Hocus Pocus 2, hellraiser, Halloween Ends.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture: Photos Courtesy of the Studios
It’s every horror fan’s favorite time of year: spooky season! The leaves are changing, empty storefronts are now Spirit Halloweens, and decorations are going up all over town. As temperatures drop, horror fans plan their schedule for October, the best movie month of the year. It feels as if every year produces more product for the horror hounds as streamers such as Netflix, Hulu, and even Disney+ have learned that the relatively low budgets of genre projects can lead to massive profits. This year has brought out the legends with new projects connected to Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dario Argento, Anne Rice, John Carpenter, Mike Flanagan, and many more. Get out your calendars and mark the dates of the ten biggest horror premieres this season, followed by ten more for those who just can’t get enough.
September 30, Disney+
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three decades since Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker starred in the cult-classic family movie Hocus Pocus for Disney. Actually, it’s harder to believe it took that long to make a sequel, but that day has finally come with the Disney+ release of the new horror-comedy from director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses). The witch trio has returned to Salem as the Sanderson sisters seek revenge, joined this time by some familiar faces including Tony Hale, Sam Richardson, Doug Jones, and Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham. Disney isn’t the first place people think of during the month of October, but Hocus Pocus 2 could be one of the few “family horror” movies of the season.
October 2, AMC+
Almost a full half-century after the publication of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, and almost 30 years after the controversial Neil Jordan version with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, the beloved characters Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt have returned in a sexy, smart, and stylish new weekly series on AMC and AMC+. Once again, the story is framed as an interview, this time with an older journalist played by a world-weary Eric Bogosian. Louis (Jacob Anderson) tells him his story (with Lestat played by Sam Reid), one that leans more into the homosexual undercurrents of the source material than the film and develops into a really clever look at class, race, sexuality, and power — along with some wicked vampire action, too, of course.
October 7, Hulu
Quick—don’t look it up! how many hellraiser movies do you think there are? The answer is ten! Yes, the franchise that started with the 1987 release of Clive Barker’s wildly influential adaptation of his novella The Hellbound Heart has been a sequel machine, and most of them are horrendous. However, there’s reason to hope things could turn around with this reboot. Why? Well, Hulu recently resurrected a franchise with a little movie called Prey by turning it over to a talented genre director, and it’s done something similar here by giving the undeniably talented David Bruckner creative control. The director of The Ritual and The Night House has quickly become one of the most interesting voices in horror, and it will be fascinating to see how he tackles the legend of Pinhead in a way that feels fresh.
October 7, Netflix
If it’s October, Netflix has a new Mike Flanagan title. It’s become as reliable as pumpkin-flavored coffee and beer. The director of The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass has been such a hit generator for the streaming giant that it should name a wing of its corporate offices after him. His latest series looks like one of his most interesting, an adaptation of the 1994 novel of the same name by Christopher Pike, brought to life by a cast of relative newcomers (with horror icon Heather Langenkamp of Nightmare on Elm Street thrown in for fun). The fresh faces play a group of terminally ill teenagers who gather in the basement of their hospice facility to tell spooky stories. Things get weird. It looks like a Young Adult take on themes Flanagan has explored previously in his more adult works including Hill House. In other words, it looks pretty phenomenal, likely another surefire hit for the Flanagan-Netflix machine.
October 7, Disney+
Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino took the director’s chair for the first time for this promising special from the MCU and Disney+. But don’t expect any familiar faces from The Avengers gold Guardians of the Galaxy in this one. No, Giacchino’s project appears to owe more to the legendary Universal monster movies than anything in the modern blockbuster era. The great Gael García Bernal stars as the titular werewolf, who first appeared in a Marvel comic 50 years ago. This creature of the night is actually a monster hunter, and he gathers with Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) and other monster hunters for a legendary competition. Werewolf by Night has been in the production pipeline for years — there were plans for a feature film back in 2001 — so it will be interesting to see how it lands in the MCU’s first stand-alone special, one Giacchino reportedly approached like an episode of The Twilight Zone.
October 9, Showtime
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel has already been a film twice, first with its original title in a critically acclaimed Swedish edition and then in an American remake titled let me in. The TV version of the story, about a preteen vamp and her new BFF, premieres on Showtime and its streaming service this month. The great Demián Bichir stars as Mark, the father of a girl named Eleanor (Madison Taylor Baez) who hasn’t aged in a decade. Elly is a vampire, which Mark tries to keep secret as he searches for a cure. Meanwhile, Grace Gummer plays a scientist looking for a cure of her own to heal her bloodsucking brother, while Anika Noni Rose plays a cop and the mother of a boy named Isaiah (Ian Foreman), a bullied kid who befriends Eleanor.
