October is the perfect month to watch horror movies. Unfortunately, it’s also the perfect month to go apple picking, check out a haunted house, roll up to a pumpkin patch, take a hike among the falling leaves, hunt down the best hot chocolate in the state, perform a ritual, pray to an Elder god, become acquainted with the unknowable. With so much to do, it can be easy to let your horror movie watching fall by the wayside.
All October, we ran a daily horror movie watchlist. In case you fell behind (not that I think you did – how hard can it be to simply watch 31 movies in as many days), here are all the movies we listed, why you might want to watch them, and a custom checklist you can use to cross out everything you’ve already seen.
2022 Horror Movie Themes
This year, we divided the weeks into key daily themes. These were:
Monster Monday: Everything from golden age classics to modern takes on the thing that goes bump in the night
Terrifying Tuesday: Movies from any subgenre of horror with the sole requirement that they must absolutely scare your pants off
Witchy Wednesdays: “A witch! A witch! We have found a witch. May we burn her?” (Comment where that quote is from and you can be in the running to win the prize of me saying “nice” in response)
Theatre Kid Thursday: These are the arthouse capital “D” Deep, “high art” kind of movies that call themselves films
Franchise Friday: Among all the genres, horror seems to especially love a franchise because why make one when you can make a dozen?
Slasher Saturday: Blades and blood, baby. Blades and blood.
Silly Sunday: From horror comedy to cartoons, this is a lighter way to wrap up the weekend.
2022 Horror Movie Watchlist
October 1: Saw
Why you should watch it: It’s fun in the 3 AM at a sleepover kind of way. Gritty and unpleasant and lurid green as the tile floor of a gas station bathroom. I am always happy to rewatch it (plus then you can watch the second and third one, which are the only Saw movies that exist; no I’m not in denial; thanks for asking; Saw is a trilogy).
How slow does it burn?: Incandescently fast. I mean the opening scene is a dude almost drowning in a bathtub and it only gets more intense from there.
October 2: The Cabin in the Woods
Why you should watch it: So, as a parody of the classic horror scenario of “kids go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend,” it’s hilarious. But I also found it legitimately scary the first time I watched it. I had to bike home in the dark at midnight and I called one of my friends to chat with me the whole way home to make sure I didn’t get eaten by a monster.
How slow does it burn?: Like a trail of gunpowder leading to a full keg. You know from the start that there’s gonna be a big explosion and yet it still shocks you with how bright it is.
October 3: Nosferatu
Why you should watch it: An illegal(ish) 1920s German adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this movie is all vibes. The re-design of Nosferatu alone helped define the onscreen vampire canon. Plus, it’s one of those movie that you can watch and then act superior about having seen.
How slow does it burn?: Like a giant pot of soup set to simmer. There’s a consistent bubbling of fear throughout, but to modern audiences, the black and white silent film-ness of it all can make it seem a bit more slow.
October 4: The Descent
Why you should watch it: This is one of the most disturbing movies ever committed to film. I’ve had so many people tell me that they’re desensitised to horror but this movie still gets to them. It’s unbearably claustrophobic and leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth. 10/10.
How slow does it burn?: Like the scalding handle of a cast iron skillet you’re gripping through a tattered cloth. The danger has been there all along but is seeping slowly into your skin.
October 5: The VVitch
Why you should watch it: This is probably one of the best examples of “slow burn” horror. It’s just such a good depiction of a family being slowly picked apart by mistrust, repression, and accusation, with the ever-present threat of witchcraft hanging in the air.
How slow does it burn?: Like the proverbial pot of water in which sits a frog. By the time you realize you no longer want to be here, you’ve already been boiled alive.
October 6: Raw
Why you should watch it: I will not stop recommending Raw until the day I run out of breath. This Belgian cannibal flick is best described as psychologically disturbing. It’s the perfect inversion of the coming of age story while still also being a coming of age tale. Also, its soundtrack is a banger.
How slow does it burn?: Like a slow-cooked lamb shank. You know it’s taking its time with good reason but the longer it cooks, the more your house fills with the scent of roasting meat.
