By Leo Hincks, Second Year, Theatre and Film
With Halloween just around the corner, here are my Film and TV picks to get you into an unearthly mood.
TV Miniseries: Deadset (2008)
Available on Netflix
With Big Brother (2000-2023) back on ITV (for better or worse) it is now more than ever necessary for the general public to discover or fall back in love with this highly underrated series. Before Black Mirror (2011-2023) appeared on our screens, Charlie Brooker had another nail-bitingly shocking show, Deadset.
The show focuses on some terrifying and gross creatures - reality TV stars, as well as Zombies. To put it bluntly, Deadset (2008) answers the age-old question “What would happen if there was a Zombie apocalypse during a series of Big Brother ?”, the results are thrillingly crafted into a nice five-episode run. If you’ve ever wished that 28 Days Later (2002) had Davina McCall instead of Cillian Murphy, Deadset will make your dream come true.
TV Series: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Season 1 (2018-2020)
Available on Netflix
If there is one piece of media that emulates Halloween the most for me, it is the first season of this show. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a darker, edgier take on the Archie Comics character who had a popular sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003). The recent show deals with satanic cults, dark baptisms, exorcisms, and cannibalism within the first few episodes, a far cry from its witty talking cat source material.
Every episode is practically drowning in the cosy American vintage Halloween aesthetic, with every frame crammed with carved pumpkins, ominous fog and duffel coats, it is any Halloween lover's heaven (although Hell feels more appropriate).
The show is filled with thrills and horror but perhaps the scariest thing about it is its decline in quality in the later seasons, due to its constant need to mirror the young adult pandering of its sister show Riverdale (2017-2023). Nonetheless, watching the first series of this show is possibly the best Halloween activity you can do, besides Trick or Treating.
Film: Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Available on Disney+
If this feels like too obvious of a choice for you then please stop reading but if you are yet to see this film then I insist you keep reading on. Jennifer’s Body upon initial release, received a poor reception mainly due to its ironic marketing towards teenage boys. However, it is now being appreciated more than a decade later for what it is, a feminist horror masterpiece.
Essentially the film focuses on the nerdy Needy (Amanda Seyfried) whose popular cheerleader best friend Jennifer (Megan Fox) slowly becomes a high-school boy-eating monster. The film beautifully captures the essence of female friendship, high school politics and the horrors of the male gaze.
The film deserves its cult classic status due to its powerhouse performances, and of course, spooky nature, which is increased by it being set in the fictitious town of Devil’s Kettle. This is not a film you should ignore.
Film: Death Becomes Her (1992)
Available on Lionsgate+
If the other items on the list seem too disturbing and dark, then this is the film for you. The word ‘camp’ has been increasingly used more and more in recent pop culture, Death Becomes Her could arguably be the visual definition of that word. The film stars Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis at arguably their best in this hilarious cautionary tale on the need to constantly look youthful.
Streep and Hawn are a fabulous double act as two arch rivals who take a mysterious potion, given to them by the always hypnotic Isabella Rossellini, to stay ‘forever young’. Obviously, this has chaotic consequences and hilarity could not ensue any quicker for the two, with shovel fights, ridiculously large mansions and comedically long moments of falling down the stairs, this film will have you constantly entertained. It even took home the 1993 Oscar for Best Visual Effects, once you see the final scene you’ll realise none of the other nominees stood a chance.
TV Series: Lovecraft Country (2020)
Available on Now TV
If you are slightly familiar with the work of HP Lovecraft, you’ll probably either be thinking of the giant Squid monster Cthulu or his history of racism. Misha Green has created a show inspired by Lovecraft’s monsters (based on the novel by Matt Ruff) that dissects the relationship between race and horror in a ten-episode HBO series that was taken off air too soon.
The show focuses on Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) and his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) as they search across 1950s America for Freeman’s missing father. The ability to both focus on the characters' fight for their lives in a segregated America, as well as their fight against mythical ancient monsters, is done so with such balance and care that there is practically nothing else like it around.
Although it is a narrative series, each episode takes on a different terror, so each one is practically like a mini horror film, which makes this series a must-watch during October.
The Scream Film Series (1996-2023)
Available on Paramount+/Amazon Prime Video/Now TV
One of the most popular go-to Halloween costumes is the iconic Ghostface mask, yet it is surprising how many people have not seen the films it appears in. The Scream films are a film student's dream come true, at first glance it seems like an average slasher, but these movies are a great deconstruction of the horror genre.
The first Scream openly mocked the cliches of popular horror films, whilst being incredibly fun and just as thrilling as the films it references. The sequels hold up as well, especially with Scream 4 (2011), which has a stand-out performance by iconic scream queen Emma Roberts. Even when the story lacks in quality, like in Scream 3 (2003), the film is saved by a hilarious performance by the ever-perfect Parker Posey, who shows there really are no small roles, only small actors.
Even most recently with Scream 6 (2023), the series feels fresher than ever with newcomers like Jenna Ortega - this saga just won’t die, and once you are hooked on it, you won’t want it too either.
Featured Image: IMDb
What are your favourite spooky films and shows?