Netflix Review – 31 Halloween Films

Originally, I planned on reviewing 31 horror films for the month of October. I then realized that I didn’t start early enough. Also, I’m moving. So, instead, here are 31 films on Netflix. Not all of them are horror movies, but since I think horror movies are inherently in the spirit of Halloween (with exceptions), most of them are. I tried to make them at least somewhat different, so hopefully you get a decent tour of all the types of scares. I’m sure there are some I missed, so leave your favorites in the comments. Also, apologies if some get pulled. I dunno how Netflix decides.

Update: OKAY, SO APPARENTLY NETFLIX IS PULLING A BUNCH OF THESE ON OCTOBER 1. F*CK THEM. WATCH THE LOST BOYS THIS WEEKEND.

  1. Terrifier

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It’s a clown. It’s a serial killing clown. It’s a serial killing clown who is smart enough to carry a gun as a backup weapon. It’s literally everything I fear.

*Warning* This movie is pure gore fest and it is genuinely disturbing. It’s not clever, it’s not even particularly scary, but it does have a creepy clown who kills people in horrible ways. This is the most skippable of the movies on the list.

  1. Se7en

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On the other end of the spectrum from Terrifier is a movie that should unnerve you deeply but has a notably low body count. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are hunting down a serial killer who is obsessed with the Seven Deadly Sins. If you have never seen it, now is the time.

  1. The Babadook

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The best monster movies use the monster as an allegory for something. This one uses it as a representation for grief and loss. Denying it just makes it stronger and it can drive you crazy. It’s one of the better horror films of the last decade.

  1. Scream 2/Scream 4

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I dislike the fact that the only Scream movies on Netflix are 2 and 4, which are neither the best nor the worst entries in the franchise. Still, they’re solid slashers that have an added commentary, with the former mocking sequels and the latter mocking revived series.

  1. Before I Wake

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Kids with superpowers can be creepy. Kids with superpowers they can’t control are even creepier. This movie features a child who can’t stop bringing his dreams, and nightmares, to life, including the “Canker Man,” a recurring nightmarish figure bent on consuming everything.

  1. Children of the Corn

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Based on the Stephen King story, this film depicts a town in which the children, motivated by religious zealotry, got rid of all of the adults. It’s corny (f*ck you, I stand by the pun), but it’s also got a great performance by John Franklin as Isaac.

  1. Cargo

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In one of the better recent interpretations of a zombie movie, this depicts a family trying to survive in the remains of the world, focusing on them trying to get their baby to a safe place after they’re infected but before they’re turned. It’s powerful and emotional, something you don’t usually get from zombies.

  1. Clown

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In a great subversion of the killer clown genre, this movie doesn’t make the clown the bad guy, instead it makes the clown outfit itself evil. It’s not the greatest horror movie in many respects, but the concept is played so well that it still should be seen.

  1. Train to Busan

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I’m obligated to put this on any list of horror films. This is a Korean zombie film and it is one of the best in the genre. It has as much social commentary as old-school Romero, the action sequences of 28 Days Later, and the character-building of Shaun of the Dead. Truly a great addition to horror.

  1. Curse of Chucky/ Cult of Chucky

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Child’s Play was a franchise featuring a killer doll that gradually went from kind of clever to terrible to self-parody-level bad. Then, these two movies were released which actually moved the franchise back to fairly clever and somewhat scary. They’re both on, and you should watch them together.

  1. The Babysitter

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One of the better horror-comedies of the last few years, and a Netflix original, this film features a group of teenagers who would usually be the victims in a horror film instead being the villains. They’re opposed by a 12-year-old who finds out their secret and a wonderful comedy of errors ensues.

  1. The Descent

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Darkness is scary. Being enclosed is scary. So, taking both of those elements and making a movie about women crawling through small caves in darkness while being hunted by creatures was always going to be pretty damn scary.

  1. Hush (2016)

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In a great take on the slasher genre, this film depicts a killer stalking his victim. The catch is that his victim is actually deaf. To balance out this disadvantage, the film allows her a rare advantage in horror protagonists: She isn’t a complete idiot. This element ends up making it a pretty solid movie.

