Best Halloween movies to watch: 31 days of horror this October

If you’re a fan of horror, then Halloween is undoubtedly one of your favorite times of the year. At Polygon, we have an undying love for all things horror, whether it’s the scariest movies you can stream at home, the best horror movies on Netflix, or the newest and most terrifying releases in the genre. We even have a list of the top horror movies of the year, ranked according to scariness. But Halloween is a special time, deserving of its own unique attention and celebration. That’s why, for the past three years, we’ve put together a Halloween countdown calendar featuring the top horror-themed or Halloween-adjacent picks from our staff, across movies and TV shows that you can watch from the comfort of your home. We had so much fun doing this in the past that we decided to bring it back again this year, with a whole new selection of films and shows to choose from.

Throughout the month of October, we’ll be adding a new recommendation to this countdown calendar and letting you know where you can watch it. So get cozy on your couch, turn down the lights, and grab some popcorn for a bone-chilling marathon of horrifying delights.

Oct. 1: Messiah of Evil

Image: Diamond Entertainment Group

Where to watch: Prime Video, Shudder, Pluto TV, Plex

Messiah of Evil, directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, is an underrated 1970s cosmic horror classic that deserves its status as a cult favorite. Set in the remote coastal town of Point Dume, California, the film follows Arletty, a young woman searching for her missing father, who is plagued by disturbing visions of an impending apocalypse. Along the way, she encounters an eccentric aristocrat and his groupie companions, and together they witness the horrifying transformation of the townspeople into flesh-eating ghouls. At times convoluted and bizarre, Messiah of Evil is a genuinely entertaining horror thriller with chilling moments and unforgettable scares. Drawing inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft and George A. Romero, this film combines gothic horror and anti-consumerist themes to create a unique and terrifying experience. Even after 50 years, the horrors depicted in Messiah of Evil still hold up, making it a satisfying watch and a perfect start to your month of scares. — Toussaint Egan

Oct. 2: Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps
Image: Scream Factory

Where to watch: Criterion Channel, Shudder, Peacock, Vudu, Tubi, Freevee, Plex

Ginger Snaps, directed by John Fawcett, is a delightful and gruesome werewolf movie that fills a void in the monster movie genre. This bloody treat is perfect for fans of movies like Jennifer’s Body. The story revolves around two sisters, one of whom turns into a werewolf after getting her period for the first time. Things quickly spiral out of control, resulting in a gripping body horror story intertwined with a powerful allegory of puberty. Ginger Snaps not only adds to the werewolf canon, but it also features a compelling central sister relationship. If you’re looking for a horror movie that puts teenage girls at the forefront, Ginger Snaps is a must-watch. Since its release, the film has gained a dedicated cult following, and now it’s your turn to join the ranks. See you at the next full moon! — Pete Volk

Oct. 3: Creepshow

Image: Warner Bros.

Where to watch: Kanopy

If you’re a fan of horror anthologies, then Creepshow is a must-watch. Although the new 4K UHD Blu-ray release offers the best visual experience, the true magic of Creepshow lies in its comedic chills, which can be enjoyed even with a grainy VHS tape copy from the ’90s. This horror anthology takes a leisurely approach to scaring its audience, offering a middle ground between classic tingling horror and modern slashers. Plus, it features Stephen King himself in a one-person show as a hillbilly. What more could you ask for? So sit back, relax, and let Creepshow entertain you with its terrifying yet humorous tales. — Chris Plante

Oct. 4: Pulse

Image: Magnolia Pictures

Where to watch: Prime Video

Pulse, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, explores the chilling concept of using technology to communicate with the dead. Set in Tokyo, this post-Y2K horror-thriller follows a group of young adults and university students as they investigate a series of mysterious disappearances and suicides. What they uncover is a terrifying revelation: the souls of the dead are crossing over to the mortal world through the internet and ensnaring unsuspecting victims. Pulse is celebrated as one of the foundational films in J-horror cinema, alongside classics like Ring and Ju-on: The Curse. A nihilistic meditation on technology and human relationships, this eerie and methodical movie leaves a lasting impression. With its breathtaking imagery and thought-provoking themes, Pulse is an absolute must-watch for horror enthusiasts. — Toussaint Egan

Oct. 5: Apostle

Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

Apostle, directed by Gareth Evans (not to be confused with Gareth Edwards), is a gritty and extremely gory period piece that takes unexpected twists and turns. This Netflix-exclusive film follows a man named Thomas who travels to a remote Welsh island after receiving a letter about his sister being held captive by a dangerous cult. As he infiltrates the community, pretending to be a convert, Thomas discovers the dark secrets lurking on the island. While Apostle starts in a similar vein as The Wicker Man, it soon becomes a blood-soaked journey that carves its own path. Dan Stevens delivers an exceptional performance, adding intensity to this already grim and gripping movie. If you’re a fan of suspense thrillers with shocking moments, then Apostle is a perfect choice for your Halloween watchlist. — Pete Volk