Netflix brings on plenty of creepiness for the month that ends in Halloween. The most apropo offering is the fourth installment of American Horror Story, this one featuring a freak show in the 1950s. But the most horrifying tale may be Netflix's original film Beasts of No Nation, inspired by the true stories of Africa's brutal child soldiers. On the lighter side of horror, we have Season 1 of iZombie — an undead spoof about a brain-eating detective, and the mass-murder-inspired tour of Los Angeles in Manson Family Vacation.
It's not all blood and brains, though, as Netflix also has lighthearted musical offerings, including animated series All Hail King Julien and the Frank Sinatra-Gene Kelly classic On the Town. All in all, it's a wonderful month.
All Hail King Julien: Season 2 (Oct. 16)
The movie Madagascar keeps giving, this time in a spinoff about the wacky, dance-party-loving Julien, king of the lemurs. Best to dose this frenetic animated series out sparingly to the kids, and not before bedtime — as they will wind up wired all night.
American Horror Story: Freak Show (Oct. 6)
One of the joys of Ryan Murphy's unrestrained horror series is seeing how recurring cast members like Jessica Lang take on new roles, in new tales, each season. Here Lang plays the strong-willed, ethically questionable Elsa Mars, owner of a traveling freak show in 1952. Sara Paulson returns, this time as conjoined twins, with two heads — and two personalities. Freak Show also features characters from Season 2: Asylum, including Lily Rabe reprising her role as the sexy possessed nun Sister Mary Eunice McKee. Add in a Neil Patrick Harris as a magician who believes his ventriloquist dummy is actually alive, and you have a truly delightful cast of creepiness.
iZombie: Season 1 (Oct. 6)
Just when it seemed the zombie genre had been totally played out, the CW comes along with this hysterical take featuring a young, beautiful med student Olivia (Rose McIver) who has the misfortune of becoming one of the undead. Unlike the grotesque monsters of the Walking Dead, Liv (pun clearly intended) keeps her good looks and coherent speech by feasting on brains, which she finds aplenty as a medical examiner. While feasting on the brains, she also accesses the memories of the diseased, helping her solve crimes. Liv has the same young sass as teen detective Veronica Mars — no accident, since iZombie comes from the same producers.
Arrow: Season 3 (Oct. 7)
Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics (Oct. 1)
House Hunters Renovation (Oct. 1)
Jane the Virgin: Season 1 (Oct. 12)
Marvel's Avengers Assemble: Season 2 (Oct. 20)
Reign: Season 2 (Oct. 2)
The Flash: Season 2 (Oct. 06)
The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show: Season 1 (Oct. 9)
The Vampire Diaries: Season 6 (Oct. 2)
Worst Cooks in America Collection 1 (Oct. 1)
Movies and Documentaries
Beasts of No Nation (Oct. 16)
They say the children are the future. Beasts of No Nation shows the perverted reality that in parts of Africa children are recruited and coerced into becoming fearsome soldiers of brutal warlords. Netflix's original production has already won accolades at several film festivals and is a must-watch when it debuts this month. First-time actor Abraham Attah plays Agu, a child in a fictional African nation captured, trained and brainwashed by a petty warlord known only as Commandant (played by Idris Elba) to join his troop of young, unrestrained fighting machines.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oct. 1)
Gene Wilder isn't an easy act to follow, but Johnny Depp pulls it off brilliantly with his own characteristic creepiness, playing eccentric chocolate maker Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's take on the trippy novel by Roald Dahl.
Manson Family Vacation (Oct. 27)
Mismatched siblings is a staple of both drama and comedy tropes, and the Duplass brothers play it for creepy laughs in this 2015 comedy. Jay Duplass plays Nick, the responsible father and attorney. Linas Phillips plays Conrad, who persuades Nick to join him on a tour of L.A. sights that played prominent roles in the story of the Charles Manson Family. Hair-raising hilarity ensues.
Million Dollar Baby (Oct. 1)
If you somehow haven't seen this Best Picture winner, now is your chance. And if you have, it's worth another watch. Clint Eastwood's tragic tale of a gifted female boxer sometimes goes over the top with melodrama, but Hilary Swank's all-in (and Oscar-winning) portrayal of the obsessed, driven fighter Maggie is impossible to turn away from.
On The Town (Oct. 1)
"New York, New York, it's a wonderful town." You probably know the song, but if you haven't yet, do see the musical. Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin play three sailors with just 24 hours of shore leave to see as much as they can of the Big Apple — which winds up including three wacky women — in this 1949 film adaptation of the Broadway musical. This film is as relevant as ever, with On the Town currently enjoying an acclaimed revival on Broadway.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom (Oct. 9)
The Cold War seems to be back, and this is what really kicked it off — the Ukrainian uprising in the winter of 2013–2014 that brought down the regime of pro-Russian President Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych and ultimately led to the civil war that still rages. In this Netflix original documentary, director Evgeny Afineevsky pieces together an intimate look at the massive protests and brutal crackdown as told by the protesters, and often using their own video footage.