Shocktober is here! 20 Scary Movies to Catch Before Halloween
It's the most wonderful time of the year (for horror film fans)! Shocktober has returned, and we’re bringing you TONS of titles (seriously, 50 of them – check out the full list here) so we thought we’d help out by whittling it down (a little) to 20 must-see scary movies to check out before the candy runs out.
Dracula (1979). Frank Langella was an international sensation on stage in the revival of Bram Stoker’s classic and this film cements him as one of the best portrayals of Dracula on screen. Bringing an eroticism and vulnerability that was missing from the Bela Lugosi original, the film also brings along co-stars like Laurence Olivier to help make this a worthwhile retread.
Premieres Oct 19 at 9pm ET on HS70 – More showtimes.
The Fly (1985). David Cronenberg’s ultimate body horror turned this Vincent Price classic into a truly horrifying visual spectacle. The Oscar-winning makeup effects by Chris Walas were considered so repulsive and groundbreaking he went on to direct the sequel in 1989.
Oct 30 at 10:40pm ET on HS80 – More showtimes.
78/52 : Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (2017). Alexandre O. Phillippe’s documentary dives deep into the creation of Psycho’s infamous shower scene and just how shocking it was at the time. Not merely a look at formal construction of terror, this film also weaves in Hitchcock’s own talks and philosophy when it came to creating a scare.
Oct 13 at 9pm ET on HS00 – More showtimes.
Psycho (1960)/Psycho (1998). A pairing of Hitchcock’s stunning masterclass in terror and Gus Van Sant’s unexpected 90s remake. Van Sant stuck so slavishly close to the original it is almost a colourized, modernized, experimental photocopy and a strange artistic oddity in the horror landscape.
Psycho (1960) – Oct 30 at 9pm ET on HS70 – More showtimes.
Psycho (1998) – Premieres Oct 6 at 9pm ET on HS90 – More showtimes.
Mimic (1997). Famously disowned by its director Guillermo Del Toro, this creepy film nonetheless provided both his North American debut and many hints of his future master works. Fans will enjoy the elaborate backstory and the fantastic monster that connected Del Toro to one of his performance muses, creature performer Doug Jones.
Swamp Thing (1982). A fun oddity in the filmography of director Wes Craven, Swamp Thing mixes Craven’s exploitation roots with the 70s comic book style that birthed the character. A brazenly campy embracing of rubber-suited monster action, this movie will appeal to fans of larger than life mid-century horror extravaganzas.
Lake Placid (1999). Deeply infused with 90s irony, this take on a “giant animal” movie sees warring groups of humans fighting over the fate of a giant crocodile as it slowly picks them off. Remembered best for the pithy screenplay by The Practice and Ally McBeal’s David E. Kelley, the film provides plenty of laughs along with the severed limbs.
Night of the Living Dead (1990). This colour remake directed by gore-maestro Tom Savini is surprisingly restrained but takes some interesting turns from the classic original. A shift from racial to gender dynamics, as well as great lead performances from Patricia Tallman and Tony Todd have their fans, but anyone will be dazzled by the fantastic zombie makeup throughout.
Stalker (1979). If existential horror is more your thing than blood and guts, you’ll want to spend time in “The Zone” with Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic. From Janus Films and The Criterion Collection, this slow dip into bleak science fiction and philosophy is a must see among fans of art films.
Pontypool (2008). Bruce McDonald offers this story of a radio host in a small Ontario town as a deadly outbreak seems to consume the town around him. Pontypool is a wonderful, strange and slow-burning horror film that will tickle even the most hardened horrorhound with dread.
Premieres Oct 27 at 9pm ET on HS00 – More showtimes.
The Exorcist (1973). There’s a reason this William Friedkin classic is consistently voted one of the scariest movies of all time. On a rewatch, the slower pace and building dread often catch you off-guard, and there’s always a different disturbing image that digs its way under your skin.
Oct 21 at 9pm ET on HS70 – More showtimes.
Gremlins (1984). Time (and a purposefully comedic sequel) has lead many to forget Joe Dante’s 1984 holiday classic has its roots deeply planted in the horror genre. The extreme destruction of some of the gremlins (especially that microwave) in what seemed to be a family film lead to such an uproar upon its release that the PG-13 rating was created to accommodate more edgy fare.
Oct 14 at 9pm ET on HS80 – More showtimes.
The Hunger (1983). In many ways this erotic take on vampire mythology by director Tony Scott kicked off the 80s vampire boom influenced by both the excesses of the decade and the looming AIDS crisis. With a cast featuring knockout performances from David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve, it remains one of the more interesting and visually stunning takes on vampires.
Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985). Only one of a handful of screenplays adapted by Stephen King himself, this film reteams him with Cujo director Lewis Teague to bring three tales of terror linked by an unruly feline. Filled with self-referential Stephen King in-jokes and a mix of genres, this will please fans of anthology horror.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). Speaking of anthologies, this take on the Rod Serling classic sees segments from the show remade by the 80s’ biggest directors, including Gremlins’ Joe Dante, Mad Max’s George Miller, An American Werewolf In London’s John Landis, and even Steven Spielberg! Each segment bends to the directors style, and you’re sure to find a favorite in the bunch.
Oct 5 at 9pm ET on HS80 – More showtimes.
Poltergeist (1982). Once again Steven Spielberg looked to redefine horror by co-writing and producing this story of a family facing terror in their own home. This film has aged surprisingly well thanks to its unique tone and unforgettable performances from titans like Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and Zelda Rubinstein.
Oct 21 at 9pm ET on HS80 – More showtimes.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Special effects technician Robert Kurtzman agreed to work on Reservoir Dogs for free if Quentin Tarantino agreed to make a film out of a vampire story he wanted to pitch. In the end Tarantino and director Robert Rodriguez used their new clout in hollywood to create a sensational, sleazy and practical effects-heavy horror film out of the idea with a star studded cast including George Clooney in one of his first leading roles and Salma Hayek in an unforgettable part.
Scary Movie (2000). This lowbrow skewering of the late 90s horror boom was also a comedic collaboration between the parody megastar Wayans Brothers and up-and-comers Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg who would usher in the 00s era referential parodies. Many got sick of the Seltzer/Friedberg formula by the end of the decade, but this early collaboration holds a place in horror fans hearts.
Oct 29 at 9pm ET on HS00 – More showtimes.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Guillermo Del Toro returns to the horrors of the Spanish Civil War with this dark fairy tale following young Ofelia who has to deal with strange monsters in a fantasy realm and a sadistic stepfather in the real world. A massive crossover success, the film not only won an impressive three Academy Awards for a genre picture, it also announced to Hollywood that there was a new visionary director to reckon with.
Oct 28 at 12:10am ET on HS00 – More showtimes.
Need more? Check out our full list of Shocktober films here.