It’s 10% Phenomena by way of the aesthetic of the European forest and the house in which the mutants are sheltered by their mother, a solid 40% Friday the 13th per its teenage-camping-trip narrative, 20% Scream via the discussion of the “rules” of horror films, 15% C.H.U.D., 8% Housebound, 2% Fargo, and 3% X-Files black goo episode for some reason.” Currently streaming on Netflix.
Oct 17: Pumpkinhead (1988)
“Honestly more of a Great Monster than a Great Movie, but the creature design is so cool and the budget is so bare that it’s easy to forgive a lot of its shortcomings.” Currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Shudder.
Oct 18: Impetigore (2020)
“An Indonesian ghost story about the lingering evils of communal betrayal & inherited wealth (and horrific violence against children in particular, it should be said). This walks a difficult balance of being gradually, severely fucked up without rubbing your face in its Extreme Gore moments. Handsomely staged, efficiently creepy beyond the shock of its imagery, and complicated enough in its mythology that it’s not just a simple morality play.” Currently streaming on Shudder.
Oct 19: In the Earth (2021)
“This is the exact psychedelic folk horror I was expecting it to be, except with an entire slasher about an axe-wielding maniac piled on top just to push it into full-on excess. Impressively strange, upsetting stuff considering its limited scope & budget.” Currently streaming on Hulu or for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy.
Oct 20: The Empty Man (2020)
“A dispatch from an alternate dimension where The Bye Bye Man was somehow an impressively ambitious work of art. Considering its 2018 setting and its blatant riffing on Slender Man lore, it was likely even intended to be a contemporary of that mainstream-horror embarrassment, despite it being quietly dumped into pandemic-era theaters years later. Feels refreshing to see a robustly budgeted studio horror take wild creative stabs instead of settling for routine PG-13 tedium, like trying to recapture the 1970s in the late 2010s.” Currently streaming on HBO Max.
Oct 21: Possessor (2020)
“Apparently Brandon Cronenberg took note of the often-repeated observation that Andrea Riseborough loses herself in roles to the point of being unrecognizable, and built an entire fucked up sci-fi horror about the loss of Identity around it. A damn good one too.” Currently streaming on Hulu.
Oct 22: His House (2020)
“This bold debut feature from screenwriter and director Remi Weekes tackles topics of grief, disenfranchisement, loss, immigration, disconnection, and the things we keep while other things are left behind. There’s so much unspoken but powerfully present in the interactions between Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku as, respectively, Bol and Rial Majur. There’s something so palpable in Bol’s desire to disappear into this new community, joining in with the old men singing songs to their futbol heroes and blending in by purchasing an exact duplicate of the outfit on in-store advertising. By the time he’s literally trying to burn everything that ties himself and his wife to their past, it’s impossible to predict where the film will go next. Even the most artistic horror film rarely transcends into something truly beautiful, but His House does all of this and more.” Currently streaming on Netflix.
Oct 23: The Wolf House (2020)
“A nightmare experiment in stop-motion animation that filters atrocities committed by exiled-Nazi communes in Chile through a loose, haunting fairy tale narrative. It’s completely fucked, difficult to fully comprehend, and I think I loved it.” Currently streaming on Shudder, The Criterion Channel, for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy, or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 24: Cube (1997)
“A high-concept Canuxploitation cheapie with such a clear central gimmick that I’ve been comparing other movies to it for years (Circle, Escape Room, The Platform, etc) without ever actually watching it until now.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) on Kanopy & Hoopla or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 25: Castle Freak (1995)
“For most audiences this would be an inessential novelty, but I’m honestly super embarrassed I’ve never seen this Full Moon-produced Stuart Gordon flick before, especially since Dolls is my personal favorite Gordon (by which I mean I’m more of a Charles Band fan, have pity on me). Outside its creature scenes the movie is only a C-, but the actual castle freak is an easy A+, and since I watched it after midnight I have no patience to do the math on that grading based on its castle-freak-to-no-castle-freak screentime ratio.” Currently streaming on Shudder or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 26: Dark Angel: The Ascent (1994)
“A cute e-girl demon runs away from home (Hell) to torment sinners on Earth as a vigilante superhero, and accidentally falls in love along the way. Sleazy yet goofily childish in a way only Charles Band/Full Moon productions can be.” Currently streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi.
Oct 27: Shadow in the Cloud (2021)
“A total blast. 80 minutes of delicious, delirious pulp, settling halfway between a creature feature and a radio play. Not for nothing, it’s also the first time I’ve ever been enthusiastically positive on a Chloë Grace Moretz performance.” Currently streaming on Hulu or for free (with ads) on Kanopy & Hoopla.
Oct 28: Godzilla vs Hedorah (1973)
“Remains my favorite Godzilla film (at least among the relatively small percentage I’ve seen) and generally one of my all-time favs regardless of genre. Proto-Hausu psychedelia emerging from a fiercely anti-pollution creature feature. Perfection.” Currently streaming on HBO Max and The Criterion Channel.
Oct 29: Monster Brawl (2011)
“This might be the absolute worst movie that I wholeheartedly love. That’s because it mimics the structure & rhythms of a wrestling Pay-Per-View instead of a traditional Movie, which requires the audience to adjust their expectations to the payoffs of that format. Everything I love & loathe about pro wrestling is present here: the over-the-top characters, the exaggerated cartoon violence, the infuriating marginalization of women outside the ring to Bikini Babe status, all of it. It’s a pure joy to see (generic versions of) the famous monsters that I also love plugged into that template, especially when the announcers underline the absurdity of the scenario with inane statements like “For the first time in professional sports, folks, we’re witnessing the dead rising from their graves to attack Frankenstein.” Currently streaming for free (with a library membership) or free (with ads) on Hoopla.
Oct 30: Psycho Goreman (2021)
“The movie I desperately wanted to see made when I was ten years old, by which I mean it’s R-rated Power Rangers. Can’t say that novelty lands as sweetly in my thirties, especially since the Random! humor is so corny & poisonously self-aware. All of the practical gore is aces, though, and I really hope kids who are technically too young to watch it sneak it past their parents. Tested my patience for cutesy irony, but could birth a lot of lifelong horror nerds so overall a net good.” Currently streaming on Shudder or for free (with a library membership) on Hoopla.
Oct 31: Hack-o-Lantern (1988)
“Bargain bin 80s trash that’s half slasher/half variety show: featuring strip teases, belly dances, hair metal music videos, curbside stand-up routines, and amateur Satanic rituals to help pad out the runtime between its kill-by-numbers plotting. Wonderful programming if you’re looking for something vapid that’s set on Halloween night.” Currently streaming on Shudder or for free (with ads) on Tubi.
-The Swampflix Crew