Halloween season is upon us (though really, does it ever leave?), and so that means it's time to start reviving that spooky autumn spirit...
...And with all of us still mostly staying inside these days, what better way to get into the Halloween season than by marathoning films at home?
To celebrate the beginning of spooky season, I put together a list of 10 streaming Halloween-set horror flicks, some of which you've hopefully never seen, to get your bones dancing and put a jack-o-lantern smile on your faces. This list assumes that you've probably seen other Halloween-y greats not named Halloween like Night of the Demons, Pumpkinhead, Terrifier, Sleepy Hollow and not so great terrors like 31, so hopefully you'll find a new treat to sink your teeth into below!
All Hallows’ Eve (2013)
There are few better ways to get into the spooky season than a good, fun horror anthology, yet one of the creepiest anthologies of the decade is still one that goes underseen…which is surprising, because it contains the very first appearance of the now iconic Art the Clown from Terrifier! I’m talking of course about All Hallows’ Eve, which was written/directed by Damien Leone, who later made Terrifier after Art got such a positive reception from this film.
All Hallows’ Eve follows a babysitter who, after a night of trick-or-treating, pops in an unmarked VHS tape for the kids and discovers that the tape features three terrifying segments, all featuring Art the Clown. Art is played by Mike Giannelli here instead of David Howard Thornton, who would later take over the character in Terrifier, so while the energy is not quite the same, Art is still terrifying, and Leone brings his patented grime, gore and brutality to this sinister anthology not to be missed.
Streaming on Prime/Tubi
WNUF Halloween Special (2013)
If you grew up in a time before the internet, you grew up in a beautiful time, a time when every cable channel had their own Halloween special, and when spooky season owned your television. In 2013, a group of filmmakers tapped into that throbbing, nostalgic vein of ours with the criminally, almost unheard of WNUF Halloween Special, a found footage spoof that pretends to be footage from a 1987 Halloween broadcast presenting an expose on a haunted house where horrific murders took place.
Ever since discovering WNUF a few years back, the film has become an annual tradition to kickoff spooky season in my household, as not only does it have the nostalgic vibe of grainy VHS horror, but the film itself is packed with old-fashioned commercials, “giveaways,” and all sorts of fun nods to the public’s perception of the holiday in the 80s.
Streaming on Youtube
Hell House LLC (2015)
Hell House LLC has developed quite a following over the years, so I’m guessing many of you have seen it, but for those who haven’t, you’re missing out on one of the spookiest found-footage horrors of the last decade. Set five years after many perished during a haunted house tour, a group of filmmakers travels back to the site to learn what happened, going through footage obtained from the event as they do.
Writer/director Stephen Cognetti bounces us back and forth between the doc crew and the haunted house crew, building a devastating sense of dread for our film crew as they begin to uncover the horror of what happened. We may not be able to go to any haunted houses this season, so getting to see the development of one (even if it is fake), is a nice second option. And for those who say found footage sucks, just wait until you see the trio of creepy clown dolls in this. I guarantee they give you a good scare, at the very least.
Streaming on Prime/Tubi/Shudder
Tales of Halloween (2015)
I’ve already mentioned anthologies as great ways to get into the Halloween spirit of things, but if you want Halloween injected straight into your bloodstream, Tales of Halloween is the way to go. Trick ‘r Treat stands as the pinnacle of Halloween horror anthologies, but Tales of Halloween isn’t far behind, containing a ton of stories that amount to a mixed bag of Halloween goodies for everyone.
Featuring segments from directors Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall and Lucky McKee to name a few, plus appearances from the likes of Adrienne Barbeau, Caroline Williams, Lin Shaye, Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon and so many more, it’s impossible to not have at least some fun with this goofy anthology film. The segments may be a little too strange for most viewers, and with so many shorts, they can feel like quick bites instead of savory morsels, but if you’re just looking for a quick fix dose of sugar-coated horror treats, Tales of Halloween is a trick or treat bag full of what you need.
Streaming on Prime/Tubi/Shudder
Murder Party (2007)
A bunch of you love Green Room. But before director Jeremy Saulnier made that, did you know his first feature was an outrageously goofy, gory horror comedy called Murder Party? No? Well throw on your most poorly thrown together Halloween costume and get in on the bloody festivities!
In Murder Party, lonely guy Chris (Chris Sharp) finds a random Halloween party invitation and, with nothing but sitting at home on the agenda, decides to put himself out there and go. What he finds is the party from hell, where all of the guests want to murder him as some kind of art display! And have you ever battled a pretentious artist? They can get nasty! Fun permeates all throughout this hilarious horror comedy, and it’s a wonder to me that I don’t see it mentioned much if at all during the Halloween season.
