If you’re anything like me, October means one thing: scary movies. Every year I designate a dozen or so nights throughout the month for my family to watch preassigned horror movies. It’s a heavily curated calendar, and I put extreme thought into which films I want to use to scar my poor husband. This Halloween season – now that I’m no longer pregnant and can finally throw one back again – I’ve upped the ante: not only have I chosen 15 incredible flicks, but I’ve also found the perfect cocktails that embody their essence to enhance these film-going experiences. So clear all of October, dim the lights and pull up the bar cart. It’s going to be a bumpy month.
Where to Stream: FX
An impressionable young woman. A mysterious suitor. A beautiful mansion far from civilization. His wicked sister. A secret so deep, it unravels until the end. Crimson Peak hooks us from the beginning. With an all-star line-up including Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston, it’s a gothic delight perfect for cozying up with this Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate. Embrace the heat of the cayenne and tequila that will spice up your cool October night in. Writer-director Guillermo del Toro, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, is a master of creating the ultimate horror experience. He sweats us out with vibrant colors – hardly shocking, given the film’s title – and the increasingly uncomfortable plot development that spirals into a haunting ghost story.
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Dun nuh. Dun nuh, dun nuh. I bet you know what I mean by that onomatopoeia. Whether you’ve seen Spielberg’s masterpiece or not, now is the time to visit or revisit Jaws, because it’s still bloody terrifying even 40 years later. When a shark attacks an idyllic summer resort town, the police chief must do everything in his power to protect the people from the sharp-toothed giant beneath the water’s surface. Exchange screams with friends over a cocktail made with coconut rum, pineapple juice and Blue Curacao to make you feel like it’s summer again – even if that summer vacation has a nasty bite.
Don’t let the jokes fool you. The Cabin in the Woods is a bonafide scary movie. It plays on all the clichés: five friends – the blonde bombshell, the beefy hot dude (hello Chris Hemsworth), the nerdy pipsqueak, the sensitive guy and the relatable girl – escape to a remote cabin for a weekend getaway. They stop at a creepy gas station – classic! – where the redneck attendant is an ominous sign of what’s to come. What ensues is terrifying comedic mayhem. Enjoy the laugh-screams with a concoction of ginger beer, vodka, lime juice and brulee liqueur, topped with a toasted marshmallow. In honor of all the actors who have had to deliver a “spooky story” monologue around a fire, the Campfire Mule is the epitome of Joss Whedon irony.
Where to Stream: DirecTV
“A virgin lit the black flame candle.” But there is nothing virgin about this Pumpkin Pie Punch, a Thackery Binx-approved pairing for Hocus Pocus, a wicked good time full of all the Halloween superstitions. When a new family moves into Salem, the site of the 1692 witch trials, their teenage son inadvertently resurrects three ancient witches set on “sucking the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise”. If you’re a 90s kid, you are most likely able to recite the movie backwards and forwards, so we’ve paired it with a quintessential Halloween cocktail comprised of the season’s essentials: canned pumpkin, apple cider, cream soda, pumpkin pie spice and vodka. The only problem with this pairing? Convincing the young’uns your whipped-cream-topped beverage isn’t for kids.
Where to Stream: Hulu
Normally, we wouldn’t be this literal, but it just so happens that Sleepy Hollow is a Halloween staple. Tim Burton spins murder, mystery and myth in a way only a master filmmaker can. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, a constable sent to the secluded hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a string of murders committed, according to the locals, by a headless horseman. Based on Washington Irving’s 1820 story, the film is whimsical and stylistically unique, building an atmosphere of suspense that only grows more beautiful as it progresses. Matching the feel of the film, the Sleepy Hollow Cocktail fancifully combines absinthe, mescal and bitters. As directed, light the rosemary sprig for garnish for added effect, like a single plume of smoke rising from a nineteenth century chimney.
Where to Stream: Hulu
If she can’t go in the sun, can’t eat food and has to be invited before entering a room, she’s probably a vampire. But this doesn’t matter to Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old boy infatuated with a peculiar girl named Eli. She gives Oskar the confidence to stick up for himself, but when he learns of her blood-exclusive diet, he must decide if love really is unconditional. Fall head over heals with Oskar by drinking Love Potion #9, a delightful concoction comprised of pomegranate juice, berry vodka, Chambord black raspberry liqueur and strawberries adorably trimmed into hearts. It may not be your typical love story, but it’s as close as we’re getting on this list.
Where to Stream: Starz
Technically the film takes place in New York City, but you will need all the alcohol in this recipe to get through Rosemary’s Baby, a Roman Polanski classic starring Mia Farrow about a woman who becomes inexplicably pregnant. Her neighbors are eccentric, to say the least, and their interest in her baby begins to make her hyper paranoid. If you don’t know the ending, I won’t spoil it here, but needless to say, things get dark and hauntingly unforgettable. To cope with the big reveal, sip on this Long Island Apple Iced Tea, full of triple sec, rum, gin, apple vodka, apple cider and lemon-lime soda. Trust us, you’ll need it.
