It’s the season of gourds, as it were, as the leaves change color and things are more commonly spiced. But while trickling foliage signals the coziest season, the hacked-up gourds into jack-o-lanterns are the real piece de resistance. It’s spooky season, baby, and that means it’s high time to curl up with a scary movie.
If you’re seeking a fright by way of horror flick projected into your living room, Plex has you covered with a stacked batch of haunts. From classics that double as entertainment and genre history, horror from abroad to broaden your personal horizons, to some reliable favorites, there’s a bounty of treasures plastered across the platform. Here’s a quick roundup of twenty-five of our favorites.
You’ve heard of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but what about the 1922 vampire movie also based on Stoker’s classic tale? Seventy years before Gary Oldman wore the hairstyle that sparked a thousand parodies, came this silent German film about a blood-sucking ghoul. Max Schreck stars as Count Orlok, an early adaptation of the character so familiar in its many iterations. Lots has been said about the legacy of this feature and its possible sinister themes, but it remains a history lesson into the rise of the monster feature. It’s worth taking the plunge for the iconic staircase shadow shot alone.
Let Me In (Canada Only)
Before he draped Robert Pattinson in bat-armor for his upcoming The Batman, Matt Reeves tackled adapting the Swedish vampire novel, Let the Right One In (which was already made into a 2008 Swedish feature) into this horror-romance movie. Abby has an interesting condition; she must drink blood to survive. After the death of her caregiver, Abby becomes desperate for both blood and companionship. The young girl befriends a young boy, communicating with him through a closed window. Their story is one of love, friendship, fear, and coming of age that posits the humanity that remains when a young girl becomes vampiric.
Leigh Whannel, ever heard of him? He’s the horror giant behind such screenplays as Saw and Insidious, and who directed The Invisible Man and Upgrade. Well, among his horror franchise giants, he once co-wrote a horror comedy. Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, the duo behind Becky, is this laugh out loud twist on the zombie genre. After some sinister chicken nuggets cause an outbreak in students, the staff of an elementary school must fight to stay alive. Truly, they should have been more prepared with some circle-circle-dot-dot, but alas.
Not to be confused with the similarly named crime drama, The Changeling is a right honorable terrifier from 1980. Though impossible to credit the early uses of “how did you die?” being lobbed at ghosts in horror features, this psychological haunt is certainly an early adopter of the phrase. Based on events story writer, Russell Hunter, swears to be true, this follows the experience of a composer moving into an empty Seattle home that he insists is haunted. Though up against another Canadian horror giant, Black Christmas, this is widely described as being one of the most influential Canadian movies of all time.
To Your Last Death
You can’t escape the wrath of scares just by hiding in animation. At least not if To Your Last Death has anything to do with it. This blood-filled animated tale has a lot of fun with the types of stories that evolved from things like Battle Royale, The Matrix, and Groundhog Day. What makes it special isn’t just the mashup of some fun familiar bits, it’s how the movie uses animation to break free of the confines of live action. Jumping through time and space, this fun little showdown refuses to be bound by the limits of reality and chooses to derive its rising and falling actions from the surreal.
This smaller budget horror by Mitchell Lichtenstein lampoons abstinence culture by positing a world where a woman’s sex organs are deadly. A bit difficult to watch, the inciting action is an assault on a woman who has taken a pledge of purity and abstinence. During the encounter, her vagina seemingly bites off the penis of her assailant. Thinking she has vagina dentata (based on a folk tale about women who have teeth inside their parts), she tries to decipher what makes her different, and in doing so has more violent encounters. Learning that her teeth don’t engage when she is in a consenting situation, she tries to explore sex and then learns of her power. Equally as upsetting as it is empowering, this story of a killer body part is an uncomfortable exploration of exploitative culture and entitlement to women’s bodies that does some work to take autonomy back.
Silent Hill (Canada Only)
Video games have often made good fodder for scary movies. We’ve had the Resident Evil films (with a new one coming this year) and even made it as far as getting Werewolves Within. Then, of course, there’s 2006’s Silent Hill. Christophe Gans adapted the 1999 Konami video game into this feature giving it the distinct taste of psychological horror. A couple is disturbed by the haunting nightmares of their adopted daughter, so they take off on a mission to visit the place from her dreams. After the daughter goes missing, the mother heads on a quest to rescue her, learning of a terrifying cult and the connections to what haunts the young girl at night.
There are few joys purer than that of a surprise genre twist, and The Descent is an exciting edition of such a joy. What starts as a sinister tale of a group of hikers becomes a terrifying story of women trapped in a cave with horrible monsters. Not letting up at the horror of being trapped in a cave with dwindling oxygen, Neil Marshall’s movie throws the leads into the mouths of beasts. Peppered with multiple cuts and endings, this horror flick is always worthy of a rewatch, and is the perfect thing for those seeking a fright with some emotional weight.