(Okay, so this one was streaming when I put this list together just days ago, but no longer is that I know of. Still, very much worth the rental.)
The Houses October Built (2014)
Another lesser-discussed but incredibly unnerving found footage horror film set on Halloween, The Houses October Built follows a merry band of thrill-seekers who want to experience the most frightening haunted house experience possible, so they’re on a tour to find just that. In particular, they’re seeking a specific, mysterious haunted house group…one which seems to find them.
A film that celebrates the haunted house industry while scaring the pants off of you and making you second think that next time you’re about to sign a waiver form before stepping into a spook-house, The Houses October Built keeps the audience engaged until the very end, begging the question of whether or not the sinister figures which begin stalking the group are part of a safe experience, or something more deadly.
Streaming on Prime/Hulu/Pluto TV/Tubi
Idle Hands (1999)
Actor Devon Sawa starred in two great horror films of the late 90s: Final Destination, and Idle Hands. One went on to become one of the best modern horror franchises, while the other became a forgotten gem, one that deserves to have the dust rubbed off with your good hand.
Idle Hands follows Anton (Sawa), a burnout that discovers his hand has been taken over by the devil and is killing people, whether he likes it or not. Featuring appearances by Seth Green, Jessica Alba and the always excellent Vivica A. Fox, Idle Hands is a riot and a notable film in the “evil hand” sub-genre that doesn’t get enough love these days. It should be noted though that this film is unapologetically 90s with lots of dialogue that is cringe-worthy by today’s standards, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good time. And if you’re wondering okay, but how is this Halloweeny? Because the finale takes place during a school Halloween party, my Halloween loving friend! The perfect place for a decapitated hand to spill blood and go unnoticed…
Streaming on Pluto TV
C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud (1989)
I don’t care who hates me for saying this, but C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud is my jam. I get it. It has almost nothing to do with the original film, and instead of getting neat creatures we get the poor man’s version of Romero’s zombies, including Bud (Gerrit Garaham), who is basically just a ripoff of Bub from Day of the Dead, but I do not care. Nothing is going to stop me from laughing at a film where a couple of teens are trying to hide the existence of a zombie in their home a la Weekend at Bernie’s, but with a corpse that moves, bites and…dances?
Yes, once again, C.H.U.D. II finds it’s Halloween vibes in a finale at a school Halloween party, with zombies showing off moves we hadn’t seen from the undead since Michael Jackson’s Thriller. C.H.U.D. II is by no means a great film, but as long as you’re willing to look past the total disregard for the original and enjoy a dumb zombie movie, Bud the Chud is your friend.
Streaming on Tubi
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
Know what there’s not enough of? Scarecrow horror. So, if you watch anything from this list, let it be Dark Night of the Scarecrow, because we need to bring these straw-stuffed terrors back to the screen. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a good start, but let’s get a whole movie about scarecrows!
Dark Night of the Scarecrow was a made for TV movie about a wrongfully murdered man (played by the great Larry Drake), who comes back from the dead as a scarecrow to exact vengeance on his murderers. A film with something to say about bullying and angry mobs, Dark Night of the Scarecrow isn’t heavy on gore, but is heavy on eerie atmosphere and that creepy Halloween vibe that few things can illicit as well as a murderous scarecrow. Oh, and there is, yet again, a Halloween party in this film.
Streaming on Prime/Tubi
Sam from Trick ‘r Treat is the most popular (and adorable) Halloween spirit on film, but what about Jack-O, I say? Is there no room for Mr. Jack the Pumpkin Man? If you’re looking for a more hardcore Halloween spirit than Sam, then hell yes, there’s room for one more! Jack-O is a simple beast, revolving around a devilish, pumpkin-headed being of pure evil, which rises on Halloween night to exact a long festering vengeance on the Kelly family.
This film was shot on a shoestring budget, and it shows, but that’s part of the fun of the unholy mess that is Jack-O. The acting is rough and the directing isn’t much better, but it does feature genre legend Linnea Quigley, and Jack-O’s bulbous, glowy-eyed pumpkin head is actually pretty horrific, especially when he’s scything and dicing his way through victims. Anyone seeking good old fashioned bad slasher horror with a Halloween theme, Jack-O is going to be your best bet from this list.
Streaming on Prime
By Matt Konopka