It’s finally a spooky season.
Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of horror or scary movies. What I like about the season and the TV series I recommend are the beautiful aesthetics and attention to detail.
This year, I’m stepping up, giving a new spooky show to watch every week in October. Don’t worry, you won’t be overwhelmed by tons of episodes. You can reasonably watch all four of these shows and still indulge in Halloween delights.
First week: 1-7 October
Hulu’s “Monsterland” anthology series is out on Friday, so let’s start here. Each episode tells the story of a different monster, within a new setting and characters. The episodes are named after the locations in which they take place and two are set in Louisiana.
You can make your own assessments on how well the show portrays Port Fourchon and New Orleans. I found it odd that the main character’s house in the New Orleans episode had a basement.
Apparently, the show is about fictional monsters, but each episode highlights the monstrosities that people are capable of, in ways small and large. The main characters live bleak, broken lives, and I’ve found human interactions the most compelling.
There are shades of “The X-Files” and “The Twilight Zone” in the series, with a handful of recognizable faces: Kaitlyn Dever, from “Booksmart”, Mike Colter, from “Luke Cage” and Kelly Marie Tran, from “Star Wars. : The Last Jedi. “Dever’s character appears everywhere, but you can watch the episodes as you see fit.
Watch on: All 8 episodes are available on Hulu.
Second week: October 8-14
I remember when Netflix launched “The Haunting of Hill House” two years ago this week. It lived up to the hype and then some. Beautifully shot and fantastically interpreted, “Hill House” is based on the book of the same name by Shirley Jackson, although you don’t need to have read it (or remember the plot) to enjoy the season.
“Hill House” follows the Crain family as they move to a large mansion, where increasing paranormal events begin to destroy the family. The events of their childhood follow the Crain children into adulthood when they are all lured home. Unraveling the mystery is compelling and touching. I can’t stress enough how amazing the performances are, especially Carla Gugino as matriarch Olivia and Victoria Pedretti as Nell, Crain’s younger brother.
On October 9, the show’s “second” season, “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” is scheduled to premiere. It’s a season of its own, unrelated to “Hill House,” but it’s on the same team and is sure to carry the same high-quality restlessness. “Bly Manor” is inspired by Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw” and follows a housekeeper (played by Pedretti) hired to care for the granddaughter and grandson of the owner of Bly Manor.
Watch on: All 10 episodes of “Hill House” are available on Netflix, with the nine episodes of “Bly Manor” due out on October 9th.
Week 3: October 15-21
It’s not Halloween without the undead. I’m not recommending “The Walking Dead” however, but shaking it up with “Kingdom”, Netflix’s first Korean original series.
Part political thriller, part horror, “Kingdom” follows Crown Prince Lee Chang as he investigates the mysterious disease – which turns people into bloodthirsty zombies – that struck his emperor father in the late 1500s in Korea. Lee Chang must work with physician Seo-Bi (Doona Bae, from “Cloud Atlas” and “Sense8”) and hunter Yeong-shin to stop the plague, fight the undead and stop the political machinations of the mighty family of the Queen Consort.
The show is epic, with detailed sets and rich costumes. Zombies seem to be the domain of contemporary shows, so I enjoyed seeing them in a historical context. Be prepared to read the subtitles, but I promise you the show is worth the effort, with the mystery and intrigue building up as the zombie infection spreads.
Watch on: All 12 episodes of seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix.
Week 4: October 22-28
I will watch anything with Sarah Paulson in it. Luckily for you and me, he once again teamed up with “American Horror Story” creator Ryan Murphy for Netflix’s “Ratched.” The show follows a familiar evil character, Nurse Mildred Ratched, who we all know from the classic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
Set in 1947, “Ratched” follows a young Mildred as she infiltrates Lucia Psychiatric Hospital in California by unsavory means. Paulson’s Ratched is well dressed, in control, and, it might surprise you to find, at least partly motivated by compassion. The characters fit into Ratched’s plans and, in true Murphy style, you can’t avoid the blood and body horror of early psychiatric treatments.
The cinematography is lively and captivating; the shots are set to show the luxurious settings and gorgeous costumes. It is a pleasure to watch for those alone. Paulson plays broken Ratched well and it’s fascinating to see her bend the world to her will. Paulson is joined by former “AHS” student Finn Wittrock, Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Davis and Sharon Stone.
Watch on: All 8 episodes are available on Netflix.
The month is not over! To wrap up October, I suggest watching what Paulson’s Ratched becomes in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. The 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel stars Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher as Big Nurse herself.
Fletcher earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance, as did Nicholson. The film also won awards for Best Director, Screenplay Adaptation and Cinematography, and Best Film Academy Award, so there’s no reason not to queue it up after you’re done with the show.
Watch on: Netflix