This sneaky little horror comedy almost went criminally unnoticed. Director Tyler MacIntyre, who went on to make Tragedy Girls, cut his teeth adapting his own short for this delectable feature. When a small collection of women is kidnapped after a night out, they awake to find themselves hacked together like Frankenstein’s little sister, in one Franken-body, each with their own mind intact. Struggling to work together and control their four limbs, the women set out to find the man who cross-stitched them. It’s simple enough, but MacIntyre and his cast splash the flick with fun quips, horror Easter eggs, and physical comedy which take it to another level.
House of 1000 Corpses
Rob Zombie has never hesitated to derive scares from the calculated and terrifying whims of killers. Obviously dipped in horror, giving his band the moniker of the horror classic, White Zombie, he’s thrown a lot of greats into the horror conversation. In his directorial debut, Zombie took on the iterations of rural horror, creating his own house of massacres with this tale of teenagers who are captured and tortured by some unhinged killers. What makes this take on the killer family special is the killers themselves, those that derive pure joy from the art of slaughter in ways that will linger in your nightmares.
High Tension (Haute Tension)
If you’re taking a tour though horror as an education, you’ll want to take a stop in France to check out New French Extremity. James Quandt coined this term to describe a collection of horror films from France in the 21st century, ones that often include extreme portrayals of sex and violence. This installment, about two friends encountering a psycho killer, is from Alexandre Aja, the creator behind tension laden scares like Crawl and Mirrors. This one functions better if instead of seeking holes, you just let the movie wash over you like the dripping blood of the characters.
We’ve no interest in this list expiring at the end of the Halloween season, and we want it to glide directly into the other holiday season. Yes, there’s Black Christmas, but there’s also P2. This is the directorial debut of Franck Khalfoun and was co-written and co-produced by Alexandre Aja who directed High Tension, also included on this list. For all of us who’ve hustled to our cars in dimly lit parking garages, this film will prey on our fears. After getting stuck in a Manhattan parking garage on Christmas Eve, a woman is stalked by an obsessive security guard. Keep your friends close and your keys closer.
The Midnight Meat Train
What if I told you that Bradley Cooper and Leslie Bibb were in a gory horror B movie up against a killer played by Vinnie Jones? You’d probably wanna see what the limited fuss is about, right? Well, fire up this 2008 bloodfest and get ready to be amazed. Based on the story by Clive Barker, who also wrote the stories behind Candyman and Hellraiser, this one follows a photographer who likes to capture the gritty realism of the city at night. In his exploits, he stumbles across a man named Mahogany who he is convinced is the “Subway Butcher,” who’s been getting away with killing late-night passengers for years. Unable to get the faith of the police, Leon sinks deeper into obsession trying to solve the mystery of this underground killer and his shadowy purpose.
Harpoon (Canada Only)
Some filmmakers are masters of throwing blood in all the right places, and Rob Grant is one of those filmmakers. After delivering shivers via his mean-spirited Alive, Grant came back with this almost-Hitchcockian-aquatic-horror-bottle-episode that’s smeared with rich, dark blood. A few friends embark on a boat trip, soon finding themselves trapped on the open water with a distinct lack of supplies. Struggling to survive until their hoped-for rescue, tensions escalate as secrets are slowly revealed and each of them descends into some sea fever. It’s a blast of twists and turns that never lets up and will make you want to take a cool plunge into the depths of the dark sea.
Night of the Living Dead
There’s no better lesson in horror history than this George A. Romero heavyweight. Though the “zombie” first appeared in feature films in White Zombie, Romero and this feature are credited with bringing the modern zombie into the mainstream. This tale follows a group of survivors trapped in a farmhouse after a sudden rising of the dead, who appear to have a taste for human flesh. Though a simple tale of the undead and those who attempt to hide from them, it’s a much deeper story of paranoia, fear, trust, and government protection that continues to feel relevant today. What’s more, the selection of a Black actor for the lead adds a level of devastation to the final shot that makes this movie fodder for conversation, justifying its place in horror iconography.
Ju-on: The Grudge (Canada Only)
Japan has such a rich history with horror, giving us some of the greatest horror creators and demons that are mainstream mainstays. In the early 2000s boom that followed from the American remake of The Ring also came The Grudge. The latter feature was a remake of Japan’s Ju-on: The Grudge, the third installment in the Ju-on franchise. This non-linear narrative tells the origin of the demon Kayako, a murdered woman with unfinished business. It’s written and directed by Takashi Shimizu who also wrote and directed the American remake, which is an interesting thread that allowed a carry over of the initial vision.
