This October, brace yourself for chills, thrills, and some of the most mind-bending, spine-tingling horror imaginable. Step into a haunted house packed with the best of ’90s horror, art-house classics that do double duty as ideal midnight movies, and pre-Code nightmares that set the template for screen terror. But if you’re afraid of the dark, fear not: there’s also a selection of propulsive technothrillers, a new episode of Adventures in Moviegoing with James Gray, a spotlight on feisty forties star Linda Darnell, newly restored classics by Claire Denis and Robert Bresson streaming exclusively on the Criterion Channel, and so much more!
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* indicates programming available only in the U.S.
The ’70s shocked you, the ’80s gored you . . . now the ’90s come in for the kill! Our latest Halloween spectacular celebrates an era that saw terror undergo unsettling new transformations. In the ’90s, horror movies got bigger budgets, became playfully self-aware, and even won some Oscars—but they’re just as nasty as what came before. Featuring cult heroes like John Carpenter (In the Mouth of Madness) and Abel Ferrara (The Addiction) plunging the dark depths of their uncompromising visions, established auteurs like Francis Ford Coppola (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) taking on the genre, and new voices like Ernest R. Dickerson (Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight) and Antonia Bird (Ravenous) offering fresh perspectives on familiar tropes, this selection curated by Clyde Folley offers a hair-raising tour through an oft-overlooked decade in horror that’s ripe for rediscovery.
FEATURING: Def by Temptation (1990), The Exorcist III (1990), Frankenhooker (1990), Body Parts (1991)*, The Rapture (1991), Dust Devil (1992)*, When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)*, In the Mouth of Madness (1994), The Addiction (1995), Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)*, Ravenous (1999); COMING NOVEMBER 1: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Body Snatchers (1993); COMING DECEMBER 1: Event Horizon (1997)
Technothrillers fuse sleek, suspenseful genre pleasures with potent social commentary, posing provocative questions about the impact of technology on society in an era of corporate domination, omnipresent surveillance, and seemingly unstoppable innovation. Whether exploring the dark fringes of cyberspace, as in The Net and Demonlover, or more fantastically imagined technologies—from the killer animatronic cowboys of Westworld to the dream-hacking device of Paprika—these nightmare fantasies are science fiction at its most propulsive and entertaining, featuring stellar flesh-and-blood performances from the likes of Robert Redford, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Cruise.
FEATURING: The Andromeda Strain (1971)*, Westworld (1973), World on a Wire (1973), Brainstorm (1983), Videodrome (1983), Sneakers (1992)*, The Net (1995), Dark City (1998), New Rose Hotel (1998), eXistenZ (1999)*, Demonlover (2002), Minority Report (2002)*, Paprika (2006), Neptune Frost (2021)
Images of unforgettable terror and strange beauty exist side by side in these darkly imaginative works that fuse genre chills with formal innovation. Tapping into horror’s potential to manifest our subconscious fears, visionary directors like David Lynch (Eraserhead), Dario Argento (Suspiria), and Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face) embrace the genre’s surreal side, inviting us on hallucinatory journeys into dreamlike dread. From cult classics (Carnival of Souls) and influential landmarks (Night of the Living Dead) to international shockers (Cure) and one-of-a-kind hybrids (The Lure), these films push the genre to its most out-there limits.
FEATURING: Häxan (1922), Vampyr (1932), Eyes Without a Face (1960), Jigoku (1960), Carnival of Souls (1962), Onibaba (1964), The Face of Another (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Kuroneko (1968), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Spirits of the Dead (1968), Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Sisters (1973), Blood for Dracula (1974), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Eraserhead (1977), House (1977), Suspiria (1977), The Shout (1978), Arrebato (1979), The Brood (1979), Wolf’s Hole (1987), The Vanishing (1988), Cronos (1993), Cure (1997), Donnie Darko (2001), Trouble Every Day (2001), Antichrist (2009), The Lure (2015), Suicide by Sunlight (2019)
Starring Linda Darnell
Propelled to stardom while still a teenager, Linda Darnell wielded a feisty tempestuousness that lent her performances an extra edge. Starring opposite Tyrone Power in splashy costume spectacles like The Mark of Zorro and Blood and Sand, she soon proved equally effective as a snarling femme fatale in the noir gems Fallen Angel and Hangover Square and as a caustic wit in the sophisticated comedies Unfaithfully Yours and A Letter to Three Wives. Though the turmoil of her offscreen life took a toll on her career—culminating in her devastating early death at age forty-one in a house fire—Darnell left behind one of the most distinguished filmographies of the 1940s, delivering performances both tender and hard-edged for some of the era’s top auteurs.