Where to Stream: Hulu
Our favorite horror film to come out of Korea is The Host, a monster epic set along Seoul’s Han River. An amphibious creature, a product of a gaff made by local scientists, terrorizes the river’s edge, eventually snatching a young girl and bringing her with it to his lair. Her bumbling family members must rally together to save her. Equal parts comedy, horror, action, drama, and socio-political allegory, it’s a Korean classic, and we’re pairing it up with a Korean take on a classic adult beverage. It may sound funky, but kimchi, a salty, moderately spicy pickled vegetable, will give your standard Bloody Mary the gut punch it needs to help you handle all the emotions The Host brings out.
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Known for his refined voice and coiffed style, there is no one in horror more chillingly sophisticated than Vincent Price. Which is why the Caramel Apple Martini is the drink to sip while watching Price in House on Haunted Hill, a 1959 horror classic. The special effects are rudimentary at best, but the mood it sets is insatiably creepy. Price plays an eccentric millionaire who invites five people to a “haunted house” party, enticing them with $10,000 for anyone who stays until dawn. As the night progresses, freaky things begin to happen and surviving is not a guarantee. What is a guarantee is the deliciousness of your drink. Made with hard apple cider, caramel vodka, butterscotch schnapps and some caramel squares and apple to garnish, the martini is for only the classiest of horror fans.
Where to Stream: Starz
There is nothing cooler than a high school witch, and this movie’s got four. The Craft has had teenage girls reeling with fear and jealousy for two decades, so it’s time to celebrate them with this Black Magic cocktail, a spooky drink darker than the shadow of the moon and shimmerier like a crystal ball. When a new girl to a Catholic prep school makes friends with the resident outcasts, she takes up their after-school hobby, witchcraft, only to find their powers are growing and their interests turn from harmless white magic, to a darker shade of black. Composed of just fresh lime juice, simple syrup, edible pearl dust and – if you can believe it – black vodka, Black Magic is an intensely unique drink for those looking to go to the dark side.
Where to Stream: Netflix
I’ll start by saying that this one isn’t for everyone. "The VVitch" is a slow burn. It builds suspense through its quiet moments, not dialogue and certainly not through action-packed scenes. In the 1630s, a devoutly Christian family is struggling to survive in the wilderness of New England. Their newborn son has mysteriously vanished, and when their crops fail too, resentments turn inward as they begin to blame each other, jumping to suspicions of witchcraft and black magic. With all the earthy mystery of the film – though it will inevitably leave a better taste in your mouth – and filled with aromas of orange and thyme, this Smoked Tequila Old Fashioned will enchant and bewitch you like it’s 1630.
You know those movies that just feel good, a guilty pleasure that makes you look forward to an evening curled up on the couch? "Fright Night" is exactly that. Its 2011 remake isn’t half bad as far as re-imaginings go, but for the purpose of this list, we’re referring to the 1985 film about a horror-obsessed teen who suspects his neighbor is a homicidal vampire. When inevitably no one believes him, he sets out to protect himself and his naysayers from ruthless Jerry the Vampire. This recipe for Candy Corn Jello Shots is the precise representation of the sumptuousness of cult cinema. Made with orange gelatin and condensed milk then spiked with vanilla vodka, these Jell-O shots are a fun and fruity alternative that are still sweet like candy. Pop one in your mouth every time Jerry shows his fangs to get the night extra lit.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Babadook! Babadook! Babadook! Ok, that isn’t how the Babadook appears, but I couldn’t resist. In the Australian hit that’s scared the world over, Amelia is a single mother to a young son. Her husband died in a car crash on the way to the hospital, and the grief she carries is tangible. When a strange picture book about a monster hiding around the house appears in their lives, its initially mercurial presence becomes more and more consistent. An anagram for “A Bad Book”, the Babadook is more than just a random fiend invading their lives; it’s a metaphor for the soul-sucking nature of heartache. Fend off any literary devils with the Beetlejuice Cocktail, a bright green boozy punch made with vodka, melon liqueur, raspberry liqueur, blue curacao, sweet and sour and cranberry juice. The number of ingredients alone is enough to put any evil presence into a tizzy.
Where to Stream: HBO
For this we’ve chosen a drink that is specifically light and refreshing because this film can be, well, a little gruesome at times. If you’re up for it, a double feature of Alien and its sequel Aliens is advisable, but if you have time just for one, we recommend the latter. It has all the breaking through chest cavity and suspicious humanoid robots that the first has, but the action is amplified and Ripley’s perm is out of this world. Literally, it’s on another planet far in the future where space marines are sent to check in on human colonists. They find no one alive except a badass little girl who’s managed to survive, and, like the best horror films, the hunters soon become the hunted. The Gin Goblin – made with brewed green tea, cucumbers, mint and gin – will keep you plenty hydrated as Ripley wears you down trying to evade the aliens for a second time.
Narrowly beating out The Witches for this slot on our list, Kiki’s Delivery Service is the only animated film we’re recommending because no one does animation for adults and kids quite like Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Kiki is a young witch who uses her flying talents to earn a living in a new town. The English dub finally debuted at SIFF in 1998, nearly a decade after its Japanese release, and it’s been delighting American audiences ever since. You’ll need this Witch’s Spell cocktail to keep up with Kiki as she soars over the town to complete her missions, riling up any little ones who may be watching along with you. Consisting of black vodka, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream, it will certainly cast a spell over you, if our adorable film pick doesn’t do it first.