While we anxiously await the return of Spooker Washington and his Halloween picks this year, IMDB (the 'self-proclaimed' authoritarian voice on movies and TV) have revealed their top 13 must-see movies and TV episodes to watch this Halloween, as selected by their own team of experts. From sinister classics like Hellraiser (which we included in our own classic horror movies list), The Shining and Alien, to family fare like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the diverse list covers a spectrum of genres and tones. Also included among the (un)lucky 13 are episodes of The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as a documentary on the history of witchcraft called Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages*. And if that wasn't enough, our own Spooker Washington has chimed in with alternative picks in case you've already seen these.
Not long after the Rubik's cube was introduced to Americans came this tale of a different kind of puzzle box, the kind you really don't want to solve...Or open. While the creepy Cenobites promise their victims eternity in a world of pleasure, pain and suffering, we only get see the pain and suffering part of that guarantee, underscored by the demon Pinhead's assurance that, in his words, "WE'LL TEAR YOUR SOUL APAAAAART." Available to stream on Netflix, along with all of its sequels. If you've already seen Hellraiser, Spooker Washington Suggests: Helldriver, which finds a young teen having to battle her cannibal mother and uncle, also available now on Netflix streaming.
2The X-Files: Season 4 Episode 2 - Home
There are many episodes of The X-Files that will keep a person up at night, but Home took the show's queasiness factor to new levels of ickiness by liberally playing with the horror trope of backwoods murderous maniacs. Here, we are introduced to the Peacocks, a small-town family consisting of three brothers who keep to themselves...Mainly in order to hide a family secret that will make you shudder for hours (or days) after the end-credits roll. Especially if you have space under your bed...Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: Any episode of Amazing Stories, which is also available to stream on Netflix.
This film is not your typical scary movie, but Halloween plays an important role in the film. If you haven't checked it out yet, Halloween would be a great time to do so, and you may also get a few cool costume ideas. Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: The Fourth Kind, which finds Milla Jovovich uncovering proof of extraterrestrials during videotaped therapy sessions, also streaming on Netflix.
While Vincent Price is a horror deity, it is not only his performance that makes House of Wax one Halloween must-see. No, what makes this movie a sinister classic is the very idea of murdered people encased in wax, used in displays of historical figures; watching the major characters and the visiting public walk amongst these tableaux, commenting in awe on how real the figures seem only makes the squick factor gradually intensify. The most inexplicably horrifying scene of all comes near the beginning: the visuals of wax figures melting in a fire is at least as disturbing as many axe or chainsaw scenes filmed in the years since. P.S The actor playing Igor, Charles Buchinsky, might look a wee bit familiar to you. Available to stream on Vudu. Spooker Washington Suggests: House of Wax 2005, because it stars Jared Padalecki! And we get to see Paris Hilton encased in wax, also streaming on Vudu.
Ostensibly a practical look at the history of witchcraft - and the punishments meted out for practicing it through the ages - this little silent gem is lent a veneer of menace by the visual age of the footage, the bizarre costuming of the witches and the mismatching of the music to the topic at hand. While the title card translations from Swedish to English are fanciful and a riot to read all on their own, juxtaposing that with visual demonstrations of how medieval implements of torture were used is an unintentional but potent psychological horrorshow. Note: this is an ideal film to screen at your Halloween party, as the visuals alone will set the mood while both entertaining and unnerving your guests in the right proportions. Available to stream on youtube. Spooker Washington Suggests: A Haunted House. Watch Marlon Wayans get raped by a ghost, available to stream on Netflix.
The original Alien is first-and-foremost a sci-fi movie. However, its last hour or so is a classic haunted house scenario - with a spaceship serving as the house - and director Ridley Scott masterfully ratchets up the tension to an unbearable level. For further proof that this is a great horror choice, look no further than the movie's iconic tagline: "In space no one can hear you scream. Available to stream on Vudu. Spooker Washington Suggests: 1985's Creature, which is the same movie with a lower budget and a no star cast, available to stream right now on Netflix.