October 14, Peacock
Michael Myers never really ends, right? Of course not. Aim Halloween Ends will be the final film in the newest trilogy by David Gordon Green, the one that started with 2018’s Halloween and brought Jamie Lee Curtis back to the franchise as Laurie Strode. She returns in this final film, one that’s reportedly about a new killer named Corey Cunningham; it also sees the return of Will Patton as well as the first man to play the Shape, Nick Castle. Halloween Kills was not great, but let’s hope Green and company have figured out how to bring this trilogy in for a thrilling final chapter before someone else resurrects Michael for another trip around Haddonfield, Illinois, in a few years.
October 19, FX
As Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (clever title!) aggravates critics and pumps up subscribers, fans are already speculating about Murphy’s next project, the latest iteration of his beloved American Horror Story. Let’s be honest, Murphy fans: It’s been a few years since AHS mattered (maybe since 2017’s Cult?), but there’s reason to hope the 11th installment of the FX juggernaut could be a return to form. Of course, Murphy brings some of his familiar faces back to play, including Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Nico Greetham, and Zachary Quinto, who hasn’t been in the AHS world since asylum. The first half of the season is set in the ’60s, and the second’s in the ’70s, both against the backdrop of the gay scene in New York, and the show promises some appearances from Big Apple legends such as Patti LuPone, Sandra Bernhard , and Joe Mantello. The announcement of the show’s premiere date included the line, “New Season. New City. New Fears.” New potential for AHS.
October 25–28, Netflix
The Oscar-winning director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Nightmare Alley has put his name on an incredibly promising anthology series that premieres just before Halloween. The series will tell eight stand-alone tales, two based on original work by del Toro. Little is known about the plots, but the talent assembled behind the camera (and in front) is stunning. Episodes will be directed by Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), David Prior (The Empty Man), Guillermo Navarro (del Toro’s Oscar-winning cinematographer), Keith Thomas (The Vigil), Panos Cosmatos (mandy), Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), and Vincenzo Natali (Cube). That’s a killer lineup. It could be the horror TV event of the year. One final thing of note: Netflix is spreading this one out, releasing two episodes a day from October 25 to 28. Maybe you just can’t handle it all at once.
October 28, Netflix
Henry Selick, the genius behind A Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, has finally returned with a new project, and he’s brought Key & Peele with him. With Selick, Jordan Peele co-wrote this twisted tale of a pair of demons (voiced by Peele and Keegan-Michael Key) who become attached to an orphaned girl named Kat. When they conspire to get what they want by bringing her parents back to life, chaos ensues. After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, critics were raving about Selick’s incredible character design and world-building in this expertly made stop-motion experience. It’s something that should work for any fans of Selick’s previous projects, which should really be anyone reading a feature like this.
The Munsters (Netflix, September 27) — Rob Zombie wrote and directed this adaptation of the TV classic about the family who’s not quite an ordinary part of the neighborhood.
A Sinister Halloween Scary Opposites Solar Special (Hulu, October 3) — The gang behind Solar Opposites took the time for a stand-alone special that features a Korvo who is basically terrified of everything related to the sinister holiday. And it’s got an appearance from the Crypt Keeper!
Chucky: Season Two (Syfy Channel, October 5) — The homicidal plaything returns for a second season on the Syfy channel and the USA Network.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (Netflix, October 5) — John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directed this adaptation of the short story by Stephen King about a young man who befriends a millionaire (Donald Sutherland) who may have found a way to communicate from beyond the grave.
Deadstream (Shudder, October 6) — Joseph and Vanessa Winter wrote and directed this SXSW hit that drops exclusively on Shudder about a live-streamer who enters the wrong haunted house. It’s got some fun early–Sam Raimi energy.
Dark Glasses (Shudder, October 13) – Dario Argento is back! The legendary giallo director releases his first film since 2012 in a limited theatrical release and a quick drop on Shudder.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow (Netflix, October 14) — Marlon Wayans and Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things) star in a family-horror film about a girl who unleashes something that brings her suburb’s Halloween decorations to life.
The School for Good and Evil (Netflix, October 19) — Paul Feig directed this tale based on the book by Soman Chainani that stars Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, Kerry Washington, and Michelle Yeoh. The cast hints at a potential streaming hit that might be more YA fantasy than horror but should still be creepy enough to qualify.
V/H/S/99 (Shudder, October 20) — The release of V/H/S/94 gave new life to this anthology series of found-footage flicks, and the latest iteration includes segments directed by the Winters (Deadstream), Flying Lotus (Kuso), and Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey at Night).
Joe Bob’s Haunted Halloween Hangout (Shudder, October 21) — Joe Bob Briggs and Shudder go together like Halloween and candy. Little is known about the legendary drive-in critic’s latest, but that won’t stop fans from putting it on their calendars.