YOU’LL WANT TO clear some space on your DVR as October approaches, because Turner Classic Movies has gathered over 80 titles for this year’s month-long Halloween festival of fear!
There are plenty of classics, of course, but also obscurities, some international titles, and few surprises as well, all carefully curated and programmed film-festival style. And if you notice an over abundance of capes and fangs in the lineup, that’s because TCM’s Monster of the Month is Dracula!
Here’s a handy calendar of this year’s movies. All times are Eastern. Check TCM.com for more information and specific air times in your time zone.
SUNDAYS IN OCTOBER are set aside for the most mysterious of all the classic monsters, Dracula. He’s the undisputed king of vampires—dashing, yet diabolical, and you can always “count” on him for a scary good time.
TCM kicks-off the month with Bela Lugosi‘s legendary performance in the role, followed by two lesser-known films featuring Gloria Holden and Lon Chaney, Jr. as his kids. Holden is terrific in her turn as Countess Zaleska (Dracula’s Daughter), and of the two movies, hers is the more direct sequel to Dracula, featuring the return of Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing.
Son of Dracula is most notable for its unusual setting. Far from the castles of Europe, it takes place in a Louisiana swamp!
Dracula (above; 1931) 8 PM
Dracula’s Daughter (1936) 9:30 PM
Son of Dracula (1943) 11 PM
AFTER THAT it’s director F.W. Murnau‘s silent adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a chilling masterpiece that remains one of the outstanding productions of early cinema.
Nosferatu (1922) 12:30 AM
IT WOULDN’T BE HALLOWEEN without Universal’s icons of fright, and here you can catch most of ’em in one glorious night.
Interestingly, Island of Lost Souls didn’t start out as a Universal picture. It was a Paramount production. But in 1958 it was sold to Universal, where it could finally take its rightful place among the first family of horror classics.
Frankenstein (1931) 8 PM
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 9:30 PM
The Mummy (1932) 11 PM
The Wolf Man (1941) 12:30 AM
Island of Lost Souls (1933) 2 AM
The Black Cat (1934) 3:30 AM
The Invisible Man (1933) 4:45 AM
DRACULA gets up to all sorts of trouble in this triple feature—taking-up residence in California (The Return of Dracula); facing-off against Frankenstein, Wolf Man and a mad scientist (House of Dracula); and even taking-on a famous gunfighter (Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula)!
That last title goes a long way in capturing the drive-in free-for-all that was the 1960s. Westerns were still very popular then, as were monster pictures. So it’s easy to understand how an enterprising producer might get the idea that if he pitted the king of vampires against one of the West’s most famous outlaws, kids everywhere would pay good money to see the fight. Case in point, the film’s producer, Carroll Case, gave us Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter the same year!
The Return of Dracula (1958) 8 PM
House of Dracula (1945) 9:30 PM
Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula (1966) 10:45 PM
LATER THAT NIGHT, you can feast your eyes on the greatest expressionist horror film ever made, the unforgettable story of a crazed hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a sleepwalker (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. Afterward, spend the wee hours with a pair of classic Japanese ghost stories.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920; silent) 12:15 AM
Jigoku (1960) 2 AM
Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959) 4 AM
THE NAME Val Lewton has come to be regarded as a film genre unto itself. An intellectual with refined tastes, he was handed control of RKO Pictures’ horror unit in 1942 and told that he’d be charged with building movies around sensational titles dreamed-up by his employers. Stuck with what he considered to be lowbrow material, Lewton nevertheless turned those titles into some of the most stunning, literate horror pictures anybody had ever seen—with bold vision and a big assist from such brilliant directors as Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson, and Robert Wise.
Make your way through this collection and you’ll never again judge a film by its title. I especially recommend the brilliant documentary on Lewton narrated by Martin Scorsese.
Cat People (1942) 8 PM
The Body Snatcher (1945) 9:30 PM
Martin Scorsese Presents, Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) 11 PM
I Walked With a Zombie (above; 1943) 12:30 AM
The Seventh Victim (1943) 2 AM
Bedlam (1946) 3:30 AM
The Leopard Man (1943) 5 AM
THE FUN continues into the following day with two additional Lewton classics, the second of which is one of the most haunting films I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the great Boris Karloff has never been better.
