The best horror movies and Halloween specials to watch in 2022
Is there anything better than the Halloween season?
Of course, here at Polygon, we cover horror year-round. We’ve got our drop-down lists of the best horror movies you can watch at home and the best horror movies on Netflix that are updated every month of the year.
But even for year-round horror fans, Halloween is a special time of year.
For the past two years, Polygon has been running a Halloween Countdown schedule, featuring a Halloween-appropriate movie or TV show available to watch at home every day of October. We’re thrilled to bring it back once again, with 31 spooky picks to keep the mood going throughout the month.
Every day throughout October, we’ll add a new recommendation to this countdown and let you know where you can watch it. So curl up on the couch, dim the lights and grab some popcorn for a whole host of terrifying and entertaining Halloween surprises.
October 1: Hearing (1999)
In Hearing, Takashi Miike’s 1999 psychological horror thriller, Love Is Consensus Fiction. Years after losing his wife to a terminal illness, widower Shigeharu Aoyama is urged by his son to come back into the world and find someone. Aoyama accepts a proposal from his friend, a film producer, to audition for a non-existent film in order to find a potential bride among the applicants. His search eventually leads him to Asami Yamazaki, a beautiful former ballerina with a troubled past.
As Aoyama grows closer to his new love, he finds himself caught deeper and deeper in a web of intrigue that threatens to tear him apart emotionally, psychologically, and yes, even physically. There is something dark inside Asami, yes, but there is also a latent darkness inside Aoyama, arguably even darker. The only difference is that Asami embraced this darkness and made it his own.
Miike’s film holds its cards relatively close to its chest for most of its runtime, unraveling its tightly coiled mystery like a tourniquet before peeling off its skin of cute artifices to reveal a thrilling mass of horrors. which roll below. The film descends into a macabre fugue state of assumptions, misdirections and cinematic sleight of hand, with dreams that feel almost real against a reality too terrifying to be anything else. In the end, however, these are just words. Only pain is trustworthy. —Toussaint Egan
Hearing is available to stream on Arrow Video and Hi-Yah!, free with ads on Tubi, and free on Kanopy with a library card. It is also available for digital rental or purchase at Vudu and Apple.
October 2: The Disappearance (1988)
It’s not a horror film per se, and yet Stanley Kubrick said that Disappearance was the scariest movie he had ever seen. This 1988 Dutch thriller — often referred to by its original title Spoorloos, not to confuse it with an inferior 1993 American remake from the same director, George Sluizer — plays it cool, like a simple missing person case. Rex and Saskia are a young road-trip couple through France. They are taking a break at a gas station when Saskia suddenly and completely disappears.
Initially, the horror of the situation is in its banality: the feeling that it can happen at any time, to anyone. Sluizer emphasizes this with the concrete realism of its location shooting. Then, just over 20 minutes later, he takes the audience on the wrong foot with an abrupt change: We follow Raymond, a satisfied French family man who seems to be rehearsing an abduction. The mystery of what happened to Saskia already seems solved. And then ?
The way the film – based very closely on Tim Krabbé’s short story The Golden Egg – leaps so quickly beyond the expected structure of a mystery thriller should sap the tension, but in fact it creates an almost philosophical unease. . As Raymond, played with chilling clarity by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, guides us through the ‘how’ of his crime, the ‘why’ becomes a nagging, far more unsettling question. We fast forward three years and find Rex obsessed with finding out what happened to his lost love. When an answer is offered, we completely share his hunger and follow him to what might be the most gruesome ending of any movie. It’s a minimal masterpiece of existential terror. —oli welsh
Disappearance is available to stream on The Criterion Channel, or for rental or digital purchase on Apple and Amazon.
October 3: Rampant (2018)
One of the great joys of horror is the range of subgenres it offers, and the subgenres within the subgenres that flow from it. Take the monster movie, for example. It’s a horror subgenre in itself, and within it you have the vampire movie, the werewolf movie, and the zombie movie, to name a few. And then you can dive even deeper and find something like crawlingwhich combines the zombie subgenre with an unlikely pairing: historical court drama.
The film is set in the 17th century, during the Joseon dynasty in Korea. The film is filled with political intrigue: the protagonist is an arrogant young prince called home after the death of his brother to discover political machinations already underway when he arrives. The court struggles to figure out how to deal with the neighboring Qing dynasty in China (where our protagonist grew up), with the formation of different factions.
And then there are the zombies. Yes, a zombie outbreak is coming, recalibrating the importance of this clash royale to some (but not all) of its players. Our protagonist discovers this on the way home and tries to convince his father (and his father’s advisers) to do something about it. This leads to jaw-droppingly brutal swordplay action in a genre mashup perfect for the ages. –Pete Volk
crawling is available to stream on Hi-Yah!, FuboTV, and Viki, or for free with ads on Tubi, Crackle, Plex, Pluto TV, and Freevee. It is also available for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, Vuduand Google Play.
October 4: Seconds (1966)
Werewolves, vampires, zombies and aliens have nothing on the unstoppable process of aging. We will all grow old, life will become exponentially difficult, and the only person waiting for us at the finish line is death. John Frankenheimer built Seconds around such midlife terrors, giving New York City banking executive Arthur Hamilton the ability to fake his own death, rebuild his body as Rock Hudson, and relocate to the sunny south of California as a hot, young dude named Tony Wilson. Like a little animal trampled under the solar lamp of the Santa Barbara sun, we see Hudson going through paranoia and regret, filled with mashed naked grapes and booze blackouts. Needless to say, the grass is rarely greener and the only thing scarier than getting old is staying young.
The film was met with boos at Cannes and baffled critics who were used to leading man Rock Hudson being exactly that – a traditional leading man. But the film has aged well, pun intended. Oscar-nominated James Wong Howe’s cinematography holds the viewer inches from Hudson’s face, distorts reality through a fish-eye lens, and somehow transforms beautiful young bodies into nauseating bundles of limbs and limbs. flesh. And Hudson, now detached from his personal brand for most viewers under the age of 70, undermines his Hollywood good looks with a humble performance from a collapsing man. —Chris Plante
Seconds is available to stream for free with ads on Pluto TV, or free with a library card on Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, AppleTVand Google Play.
October 5: Bride of Chucky (1998)
The fourth film in the wickedly fun Child’s Play franchise takes the killer doll series in an exciting new direction. Bride of Chucky abandons Andy, the young boy followed by the murderous doll Chucky in the first three films, and instead follows two distraught teenagers (Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile) who unwittingly take two murderous dolls on a trip and begin to suspect each other when the bodies begin to fall.
The movie’s sinister teen road reversal would be fun enough, but it’s the addition of Jennifer Tilly that really makes it. Bride of Chucky to sing. For those uninitiated in Child’s play universe: Chucky doll is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif). Tilly plays Ray’s former lover and accomplice, Tiffany, who brings the doll back to life and becomes a murderous doll herself.
The result is two couples traveling together but unable to communicate with each other. Heigl and Stabile’s Jade and Jesse are your typical young sweethearts – they’re still getting to know each other and not yet fully trusting each other – while Chucky and Tiffany’s bickering and subtle manipulations make for a joyous, twisted fun time. Add jaw-dropping footage from director Ronny Yu (Freddy versus Jason) and cinematographer Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; The killer) and you have a franchise sequel well worth your time. —PV
Bride of Chucky is available to stream on Peacock. It is also available for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, AppleTVand Google Play.