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The Nerd’s Watch: Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Streaming in October

A closeup of Timothee Chalamet's Paul in Dune.

Yes, you can see Dune in a theater. But it’ll also be in your home.
Image: Warner Bros.

Though most movie theaters are back to full function, the safer option for entertainment remains streaming, and fans who choose to stay home and take advantage are constantly rewarded with tons of new content. At the start of each month, most streamers—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max—do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away. io9 is here to help you narrow down your decision-making.

Welcome to “The Nerd’s Watch,” io9’s monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies (and television shows) coming to the biggest streaming services. As usual, there’s a lot s of new content for October 2021, so let’s get to it.

What’s coming to Netflix in October 2021?

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost.

You never miss a chance to put a Ghost photo in an article. It’s just a rule.
Photo: Paramount

Available October 1

A Knight’s Tale – Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, modern rock anthems, and lots of jousting. What’s not to love?

Ghost – This mega-hit starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and an Oscar-winning Whoopi Goldberg is largely remembered as a love story, which it is, but it’s also a murder mystery and really just an all-around crowd-pleasing quintessential 1990s blockbuster.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – Oscar winner Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in two movies. Doesn’t that statement seem wild in retrospect? (Also on Amazon and Paramount+)

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Speaking of quintessential 1990s blockbusters, this star-studded retelling of the Robin Hood story fits the bill as well, thanks in large part to its unforgettable Bryan Adams theme song.

Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3: Game Over – All action-packed Robert Rodriguez films that are very family-friendly. Well worth watching, even if there are diminishing returns.

Waterworld – Unlike Robin Hood, this big-budget Kevin Costner genre film didn’t take off as it was expected to, but it’s a fascinating, gorgeously made film that’s worth a revisit. We wrote a look back here.

Available October 5

Escape the Undertaker – We haven’t seen this Netflix original film but it’s a choose your own adventure-style movie starring WWE superstars interacting with legendary wrestler the Undertaker… in a haunted house. Watch the trailer here.

Available October 6

There’s Someone Inside Your House – Another Netflix original, this one from producers James Wan (The Conjuring) and Shawn Levy (Free Guy). It’s about a killer who terrorizes a town wearing masks of their victims and it kinda looks like a modern-day Scream. Here’s the trailer if you’re curious.

Available October 9

Insidious: Chapter 2 – The first Insidious is one of the most original horror movies in modern memory. Chapter 2 cranked the whole thing up a notch, adding a ton of new mythology to the series’ spooky dimension called the Further.

Available October 12

The Movies That Made Us: Season 3 – One of my personal favorite shows from Netflix comes back for what could be its best season yet. Among the titles that’ll get their own behind-the-scenes documentaries? Aliens, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Robocop, and Friday the 13th. Oh hell yes.

Available October 22

Locke & Key: Season 2 The bingeable, family-friendly, horror comic book adaptation is back for season two as the Locke children learn more about the mysterious keys that they find all around their house.

Available October 25

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – It is I, one of the few people who actually really liked this Guy Ritchie spin on the King Arthur legend. If you missed it, but enjoy magical fantasy films, give it a shot.

Available October 26

Army of Thieves Welcome to the latest Snyderverse. Army of Thieves is a prequel to Army of the Dead in which a group of people, including safe cracker Dieter from that movie, rob banks all over Europe as a zombie plague begins in America.

What’s coming to Amazon in October 2021?

Michael Fassbender in Prometheus

Michael Fassbender in Prometheus.
Photo: Fox

Available October 1

Fight ClubWe don’t want to break the first two rules of Fight Club but this 1999 stunner starring Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter is as visceral now as it ever was.

Last Action Hero – A young boy is transported into an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie franchise in this meta, ahead-of-its time action-comedy.

The Last Exorcism – Toss a rock in the air and you’re bound to hit a found footage exorcism movie from the past 15 years. There are a bunch. But The Last Exorcism, which wasn’t the last one, is probably one of the most gruesome and scary.

The Thing – This is 2011 prequel/remake, not the 1984 original. While that might make it a tad less enticing, it’s one of the simpler, direct remakes in a long time considering it ties into and sets up the original so well.

Available October 3

Prometheus – Speaking of prequels to beloved horror movies, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is one of the most interesting. Story-wise, it’s not directly connected to Alien, but it’s in the same universe and links back in some subtle ways. It’s pretty divisive for those reasons but remains a beautifully creepy sci-fi horror film.

Available October 15

I Know What You Did Last Summer – Based on both the Lois Duncan YA thriller and the 1990s slasher film, this series follows a group of Hawaii teens who do a Very Bad Thing and learn the hard way that they can’t pretend it never happened.

Available October 16

Cowboys & Aliens – Let’s get this out of the way. This movie is bad. But it’s also fascinating because how could a movie be bad when it’s from the people behind Iron Man and The Mandalorian (director Jon Favreau); Lost, Star Trek and Watchmen (writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof); Apollo 13 and Backdraft (producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer); and stars James Bond (Daniel Craig) and the guy who played both Han Solo and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)? Truly a disaster.

What’s coming to Hulu in October 2021?

Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf.

Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf.
Image: Paramount

Available October 1

A.I. Artificial Intelligence – Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of a Stanley Kubrick story starring Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law just celebrated its 20th anniversary. That means it’s time to dive back into this fantastic, complex world.

Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldeneye, Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me – With the new Bond film, No Time to Die, hitting theaters October 8, why not dive back into some of the best Bond of all time? (also on Paramount+)

Flatliners – Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts headline a very 1990 horror-thriller about medical students who kill and revive each other to explore the afterlife. They remade it recently. It was bad. This one is good. (Also on Paramount+)

Happy Feet, Happy Feet Two – Between Mad Max movies, director George Miller made these “Way Better Than They Have Any Right To Be” animated films about a dancing penguin.

The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Jennifer Lawrence stars in this mega-blockbuster franchise about a world where young kids are sent into a deadly battle royale. One of the better YA adaptations, and franchise film series, in recent memory.

Mad Max – The film that started it all. Mel Gibson stars, George Miller directs, and the post-apocalyptic action franchise of all post-apocalyptic action franchises was born. (Also on Paramount+)

The Mask of Zorro – Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Anthony Hopkins star in this 1998 fantasy, which offers an excellent reimagining of the legendary Zorro tale.

Species, Species II, Species III, Species: The AwakeningSpecies is one of those franchises you’ve probably heard of but had no idea there was one sequel, let alone three. The first one is a sexy, weird, decent little alien movie though I can’t speak to the quality of the rest. (Also on Paramount+)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis – Boldly go to Hulu and go all-in on Star Trek movies. (Star Trek 1-6 also on Paramount+)

Signs – One of M. Night Shyamalan’s best films is about a family who finds themselves in the middle of an alien invasion. Crop circles and baseball bats play a role.

Teen Wolf – Sports movies rarely mix with other genres but then there’s this Michael J. Fox movie where a kid turns into a werewolf and gets really good at basketball. And it’s amazing… -ly cheesy. (Also on Paramount+)

Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in… wait. What’s that? This is the 2012 remake? Never mind. (Also on Paramount+)

The Village – Not one of his best, or one of his worst, but this Shyamalan film follows a simple community of the past terrorized by an ancient evil. Or so they think.

Wrong Turn 2 – The best of the Wrong Turn movies comes to Hulu, complete with all the campy fun and gore you’d want from a franchise horror film.

Available October 14

Censor – A woman who works to censor movies begins to find clues that the deaths in the films she’s watching aren’t actually fake. A fascinating, scary horror movie that was released earlier this year. Here’s our review.

Available October 22

Gaia – Lost in the woods, a woman finds herself captured by a man and son who have lived there their whole lives. They’re protecting the world from something. But what is it? Our review of this creepy eco-thriller is here.

What’s coming to Disney+ in October 2021?

Florence Pugh in Black Widow

It looks like she’s walking down this page. Oh, Black Widow now streaming.
Image: Marvel Studios

Available October 1

Alvin And The Chipmunks, Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip – These live-action remakes of the nostalgic animated series don’t quite hold up to that but at least they have some Chipmunk spirit and singing.

Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales – The Lego Star Wars specials on Disney+ are some of the best Star Wars specials on Disney+, so this one should be a lot of fun.

Available October 6

Black Widow – No more extra $30 needed. Black Widow now becomes a permanent part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe collection on Disney+ with your regular subscription.

Available October 8

Muppets Haunted Mansion – The Muppets get spooky in this very fun-looking Halloween special, which sees Gonzo and Pepe the Prawn agreeing to spend the night in a haunted house and then promptly regretting it.

Available October 22

Rookie of the Year – If you grew up in the 1990s, you certainly fell in love with this silly sports comedy about a boy who breaks his arm, which then makes him good enough to pitch in the major leagues. Quotable. Dumb. Perfect.

What’s coming to HBO Max in October 2021?

Uma Thurman as The Bride in Kill Bill Vol. 1

Uma Thurman as the Bride in Kill Bill Vol. 1
Image: Miramax

Available October 1

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Two friends travel through time, and the afterlife, in these unforgettable comedies which, just last year, finally got the trilogy capper fans had been waiting 30 years for.

Cats – Come on. You know you want to.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 – Quentin Tarantino’s bloody revenge thriller in two parts comprise one of the best, most exciting films of his career.

Mama – Before he directed the It movies or the upcoming Flash film, Andy Muschietti directed this creepy ghost story starring Jessica Chastain which is very underrated. Guillermo del Toro produced.

Misery – You think fandom today is bad? Think about the author in this Stephen King adaptation who gets kidnapped and tortured by his fan! Kathy Bates won an Oscar for the role.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Poltergeist III – The first Poltergeist is a stone-cold masterpiece so while parts two and three certainly don’t live up to that, they’re still worth watching just to see where the story goes next.

Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law star in this fast-paced, action-packed spin on the classic detective character, under the watchful eye of director Guy Ritchie. Good stuff.

Super 8 – What would it look like if J.J. Abrams tried to make his very own Amblin Steven Spielberg movie? It would be this almost great (but still certainly worth watching) sci-fi film.