FEATURING: The Mark of Zorro (1940), Star Dust (1940), Blood and Sand (1941), Fallen Angel (1945), Hangover Square (1945), My Darling Clementine (1946), Forever Amber (1947), Unfaithfully Yours (1948), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), No Way Out (1950)
Featuring a new introduction by critic Imogen Sara Smith
With their startlingly perverse themes, lurid psychosexual undertones, and often-grisly violence, the horror films made in the early 1930s before the enforcement of the Hollywood Production Code still have the power to shock. Unbound by any concessions to family-friendly morality and influenced by the heightened visual style of German expressionism, these sordid tales of mad scientists (Doctor X, Island of Lost Souls), sadomasochistic satanists (The Black Cat), twisted revenge (Murders in the Zoo, Freaks), and supernatural terror (Svengali, Thirteen Women) brought primal fear to the screen with a daring creativity and explicitness that wouldn’t be seen in Hollywood again for decades. Highlights include a pair of early Technicolor wonders by Michael Curtiz: Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum.
FEATURING: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Svengali (1931), Doctor X (1932), Freaks (1932), Island of Lost Souls (1932), The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)*, The Old Dark House (1932), Thirteen Women (1932), Murders in the Zoo (1933), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935)
James Gray’s Adventures in Moviegoing
In the latest edition of Adventures in Moviegoing, Queens-born filmmaker and famously delightful raconteur James Gray (Two Lovers, Armageddon Time) discusses his filmic education courtesy of New York’s vibrant repertory cinemas and the formative discoveries that shaped his uniquely intelligent approach to moviemaking. The films he has selected—including exemplars of elegant, emotionally layered storytelling like Alexander Korda’s That Hamilton Woman, Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers, and Lina Wertmüller’s Seven Beauties—reflect the commitment to careful craftsmanship and complex moral inquiry that have helped make Gray one of the most thoughtful and sincere American directors working today.
FEATURING: Modern Times (1936), That Hamilton Woman (1941), Stromboli (1950), Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Tunes of Glory (1960), Toby Dammit (1968), Seven Beauties (1975)
The latest from Beijing-based wife-and-husband directorial team Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka is a piercing, meticulously observed examination of contemporary Chinese youth starring their recurring leading lady, the brilliant Yao Honggui. She plays the twenty-year-old Lynn, a flight attendant in training whose path of upward mobility is derailed when she finds out she is pregnant. Indecisive and running out of time, Lynn tells her boyfriend she’s had an abortion and returns to her feuding parents and their failing clinic to try and figure out what’s next. Surveying the new norms of the gig economy, gray markets, MLMs, and hustling in modern-day, post-TikTok China, Stonewalling unfolds as a haunting character study and a socioeconomic thriller of the everyday.
REDISCOVERIES AND RESTORATIONS
Trouble Every Day
Claire Denis’s poetic take on the body-horror genre is an atmospheric reverie of blood and lust that lays bare the filmmaker’s core artistic concerns around power, desire, and delirium. Newlyweds Shane (a perfectly cast Vincent Gallo) and June (Tricia Vessey) arrive in Paris for their honeymoon. In the process of trying to find a cure for his strange, bloodthirsty disease, Shane stumbles upon the story of a doctor (Alex Descas) and his flesh-eating wife (Béatrice Dalle). Shimmering with haunting beauty—with seductive cinematography by Agnès Godard and an ethereal score by Tindersticks—Trouble Every Day is a mesmerizing blend of gore and sensuality that ranks among Denis’s supreme achievements.