  1. Let Me In

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This movie has a lot to unpack. It’s a movie about the friendship and budding romance between two kids, one of whom is actually a vampire, but unlike many films that try something like this, this movie doesn’t shy away from the reality that vampires mercilessly murder people as a matter of survival. It’s touching, messed up, and has some amazing performances.

  1. Holidays

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An anthology of horror shorts, each one based on a different holiday. Admittedly, I think “Halloween” is not the best one, but it was directed by Kevin Smith and features an interesting take on horror clichés, particularly how women are viewed.

  1. The Endless

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A sequel to the movie Resolution, which, sadly, is not on Netflix, this film can still stand on its own. It features two brothers who survived a suicide cult returning to the location of the cult, only to find that an entity there is trying to manipulate time to cause the apocalypse. It’s a thinker, but it pays off.

  1. Oculus

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A movie that manages to screw with the audience almost as well as it screws with its characters, this story about two siblings and an evil mirror is all about perception. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites give two great performances and the film is creepy and twisted from start to finish.

  1. Hellraiser/Hellraiser 2

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These movies brought Clive Barker’s demonic Cenobites, particularly the lead Cenobite nicknamed “Pinhead,” into the mainstream. They’re basically creatures so removed from human concepts that they view pain and pleasure as the same thing and want everyone to feel both with them.

  1. The Void

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It’s a 1980s horror film combined with H.P. Lovecraft. It’s got cultists, mad scientists, tentacle monsters, evil babies, and, of course, the couple that has recently broken up that might get back together if they are confronted with the apocalypse.

  1. The Witch

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There are a lot of good elements to this film, but the main one is the atmosphere. This film takes place during the 1600s and features a puritan family as they struggle to get by after being exiled. It’s got religious commentary, great aesthetics, and the entire film just reeks of supernatural threats looming just past the edge of the woods.

  1. (Alternate) The Real Ghostbusters – “When Halloween was Forever (Season 1)” “Halloween II ½ (Season 2)” “The Halloween Door (Season 4)

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Fine, this was originally the movie Ghostbusters, but apparently that’s not on Netflix right now. So, instead, here are the three Halloween episodes of the cartoon. Much like the Halloween movies (which they reference), the first two feature the Halloween villain Samhain (who is the best recurring villain in the series), while the third is completely independent. I’d recommend at least watching the first two.

  1. Extraordinary Tales

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This is a collection of five Edgar Allan Poe stories, each narrated by a different person (Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Julian Sands, Guillermo Del Toro, and Roger Corman) and animated in a different style. They’re not all winners, but overall, they still capture the Gothic eeriness of Poe.

  1. Haunters: The Art of the Scare

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This is actually a documentary about the modern Halloween haunted houses, haunted mazes, and full-contact terror simulations. It shows you how much effort some of these companies put into these attractions and how crazy some of the people asking to be scared can be.

  1. Raw

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This is the best kind of gratuitous. When a vegetarian is forced to eat raw meat, she develops a craving for flesh that starts to grow out of control. As I said in The Babadook, the best monster films make the monster an allegory, but this film goes ahead and makes the monster the urges that the main characters are dealing with. See if you can figure out what it’s a metaphor for (it’s not subtle).

  1. Coco

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Not at all a horror film, this still should become a Halloween film if only because a movie this wonderful needs to become a recurring thing. Taking place on Dia De Los Muertos and in the land of the dead, this film reminds us that death isn’t to be feared as long as we have people who love us, something most children’s films would never even consider addressing. It also makes me cry every single time I watch it.

  1. Murder Party

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I already did a full review of this one, but it’s a great Halloween film. It depicts a lonely man who happens to attend the wrong costume party and ends up being the target of five inept murderers. It’s hilarious.

  1. It Follows

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I don’t actually like this movie that much, because I constantly point out how easy it would be to confound the monster in the film, but as an allegory, the monster is pretty solid. Death is always following you. You won’t outrun it forever. But you can delay the realization of that fact through connections with others (mostly their genitals, according to the movie).

