Well guys and ghouls, Halloween has arrived in all of its frightening glory, and with it comes candy, trick or treating, and horror film marathons. Be it the big names like Halloween or The Exorcist, everyone and their mother will be making horror films their bread and butter this evening. However, what happens when all the old mainstays become a bit, well, stale. Looking for something new to toss on the old TV set? Want something that just so happens to be approved by the ever so mighty Criterion Collection? Here are five films that you should be watching this Halloween, from the ranks of The Criterion Collection that are also available to stream this very second.
Not only is the film one of the most often requested genre Blu-ray upgrades by those who are fans of The Criterion Collection, it’s also one of the best pure horror films that the company has amongst their ranks. Featuring evocative black and white photography and a brooding sense of atmosphere, the film comes from director Mark Harvey, and has become one of the most influential independent horror films, being drawn upon by directors like George A. Romero and other various horror auteurs. Almost a tone poem about a woman who survives a car accident, Carnival features a rousing organ score, and is simply one of the best genre pictures Criterion has to offer.
Far more than just a film with a bad-ass title, Goke may not (yet) be a part of Criterion’s ranks (the film arrives in an Eclipse set in November), but it’s also as amazingly entertaining a film as Criterion currently offers. Often compared to the equally off the wall House, Goke is indeed a campy, almost Looney-Tunes-esque thriller, but it’s also a genuinely chilling body horror picture. Featuring an amazing score, neon-hued cinematography, this is a truly underrated gem of horror cinema. Out of the Shochiku camp, the film is included in the upcoming Eclipse set looking at the horror films that would hit the studio, and makes that set one of greatest in a long line of fantastic collections that the Eclipse lineup has to offer. Toss this one on after you’ve had a few beers, and you’ll never look at flying the same again.
Based on a novel from Kobo Abe, Face is helmed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, as is as much a sci-fi picture as it is anything resembling a ‘horror’ film. Staring Tatsuya Nakadai, the film is as luscious a picture as one would expect from director Teshigahara, and also features a narrative seemingly ripped right out of a Mary Shelley novel. A man goes under the knife for a surgeon, hoping that in this face transplant, he’ll be able to get over a horrible accident that disfigured him. However, things don’t go as planned, culminating in one of the most breathtakingly existential pictures that one could ever find. A proto-Frankenstein picture, Face is a film that may not be known by many, but should be seen as the absolute masterpiece that it truly is.
Chaos reigns. What more do you want out of a picture? Joking aside, Antichrist may very well be the greatest horror film of this generation, and is also one of director Lars Von Trier’s crowning achievements. Featuring two breathtaking performances from Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe, Antichrist is a meditation on a cavalcade of things, ranging from love to the treatment of women throughout history. Seemingly inspired directly by the films of Andre Tarkovsky, von Trier uses ghastly imagery and haunting cinematography to craft was is ultimately one of the most brutal and tough watches one could sit through currently within the ranks of Criterion. It’s been called pretentious and self-indulgent, but instead, people should be calling it brilliant and devastating. Those are two adjectives that fit this title far greater.
Sure, Carl Theodor Dreyer may be better known for films like The Passion of Joan of Arc, but one of the director’s absolute masterpieces may also be one of the scariest films ever made. Vampyr, a film following a student who is haunted by various premonitions, is the epitome of a cinematic nightmare. The film is not only cinematically inventive in the various tricks that it uses to establish its nightmarish sense of atmosphere and mood, but it’s also just deeply disquieting. Just the right cup of tea that sits on the tongue, lingering for days after you taste it, Vampyr is easily one of horror cinema’s crowning achievements, and may very well be the greatest horror film from a decade, the ‘˜30s, that saw the genre become a mainstay.