Since it’s finally October, I figured I’d take a break from covering this year’s New York Film Festival and give you a scary movie to watch for every day of this month! From classics to movies that just came out, here are 31 must-watch horror films!
- Vampires VS the Bronx (2020)
- Begotten (1989)
- Vampyr (1932)
- Barbarian (2022)
- The Love Witch (2016)
- The Shining (1980)
- The Lighthouse (2019)
- Smile (2022)
1. Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
- I’ve already written about Halina Reijn’s English directorial debut, so it was a no-brainer to include it here. Kick October off with one of the most fun slasher-whodunnits I’ve seen in a while! It’ll have you laughing, gasping and thinking about society (in a good way).
2. Cure (1997)
- Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s psychological mystery-horror follows a detective investigating a string of gruesome murders, and is one of the most unsettling things you’ll ever see. Released amidst a wave of Japanese films that included Ring (1998) and Audition (1999), this cornerstone of horror is a must-watch!
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- While Wes Craven’s supernatural slasher may have spawned an entire franchise, few come close to the original. Introducing the now-iconic character of Freddy Krueger, viewers are guaranteed thrills, chills and even a few laughs. One of the more unique entries into the horror canon, and easily one of the greatest American horror films to ever be released, this absolutely belongs on your October watchlist! Find it on HBO Max
4. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
- Promoted as “the first Iranian vampire western,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s Persian-language horror film is one of the most original and fascinating things you can watch this year, let alone this month, and it’s free on Tubi! The cinematography, along with some fantastic acting, really make this a singular entry in the vampire canon.
5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
- Besides some boutique releases, George A. Romero’s magnum opus is sadly hard to find in terms of streaming or physical releases. Thankfully it’s free on YouTube! When we talk about zombie movies, this one has to be in the conversation. It’s a must-watch for all horror fans!
6. Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)
- Issa López’s genre-bending horror film cross-cuts intense realism with magic and fantasy to explore themes of childhood trauma, class and death as a group of Mexican children try to survive cartels and the ghosts they create. Fans of Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) will love López’s unique, compelling offering! It’s now streaming on Prime Video, catch it while you can!
7. X (2022)
- Ti West’s take on the slasher has spawned one of the more unique trilogies in recent horror history. While the third installment, Maxxxine, was just announced, we at least have two fantastic horror films to keep us entertained until it hits theaters! This first movie focuses on a group of pornographers staying on an old couple’s farm, where nothing is as it seems…
8. Thirst (2009)
- Park Chan-wook’s flirtation with genre has always produced fun results, but Thirst is a real standout in his impressive oeuvre for a few reasons. Firstly, Song Kang-ho—need I say more? Along with his—and others’—fantastic acting, there are some gorgeous shots here. It’s an erotic, amazing-looking macabre film that only Park can pull off (in the best way). Stream it via Peacock!
9. La Llorona (2019)
- Do not mistake Jayro Bustamante’s blend of arthouse, social commentary and history with the blander, more commercialized The Curse of La Llorona that happened to come out the same year. Bustamante’s take on the classic Latin American myth follows an aging dictator haunted by the past, and makes fantastic use of shot composition, cinematography, and of course great acting. This is one horror film you won’t forget!
10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
- Despite this film being banned in several countries upon release, Toby Hooper’s most well-known work has since become iconic, with tons of remakes/sequels (most recently the Netflix version that released earlier this year); but nothing comes close to the original. It’s smartly made with themes of class and gender, and is one of the watches all horror fans must experience! Luckily for us, it’s free on Tubi!
11. His House (2020)
- There’s so much to say about Rami Weekes’ tale of a refugee couple struggling with adjusting to their new life in an English town, where something evil lurks in the walls of their house. Scares are aplenty in this harsh look at class, gender, colonialism and so much more. Watch it on Netflix!
12. Blood and Black Lace (1964)
- Mario Bava’s classic take on the slasher follows a series of killings in a Roman fashion house full of models, and has everything you could want in a horror film. Part of the Giallo wave that emerged from Italy, the film has lush visuals that are popping with color, and some intense kill scenes. Fans of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) or Deep Red (1975) will love this! Catch it on Tubi for free
13. House (1977)
- Nobuhiko Obayashi’s iconic horror movie is a real standout in Japanese film history for a few reasons: in terms of the visuals, it’s incredibly experimental, frequently mixing animation with live-action, along with some fairly astounding editing keeping us thoroughly entertained as we follow a group of school girls into a haunted house. Stream it via HBO Max!
14. It Follows (2014)
- I was lucky enough to see David Robert Mitchell’s wildly innovative supernatural creature feature in theaters, and remember it forever changing the way I viewed the possibilities of the horror genre. A faceless monster possesses a group of teens one by one, putting them in the fight of their lives. Now on Netflix, this gem is full of great visuals, amazingly scored and well-acted; it’s not one to miss!
