The Best Pagan Horror Movies To Celebrate The Fall Equinox
The Fall Equinox is Wednesday, September 22nd this year. It is not on the same day each year and usually falls between September 21st and September 24th. The official start of Autumn marks the start of longer nights and shorter days. Animals begin to hibernate; crops must be harvested before they start to wither and die. It often means the beginning of cooler temperatures and nips in the air. After the Autumnal Equinox, it just “feels” like Fall. Nights seem darker, the moon looks bigger, and evenings seem bursting with spooky stories and pumpkin spice lattes.
For horror fans, it is the most exciting time of year. It’s the one time of year when no one can look at you like freaks or closet psychos. Everyone loves a good scary story, and there are plenty to ring in the traditionally Pagan holiday. There are, of course, apparent choices like Halloween, Haunt, Hell Fest, and Trik r’ Treat. There are also plenty of pagan or witchcraft films that aren’t set in the Fall, like The Wicker Man or Midsommar. While those films are fantastic, they aren’t perfect for the cool Fall nights. Instead, these are the films inspired by the folk horror element inherent in the Fall Equinox. Whether you like supernatural thrillers or classic scary stories, this list has something for everyone. Here are the Best Pagan Horror Movies To Celebrate the Fall Equinox.
While this isn’t a true horror movie, the film, which borrows heavily from Greek mythology, tells the story of Hades, Persephone, and The Ferryman. Demeter’s daughter Persephone was taken by Hades and forced to live half of the year in the Underworld. Her disappearance each year has profound effects on the environment, thus the beginning of the colder weather seasons and dying vegetation and hibernating animals. It’s a romantic sci-fi thriller that is perfect for this time of year. Find our full review and explained piece here. You can stream it on Tubi and Crackle for free.
The classic story was written by Washington Irving and endures as one of the best examples of urban legends and puritanical fear. This 1999 film starring Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp is a weird one, but it is so beautiful, and the Headless Horseman is such an enduring monster it’s worth a watch or two. You can stream it everywhere and on Starz and Hulu right now.
The Blair Witch Project
If you only watch one found footage film, it might as well be the OG. The shaky-cam filming aside, I still have nightmares about the kids giggling in the woods and the cabin that marks the finale. I wasn’t a big camper before, but you definitely won’t catch me in the woods in the Fall now. This is one scary witch, and you will never look at corners or piles of rock the same again. You can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
Children of the Corn
As far as folk horror goes, this 1984 classic based on the story by Stephen King is terrifying even almost forty years later. He Who Walks Behind The Rows is the real deal, but those hollow-eyed, thousand-mile staring, scythe-carrying tots are nightmare fuel and should be required viewing for health class. You won’t want children after watching what these kiddos do to their parents. You can watch it on Tubi and Shudder right now.
The Harvest 2013(released in 2015)
Filmmaker John McNaughton who brought us Wild Things and Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, delivers a suspenseful movie heavy on tension, atmosphere, and impressive performances. A grieving girl befriends a sickly boy in a secluded rural town in upstate New York. Little by little, it becomes very clear the boy’s mother has secrets to hide and is willing to do anything to protect her son at all costs. McNaughton knows how to wring tension from every shot and this deserves to be on every horror mover’s Fall list. This is a slow burner that you can stream anywhere VOD.
Eye Of The Devil
This black and white head-scratcher from 1966 is better than you think it will be. A vineyard owner has to return to his castle after another dry season. He asks his family to stay in Paris, but they follow him and realize there is a price for prosperity, and the Pagan gods demand human sacrifice. Kim Novak of Vertigo fame was initially cast as the winemaker’s wife but broke her back shortly before all the filming was complete and had to be replaced. Charlie Manson victim Sharon Tate gives her first credited cinematic performance. The circumstances surrounding the actresses and the subject matter make it one of those films that are best to dive into the mythos and enjoy in the right mindset. You can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
Robert Eggers, the new master of slow-burning weirdness, brings an exiled family in crisis. Witch paranoia was just ramping up in the New England countryside, and this family is not immune. Everyone blames Thomasin when her baby brother goes missing. Anya-Taylor Joy is excellent, and the tension is so oppressive you find yourself holding your breath until the very end. Watch for her performances but stay for Black Phillip. This remains one of the scariest movies set in the Fall or any other time. Stream it on Showtime.
These are all the best horror movies for the Fall Equinox. Watch for all our other lists, including the best Halloween horror movies. Before I go, a quick shout-out to one of my favorite horror-comedies of all time. It has no folk horror elements at all, but this movie is the kind of movie I could watch again and again and die laughing each time. It at least happens on Halloween, so that counts for something. The weather is turning chilly, the leaves are turning colors, and the spooky season is here. Watch one of these perfect movies to celebrate the Fall Equinox and try to avoid being part of the deadly harvest.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.