October 7: The Conjuring
Why you should watch it: The best thing I can say about this movie is that it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to start a horror franchise, but I understand why it did. It hits the perfect tone when it comes to spookiness and delivers a handful of crafty jumpscares. This is one of those corner-of-your-eye movies that makes you fear the background of scenes.
How slow does it burn?: Like a box of sparklers. The moments of terror are bright and sudden and you know once one is over that another will be soon to come.
October 8: X
Why you should watch it: Imagine if someone who grew up on slasher movies made a slasher movie. That’s this. It’s got that seventies, summer, middle of nowhere, shit’s real vibe that’s hard not to like. It’s so what it says on the tin, yet doesn’t feel formulaic. It’s refreshing to watch a movie in a subgenre that’s less interested in “deconstructing tropes” and more interested in being a great movie.
How slow does it burn?: Like a fire of unknown size in another room. You know it’s there but you can kind of ignore it at first. It’s in the other room. You can smell the smoke and the longer it goes on, the higher the risk of it getting completely out of control.
October 9: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Why you should watch it: This movie is absolutely ridiculous in the most fun way. Each time you think it can’t get more absurd, it ups the ante. You’ll find yourself rooting for Tucker and Dale. Plus I’ll never pass up the chance to see Alan Tudyk. The man studied at Julliard.
How slow does it burn?: Like a box of fireworks in the hands of a thirteen-year-old. Maybe they’ll be responsible and light one at a time at a safe distance. But then they’ll get bored and throw a light match at the box just to see what happens.
October 10: The Babadook
Why you should watch it: The Babadook is one of those monster movies that, in my opinion, redefines what the monster movie is. It’s a beautiful exploration of grief that gets better on each watch. But it never lets its allegory get in the way of delivering some pretty wicked scares. The horror nerds are right to bang on about this movie all the time.
How slow does it burn?: Like a chemical burn on the skin of your back. You can’t see it, but you can feel it, and the pain only gets worse with time.
October 11: The Exorcist
Why you should watch it: This is the original “I was traumatized by a movie” movie. It’s so scary that when I was watching a clip of it a few months ago to find a screenshot showcasing its use of green, I got genuinely creeped out. Also I’m halfway through the book now and I only started it a few days ago, so that should tell you how compelling the story is.
How slow does it burn?: Like droplets of water in boiling oil. The high-intensity moments make a loud splash, but even when they sizzle themselves out, you still have the low-level dread of scalding oil sitting on the heat.
October 12: ParaNorman
Why you should watch it: An underappreciated stop-motion adventure that features ghosts, zombies, and a century-old curse, it has one of my favorite portrayals of what it means to be deemed a witch. It’s fun to see animation not made by one of the major studios. It looks great and, despite being a kids movie, doesn’t shy away from darker elements.
How slow does it burn?: Like a microwaved Hot Pocket. You think it’ll be lukewarm at best (at least when it comes to the scares) and your first bite is still a little frozen, but then your second bite you burn your tongue on scalding cheese and think, “Dang I underestimated this Hot Pocket.” (I may or may not be stretching these metaphors a bit far and I’m not even halfway through).
October 13: Mad God
Why you should watch it: A post-apocalyptic stop motion phenomenon, Mad God took several decades to make and it shows. It’s got that same surreal quality that nightmares do and will leave you feeling disjointed. Some might complain by its lack of the traditional trappings of movies like having a “plot” or “characters.” But its set pieces are gorgeous and link together thematically to produce a strange, dismal sensation.
How slow does it burn?: Like a mouthful of boiling hot coffee. Your choices are to spit it out or swallow it down. It burns all the while: tongue, throat, chest, stomach.
October 14: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Why you should watch it: You know a movie’s good when it both makes you afraid to fall asleep and spawns one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, right? This franchise has a lot of hit or miss films, but the first one comes out with a bang.
How slow does it burn?: Like a beach bonfire. You can see it a mile away and once there, you can’t look away. It’s a slasher; what else would you expect?