15. Candyman (2021)
- With Jordan Peele as a co-writer, Nia DaCosta’s revival of a horror classic was bound to succeed, and succeed it did! Infusing one of horror’s most iconic killers with a socially-aware slant, there’s so much to appreciate about this refreshing, compelling and terrifying movie! Now on Prime Video
16. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
- George A Romero really broke the mold of zombie films with this offering; pushing back against racist tropes that were present in earlier iterations of the zombie flick, Romero instead gives us a wild blend of social commentary and horror as a group of people trapped in a farmhouse fight off hordes of the undead. With films like this, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), I think it’s pretty clear who the king of the zombie film is! Available via Tubi, Prime Video and HBO Max, there’s no excuse to not watch this!
17. Halloween (1978)
- Long-kept family secrets, escaped mental patients and some brutal murders in the suburbs color John Carpenter’s incredibly important contribution to the slasher genre, one that’s still going with Halloween Ends (2022) releasing later this month. Before that hits theaters, be sure to watch the one that started it all via Prime Video!
18. The Host (2006)
- Bong Joon-ho uses the creature feature to examine themes of colonialism, family and nation in this unforgettable story that follows a father trying to rescue his daughter after she’s kidnapped by a lizard that’s been mutated by military pollution. Smart, compelling and heartwarming in certain scenes, this is one of my all-time favorites!
19. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
- The more I watch this film, the happier I am that it’s managed to achieve the cult status it definitely deserves. Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, Karyn Kusama’s portrayal of a high schooler possessed by a man-killing demon has been the subject of much academic study for good reason. Along with being so smartly written, it’s simply a fun, great movie! Available on Prime Video
20. The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015)
- Robert Eggers first burst onto the scene with this unique piece of folk horror as his debut. Strongly focused on historical accuracy in terms of the costuming, set design and dialogue, it’s a refreshing take on a classic trope. With powerhouse performances from all the actors, but especially Anya Taylor-Joy, this is not one to miss!
21. Eraserhead (1977)
- David Lynch’s feature-length debut is as weird as you’d expect. It’s almost impossible to describe the plot of this movie, and I don’t think that’d really do anything for your viewing experience either; just be sure to stream it on HBO Max!
22. Train to Busan (2016)
- This is NOT your average zombie movie. Yeon Sang-ho gives audiences a fast-paced film full of thrills and social commentary after a zombie outbreak happens while a wealthy businessman tries to take his daughter to Busan. Available on Prime Video
23. Scanners (1981)
- I’ve mentioned it before, but David Cronenberg’s Sci-Fi horror is one of the films that really made me start to appreciate what movies can be. Telepaths killing each other, corporate conspiracies, and some wild practical effects. Need I say more? Stream it on HBO Max!
24. The Platform (2019)
- When making this list, I was so glad one of the best examinations of class inequality happened to also be a horror movie. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s film about a multi-tiered prison is disturbing in how closely it reflects our world. Smart, emotionally-impactful and wildly intense, you can’t go wrong with this one. Stream it on Netflix!
25. Alien (1979)
- While this franchise has seen numerous exciting sequels like Prometheus (2012), nothing comes close to Ridley Scott’s original sci-fi horror classic. It’s smartly written, and examines themes like labor and gender as we follow a commercial space crew’s encounter with the horrors of outer space.
26. The Thing (1982)
- The first entry in John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy (followed by Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness) is a uniquely psychological take on the creature feature that's centered around a group of researchers trying to survive an encounter with a shape-shifting alien. With an iconic soundtrack by Ennio Moriconne and some groundbreaking practical effects, this film is guaranteed to entertain and frighten. Find it on Peacock!
27. Suspiria (1977)
- This is often considered the best movie by Italian legend Dario Argento, and it’s obvious why that’s the case. Based around a ballet dancer discovering how a string of murders connects to a supernatural conspiracy, this film is easily one of the best things you can hope to watch this month. Cinematography, music, it has it all—and it's free on Tubi!
28. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)
- Considered to be one of the most influential examples of German Expressionist cinema, F. W. Murnau’s unofficial/unauthorized adaptation of Dracula turns 100 this year. With the eye-popping set design that’s become synonymous with films in this movement, as well as some great editing, it’s a unique gem that was almost forgotten when a court ruled that all copies of it be destroyed. It’s a miracle we can watch it for free!
29. NOPE (2022)
- This just might be Jordan Peele’s most intriguing film to date. With many calling it the best UFO movie they’ve ever seen, I don’t think I need to say much to convince you this is worthy of your October watchlist; but if you’re still unsure, here’s a spoiler-free review!
30. Pearl (2022)
- After seeing X, I was initially unsure about the need for a prequel, but after taking Scorsese’s advice and actually watching it, I’m glad I did. The editing is amazing, as is the music, and Mia Goth’s acting gave me hope for the future of horror. Easily one of my favorite films to release this year, you HAVE to watch this movie.
31. Scream (1996)
- I consider Scream to be THE horror movie, proven by the way it breathed life into a genre that had gone stale before its 1996 premiere. Along with the meta-commentary, it’s a terrifying glimpse into the violence that lies just under suburban life. Easily one of the greatest horror films of all time, there’s no better way to spend Halloween than watching this on Paramount+!
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