As fun as Halloween weekend can be, there comes a time when the crowds and fuss are just too much to take. If going out sounds like more and more of a hassle but you’re still looking to get into the spirit of season, the streaming services got you covered. We scoured the current selections from several of the best streaming services available to find the spookiest films for your low key Halloweekend. From classic terrors to modern frights, these films will ensure you can still ensure the joys of Halloween without worrying about costumes and crowds. Grab some popcorn and turn down the lights, it’s time for our Halloween Screaming Guide.
One of the more visceral and horrifying films of the last few years, Raw is not for the faint of heart. Hazing ritual for a vegetarian veterinarian student awakens a previously untapped hunger for flesh that leads to cannibalism in this film from Julia Ducournau. It’s bloody and disgusting, but it’s also thoughtful and poignant (provided, of course, you can get past that sick feeling in your stomach). Famously, people were known to pass out while watching this film, with at least two filmgoers treated by paramedics at its screening during the Toronto International Film Festival. No one will blame you for turning it off, but if you can make it through, you’ll be richly rewarded (and maybe a little bit nauseous).
This Turkish horror film takes more than a few cues from Clive Barker, and features some genuinely disturbing demonic imagery that’s perfect for the Halloween season. We follow a group of cops as they investigate some strange goings on in an abandoned house, and soon find themselves descending into Hell thanks to the devotions of a cult. Watching this movie feels sinful, in the way that only the best horror movies can accomplish, and an aura of constantly increasing dread permeates every scene of the film. This is a journey into madness like you’ve never experienced.
A post-apocalyptic nightmare about a rogue vampire hunter and his young protégé as they travel across what used to be America towards sanctuary in Canada. Though they live in a world ravaged by vampires, Stake Land takes a lot of ideas from the zombie genre, reimagining what we think about when we think about vampires. Director Jim Mickle (who co-wrote with Nick Damici) crafted an intricate, fully realized, and totally engrossing world.
The silent era is filled with moody works of pure atmosphere, but this film from Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen is on another level. Meant as a sort of documentary about the beliefs of witchcraft throughout the ages, Haxan recreates dark scenes ripped from local folklore with a mesmerizing flourish. Broken in sections that take us from the middle ages to the modern day (well, the turn of the 20th century, anyway) Christensen explores how what was once viewed as witchcraft could be seen as mental illness from the vantage point of modernity. Still, between recreations of black sabbaths and dances with Satan, Haxan is a fascinating exercise on the mood of horror and its influence can be felt even today.
Carnival of Souls
The only feature film from director Herk Harvey is a masterclass in psychological terror. Though predictable by today’s standards, Carnival of Souls still offers an effectively creepy foray into horror and the nature of reality. There’s a deliberateness with which tension and dread are built throughout this film that leads you to a near breaking point by the film’s conclusion. Carnival of Souls is a wonderful weird and atmospheric addition to any Halloween movie marathon.
Panned as a failure on its first release, the last 80 years have been far kinder to Vampyr. Though released in the post-silent era, the film features many of the same techniques used by silent film—including interstitials—and contains little dialogue. The sounds used lend to a bizarrely off-putting atmosphere that is visually striking and nightmarish. While not outright scary by today’s standards, Vampyr is a perfect mood setter to begin a horror marathon, creating a solid foundation of dread that can be built on throughout your evening.
Horror lends itself well to short form storytelling, and anthology films are usually a fun time. This film features a quintet of tales that come together in an overarching narrative of terror. Centered around a desolate stretch of highway, various groups of travelers are forced to confront their secrets and fears. Directed by a who’s who of modern indie-horror (including Roxanne Benjamin and David Bruckner), Southbound is a delightfully horrifying take on the anthology format.
Another film from the silent era, Nosferatu is the granddaddy of vampire films. An unofficial adaptation of Dracula, director F.W. Murnau has an intriguingly atmospheric take on the Stoker story, and features a terrifying vision for Dracula, reimagined as the horribly grotesque Count Orlok. Though the Stoker family successfully sued and had the film destroyed, several copies managed to survive and has become one of the most influential horror movies ever made. It’s camera trickery and inspired shots have been mimicked and paid homage countless times over the years, but never quite as successfully as it was here.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
No film has ever quite managed to match the intensity of Tobe Hooper’s grotesque slasher classic. This film managed to set the stage for a decade of slasher horror, though not even Freddy or Jason could equal Leatherface. From the film’s opening moments, it’s clear that you’re watching a different kind of horror, one that deftly blends both atmosphere and gore to create something new. Dizzying and bizarre, the gore and brutality are arguably the least scary aspects of this film. No, this is a film designed to throw you off your guard and terrify you to your core, and it helped usher in the modern age of horror.