Another month, another great excuse to watch some horror movies.
Horror movies are a yearlong pursuit for us here at Polygon. Sure, we’ve got our list of the best horror movies you can watch now, or the best horror movies of 2023 ranked by scariness. But each month, we also pull together a smaller list of five picks perfect for that time of year.
This month, we’ve picked movies that should go perfectly with the surprisingly great slate of theatrical horror. There’s the stellar Evil Dead Rise, the very fun The Pope’s Exorcist... and also Renfield, if that’s more your speed. To help get you ready for a terrifying trip to the theater, or keep the scary buzz going, we’ve picked out a few movies that fit those molds, and an all-time classic wild card for this month’s movies.
Without further ado, let’s dig into it.
Run time: 1h 59m
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy
Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s most overtly supernatural movie, and certainly his most bleak, The Birds tells the story of a small town overrun by a swarm of inexplicably hostile, bloodthirsty, and terrifying birds, seemingly hell-bent on the destruction of humanity. The movie never once tries to explore or explain what’s made all the avian creatures (possibly in the whole world?) turn evil overnight, but the result is an unrelentingly strange movie that will make you at least a little uneasy the next time you see a flock circling overhead.
The Birds is streaming on Netflix.
Evil Dead II
Run time: 1h 24m
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Evil Dead II is a very strange sequel in that it’s mostly a bigger, weirder, meaner, funnier, and all-around more ridiculous remake of the original movie. The movie follows Ash Williams and his girlfriend Linda as they take a trip to an abandoned cabin in the woods. Just like the first movie, a passage of the cursed book, the Necronomicon, gets read aloud, and spirits are released that possess humans dead or alive. Compared to the first movie, however, the killing starts much earlier and gets much sillier and more violent, eventually leading to chainsaws, shotguns, and possessed hands.
Evil Dead II is streaming on IndieFlix.
Run time: 2h 2m
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
One of the clearest transition points between modern and classic horror, The Exorcist still holds up 50 years after its release. The movie follows a movie-star mother and her young daughter as the latter gets possessed by the ancient demon Pazuzu. The demon wreaks havoc on the family until two priests, one near the end of his career and life and the other suffering a crisis of faith, come to perform an exorcism in the hopes of saving the girl and her immortal soul. Despite dozens of exorcism movies following in this one’s footsteps, there are still few that can match this one for scares or pure quality.
The Exorcist is streaming on HBO Max.
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: Julius Avery
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier
One problem with most World War II movies is that there just aren’t enough zombies in them, but Overlord isn’t most World War II movies. It follows a team of soldiers on D-Day who are sent to blow up a Nazi radio tower in a church. Instead, they find a hidden research facility and a new weapon of the Reich: the undead. Ridiculous, fun, gory, and a great time, Overlord is excellent action-horror, and always charming thanks to the magnetic pull of its star, Wyatt Russell. The movie is also directed by The Pope’s Exorcist director Julius Avery!
Overlord is streaming on FuboTV and Paramount Plus.
30 Days of Night
Run time: 1h 54m
Director: David Slade
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston
Starting off with one of the greatest horror-movie premises of all time, 30 Days of Night couldn’t help but be a good time. A group of people try to survive the night after a group of vampires shows up in Barrow, Alaska, a town that suffers monthlong polar nights where the sun won’t rise for 30 days. In other words, it’s the perfect spot to set a vampire nightmare. The movie mixes together all the hallmarks of survival horror, vampires, slashers, and chilly winter horror, and ultimately manages to live up to its excellent premise.
30 Days of Night is streaming on Hulu.