After which, if you remain unsatisfied, Filmstruck and the Criterion Channel have multiple offerings spanning the world and the 20th century. From Europe, they have F. W. Murnau’s silent 1922 “Nosferatu,” the first great vampire movie; Benjamin Christensen’s “Haxan,” a fascinating 1929 quasi-documentary, both presented in beautifully tinted prints; Carl Dreyer’s ineffable 1932 “Vampyr,” a film whose influence is still felt today in the atmospheric work of directors like David Lynch; and Georges Franju’s “Eyes Without a Face” (1962), a French plastic-surgery thriller that strikes an unforgettable balance of grisliness and lyricism. From Japan, there’s Kenji Mizoguchi’s devastating ghost story “Ugetsu” (1954) and the folk-tale derived shockers “Onibaba” (1965), about a pair of samurai-slaughtering women, and “Kuroneko” (1968), about ghostly women and eerie cats. From North America, there’s the spookifying regional classic “Carnival of Souls” (1962), the chilly Canadian family guignol “The Brood” (1979) directed by David Cronenberg, and Guillermo del Toro’s debut feature, the offbeat vampire picture “Cronos” (1993). (On Oct. 31, “The Brood” will be paired with “Swallowed” (2016), an extraordinary and scary short film by Lily Baldwin, whose work has a visceral power similar to Cronenberg’s, but with an anxious female perspective.)
The only disappointment I found in my explorations was that the site’s print of “Spirits of the Dead” (1968), the Poe-inspired multidirector horror anthology, is in a French-language edition. This is fine for the first two segments, one directed by Roger Vadim, the other by Louis Malle; but the final segment, “Toby Dammit,” directed by Federico Fellini and starring Terence Stamp, loses a lot of its disorienting (and funny) content when stripped of its original, Babel-like multilingual soundtrack and dubbed entirely into French. (The version with the soundtrack Fellini intended is not easily accessible in the United States, alas.)
But wait — there’s more. Several of the canonical Universal Pictures releases of the 1930s and ’40s have made their premieres on the streaming video service Shudder this Halloween season. These are the big ones: “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), “The Invisible Man” (1933), “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and “The Wolf Man” (1941). These titles in some ways still constitute the rock on which the horror film was built. I can’t recommend them enough.
Netflix’s horror selection is predictably light on classics, but they do have two pictures I’d gladly program into a home Halloween festival, one an original and one a recent not-terribly-prominent theatrical title. Last year I wrote about the horror director Mike Flanagan, who had just completed shooting “Gerald’s Game,” an adaptation of a Stephen King novel. The movie had its Netflix premiere earlier this month, and it’s a doozy. On a weekend getaway ostensibly booked to spice up a stale marriage, Jessie (Carla Gugino) is handcuffed to a bed by her smarmy husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), who drops dead with the handcuff keys mere feet away, on a bathroom sink that Jessie is helpless to reach. The subsequent nightmares, hallucinations and memories, not to mention a very real and very hungry stray dog, make for a nerve-racking cinematic experience that Mr. Flanagan handles with customary formal panache and wit. Anchored by a multifaceted performance by Ms. Gugino, the movie plays as many mind games with the audience as with Jessie. It also features a do-what-you-gotta-do scene of self mutilation so convincing that I watched between my fingers despite knowing I was safe at home.
On Netflix I also enjoyed “The Devil’s Candy,” written and directed by Sean Byrne. In many respects the movie is a conventional please-don’t-move-into-that-house item, but this story of an ambitious painter who transplants his family into a roomy albeit perhaps-Satanically-possessed new residence moves at a spanking pace and is rather droll in the way it plays with horror conventions, particularly those that associate heavy metal with the devil himself.