The elevator! The twins! Room 237! Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King novel The Shining is legitimately terrifying, and it always makes for a strong choice around Halloween. It doesn't hurt that it's also a pretty great movie - it ranks 48th on IMDb's Top 250 list, which is second-best for a Stanley Kubrick movie behind Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick has eight movies on the list, six of which are in the Top 100). Available to stream on Vudu. Spooker Washington Suggests: Room 237, a documentary that delves into the secret hidden meanings of the movie, available to stream on Netflix.
8Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 4 Episode 10 - Hush
For the most part, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was not a scary show. Even the vamps died cleanly: One stake in the general region of the heart, and they neatly dissolved into a puff of ash. Not the case for The Gentlemen: floating, ghoulish creatures with sunken-in eyes and unnaturally tight smiles whose modus operandi was the stuff of nightmares. Using magic, The Gentlemen rendered mute the citizens of Sunnydale in order to harvest their still-beating hearts without having to deal with any inconveniences like screaming. But that doesn't mean you can't yelp a little while you're watching. Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: Any single episode of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the true Canadian successor of Buffy, also available for streaming on Netflix.
Trilogy of Terror may have consisted of three separate stories, each starring Karen Black playing markedly different characters, but the one that stuck with us through the years is the finale piece, in which an African tribal doll comes to life and hunts a woman in her apartment. This film added a more sinister dimension to one's fear of the dark. And dolls. Not available for streaming, but you may find it at your local video store for an old fashion VHS Halloween party. Spooker Washington Suggests: Galaxy of Terror! Why settle for a trilogy when you can have a whole universe? At least it's available for streaming on Netflix.
As unnerving as the best fictional horror is this true story of a pathological Frenchman's successful attempt to pass himself off as a Texas family's long-missing child. His deceit sets the stage for what translates as a potential murder cover-up, and the mix of documentary and re-created footage adds serious ick factor thanks to Adam O'Brian 's portrayal of Frederic Bourdin, also known in the real world as "The Chameleon". Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: Cropsey , an even more terrifying real-life horror story. This documentary looks at a rash of child abductions that struck Staten Island, N.Y., in the 1970s and 80s. Also available for streaming on Netflix.
No Halloween is complete without a viewing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, arguably one of best Charlie Brown specials (after A Charlie Brown Christmas). And don't forget Lucy's wise advice: A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will air on ABC Halloween night! Set your DVRs. Spooker Washington Suggests: Scared Shrekless & Monsters Vs Pumpkins Halloween, two new animated classics from DreamWorks that are currently available to stream on Netflix.
IMDb Editor Michelle started watching the first season of American Horror Story when they replayed the first five episodes on Halloween. By the end of the marathon, she was hooked and it's still one of her favorite shows. The series has only gotten creepier over time, and this season has taken the gore to a new level. Be forewarned: you may experience some strange dreams after viewing. Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: Any one episode of Supernatural. Sam and Dean! The Winchesters! Also available for streaming on Netflix.
Watching Dracula each Halloween serves as a fine mental palate refresher of sorts from all of the vampire variations that have come along in the decades since it was filmed. We're fans of so many different vampire incarnations, but there's just something perfect about Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula as a mysterious, menacing continental gentlemen, complemented by the gorgeously gloomy visual atmosphere created inside the Abbey by Tod Browning and Karl Freund. The chilling work of these three early horror masters combined makes this an ideal film to watch in the dark long after the trick-or-treaters have gone home. Available to stream on Netflix. Spooker Washington Suggests: Tod Browning's far superior cult classic Freaks, which is currently available for streaming on Vudu
To kick things off, you can watch Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages right here, right now!
* Quotes are attributed to IMDb's editorial team. Titles appear in no particular order. Spooker Washington appears on behalf of Movieweb and is not associated with IMDb.