Oct 3, 2018

Streaming Diary: Spooky Films to Stream for Free at Kanopy

Judging from the vibe I’m getting on social media, Halloween season started early for a lot of us in 2018. I usually start binging on horror flicks when October rolls around, but this year, I’ve been at it for weeks already.

This is the first Halloween season I've had access to Kanopy streaming service, which I can use free of charge with my city and county library cards. I write more about the service here.

I’ve always been impressed with the variety on this service. There’s fantastic indies, documentaries, classics, and lots of psychotronic titles. It’s also got a diverse collection of horror films, so I thought I’d share my picks for this most wonderful time of the year:

Start at the beginning with a collection of the best silent horror classics, including the stylistically influential The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)the first cinematic take on Dracula (though unofficial): Nosferatu (1922)John Barrymore delighting in getting ugly for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)Conrad Veidt in one of his best early performances in The Hands of Orlac (1924),  and the documentary-style witch flick Haxan (1922).

There’s also an amazing selection of classic horror flicks, among the best are Barbara Steele in Black Sunday (1960)the first, and most faithful, adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)indie classic Carnival of Souls (1962)Boris Karloff in Black Sabbath (1963)lesser-known Bela Lugosi pic White Zombie (1932)Vincent Price in The House on Haunted Hill (1959)and Night of the Living Dead (1968), which just had its 50th anniversary.

For a quirkier take on horror, Roger Corman-produced The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and Bucket of Blood (1959) are a perfect double feature.

There’s also a lot of intriguing modern horror films. Of course, on this site “modern” is the seventies: Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are at their best as a grieving married couple in Don’t Look Now (1973)Roman Polanski’s apartment building-set The Tenant (1976) would be a great anxiety-inducing pairing with Rosemary’s Baby (which, alas, is not on Kanopy), Black Christmas (1974) helped set the template for slasher flicks, and Ganja and Hess (1973) is a fascinating experimental take on the vampire flick.

Also check out Britt Ekland and Telly Savalas in Lisa and the Devil (1973), and more Barbara Steele in The Long Hair of Death (1964).

Enjoy the chills!


  1. I just watched Night of the Living Dead on Kanopy, and it's the Criterion restoration from, I think, last year. It looks pretty remarkable; still a (very) low budget movie, but one that could have been filmed last week.

  2. Mark--I had the same experience watching the restoration at TCM Classic Film Festival. It was incredible to me how new it looked after years of watching scratchy, beat up prints. Like a different film. It helps that Romero had a knack for making movies that are both of their time and timeless.