  1. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

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This movie has Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. Everyone should love it for that alone. However, it also is the funniest inversion of the “killer redneck” genre, with the main characters being lovable hicks and the college kids automatically assuming they’re monsters. It also has some of the best horror slapstick I’ve ever seen.

  1. Tales of Halloween

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An anthology film that isn’t quite as good as Trick ‘r Treat, this movie still features almost every aspect of Halloween, from the costumes to the decorations to the pranks to the candy to the pumpkins, as the focus of at least one vignette. The best one is probably “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” because it has Barry Bostwick being hilarious as the Devil, but they’re all pretty enjoyable.

  1. Boys in the Trees

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This movie was mostly overlooked, but it still is a solid Halloween flick, depicting all kinds of horror monsters. It basically starts off as a group of juvenile delinquents telling stories and pulling pranks, then having to live through their stories in an anthology. It’s basically a combination of The Halloween Tree and another great movie which is right below this.

  1. The Lost Boys

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One of the better horror-comedies of the 1980s, this vampire film stars both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim (R.I.P.) and features some of the best kid-on-monster fights until it was completely decimated by the glory of The Monster Squad. It also features one of the best ending sequences in film. Just look at that poster, it’s so damned 80s.

I hope you guys watch a few of these. Let me know what you think!

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Murder Party: How to be Amazing on No Budget

Ever witness a really great performance by a street musician or a student actor? A display that makes you think “why the hell aren’t they famous? They’re better than most of the professionals.” Well, part of that is because, unfortunately, opportunities aren’t usually given entirely on merit. You may have all the talent in the world, but getting your foot in the door of most industries is a Herculean task unless you happen to be friends with, or related to, someone within the business already. For Jeremy Saulnier, this film was his epic drum solo… that was played on a pair of trashcans because that’s all he could afford.

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I assume he didn’t have cocaine.

SUMMARY OF A SUMMARY

Lonely guy finds invitation to Halloween “Murder Party.” Finds out it’s an actual Murder Party with him as victim. Fortunately, the murderers are all incompetent art students who mostly kill themselves trying to kill him, before he gets free and turns the tables.

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No relation. To the film.

SUMMARY

Christopher (Chris Sharp), a super sad and lonely guy, finds a random invitation to a Halloween “Murder Party” on the street. Rather than re-use his previous Halloween costume, he makes a new one, a suit of armor, out of a cardboard box. He makes pumpkin bread and heads to the party, which takes him through some bad neighborhoods to a crappy warehouse on the Brooklyn Shore.

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Seriously, I love this costume. I may MAKE this costume.

There, he meets the hosts of the party, a group of art students who, being broke, are all also in cheap costumes. There’s Vampire Paul (Paul Goldblatt), The Warriors Baseball Fury Bill (William Lacey), Zombie Cheerleader Sky (Skei Saulnier), Werewolf Macon (Macon Blair), and Lexi (Stacy Rock) who’s dressed as Pris from Blade Runner. Macon tries to murder Chris, but fails, forcing the group to tie Chris to a chair, revealing that he is the victim of their very real Murder Party.

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He loses the vampire costume… I assume because the rental was up.

While they wait for the mysterious “Alexander,” their patron (Sandy Barnett), Sky eats Chris’ pumpkin bread which contains non-organic raisins, which she is allergic to. She says she just gets dizzy, but falls down and impales her head on some rusty machinery, killing her comically. Angry, Macon pours a bottle of acid on Chris, but it turns out to be diluted Acetic Acid (Vinegar) and does nothing. The group finds out that Alexander is near and hides Sky’s body. Alexander arrives with his friend Zycho (Bill Tangradi), who no one knows.

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Now she’s a real zombie. Sorry, I mean corpse.

Throughout the night, the remaining art students get high and kiss up to Alexander hoping he’ll pay them to make art, resulting in them starting to turn on each other. Then, it’s revealed that Alexander’s not actually wealthy, resulting in the group turning on him as well. Everyone starts killing each other, mostly with Chris watching, until finally Chris escapes and is chased down by Bill, who Chris is forced to kill, before finally heading home, exhausted, in his knight costume.