The Ghost Ship (1943) 6:15 AM
Isle of the Dead (1945) 7:30 AM
A FULL DAY of classic horror, sci-fi, and suspense featuring children as villains, victims, or something in-between. From a race of super children who can kill with their minds (above), to a Bad Seed who’ll kill with whatever’s available, it’s an outstanding lineup of juvenile delinquency.
However Curse of the Cat People is the best of the bunch, a moving, fairy tale-like story featuring an outstanding performance by young Ann Carter as a lonely little girl befriended by a ghost. Another gem from producer Val Lewton.
Kiss of the Tarantula (1976) 6:30 AM
Snake Woman (1961) 8 AM
Village of the Damned (1961) 9:30 AM
The Nanny (1965) 11 AM
The Innocents (1961) 1 PM
A Place of One’s Own (1945) 2:45 PM
The Bad Seed (1956) 4:30 PM
The Curse of the Cat People (1944) 6:45 PM
BLACULA may well be the most misunderstood and under-appreciated vampire movie ever made. But only by those who haven’t seen it. For that you can blame silly marketing, and the film’s exploitation title, neither of which really capture just how grindhouse-effective the movie is. Built around a commanding performance by William Marshall in the title role, Blacula is an unforgettable, even scary, depiction of what it might be like if an old-world vampire were loosed upon a modern city.
Judge for yourself as TCM presents Blacula and its sequel in a late-night double feature.
Blacula (1972) 2:15 AM
Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973) 4 AM
WHILE Bela Lugosi remains the screen’s most iconic Dracula, Christopher Lee is easily in the number-two spot. And it all began with Horror of Dracula, a fantastic re-telling of Bram Stoker’s original novel that established England’s Hammer Films as the dominant producer of classic horror for years to come.
The Brides of Dracula (above) is part of that legacy—a haunting departure from form in that it eschews Drac to instead focus on the undead monsters he leaves in his wake. Peter Cushing appears in both films as vampire-hunter Van Helsing.
Horror of Dracula (1958) 8 PM
The Brides of Dracula (above; 1960) 9:45 PM
IF YOU like your vampires with a side order of ghost, stay tuned to TCM later that night for The Phantom Carriage, a Swedish spookfest that does for New Year’s Eve what Scrooge did for Christmas.
The Phantom Carriage (silent; 1921) 12 AM
IF YOU WATCHED creature features back in the ’70s you’re probably familiar with the name Jack Pollexfen. The writer and director (The Man from Planet X; Daughter of Dr. Jekyll) had a hand in many of the lower-grade monster epics that made Saturday our favorite day of the week. But this was his crowning achievement in my book, the lurid tale of an executed killer who’s brought back to life by science and goes on a wild revenge spree against all who’ve done him wrong. It’s cheap, choppy, and downright weird, but it stars Lon Chaney, Jr. and it’s got a lot of heart.
The Indestructible Man (1956) 5 PM
JUST LOOK AT those three faces above and tell me you’re not already making plans to be home on the night of October 17th!
As I stated earlier, Hammer Films was the dominant producer of classic horror films from the late ’50s through the early ’70s, and that’s illustrated by the rogue’s gallery represented here. Zombies, werewolves, lizard creatures, mummies…
Yeah, it’s Hammer time.
The Devil’s Bride (1968) 8 PM
The Curse of Franenkenstein (1957) 9:45 PM
The Mummy (1959) 11:15 PM
The Curse of the Werewolf (above, right; 1961) 1 AM
The Plague of the Zombies (above, left; 1966) 2:45 AM
The Reptile (above, center; 1966) 4:30 AM
I WROTE lovingly about Willard and Ben not long ago, when the rat-tastic double feature finally arrived on Blu-ray. But if I could add just one thought it would be this: Do not watch either of these movies if you have a fear of rodents.
