The Best Movies Coming To The Criterion Channel In October 2021

"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make!" Criterion is bringing grotesqueries and chills to your watchlist in time for Halloween! 

This October, the streaming service calls back to the early howls of horror cinema with a studio that churned out classic tales that would be told again and again and influence a genre for the next century and beyond. For those who have seen the Universal monster staples, perhaps something that hits closer to home is what gets your ghost. Criterion also boasts a robust True Crime section for your viewing pleasure, and the meek and mild can stick with non-scary spotlight collections on Kirk Douglas, Cicely Tyson, and Curtis Mayfield, among other industry luminaries.

Horror-heads can enjoy the original icons of gothic horror with a handful of films that signal the horror genre's penchant for pushing taboo, including the eyebrow-raising Spanish-language version of Tod Browning's "Dracula" (1931), "The Mummy" (1932), "The Invisible Man" (1933), "The Black Cat" (1934), "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), "The Raven" (1935), "The Wolf Man" (1941), and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954).

Not sure where to start? To narrow down your choices, here are five of the best movies coming to Criterion this October.

Let Him Have It

First up is a film that isn't horror at all, but will grip you with clammy hands nonetheless. Hot on the heels of his account of 1960s gangsters "The Krays" in 1990, Peter Medak followed up the following year with a stern look at a flawed justice system hellbent on revenge in a gut-punch portrayal of the tragic real-life case of Derek Bentley. 

Played to perfection by Christopher Eccleston, the character is accused of acting as an accomplice to a cop-killing (by uttering the movie's titular phrase — much of the trial concerns itself with whether he meant it literally or colloquially). Pleading as much with the audience as he is to his cruel jailers, the BAFTA-nominated actor shows early teases of the commanding presence that would elevate acclaimed later works like "Elizabeth" and Danny Boyle's edge-of-your-seat rage horror "28 Days Later."

The Honeymoon Killers

Much has been made of horror and exploitation films that glorify their killers, but where are the stories that are just as repulsed by their subjects as the viewer might be? It's a concept Leonard Kastle applies to the story of the Lonely Hearts Killers, with raw precision, in "The Honeymoon Killers." 

Following the exploits of Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) and Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco) as they embark on a con-and-kill spree across North America, Kastle's flat-lit, grimy, bare-bones production is a dignity-stripped account of sleazy people operating in a bleak moral landscape. Shot with a documentary's authenticity and stuttered editing, "The Honeymoon Killers" is unconcerned with empathetic leads and even less concerned with audience comfort, subbing out romanticized crime for small-scale brutishness.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Henry (Michael Rooker) is a bad news bear. Following his release from prison for his mother's murder, he works as an exterminator by day and a vicious murderer by night along with his unstable accomplice Otis (Tom Towles). The 1986 film, helmed by John McNaughton (a storyteller with a penchant for urban outlaws) is based on the true-life story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and doesn't pull punches in its pathologization of the slayer. 

Coming out amid the 80s slasher movie cycle, "Henry" contains blood and gore (enough to initially earn it an X rating from the MPAA) but it is hand-delivered with unblinking seriousness, a necessary counterweight to the 13th Fridays and Elm Street nightmares. One of its most disturbing moments comes just after a graphic murder scene, when Otis rewinds the video footage of the kill (the victim's screams and struggles can still be heard offscreen) so that he can re-live the experience. See the film that many call the most disturbing of all time, if you dare.

Bride of Frankenstein

In her original 1818 novel "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus," Mary Shelley re-orients the woman's place in a realm dominated by male scientists. For his sequel to the 1931 film adaptation, James Whale leans into that gender-sexual warfare and the anxieties that men hold over womens' reproductive power. 

The movie even tries to anticipate outrage with a prologue, in which Mrs. Shelley (also played by Lanchester) states her intent to impart a moral lesson on the audience — according to David J. Skal's "The Monster Show," the prologue had close-ups of Shelley in a low-cut gown that still drew the ire of notorious film censor Joseph Breen, who clutched his pearls at the cleavage and demanded cuts to the footage. So in a way, watching this nearly century-old Gothic horror picture is an act of rebellion.