The Book Of Eli – Denzel Washington stars as a blind man surviving in a post-apocalyptic world in this solid, beautiful comic book adaptation.

The Invisible Man – Released right at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, there’s a chance you missed this intense reimagining of the classic Universal Monsters character. Change that. It’s excellent.

The Running Man – When this film was released in 1987, the idea of a game show where real people competed in a game of life and death sounded quaint. Today, we have reality shows where people date wearing prosthetic makeup that transforms them into animals or perform music via an avatar. We’re not that far off.

Twelve Monkeys – Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt star in this awesome 1995 sci-fi time travel movie that just kind of demands you watch it again and again.

Underwater – Kristen Stewart stars as one of a group of scientists studying deep below the ocean’s surface, only to find something unnatural lurking in the dark. A fun, creature feature that is quickly becoming a cult favorite.

XXX – Vin Diesel didn’t make 2 Fast 2 Furious because he wanted to start this franchise about an extreme sports star who becomes a super spy. How 2002 is that? The movie came out pretty well though and even got a few sequels. But it’s no Fast and Furious.

Available October 8

Voyagers – Released earlier this year to little fanfare, this sci-fi thriller is basically Lord of the Flies in space. It’s not great but it’s a new movie you may have missed. Read our full review here.

Available October 10

It: Chapter 2 – Not quite the film Chapter 1 is, It: Chapter 2 does at least put a worthy cap to that superior film.

Available October 14

Teen Titans Go!, Seasons 1-6 – Join DC heroes Beast Boy, Robin, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire in this irreverent, funny animated series that works whether your 5 or 50.

Aquaman: King of Atlantis – James Wan produced this animated miniseries about the DC character, voiced here by The Walking Dead’s Cooper Andrews.

Available October 21

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – Better know as The Conjuring 3, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return in a story about a man who commits a murder and pleads not guilty because he was possessed. It’s up to their characters, the Warrens, to prove that’s possible. It was previously on HBO Max when it was in theaters and now resides here once more.

Available October 22

Dune – And here it is. Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated, long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune is finally here. And by “here” we mean in theaters, as well as HBO Max with the ad-free plan. Having seen it and loved it, we do recommend going to a theater if you feel safe because it’s as epic as hell. But if you don’t, that it’s also available at home is a luxury that should not be overlooked.

What’s coming to Peacock in October 2021?


Image: Universal

Available October 15

Halloween Kills – We don’t usually include Peacock in Nerd’s Watch (though we may start if the company keeps this up), but the fact that the new Halloween movie—which picks up right where the 2018 franchise reboot/sequel left off—is arriving on streaming (as well as in theaters) during the spookiest month of the year gets a special mention.

What’s coming to Paramount+ in October 2021?

Captain Janeway may be a hologram this time around, but she’s got a whole new crew of kiddos to deal with.

Captain Janeway may be a hologram this time around, but she’s got a whole new crew of kiddos to deal with.
Image: Paramount+

Available October 1

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – While you wait for Indy 5 to finish filming, catch up on the rest of Stephen Spielberg’s classic archaeological (slash Nazi-punching) adventures with Harrison Ford’s iconic whip-cracking hero.

Minority Report – If that wasn’t enough Spielberg, join Tom Cruise for some future crime in the 2002 classic.

The Crow, The Crow: City of Angels – Re-experience the late Brandon Lee’s final movie, as well as the attempts to pick up the series where it left off in the wake of his tragic death, in this adaptation of James O’Barr’s iconic comic.

The Devil Inside – ‘Tis the season for found footage horror! As a young woman probes into the horrifying exorcism undertaken by her own mother after murdering three Catholic priests, she finds there’s still ancient evils afoot.

The Monster Squad A cult classic in its own right, following a group of horror movie-loving monster fans who inadvertently find themselves up against their classic monstrous idols in a race against time to aid the descendants of Van Helsing in destroying an amulet that will send Dracula and his friends to limbo.

Vampire in Brooklyn – Eddie Murphy is the Vampire Maximillian, searching Brooklyn for a Dhampir—who turns out to be none other than Angela Bassett’s NYPD Detective Rita Veder—so that he can survive a curse that will destroy him before the next full moon.

Available October 11

G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Remember the G.I. Joe movie you probably didn’t go see earlier this year? Well, look back to the time those movies were actually kind of terrible instead of just average, in this high-stakes plot where Cobra’s master of disguise Zartan infiltrates the White House to declare the Joes traitors.

Available October 28

Star Trek: Prodigy  Janeway is back! Sure, Kate Mulgrew’s iconic Voyager Captain is a hologram this time, playing guide for a crew of teenage aliens on a hijacked experimental Starfleet ship, but it’s time for more boldly going in this CG-animated, kid-focused Star Trek series.

Available October 29

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – It’s back to more found footage frights as the next mysterious chapter of the Paranormal saga, meant to reboot the stalwart series, receives a sneaky drop on Paramount+. Here’s the trailer, if you’re interested.

Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity – Alongside the new movie, this Joe Bandelli-directed documentary goes behind the scenes on the legacy of the entire Paranormal Activity franchise, and its rise to becoming one of the most successful horror series around. Another great idea for October viewing.

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