Willard (1971) 2 AM
Ben (1972) 3:45 AM
CHRISTOPHER LEE’s second and third appearances as Count Dracula depart from Stoker’s novel to explore all-new stories. My father took me to see Dracula Has Risen From the Grave when it was first released in theaters. I was 7 years old, and I’ve been thanking him ever since!
Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1965) 8 PM
Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1969) 10 PM
AND THERE’S MORE fun to be had later that night with The Monster, a silent horror comedy starring the great Lon Chaney, followed by a pair of absolutely stellar international shockers from France.
The Monster (1925) 12 AM
Eyes Without a Face (1960) 2 AM
Diabolique (1955) 3:45 AM
THERE’S REALLY no theme to this night’s offerings, other than the fact that all of the featured horror films are excellent. The lineup includes a literate ghost story (The Innocents), an unforgettable encounter with the occult (Curse of the Demon), and one of the best pure horror movies ever made (Carnival of Souls).
The Innocents (1961) 8 PM
Diary of a Madman (1963) 10 PM
Curse of the Demon (above; 1958) 12 AM
Carnival of Souls (1962) 2 AM
From Beyond the Grave (1973) 3:30 AM
IT’S THE LAST WEEKEND before Halloween, and things are intensifying nicely with a full lineup of chills capped-off by two feature films based on the classic TV soap opera Dark Shadows. You don’t have to be familiar with the series in order to enjoy these gothic greats. They stand alone, as does star Jonathan Frid in the magnificent role of vampire Barnabas Collins (above).
Mark of the Vampire (1935) 6:15 AM
The Devil-Doll (1936) 7:30 AM
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) 9:00 AM
Little Shop of Horrors (1960) 11:30 AM
Village of the Damned (1961) 1 PM
Children of the Damned (1963) 2:30 PM
House of Dark Shadows (1970) 4:15 PM
Night of Dark Shadows (1971) 6:00 PM
AND LATER THAT NIGHT, on TCM Underground, it’s back to more creepy kids in writer/director David Cronenberg‘s sci-fi shocker The Brood, starring Oliver Reed (above) as a psychologist whose unconventional techniques bring out the worst in one of his patients. Literally.
The Brood (1979) 2 AM
TCM’S MONTHLONG celebration of Dracula winds-up with two films connected by a single theme: Thrill-seekers getting more than they bargained for. In the first, it’s a group of outwardly upstanding gentlemen seeking exotic entertainment. In the second, it’s bored hipsters in search of something real. In both cases, all they get is Dracula. And he’s a pain in the neck.
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) 8 PM
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) 10 PM
AND SPEAKING OF PAIN, Japan’s classic Onibaba delivers it in spades. It’s the story of two women struggling to survive in war torn, rural Japan, who begin murdering injured samurai in order to steal their belongings. And that’s just the premise! From there it’s all darkness all the time in this stark and haunting nightmare from the brilliant director Kaneto Shindô. Part horror movie, part exploration of human evil, Onibaba is a masterpiece of character and setting. Unforgettable.
Onibaba (1964) 2:15 AM
IT’S ALL HORROR all the time on October 31st, with a full day and night of tricks and treats. If you know your horror movies you’ll recognize that a lot of these films involve haunted houses. But if you manage to catch only one I’d strongly recommend The Old Dark House (above), a comedic spook show from director James Whale (Frankenstein) that set the tone for a hundred similar films that followed. Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, and Lilian Bond head the outstanding ensemble cast. There’s also a 1963 Hammer Films remake of The Old Dark House showing at 2:45 AM.
White Zombie (1932) 8:30 AM
Mad Love (1935) 10 AM
Dementia 13 (1963) 11:30 AM
13 Ghosts (1960) 1 PM
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966) 2:30 PM
House of Wax (1953) 4:30 PM
Poltergeist (1982) 6 PM
The Old Dark House (above; 1932) 8 PM
The Haunting (1963) 9:30 PM
House on Haunted Hill (1958) 11:30 PM
The Cat and the Canary (1939) 1:15 AM
The Old Dark House (1963) 2:45 AM
The Bat (1959) 4:30 AM
NOTE: All programming is subject to change. In the event of any changes, this guide will be updated.