The month of Halloween October is upon us, which means there’s yet another month of new releases and seasonal classics to get watching. We’re here to serve up a carefully curated list of films– new and old– that’ll get you into the October spirit.

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1. “The Final Girls” (release date: Oct 9), dir. Todd Strauss-Schulson

Can we take a moment to appreciate the overwhelming talent that this movie is bursting with? The Final Girls stars Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam DeVine, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, and Thomas Middleditch, which is already reason enough to watch the film. However, this inventive comedy-horror film plays more like a modern-day retelling of “Scream.” Screenwriters M.A. Fortin and Joshua J. Miller constantly work in imaginative twists to the dilemma at hand while offering insightful commentary on horror films.

For fans of: “Scream,” “Shaun of the Dead,” and “Army of Darkness”

2. “Apocalypse Now” (1979), dir. Francis Ford Coppola


Celebrate (ha) Columbus Day with screenwriter John Milius and director Francis Ford Coppola’s updated version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the classic novella about imperialism. The era-defining film is set during the Vietnam War and stars Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, and Marlon Brando in one of his final performances. Apocalypse Now is a dark-humored war film that offers biting subtext about colonialism, capitalism, and morality.

Notable quote: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

3. “Dead Poet’s Society” (1989), dir. Peter Weir


October is home to National Poetry Day (Oct 8 in the UK) and National Poetry Week (the second week of the month in the US). Dead Poet’s Society perfectly encapsulates teenage angst, following your dreams against your parents’ wishes, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. Featuring knockout performances from a young Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and the late Robin Williams, the film comes together as an expression of rebellion through language. Sure, the film is literally a bunch of straight white dudes, but the writing, direction, and performances will resonate with anyone who’s ever experienced existential crises or angst (so basically, anyone who’s been a teenager).

Notable quote: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is full of passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering– these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are the things we stay alive for.”

4. “The Wonders” (release date: Oct 30), dir. Alice Rohrwacher

Italian director Rohrwacher crafts this coming-of-age story about a family of beekeepers and their teenage daughter who tries to keep everything together. In tradition of Italian neorealism, the film allows itself to unfold at an unhurried pace, but is undercut with an urgency to the central family’s situation. The lead performance by young newcomer Maria Alexandra Lungu is understated and nuanced. A telling story on poverty, family, and adolescence, The Wonders this month’s not-to-miss indie. ‘

For fans of: “Ordinary People,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and “Revolutionary Road”

5. “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), dir. Roman Polanski


Rosemary’s Baby is the classic creepy film that is beautifully shot, written, and performed, making it an essential addition to any Halloween movie marathon. Mia Farrow plays the eponymous Rosemary with such innocence and sweetness, that it makes the atrocities happening around her all the more horrifying. That final scene will haunt you long after the film is over; not for what you do see, but for what you don’t.

Notable quote: “What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs?”

6. “Hocus Pocus” (1993), dir. Kenny Ortega


Us too, Bette Midler. Us too.

I mean, obviously.


Channel your inner April Ludgate this October.

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  • Shayan Farooq

    Shayan was creating mini documentaries profiling Pacific Asian artists for the USC Pacific Asia Museum of Pasadena. You can follow her on Twitter, but not in real life.