As the skies gray and the leaves turn orange this season, our desire to watch horror movies -- to drench ourselves in silver-screen guts and gore -- becomes more pressing. We dream of zombie apocalypses. We long for a vampire's embrace. We flee in our nightmares from an infinite number of machete-wielding Jasons.
With that blood-curdling desire for terror in mind, we've compiled a list of five under-seen horror movies for your October pleasure. (Bonus: They're all on Netflix, many are available for streaming.) We hope you emerge from this playlist unscathed, with only a little psychotic lilt to your cackle.
Halloween Costumes that will make you go 'WTF?': 2013 Edition
Tagline: "This collection is killer."
Plot Summary: On a mission, a marauding posse of Clockwork Orange-style psychopaths stumbles into a house filled with mysterious videotapes. Each tape contains a short film that documents horrific deaths. We see a flying succubus, a forest demon, a furtive stalker, a club of devil worshipers, and so on. There are six tapes in all, and one by one, as the psychopaths watch the tapes, they disappear, eaten by an antiquated video format.
Memorable Line: "I like you."
Reason to Watch: By the time V/H/S came out in 2012, it seemed the found-footage genre had been exhausted. But this anthology, with contributions from dudes like Ti West and Adam Wingard, revives the found-footage concept and makes it scary again. V/H/S is pretty brutal. Its sequel, V/H/S 2, is even scarier.
Tagline: "Fear is a place."
Plot Summary: A crew of asbestos-removal workers plods through Danvers State Hospital, a former "lunatic asylum" that's since crumbled. Also, it's haunted. Gradually, the blue-collar Joes succumb to Danvers' dangers, including a trove of gold coins and a mesmerizing set of recordings from therapy sessions with Danvers' former patients. The recordings reveal an evil entity named Simon, who's still lurking (it seems) in the halls, rooms, and lobotomy cauldrons of the one-time hospital.
Memorable Line: "Satanic Ritual Abuse Syndrome. It was big in the '80s."
Reason to Watch: This is a truly frightening film, made creepier by how real it feels. The main characters are just normal guys, not Hollywood babes, who are trying to clean out Danvers' asbestos ASAP. Fun fact: The hospital where the movie is set was once an actual asylum that housed the insane, and it's supposedly haunted for real. You can't beat that verisimilitude.
Tagline: "A ghost story for the minimum wage."
Plot Summary: Claire and Luke are staffing the Yankee Pedlar Inn during its final days of business. Before the inn closes, they're determined to investigate and reveal the ghost of Madeline O'Malley, a bride-to-be from the 1800s who committed suicide in the hotel when her groom didn't arrive, and whose body, the story goes, was buried in the basement. Claire and Luke bumble around and eventually realize that Madeline O'Malley isn't just a legend.
Memorable Line: "Let's go to the basement and find out what that fucking ghost's problem is!"
Reason to Watch: Above, we mentioned director Ti West. Well, he's also behind this one, and it's similarly five-star. West excels at slow-burn horror that relies on a relaxed pace and strong character development before it explodes into an orgy of horrific splendour. The Innkeepers fits the bill. You'll enjoy hanging out with Claire and Luke before the ectoplasm hits the fan.
Tagline: "The scariest movie in Earth."
Plot Summary: To recover from a car accident that killed her husband and daughter, Sarah goes on a caving expedition with her outdoorsy girlfriends. Unfortunately, the cave system they've chosen is more difficult to spelunk than anticipated, and as they struggle to escape the caves, they discover they aren't alone in the dark. There's a gang of blind, hairless mutant cave crawlers dwelling down there, and they feast on human flesh. Have fun, Sarah!
Memorable Line: "Mummy?"
Reason to Watch: This movie is terrifying. Never has a movie so brutally poked at those with a fear of the dark, a fear of enclosed spaces, and a fear of gooey cave people who badly want to gnaw on your bones and your liver far beneath the earth. The movie's conclusion will have you cheering like a deranged animal.
Tagline: Experience 88 minutes of real fear captured in real time.
Plot Summary: Sarah (is this a common name for horror heroines?) is really excited to help her dad move into their new lakeside home. As Sarah unpacks, she begins to hear noises. Her dad investigates but turns up nothing, and then he turns up dead. Sarah's alone... or is she? The house won't let her out, and there's something evil hunting her.
Memorable Line: "AHHHH!!!!"
Reason to Watch: As the tagline reveals, this movie was filmed in an unbroken take, in real time. It's like 24 as horror, and we are literally seeing the worst 88 minutes of Sarah's life. She runs around and around the silent house, and we're refused a moment's rest from her struggling. The movie never cuts away. There's a goofy twist at the end, but the technical brilliance that precedes it makes up for that.
We hope you enjoy the playlist we've assembled. Now it's our turn to ask you: What's your favorite scary movie?