October 2018’s Best Streaming Titles: The Shining, Batman Ninja, The Blair Witch Project, Galaxy Quest, Donnie Darko & more

Also: Wesley Snipes vampire action, Kingpin’s return, Tim Burton’s Christmas, a Stanley Kubrick epic, and more.
The Shining - Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Black Dynamite (October 1)

In this hilarious parody/homage to classic blaxploitation films, Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is the baddest mofo in the hood. In order to defeat The Man who killed his brother, the dealers pumping heroin into the streets, and the fiendish Dr. Wu’s kung fu treachery, Black Dynamite will have to unleash his full martial arts fury… oh, and show some love to the ladies, too.

Blade II (October 1)

The first Blade movie was an OK superhero movie, but Blade II benefits greatly from both Guillermo del Toro’s direction and Donnie Yen’s fight choreography, both of which go along nicely with Wesley Snipe’s brand of bad-assery. The result is a solid superhero/action/horror hybrid, as the titular superhero (Snipes) must defend both humans and vampires from a new threat.

Rumble in the Bronx (October 1)

As far as Jackie Chan films go, Rumble in the Bronx isn’t one of his best. But even B-grade Jackie Chan is better than almost anything. Plus, I have a lot of fondness for this movie in particular, which was the first of a wave of Chan movies that were released in U.S. theaters in the mid-to-late ’90s, and the first Chan movie I ever saw on the big screen. (And yes, you can see mountains in the background; the movie was actually shot in Vancouver.)

The Shining (October 1)

One of the greatest horror films of all time arrives on Netflix just in time for the Halloween season. When Jack Torrance takes a job as the winter caretaker for a remote hotel, he looks forward to writing his new book. But malevolent forces in the hotel have other plans, and soon, Jack begins sliding into a madness that threatens the lives of his wife and son. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the 1977 Stephen King novel contains some of the creepiest and most indelible images in all of film history.

Daredevil, Season 3 (October 19)

The third season of Daredevil, one of Netflix’s several Marvel titles, finds Matt Murdock emerging from the wreckage (literally and figuratively) following the climax of The Defenders’ first (and apparently, last) season. This recent teaser, well, teases the return of Wilson Fisk (aka, The Kingpin), sending Murdock even further into the dark side, as he prepares to fight evil with evil.

Illang: The Wolf Brigade (October 19)

I wrote about this movie several weeks ago, shortly after it was first announced. On the one hand, you have an anime masterpiece that masterfully blends action, drama, and suspense. On the other hand, you have renowned South Korean director Kim Ji-woon, whose filmography is filled with gorgeous and stylish movies. I can’t wait to see the results of this pairing.

The Night Comes For Us (October 19)

The Night Comes For Us recently played at Fantastic Fest, where it blew some minds with its intense and extremely bloody action sequences (see the clip below). Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim (both of whom kicked butt in The Raid) play two friends and fellow gangsters who become enemies when one betrays the gang and the other is tasked with killing him.

Batman Ninja (October 26)

In this highly stylized take on the Caped Crusader, Batman and his cohorts are transported to feudal Japan where they must take on the Joker, the Penguin, and a host of other Bat-villains — but as samurai and ninja. Produced by the folks behind such anime titles as Afro Samurai, Gurren Lagann, Psycho-Pass, and Blame!, Batman Ninja looks completely crazy and over-the-top — and I can’t wait to watch it.

Castlevania, Season 2 (October 26)

Castlevania’s first, and very abrupt, season was nothing mind-blowing. The animation and artwork was surprisingly crude and the storyline traded in the tired “science vs. religion” clichés. So why mention season two? First, crude artwork notwithstanding, the first season had some cool action sequences. And second, the first season ended on an interesting cliffhanger involving the son of Dracula, and I’m intrigued enough to see how the second season fares.

Click here for a list of everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in October 2018.


The Blair Witch Project (October 1)

When three student filmmakers venture into a Maryland forest to investigate a local myth, they soon become hopelessly lost while assaulted by strange and frightening phenomena — all of which suggest that the myth is more than just a myth. Its legacy may be tarnished thanks to the countless films that have copied its “found footage” aesthetic, but when The Blair Witch Project debuted in 1999, it was unlike anything seen before. More importantly for a horror film, it was absolutely terrifying.