Anyone who has ever navigated the dingy bowels of Club Rectum in "Irreversible" has had concerns about the warped mind that brought that movie to the big screen. Fortunately for Criterion viewers, Gaspar Noe has cited "Angst" among his heaviest influences. Promptly banned over most of Europe upon its 1983 release, Gerald Kargl's Austrian home invasion horror is less of a movie experience and more of a festival of dread. 

Focusing on the exploits of an unnamed serial killer (but loosely based upon the case of mass murderer Werner Kniesek) and lifted by the bleak compositions of Klaus Schulze (who scored the equally powerful Ozploitation horror film of the same year, "Next of Kin"), "Angst" is a film that has little plot and less arc but, like "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," anything more would take away from its power of observation and its immaculate characterization.

Movies To Die For

Whatever you stream this season, Criterion has something to keep you shuddering under the blankets and flannel. Here is the complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel on October 1, 2021:

  • 10 Rillington Place, Richard Fleischer, 1971
  • After Life, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 1998
  • Angst, Gerald Kargl, 1983
  • Arsenic and Old Lace, Frank Capra, 1944
  • The Bad and the Beautiful, Vincente Minnelli, 1952
  • Bad Influence, Curtis Hanson, 1990
  • Beat Girl, Edmond T. Gréville, 1960
  • Beautiful Thing, Hettie MacDonald, 1996
  • Between You and Milagros, Mariana Saffon, 2020
  • The Big Sky, Howard Hawks, 1952
  • The Black Cat, Edgar G. Ulmer, 1934
  • Black Christmas, Bob Clark, 1974
  • Blind Alley, Charles Vidor, 1939
  • Blood and Black Lace, Mario Bava, 1964
  • Bride of Frankenstein, James Whale, 1935
  • Bright Future, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2003
  • The Brotherhood, Martin Ritt, 1968
  • Bustin' Loose, Oz Scott, 1981
  • The Anderson Tapes, Sidney Lumet, 1971
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, John Korty, 1974
  • Champion, Mark Robson, 1949
  • Chan Is Missing, Wayne Wang, 1982
  • Coffee and Cigarettes, Jim Jarmusch, 2003
  • Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Robert Altman, 1982
  • The Comedians, Peter Glenville, 1967
  • Coming Out Under Fire, Arthur Dong, 1994
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon, Jack Arnold, 1954
  • Creepy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016
  • Cul-de-sac, Roman Polanski, 1966
  • The Day of the Jackal, Fred Zinnemann, 1973
  • Deadly Weapons, Doris Wishman, 1974
  • The Delta, Ira Sachs, 1996
  • Demon Seed, Donald Cammell, 1977
  • The Desperate Hours, William Wyler, 1955
  • Detective Story, William Wyler, 1951
  • Devil in a Blue Dress, Carl Franklin, 1995
  • The Devil's Disciple, Guy Hamilton, 1959
  • Diary of a Mad Housewife, Frank Perry, 1970
  • Dillinger,​​John Milius, 1973
  • Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, Wayne Wang, 1985
  • Doctor X, ​​Michael Curtiz, 1932
  • Don't Look Now, Nicolas Roeg, 1973
  • Double Agent 73, Doris Wishman, 1974
  • Dracula (Spanish-Language Version), George Melford, 1931
  • E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs, 2021
  • Eat a Bowl of Tea, Wayne Wang, 1989
  • Escape from New York, John Carpenter, 1981
  • Family Fundamentals, Arthur Dong, 2002
  • A Father . . . A Son . . . Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Lee Grant, 2005
  • Film About a Father Who, Lynne Sachs, 2020
  • The Fly, Kurt Neumann, 1958
  • Forbidden City, USA, Arthur Dong, 1989