The Devil, Probably
“My sickness is that I see clearly.” Robert Bresson’s most controversial film (the French government banned viewers under the age of eighteen from seeing it, believing it would incite a rash of youth suicides) follows the journey of alienated teenager Charles (Antoine Monnier) as he searches for meaning in everything from religion and radical politics to drugs and psychoanalysis. Ultimately, all that may be left is the embrace of death. Made when the director was nearing eighty, this despairing yet undeniably resonant post–May ’68 manifesto is his deeply personal vision of the modern world as a spiritual wasteland, complete with footage of environmental degradation and nuclear destruction. No less an authority than Richard Hell declared it “by far the most punk movie ever made.”
CRITERION COLLECTION EDITIONS
Flesh for Frankenstein (Paul Morrissey, 1973)
Criterion Collection Edition #27
Cult icon Udo Kier stars in Andy Warhol collaborator Paul Morrissey’s reimagining of Mary Shelley’s modern myth, a riot of kinky transgression that fuses its exploitation thrills with an ironic, postmodern reflexivity.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Morrissey, Kier, and film historian Maurice Yacowar.
Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey, 1974)
Criterion Collection Edition #28
Underground maverick Paul Morrissey’s follow-up to Flesh for Frankenstein is another outrageously subversive, elegantly perverse reimagining of horror mythology starring the one and only Udo Kier as the infamous Transylvanian count.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Morrissey, Kier, and film historian Maurice Yacowar.
La Llorona (Jayro Bustamante, 2019)
Criterion Collection Edition #1156
A former military dictator on trial for crimes against Guatemala’s Maya communities is haunted by a series of disturbing occurrences, seemingly brought on by an enigmatic new housekeeper, in this chilling fusion of folk horror and political commentary.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: An interview with director Jayro Bustamante and a documentary on the making of the film.
Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944)*
Criterion Collection Edition #1153
Cary Grant contends with a family of genteel maniacs in Frank Capra’s black comedy, a marvelous screwball meeting of the madcap and the macabre.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by author Charles Dennis and a radio adaptation starring Boris Karloff.
A Trilogy by Huang Ji
These three films by Huang Ji—a fiercely independent voice in Chinese filmmaking—comprise a remarkable coming-of-age trilogy, charting both the personal journey of a young woman (played in all three by recurring star Yao Honggui) as well as the social transformation of China itself. Inspired by Huang’s own adolescence growing up in rural China, these films offer a clear-eyed, unadorned, and uncensored look at the experiences of one of the country’s most vulnerable demographics: young women without family support who must fight to survive in a rapidly changing economic landscape. Even as they navigate the most difficult of circumstances, Huang’s characters remain dignified and self-sufficient, their stories captured with penetrating social observation and a painterly visual style that she’s developed in collaboration with Ryuji Otsuka, who’s served as cinematographer on all three films and codirector and producer of two.
FEATURING: Egg and Stone (2012), The Foolish Bird (2017), Stonewalling (2022)
De Lo Mio
Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker, part of Criterion’s Meet the Filmmakers series
Sibling bonds are both rekindled and tested when two high-spirited sisters raised in New York travel to the Dominican Republic to reunite with their estranged brother and clean out their grandparents’ old home. Diana Peralta’s achingly alive feature debut weaves a richly human story about cherishing the past while learning to let go.
Phantom of the Paradise
The Phantom of the Opera gets an outrageous glam-rock reimagining courtesy of Brian De Palma at his most deliriously inspired.
NEW ADDITIONS TO PREVIOUS PROGRAMS
Premiering October 16 in High School Horror: Unfriended*
Ushering in a new era of horror for the social-media age, this innovative nightmare unfolds in real time on a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen avenger.
Now Playing in Gaslight Noir: The Lodger
Unsung noir master John Brahm brings his flair for stylishly moody chiaroscuro and gaslit Victorian atmosphere to this Jack the Ripper–inspired thriller, starring a quietly unnerving Laird Cregar.
Back by Popular Demand
Don’t miss these viewer favorites, returning to the Channel in October!
FEATURING: The Glass Key (1942), Laura (1944), Written on the Wind (1956)*, The Age of Innocence (1993)