END SUMMARY

So, if you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me talk about Jeremy Saulnier’s other two movies Blue Ruin and Green Room because I think they’re both masterworks. Green Room, in particular, is a horror movie that somehow never has any character acting irrationally, takes place mostly in one room, is almost unnervingly realistic, and is intense from start to finish. This movie shows where a lot of those elements would come from.

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Including a lot of colored lighting in the scenes.

This movie was made on a small budget. I mean, it’s estimated to have cost $190,000 by Saulnier, but that’s still a pretty cheap for this kind of film. To put this in perspective, Roger Corman, the king of B-movies, thought you couldn’t make a professional-looking film for $250,000. Sure, Clerks was shot for $27,000 and El Mariachi only cost $7,000 (and $250,000 of labor by Robert Rodriguez), but you can see the difference in the quality of the camerawork and lighting versus those movies. It does explain why the majority of this film is set in one location and consists mostly of the characters just talking to each other. There aren’t a ton of effects in the film, so the ones that are there tend to be used very well.

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The melted werewolf mask was a solid effect.

One interesting thing about the movie that helps make it feel less awkward that we’re just watching the people talking in a circle is that the protagonist is in the same state. Chris spends most of the movie bound to a chair, just watching these events unfold, frequently being the only one to see certain things happen, which makes us feel connected to his PoV.

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He also only says a handful of lines.

It’s also interesting that the movie forces Chris at points to deal with the bland inconveniences that are mostly hand-waved by other films, something that is hinted at early on when it has Chris return to the kitchen to turn the light off before he leaves. When Chris first tries to escape, he’s unable to figure out a plan despite being in a room full of objects that could be used as weapons in a traditional horror film, opting instead just to throw stuff at them and try to run. He can’t resist making a pun when the group starts doing it. When he does escape, he has to pee immediately, having held it for hours, resulting in Bill finding him. He stops to take his meds during the climax chase. Best of all, at the end of the movie, he’s lost his wallet and has to walk home while dressed as a cardboard knight and covered in blood. It’s little touches that distinguish the movie and show the origin of the elements of realism that set Green Room apart.

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He keeps getting better.

Also, much like Green Room, the protagonist in this movie isn’t a complete dumbass. Yes, he goes to the party in the first place, but who would have thought it was an actual murder party? When he tries to escape, he takes the freight conveyer up, then when Bill follows him, he reverses it. When he gets to the student house, he keeps trying to find a phone first. He does actually do a decent job of representing how an average person would deal with something this crazy.

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And the chainsaw to the face was inspired.

The villains aren’t exactly brilliant, however, and that’s part of the fun of the movie. They’re the least competent people to attempt a murder plot and they’re desperately seeking the approval and money of a man who is manipulating them with basically no effort. The movie takes a not-so-subtle shot at the nature of many “artists” who are more focused with the image of being an artist than with the actual work. They even have one of the characters admit that the rest of them want to kick Bill out of the group because he actually has talent and makes them feel inferior. At the end of the movie, Bill seems to be rejecting the art scene in favor of just killing everyone, but then stops to have a fancy drink at a party and talk with his friend who likes his work, indicating that even his rejection is still just an act.

I also love that they kowtow constantly to Alexander on the almost inane hope of getting a magically huge grant, to the point that they’re willing to ritualistically murder a person for it. It’s also a nice touch that each of them has a different medium (Painting, photography, film, performance art) which kind of reflects their personalities within the film. They’re actually much more traditionally explored than Chris is, except that we are given some great scenes to get to know Chris in a short amount of time without a lot of dialogue (which every other film should take note of). By the end of the movie, you feel like you know a surprising amount about each of these people.

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They all focus around the guy with the money.

Overall, I think this movie needs to get more attention, particularly with Halloween approaching. It’s funny, it’s got a lot of the Halloween spirit in it, it’s got gore, it’s got two scenes of costume sex, it’s got candy… it’s basically everything that’s great about the holiday. Give it a watch this October!

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.