October 15: Candyman
Why you should watch it: Candyman (1992) is like a cross between social commentary and the creepiest kind of urban legend. Everyone always like to say the 2010s were the era for social horror, but this movie was already right there, posing as a standard slasher to be franchised while delivering a nuanced approach to assessing privilege. For a slasher movie, it can also be pretty atmospheric.
How slow does it burn?: Like a broken heater. At times it runs scalding, shocking you with its burst of fire; at times it goes cool, letting the dread set in among the chill in your bones.
October 16: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Why you should watch it: There’s a reason this is one of the few studio Aardman movies to release in American movie theatres and it’s because this film is absolutely iconic. Makes you really miss claymation. It’s just a fun time.
How slow does it burn?: Like the faint bulb in an Easy Bake oven. It’s there. It’s cooking. But ultimately, it is just a kid’s toy. Then again, that’s not a critique because it was never trying to be an actual oven. It’s its own brand of delight.
October 17: It Follows
Why you should watch it: With one of the most creative monsters ever, this movie delivers on the low-level dread. Visually, it’s gorgeous. You could probably watch this movie for its vaporwave aesthetic alone. But thematically, it’s also got meat on its bones. Its exploration of bodily autonomy and sexual trauma are thoughtful and well-meaning.
How slow does it burn?: Like a rash spread across your body. It itches at first, but then the itch turns to pain, hot and pulsing. The more you scratch, the worse it gets. It doesn’t take all your attention all the time, it’s just there and you know it’s growing.
October 18: Hereditary
Why you should watch it: Look, I know that people won’t shut the fuck up about Hereditary, but there’s a reason. This is one of the only movies I’ve ever audibly gasped at. It just goes all in, ranging from low-level anxiety to high-octane terror. The acting, the story, the pacing. It’s all perfect.
How slow does it burn?: Like the long wick of a black candle. The wax drips onto your palm and the light flickers to make strange shapes on the wall.
October 19: The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Why you should watch it: Not a traditional witch movie, this film explores what it means to confront one of our deepest-rooted fears: the unknown. This film is an absolute masterclass in building tension through uncertainty. Fun fact: this was actually one of the movies that made me want to start a horror blog because I watched it and desperately wanted to write about it for one of the websites I worked for but they said I couldn’t because it did terribly with regards to SEO.
How slow does it burn?: Like eating through a burlap sack of jalapeños. Sure, there’s some burning up front, but it’s mostly about how it all compounds, building within you until your mouth is on fire.
October 20: Saint Maud
Why you should watch it: I proposed this movie for this year’s Halloween watchlist because I’d been wanting to watch it for ages. Now that I finally have, I can say for certain that it definitely belongs on a watchlist. It’s an A24 movie with religious iconography: what more could you want?
How slow does it burn?: Like a tepid bath with the hot water running on full. It’s comfortable and eerie and keeps getting hotter and hotter until you finally can’t stand it.
October 21: Hellraiser
Why you should watch it: The plot of this movie is good, but its best feature is the way it looks. So much of the terror comes from the amazing effects, makeup, and character design. Also I’m very much team Pinhead. This movie is refreshingly different from other franchises with its BDSM undercurrent and interesting blurring of the lines of desire and disgust.
How slow does it burn?: It douses you in gasoline and sets you on fire. This film just goes full on from the start and doesn’t really let up.
October 22: Scream
Why you should watch it: The original Scream (1996) has that rare quality where it’s a horror parody that’s aware of genre tropes, but also a good horror movie in its own right. It’s a classic for a reason. If you’ve watched a lot of horror movies, you’ll probably enjoy scream.
How slow does it burn?: Like a children’s toy with a faulty battery. It looks innocent but every now and then flashes way hotter than you were expecting.
October 23: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Why you should watch it: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I watch it every October. It’s totally hilarious, camp in the best way possible, and, I say this as a compliment, so slutty. It absolutely deserves its status as cult classic.
How slow does it burn?: The only fire is the fire in your loins. It’s not scary, but it is very horny in a gender-inclusive kind of way.