  • From Hell, Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, 2001
  • From Here to Eternity, Fred Zinnemann, 1953
  • Girl Is Presence, Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer, 2020
  • The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Robert Ellis Miller, 1968
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, John McNaughton, 1986
  • Hollywood Chinese, Arthur Dong, 2007
  • I Walk Alone, Byron Haskin, 1947
  • In Cold Blood, Richard Brooks, 1967
  • Indecent Desires, Doris Wishman, 1968
  • Inside, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, 2007
  • The Invisible Man, James Whale, 1933
  • Is Paris Burning?, René Clément, 1966
  • Island of Lost Souls, Erle C. Kenton, 1932
  • Jennifer's Body, Karyn Kusama, 2009
  • Kagemusha, Akira Kurosawa, 1980
  • The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, Arthur Dong, 2015
  • Klute, Alan J. Pakula, 1971
  • The Last Happy Day, Lynne Sachs, 2009
  • Last Train from Gun Hill, John Sturges, 1959
  • Let Him Have It, Peter Medak, 1991
  • Let Me Die a Woman, ​​Doris Wishman, 1977
  • A Letter to Three Wives, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949
  • Licensed to Kill, Arthur Dong, 1997
  • Lonely Are the Brave, David Miller, 1962
  • The Love Parade, Ernst Lubitsch, 1929
  • Lust for Life, Vincente Minnelli, 1956
  • Man on a Swing, Frank Perry, 1974
  • Maya at 24, Lynne Sachs, 2021
  • Miss Minoes, Vincent Bal, 2011
  • Monte Carlo, Ernst Lubitsch, 1930
  • The Mummy, Karl Freund, 1932
  • The Naughty Nineties, Jean Yarbrough, 1945
  • Nude on the Moon, Doris Wishman and Raymond Phelan, 1961
  • Office Killer, Cindy Sherman, 1997
  • One Hour with You, Ernst Lubitsch, 1932
  • Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch, 2013
  • Out of the Past, Jacques Tourneur, 1947
  • Park Row, Samuel Fuller, 1952
  • Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You, Brandon Cronenberg, 2019
  • Polytechnique, Denis Villeneuve, 2009
  • Porto of My Childhood, Manoel de Oliveira, 2001
  • Posse, Kirk Douglas, 1975
  • Private Property, Leslie Stevens, 1960
  • A Raisin in the Sun, Daniel Petrie, 1961
  • Rat Film, Theo Anthony, 2016
  • The Raven, Louis Friedlander, 1935
  • Reversal of Fortune, Barbet Schroeder, 1990
  • Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Byron Haskin, 1964
  • Sewing Woman, Arthur Dong, 1982
  • Short Eyes, Robert M. Young, 1977
  • The Smiling Lieutenant, Ernst Lubitsch, 1931
  • Smoke, Wayne Wang, 1995
  • Sparkle, Sam O'Steen, 1976
  • The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Lewis Milestone, 1946
  • Stuffed, Erin Derham, 2019
  • Them, David Moreau and Xavier Palud, 2006
  • There Was a Crooked Man . . . , Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1970
  • The Time of Their Lives, Charles Barton, 1946
  • To Die For, Gus Van Sant, 1995
  • To Sleep with Anger, Charles Burnett, 1990
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, John Huston, 1948
  • Try and Get Me!, Cy Endfield, 1950
  • Two Weeks in Another Town, Vincente Minnelli, 1962
  • The Valachi Papers, Terence Young, 1972
  • The Vikings, Richard Fleischer, 1958
  • The Visitors, Elia Kazan, 1972
  • The Washing Society, Lizzie Olesker and Lynne Sachs, 2018
  • The Way West, Andrew V. McLaglen, 1967
  • When We Were Kings, Leon Gast, 1996
  • Which Way Is East, Lynne Sachs, 1994
  • White Echo, Chloë Sevigny, 2019
  • Wind in Our Hair, Lynne Sachs, 2010
  • The Wolf Man, George Waggner, 1941
  • Wombling Free, Lionel Jeffries, 1978
  • Young Man with a Horn, Michael Curtiz, 1950
  • Zodiac, David Fincher, 2007