Galaxy Quest (October 1)

The premise — actors from a classic sci-fi TV series are kidnapped by aliens who believe the show to be real — makes it sound like Galaxy Quest does nothing but poke fun at all things Star Trek. Which it does, and brilliantly so, but its jokes are coming from a place of love. As a result, it’s the best kind of parody, one that recognizes the inherent silliness of Star Trek while also capturing what makes Star Trek so great in the first place. By Grabthar’s hammer, indeed.

The Others (October 1)

In this chilling ghost story set during World War II, Nicole Kidman plays a mother who lives in a remote house with her young children. But when otherworldly phenomena begin to occur, she must face the possibility that their house is haunted, and their souls in danger. Alejandro Amenábar knows how to build a sense of atmosphere and dread, and he uses it effectively. The Others is proof that you make generate solid scares without resorting to gore or crazy special effects.

Pieces of April (October 1)

In this Peter Hedges dramedy, a rebellious young woman (Katie Holmes) decides to host her conservative, uptight family for Thanksgiving dinner. While she struggles to make the meal, her family encounters plenty of issues of their own as they travel to her Manhattan apartment. Pieces of April is heartwarming in the best sense of the word; it gives us characters who are deeply flawed and yet also deeply sympathetic. As such, it’s hard to not get caught up in this messed up family’s plight, and want the best for them.

Robocop (October 1)

On its surface, Robocop seems like a pretty straightforward action/sci-fi movie: dedicated cop gets gunned down by vicious thugs and is reborn as an unstoppable cybernetic enforcer. But this being a Paul Verhoeven movie, it’s no surprise that Robocop also packs a darkly satirical edge that skewers corporate greed.

Starship Troopers (October 1)

If you’re looking for solid solid ’90s-era sci-fi cheese, it doesn’t get any better than Paul Verhoeven’s over-the-top adaptation of Starship Troopers. In the distant future, Earth is locked in battle with a race of semi-intelligent insects, and a plucky group of new recruits (including Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, and Neil Patrick Harris) soon find themselves on the front lines. For added effect and dark humor, Verhoeven adds over-the-top news reports and recruitment videos.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (October 2) 

On paper, Halloween and Christmas don’t have much in common, but thanks to Tim Burton’s strange mind, we get this charming and delightfully weird movie about the king of Halloween Town who become fascinated with Christmas and kidnaps Santa. Originally planned as a Disney movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas was released by Touchstone Pictures because it was thought to be too dark for kids. It ended up being a smash hit and became the first animated film ever nominated for a “Best Visual Effects” Oscar.

Click here for a list of everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in October 2018.

Amazon Prime

Full Metal Jacket (October 1)

Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War epic is two films in one, the first a brutal examination of dehumanization in boot camp and the second takes place in the chaos of Vietnam itself. Both parts are chilling and masterful in their own right (read my review), though the first half has the added bonus of R. Lee Ermey as a sadistic drill instructor with a real gift for inventive swearing.

Spaced (October 1)

Put simply, if you consider yourself a pop culture nerd in any way, then you absolutely must watch Spaced as it follows a motley group of individuals trying to make sense of adulthood with copious amounts of movie, comic book, and sci-fi references. The British series is also responsible for bringing us the talents of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, who’ve made such great films as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. (If you want to know more about Spaced, here’s a longer article I wrote about the show’s genius.)

The Illusionist (October 1) 

When a world-famous illusionist (Edward Norton) arrives in 19th century Vienna, he dazzles everyone with amazing feats of magic — such as conjuring spirits of the dead. But when his attempts to reunite with the love of his youth threatens a royal conspiracy, he begins to weave the ultimate illusion. The Illusionist is a lovely period piece boasting solid performances (especially from Norton and Paul Giamatti), and while the plot’s twists and turns can be a bit obvious, they’re still pretty enjoyable.

Donnie Darko (October 17)

When I first saw Donnie Darko after months of anticipation, it felt like writer/director Richard Kelly had somehow tapped directly into my sub-conscious with his fantastical film about a troubled young man who begins to see apocalyptic visions. I found it utterly fascinating and compelling (read my review). Weaving together sci-fi, fantasy, horror, high school angst and melodrama, some wonderfully dark humor, and a killer soundtrack, Donnie Darko is one of the great indie films of all time.

Click here for a list of everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in October 2018. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.