Have a bloody good Halloween by renting Mandy. Photo courtesy RLJE Films

Have a bloody good Halloween by renting Mandy. Photo courtesy RLJE Films

Screaming and Streaming

A selection of the best horror movies you can stream at home this Halloween.

If I had to trace the origins of my compulsion to seek scary movies for Halloween, I might picture myself in childhood, horrified by a TV broadcast of Disney’s cartoon adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I can still picture the Headless Horseman heaving that flaming jack-o’-lantern right at me. Countless nights spent enthralled by KIRO’s Nightmare Theatre library of old movies didn’t help, either.

On Halloween, one must have horror—which, thanks to streaming, is now at everybody’s fingertips via popular streaming services and more niche ones (the horror-based Shudder or the free-with-a-library-card Kanopy). (Although plenty of great movies aren’t available through streaming—so long live physical media.)

Here are some recommended titles—some brand new, some classic, all currently available streaming or on demand.

New Releases Available for Streaming Rental

Mandy

If it’s still playing in a theater near you, go see it there. Otherwise, this gorgeous movie—your basic psychedelic-backwoods-revenge picture—has been on demand for a few weeks already. If the Oscars ever noticed movies at the grindhouse level, Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough would be nominated for their otherworldly performances, as two recluses whose lives are interrupted by a Manson-like cult. Amazon, YouTube, Google Play

Hereditary

A standout 2018 horror release, this deeply messed-up film depicts a family locked in an inherited nightmare. Along with Toni Collette’s spectacular performance, Ari Aster’s film presents a love-it-or-hate-it final act that divided audiences. (I loved it.) Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

A Quiet Place

It’s basically just an exercise, but smartly handled: In some post-apocalyptic world, alien monsters (evidently blind) will kill you if they hear you—so Emily Blunt and John Krasinski and family must stay as silent as possible. Good chills from director Krasinski, and also a subliminal argument for bringing children into a disintegrating world. Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

Available on Demand Via Streaming Services

Bone Tomahawk

I’m a fan of horror Westerns, and this underappreciated 2015 film is a riot of sagebrush and gore. Kurt Russell (doing some really fantastic beard-wrangling) leads a fine cast. Director S. Craig Zahler has a new movie coming soon, the daintily titled Dragged Across Concrete. Amazon Prime

A Tale of Two Sisters

South Korean horror has a healthy cult following, and if you’re a newbie to the genre, director Kim Jee-woon’s spooky 2003 yarn provides a good sample. It’s a slow-burner about two little girls with a stepmother who stepped straight out of a very unpleasant fairy tale. Shudder

The Fog

John Carpenter’s 1980 follow-up to Halloween has been recently restored, so this might be a good time to revisit this old-fashioned tale of ghosts and weather phenomena. It’s no Halloween, but there’s atmosphere galore, and Carpenter pairs Jamie Lee Curtis with real-life mom Janet Leigh (his own then-wife, Adrienne Barbeau, plays the lead). Shudder

The Omen

A rare example of a high-class horror flick (it even won an Oscar—for Best Original Score, duh), this 1976 thriller is one of the great “demon child” films, as the wee lad adopted by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick becomes destined for a career in politics. It’s full of religious hokum and creepy-kid nightmare fuel. HBO GO

Night of the Living Dead

It never gets old. George Romero’s zombie apocalypse, filmed on a shoestring around Pittsburgh, was always intended as a political horror movie, and it still is. It will also make you jump out of your skin a few times. Amazon Prime, Kanopy, Starz, FilmStruck, & Shudder

I Walked with a Zombie

A nurse is hired to care for an invalid on a Caribbean island, and the proximity to voodoo proves an elegantly scary backdrop. Producer Val Lewton borrowed the story from Jane Eyre, but he and director Jacques Tourneur made the low-budget film into a poetic blend of light, shadow, and sound. This is one of my favorite movies. FilmStruck

Nosferatu

Proving that not all rip-offs are bad, this German silent classic illegally stole the plot of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Stoker’s widow sued, and won). But director F.W. Murnau made a haunting classic of it, and the aptly named actor Max Schreck created one of the all-time freakiest vampires. Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, Kanopy, & Shudder