Oct 9, 2020 | LIFE | By Andrew Rodden | Illustration by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez
The leaves are changing color, there is a crisp chill in the air, and Michael Myers masks are being displayed next to N95s. Yup, you know what this means: it’s officially spooky movie season! I know you’ve seen “Halloween” (1978), “The Shining” (1980), and “Friday the 13th” (1980), so here’s a list of movies that might have flown under your radar. Hopefully they’ll get you geared up for the spooky mood of Halloween.
Almost all of these movies are available to rent or buy digitally on your favorite platforms, and I’ll indicate if they’re available to stream. As with many horror films, be prepared for graphic imagery, since a few of these films contain depictions of sexual assault, gore, and extreme violence.
“Candyman” (1992), dir. Bernard Rose
“Candyman” follows graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) as she studies the Candyman (Tony Todd), the murderous soul of the son of a slave who later became a successful artist after the Civil War. His spirit, when called upon, haunts his victims with a hook attached to his arm. The film highlights the consequences of gentrification and racism at large. It also offers its audience chilling scares and horrifying visuals, a perfect watch for the Halloween season. “Candyman” is streaming on Sling.
“Cure” (1997), dir. Kirosawa Kiyoshi
A crime thriller not quite like any other, “Cure” boasts masterful editing to produce a chilling, ominous tension, following Detective Takabe’s (Yakusho Kōji) pursuit of a mysterious and persuasive serial killer. One of the necessary installments within the Japanese horror genre (J-horror for short), the film asks its audience to ponder loyalty, ethics, and even their own existence within society. “Cure” is only available to watch on The Criterion Channel.
“Revenge” (2017), dir. Coralie Fargeat
Out on what was supposed to be a romantic desert getaway, Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) and her boyfriend, Richard (Kevin Janssens), are unexpectedly visited by Richard’s friends, who mean nothing but trouble. After being left for dead, Jen must overcome the elements, trip on peyote, and enact revenge on the sickos who left her to rot. It’s violent, gory, and tough to watch, but it’s a badass film that will have you cheering for Jen the whole time. “Revenge” is streaming on Shudder.
“Eyes Without a Face” (1960), dir. Georges Franju
Franju’s film is about a morally corrupt doctor (Pierre Brasseur) who neglects all rules of medical ethics as he searches for a new face to transplant onto his disfigured daughter (Alida Valli), who wears a mask to hide her hideous features. Hopefully this movie doesn’t turn you off on the idea of mask wearing, as the eerie mask worn by the daughter might be more frightening than what’s underneath! This movie is streaming on Kanopy, HBO Max, and the Criterion Channel.
“Christine” (1983), dir. John Carpenter
Not the John Carpenter movie you might have expected on this list, “Christine” is about a high school nerd (Keith Gordon) who buys a beat up 1950s Plymouth despite his parents’ request. His confidence (and arrogance) grow as he fixes up the car, but unbeknownst to him, the car has a mind of her own. The film is pristine, a screenwriting gem, and has some stellar practical effects to boot. “Christine” is streaming through the Stars add-on via Amazon Prime.
“Ringu” (1998), dir. Nataka Hideo
After watching a VHS tape that has been linked to the deaths of several teens, a journalist (Matsushima Nanako) receives a phone call telling her she has seven days to live. She must hurry to uncover the sinister secrets of the call and the VHS tape before her time runs out. “The Ring” (2002) was based off of this J-horror film, and its influence can be felt in American horror films to this day. “Ringu” is streaming on Kanopy and Shudder.
“The Descent” (2005), dir. Neil Marshall
A spelunking group of women get trapped inside a seemingly endless cave system deep in the Appalachian Mountains, but that’s the least of their worries once they stumble into a den of bloodthirsty, subterranean creatures. The question quickly changes from “Where are we?” to “Who’s still alive?”, and several of the best jumpscares ever executed will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire runtime. “The Descent” is streaming on Sling and Pluto TV.
“Event Horizon” (1997), dir. Paul W. S. Anderson
An exploration crew (featuring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill) must set out in search of the Event Horizon, a spaceship with wormhole technology lost deep in the far stretches of space, but once the crew boards the lost ship, they become one step closer to Hell. The film has its fair share of schlock, sure, but the visual effects and costume design are in a league of their own. So don’t think too hard about this film, just enjoy the ride. “Event Horizon” is streaming on Showtime.