We’re entering final countdown stage as we head toward Halloween 2016, and for me that means that prime time to start watching the scarier stuff has arrived. For those who may be unaware, I have something of a “horror movie” past. You’d have to do some digging to find it, but I played a supporting role in one that was released in 2009… I used to do some work for a horror mag… and actually penned a few screenplays that were once set to become movies, but ended up spawning comics instead. Having kids changed my focus quite a bit, and with the exception of a few music videos that I’ve directed in recent years, for the most part I’ve moved the frights into the “seasonal” category, choosing to enjoy them as part of my annual Halloween rituals. As a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, I feel it’s my civic duty to share some frightful finds for you to stream & scream in the last week prior to Halloween… but some aren’t too scary, as I’ve got suggestions for the whole family.
For the Grownups…
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: Created from an original story by my friend, Robert Kurtzman (who I worked with on the first two Product of Hate videos) who in turn commissioned a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, it took years to get the vampire action flick off the ground, and when it came to theaters in 1996, it was with Robert Rodriguez at the helm. On the 20th anniversary of its release, it’s a genre-bending classic that’s spawned the hit series currently running on El Rey. Stream this one after dark.
NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY: Narrated by Heather Langenkamp, this 2010 documentary explores the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise and its cultural impact, along with the rise of New Line Cinema in the 80s. Get some horror history.
HELLRAISER: Tying back into what I mentioned before about my music video work with Robert Kurtzman, one of those clips (“Unholy Manipulator”) featured actress Ashley Laurence, who rose to fame as Kirsty Cotton in this film – Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER. When it comes to the iconic horror villains, Doug Bradley’s Pinhead is up there in the “Top Five.” When you’re done, you might want to check out some other films in the HELLRAISER series, several of which are also streaming on Netflix.
SCREAM 2: Out of the four theatrical films in the SCREAM series, the first two are the best, with this one arriving the year following the first. Under the direction of Wes Craven from a script by Kevin Williamson, by 1997, Ghostface was an icon. This movie is like comfort food… I just wish the first one was streaming, too.
THE WALKING DEAD: With the seventh season of AMC’s hit series making its debut this month (technically, today, if you’re reading this on 10/23) now is the prime time to catch up on the first six seasons if you haven’t already. I’d fallen out of the loop after the first season and a half, but caught up in a Netflix binge of the first five seasons earlier this year. With the sixth season added last month, I’m ready to find out what’s next for Rick and the crew, but this series certainly holds a lot of replay value. It’s emotional, and sometimes terrifying.
JAWS: I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg earlier this year. When it comes to JAWS, I’m in the minority that doesn’t find it “scary,” but it’s still entertaining, and a massively important piece of cinematic history. It’s also my wife’s favorite movie, so I have to include it in this list. You can stream the other JAWS films as well.
For the Kids…
PAC’s SCARY HALLOWEEN: Though I grew up with PAC-MAN, I haven’t been into the recent CGI animated series, but having watched the all-new Halloween special twice with The Rock Daughters, I dig this. Ready for Doctor Pacenstein and a bunch of ghosts and goblins? This one is fun!
MASHA’S SPOOKY STORIES: A spin-off of the Russian animated series, MASHA AND THE BEAR, this new special has a “classic” feel in its storytelling, making me think it’s going to become a perennial favorite in years to come.
CURIOUS GEORGE HALLOWEEN BOOFEST: This one is a perennial favorite already, my kids first catching it on PBS KIDS a couple of years back. Now that it’s on Netflix, I guarantee a few viewings this October as the loveable monkey had some seasonally-appropriate mischiveous adventures.
GOOSEBUMPS: The classic books by R.L. Stine have not only spawned TV series’ and specials (some of which are on Netflix), but also the 2015 feature film starring Jack Black. Kids of all ages may enjoy seeing a fictionalized version of the author battle his creations as they cross over into the real world from the pages of his books.
SCOOBY-DOO, SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED, SCOOBY-DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED – That’s a whole lotta Scooby, and really, the adventures of the Mystery, Inc. crew are great at any time, but for Halloween they’re perfect. The live-action films reached a new generation, but MONSTERS UNLEASHED is an excellent series that managed to honor the past, while creating something timeless in its own right. I’ve re-watched a bunch of those, and they don’t get old.
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS MEET FRANKENSTEIN and MEET THE WOLFMAN: Long before Jason Lee was chasing around CGI Chipmunks on the big screen, the Chipmunks were entertaining families through animated adventures, many of which I used to watch as a kid growing up in the 80s. At the run of the century, a pair of direct-to-video films carried that torch, with Alvin, Simon and Theodore meeting two of the most famous of the Universal Monsters – Frankenstein and The Wolfman. Kids still love these.
Want more spooktacular streams? Check out the “Horror” and “Halloween Favorites” categories on Netflix to get your frightful groove on!