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Monday, May 27, 2024

The best Halloween movies for the spooky season

Three categories of Halloween films to get you in the spirit from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime

If you’re looking for a good range of movies to spook or thrill you for Halloween, this list covers films from three popular streaming platforms: Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Within each, the movies are categorized under “Classic Halloween,” “Horror” and “Family-Friendly,” to give you variety in choosing your preferred spooky mood. 

Hulu Classic: “Children of the Corn” dir. by Fritz Kiersch (1984)

Based on popular horror novelist Stephen King’s work, “Children of the Corn,” this movie reminds us why kids can be terrifying despite their (sometimes) cute exterior. This movie follows a young couple who is stranded in a strange town run by a dangerous cult of children who believe that anyone over the age of 18 must be killed. On a spooky scale of 1-10, with 10 being nightmare-level terrifying and one being not scary at all, I would rate this a level 5. There is a minimal amount of gore with most of the fear factor coming from the suspense of how and if the couple will escape the clutches of these sadistic children. A lot of King’s works, like “It” and “The Shining,” are regarded as classics and this is one that has continued to put adults on edge for years. 

Hulu Horror: “Books of Blood” dir. by Brannon Braga (2020)

As part of Hulu’s newly released line of horror movies, “Books of Blood” is one worth checking out. Content warning: there is a fair amount of gore in this film so if you are highly uncomfortable with it, I recommend staying away from this one. The graphics are not very high quality so the gore is bearable, but I also felt uncomfortable with some scenes. Based on the anthology series by Clive Barker, the film follows three stories from the collection, each leading to its ultimate connection to the famed “Books of Blood.” Although some parts are a bit cliché, the concept of the film was one that kept me on my toes, and I would rate this a 7 on my spooky scale.

Hulu Family-Friendly: “Halloweentown” dir. by Duwayne Dunham (1998)

If you grew up in the early 2000’s, this film is likely familiar—but did you know it was on Hulu? This Disney Channel Original Movie is a throwback for a lot of us and is part of the Halloweentown series. It details a young girl’s discovery of her family’s history of witchcraft. Her curiosity leads her and her siblings to follow her grandmother to Halloweentown, where other witches, creatures and monsters reside. The problem is, they have no way of getting home until next Halloween. 

Netflix Classic: “The Evil Dead” dir. by Sam Raimi (1981)

This series is one that screams “classic Halloween horror,” with the synthesizer-heavy 1980’s music playing throughout the film and the style of the fashion, directing and graphics. I would rate this a 6 on my spooky scale, mainly because the lower-quality graphics make a difference in how effectively horrific it could be. “The Evil Dead” (not to be confused with the more modern adaptation “Evil Dead” that is also on Netflix) depicts a group of friends that find an old book that they don’t realize has the power to awaken the dead. 

Netflix Horror: “Creep” dir. by Patrick Kack-Brice (2014)

On the spooky scale, I would rate this an 8—not because it is really that scary or gorey, but the connections to the real world is what really haunts me. Shot in the “found footage” style of directing, it depicts a videographer who has been hired to travel to a remote cabin location. His client, Josef, explains that he would like to record a video diary for his unborn child. Throughout the day, the videographer grows more and more suspicious of Josef’s behavior, which effectively adds to the suspense. I highly recommend this film because it’s not conventionally scary and it has a tinge of humor that almost diffuses the suspense. 

Netflix Family-Friendly: “The Addams Family” dir. by Barry Sonnenfeld (1991)

This film is a combination of classic and cute, making it one of the most iconic Halloween movies. It shows how the Addams family copes with the return of their long-lost Uncle Fester. This man, however, is actually not their dear uncle, and is working with someone to steal the family’s fortune. Because he is wildly different from the man they knew him to be, the mother of the family, Morticia, starts to notice how suspicious things have become. The family, which originally served as a satire to the “nuclear family” concept, is fascinating due to their fixation of the macabre. They are happily unaware of how bizarre or unusual they are to others. 

Amazon Prime Video Classic: “The Crazies” dir. by George A. Romero (1973)

Another classic that was later readapted in the 2010’s, “The Crazies” ranks at a level 7 on the spooky scale. It follows a town’s descent into chaos after an Army plane crash-lands near the town. The bio weapon being transported via the Army plane infects the water supply and drives its citizens to become homicidal and insane. Hitting a little close to home due to current events, the town is forced into quarantine as martial law is declared and the military comes in an attempt to control the disease. If you’re looking for something that resembles a horror-dystopian version of our current pandemic, or you’re feeling a little cabin fever crazy yourself, “The Crazies” is a good one to check out. 

Amazon Prime Video Horror: “Hereditary” dir. by Ari Aster (2018) 

I’m not going to lie—some scenes in this film still haunt me when I try to sleep at night. Ranking at a 9 on my spooky scale, “Hereditary” is one of the most disturbing movies on this list. It’s storyline details a family coping with the recent loss of their grandmother and the aftermath of her lost presence. Soon, things turn from tragic to terrifying as their coping methods turn toward the worst, and more family tragedy occurs. I would recommend watching this if you’re ready for something that will keep you up at night. This movie is a bit graphic with some elements of gore, but is emotionally scarring more than anything. Aster’s other popular work “Midsommar” is also available on Prime Video and holds the same air of emotionally-scarring content with brilliantly-directed storytelling. 

Amazon Prime Video Family-Friendly: “Labyrinth” dir. by Jim Henson (1986)

Another Halloween family classic, “Labyrinth” stars young Jennifer Connolly and late pop icon David Bowie. Connelly portrays a teenage girl who struggles to understand her parents and home life, often being taken away from her personal time to care for her baby brother. In a tempered fit, she wishes that the Goblin King would take away the baby and to her surprise, he does. Understanding the gravity of her wish and regretting it, she has to face the Goblin King and find her way through his labyrinth to save her brother. While some parts do rub me the wrong way, namely the stubborn and infuriating nature of a young teenage girl, it has beautiful music and imagery that will continue to enchant for generations. 

Written by: Mariah Viktoria Candelaria –– arts@theaggie.org


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