WolfCop (Canada Only)
What if the alcoholic cop in your small town was suddenly turned into a werewolf? That’s the core of this Canadian horror comedy. After being cursed to howl at the moon, Lou, a police officer, continues to take his policing duties seriously even while clad in thick fur and fangs. An absolute banger of a midnighter, this laugh-inducing horror feature will leave you howling for more. And you’ll get it, because Plex U.S. also hosts the sequel, Another WolfCop.
Sure, horror iconography leads us often to the masks of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Ghostface, but what about the unseen killer of this horror giant? The often imitated and never duplicated Black Christmas is a holiday season staple but just as in demand for the spooky season. A giant in the slasher sub-genre, and in the sorority house massacre sub-sub-genre, this Canadian horror movie will leave you shrieking at the call coming from inside the house. Awash in feminist rage and highlighting the power of intuition and sisterhood, this titan is not one to miss. This movie is often credited as having the fist killer POV shot on screen, but that accolade actually belongs to the next film on this list.
It is, in fact, this horror feature that gets the real credit for putting the first killer POV shot on screen. It took some time for this often repugnant movie about the recording of violent deaths to gain its cult following after it was initially slammed for causing offense. In it, the killer records the horrified expressions of his victims, something not easy to stomach now, let alone for a 1960s audience. Though not necessarily the lightest watch, this is an important piece of horror history worth glancing at for the education.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
In the same spirit as Peeping Tom above is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the absolutely vile and twisted tale of a remorseless killer. The kind of watch that makes you think “once is enough,” this frightening and low-res tale of a psycho gives us the Michael Rooker that existed long before he was painted blue and cracking wise in the MCU. Rooker stars as Henry, a merciless killer who manages to win favor of those around him. Like his Peeping Tom cohort, he records his kills, creating the type of videos that beg you to look away. It has one of the scariest endings in horror history that will evoke lots of teeth clenching as you duck out just before the credits.
House on Haunted Hill
Director William Castle shows up twice on this list and with good reason: he has delivered some horror classics more than worthy of their places on pedestals. In a somewhat indecent proposal, a man offers people $10,000 to spend the night in a spooky house. Vincent Price, who co-wrote the film, stars as the eccentric millionaire who hosts the guests in an allegedly haunted house that he’s rented. Doors are set to close at midnight and only those who stick around until the morning are eligible for the payout. Simple enough, but make sure to watch the paintings for any haunted happenings.
The other William Castle project that begs for inclusion on this list is this supernatural fright about an occultist. Much like its cohort, House on Haunted Hill, this involves a mysterious payout for surviving in a haunted house. After inheriting the home from their late uncle, the occultist in question, an unfortunate family learns of the ghosts that haunt the property. Holding onto the hope of a hidden treasure, they attempt to brave the haunts for the promise of financial prosperity. A fun thing to imagine about initial screenings was that the brave could view this movie in “Illusion-O,” early 3D with those red and blue cellophane glasses, which allowed the ghosts to leap off the screen. While the small screen version doesn’t come with the multicolored accessory, one can imagine the horrors of ghosts stepping around a theater.
It’s hard to believe this offbeat slasher flick turned into a franchise, but with the newest, Victor Crowley, there are enough installments to support a marathon. Hatchet is written and directed by Adam Green, who brought us Spiral (not that one) and Frozen (no, not that one either). The horror superfan with a penchant for horror history threw himself into the canon with this tongue-in-cheek slasher tale starring Kane Hodder of Friday the 13th franchise fame. It’s a fun new take on the humanoid killer in the woods tale that brings Hodder back to big screens with a fresh new weapon. If you’ve exhausted the slasher franchises of the 80s but haven’t had enough, this one will take you back to your happy place.
Tales From the Crypt
Lost in intellectual property lawsuit hell is much of this classic series, but that doesn’t mean the original film is lost for us all. Based on the 1950s EC comics comes this 1972 horror anthology about the visions of death of a group of five strangers who stumble into a crypt. Meeting the famed Crypt Keeper, the five are presented with the tales of their own deaths, told through this five-part collection of stories. Equal parts disturbing and a lark, it’s no wonder these horror shorts sparked a franchise, and we can all clamor for more.
The Guest (Canada Only)
This isn’t just one of the best horror movies on Plex, it’s one of the best movies period. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett came together to catch lightning in a bottle after their sleeper success with You’re Next. Smashing together core tropes from action, sci-fi, and horror, they dipped Dan Stevens into a vat of super soldier serum and created one of the funniest and warmest Halloween movies of our time. A regular Devil’s Night staple, this flick follows the misadventures of the Peterson family after a soldier named David arrives on their doorstep claiming to have known their late son. He’s nothing but helpful, warming himself into the hearts of the family, never quite passing the smell test of the daughter. Secrets are revealed and blood is shed in this absolute banger of a movie that will make you scream for more blonde-all-Americans-played-by-British-dudes smoldering in towels.