Netflix and kill: Horror movies to get you in the Halloween spirit

Sam West

Snuggling up with a bucket of popcorn and watching scary movies is a tradition of the Halloween season. Streaming services make access to hundreds of films easy, but this often leaves a potential viewer with too much to choose from. It’s hard to even know where to start. 

So here are four suggestions for Halloween movies that are all available on Netflix Instant. These films span genres and range from cheesy to artistic, but there should be something for everyone.

Scream

It’s often said that no one in horror movies has ever seen a horror movie. This is the only explanation for why victims in slasher films often make the same mistakes when trying to escape the knife-wielding assailants who chase them. But in “Scream,” a modern take on the genre directed by Wes Craven, everyone knows the score– don’t go off alone, don’t drink, and God help you if you invite your boyfriend over.

Because it plays with (and often subverts) the cliches of the horror genre, “Scream” is often as funny as it is frightening. And though the film isn’t shy on gore, it doesn’t rely on cheap shock value alone for it’s scares. Craven is skilled with creating suspense and terror, and seems to take particular joy in adding carnage to the mundane activities of suburban life. “Scream” is, above all, a lot of fun, which makes it the perfect popcorn thriller for Halloween.

Day of the Dead

Master of horror George A. Romero’s third “Dead” film explores the psychological horror of living in a world filled with shambling corpses. Set in an underground bunker, the movie follows a handful of survivors who are beginning to think they might be the only humans left on Earth. Half are scientists attempting to cure the zombie virus, the others are military men charged with keeping the operation secure.

The movie explores human conflict, and how people can often turn against each other even when it would be in their best interest to work together. But there’s plenty of man vs. zombie action as well. Though this movie was made in 1985, the gory effects still hold up. Anyone looking for blood and dismemberment should be more than happy with the carnage in “Day of the Dead.” Fans of shows like “The Walking Dead” will also enjoy this film, which helped establish the modern conventions of the zombie genre.

Let the Right One In

If you are looking for a festive movie that’s a little more artistic, “Let the Right One In” is perfect. This Swedish-language feature is about a young teenager named Oskar who befriends the girl who lives next door to him. However, it turns out that Eli, his new playmate, is actually a centuries-old supernatural being who feasts on human blood to survive.

There are quite a few graphic scenes in “Let the Right One In,” but it’s not scary in the way that conventional genre films are. The movie instead takes a more serious route and explores the relationship between Eli and Oskar, two outsiders who understand each other. More than anything, the film is about young love, and there are a lot of sweet moments alongside the bloody ones. It’s also beautifully shot– director Thomas Alfredson beautifully captures the harshness and isolation of Scandinavia. If you want to watch an art film this Halloween, “Let the Right One In” is essential.

The Silence of the Lambs

Before “Criminal Minds,” “Bates Motel,” and the serial killer craze that’s swept television, there was “The Silence of the Lambs” and swaggering murderer Hannibal Lecter. This classic thriller stars Jodie Foster as an FBI agent who has to form a reluctant alliance with the imprisoned Lecter to catch a killer named Buffalo Bill. The two form a strange relationship, with Lecter seeing himself as somewhat of a mentor and guide to Foster’s character. Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award for his performance as the charming psychopath, creating a character that still haunts audiences to this day.

The climactic scene in this film– when Foster chases Buffalo Bill around his basement layer in the dark– still stands as some of the most suspenseful action ever put to film. This one’s a classic.