October 24: An American Werewolf in London
Why you should watch it: This movie has absolutely amazing practical effects, one of the best werewolf transformations of all time, some sick undead makeup, and a bangin’ soundtrack. It’s also surprisingly funny. Put it this way: it’s a movie about werewolves and it’s generally a straight-edged story, but all the songs in the soundtrack have the word “moon” in them.
How slow does it burn?: Like a muggy night that leads into a surprisingly warm autumn day. You get that initial taste of heat at the very beginning, which then seems to cool only to start continually cranking up the temperature by half measures.
October 25: Ju-on: The Grudge
Why you should watch it: This is one of those movies that’s just so unbearably creepy. It has all these “mundane” terror scenes that cast a scary light on even the safest places: a well-lit hallway, a bed, a shower. When I watched this with my roommates a few months ago, one of them left after the first scene because he decided he didn’t feel like having nightmares that night.
How slow does it burn?: Like a broken showerhead. There’s a level of familiar, warm anxiety occasionally punctuated by flashes of scalding water that shock your system.
October 26: The Craft
Why you should watch it: This is a witch movie classic. Surprisingly well-researched, it is like if Heathers had a love child with pagan rituals. Its core cast has excellent chemistry and the aesthetic is on point. Watch the 1996 original, though. I cannot vouch for the remake (and I haven’t heard amazing things).
How slow does it burn?: Like a pack of Hot Takis. It’s got heat but it’s very much bearable and very much moreish.
October 27: Men
Why you should watch it: Men is one of those movies that makes you feel terrified to be alone. Its horror varies from subtle discomfort to full-blown Cronenberg practical effects. I think some of its themes are a bit shallow on analysis, but the actual experience of watching it is definitely a ride. You won’t be bored, although you will definitely feel off-kilter.
How slow does it burn?: Like a candlestick you’re carrying that burns almost down to the bottom so you drop it to prevent yourself from getting burnt but then realize you accidentally dropped it onto a pyre that you’re standing in and goes up in a flash.
October 28: Evil Dead II
Why you should watch it: Like anything Sam Raimi, this franchise is a lot of fun. If you’ve never seen it, I recommend starting with the second one. Why? Because the second one is basically just a reboot of the first one with around 10 times the budget. It’s got “you’re watching this at summer camp in the rec hall” vibes… in a good way.
How slow does it burn?: Like a corpse in a furnace. It catches fire pretty quickly and then smolders for quite some time.
October 29: Halloween
Why you should watch it: Come on: it’s a Halloween movie checklist and you think I’m not gonna put Halloween (1978) on it? It’s horror movie history. Not the first slasher, but definitely helped define the slasher genre. It’s the movies that made all the other movies go “oh, we can set things in suburbia?”
How slow does it burn?: Like getting stabbed with a hot knife (i.e., not slow at all). Like I said before: what did you expect? It’s a slasher.
October 30: Hocus Pocus
Why you should watch it: This is the perfect movie to hearken in Halloween. It’s got a superstar cast, hilarious one liners, a cat that’s British for some reason even though his human form isn’t, and an iconic adaptation of “I Put a Spell on You.” In short: it’s fun in a very All Hallowed Eve way.
How slow does it burn?: Like a mug of hot chocolate. It doesn’t burn, but it is sweet and delicious.
October 31: The Thing
Why you should watch it: Look: either you’ve watched The Thing before and this is the perfect opportunity to rewatch an absolutely terrifying movie, or you’ve never seen it and you are in for a treat. It’s the perfect example of how practical effects and horror are a match made in heaven (or hell I guess?). Its themes of mistrust and isolation are also eerily familiar to a post-Covid world.
How slow does it burn?: Like a block of ice on bare skin. It seems bearable at first but then the pain sets in. You’re waiting for it to go numb, then you realize it’s actually so cold, it burns.
That’s all for now, folks. In case you wanted to check things off, you can find the complete list as a checklist below. Did we miss anything? Feel free to let us know. Maybe it can make next year’s watchlist (I’m not gonna lie, I’m already starting to plan out the themes).
I never knew there were this many descriptions for burning. Thanks for all the recommendations.
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Thank you. That took me longer than I care to admit to come up with. Can’t wait to have to do it again next year hahah
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