The greatest horror movies of all time get under your skin with original conceits. They sharpen your paranoia to burrow down into your brain. They grab hold of your heart with iconic imagery -- you'll never forget Freddy's claws, no matter how hard you try.
Most of the major streaming services take spooky, scary dramas quite seriously, including Amazon. So switch off the lights, grab a blanket, and hold your nearest loved one -- these stream-ready horror movies are here to fill your head with nightmares. Have fun!
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Bret Easton Ellis's frenzied finance bro Patrick Bateman became all-too-real in the hands of Christian Bale and director Mary Harron, who pushed the surreal nightmare of American Psycho to its highest highs. From pop-infused acts of murder to hyper-designed business cards that send chills down the spine, this is a horror movie that reminds us to fear the 1%.
The Blackcoat's Daughter (2017)
Two young women are left behind at school during break... and all sorts of hell breaks loose. This cool, stylish thriller goes off in some strange directions (and even offers a seemingly unrelated subplot about a mysterious hitchhiker) but it all pays off in the end, thanks in large part to the three leads -- Emma Roberts, Lucy Boynton, and Kiernan Shipka -- and director Oz Perkins' artful approach to what could have been just another occult-based gore-fest.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The paranormal flick follows three student filmmakers who travel to an eerie forest in Maryland where they’re determined to uncover the myth of the Blair Witch. It may be complete fiction, but it paved the way for modern horror, and if you allow yourself to believe in the "found footage" documentary style film, prepare to be terrified.
Blair Witch (2016)
If you're a fan of the original in the Blair Witch franchise, good, because there's more! Death Note and The Guest director Adam Wingard took at stab at reinventing the 1999 classic by taking everything that worked in the first movie, giving it a modern technological overhaul (the hikers have drones now!) and injecting a serious dose of mythology into the snot-dribbling terror. Underrated when it first hit theaters (and bombed), the adrenaline-pumping horror movie will give you panic attacks as you try to understand its time travel logic.
Adolescence is horrifying. Having taught high school English and endured his own punishing awkward teen years, Stephen King channeled a lifetime of social anxiety, discomfort, and anger into his brisk, righteous first novel, which Brian De Palma then turned into a stylish bloodbath. Anchored by a vulnerable, complex performance from Sissy Spacek and a showy turn from Piper Laurie as Carrie's God-fearing mother, it's the rare horror film that works both as psychological portraiture and special-effects blowout. Skip the muddled 2013 remake and get your thrills straight from the source.
Child’s Play (1988)
Dolls can be insanely creepy, and infamously possessed doll Chucky is peak scary doll. Child’s Play, the first film in the long-running Chucky franchise, tells the toy’s origin story in which a widowed mother gifts her son a highly in-demand doll for his birthday; unbeknownst to her, it’s inhabited by the soul of a serial killer. If you were creeped out by those porcelain figures that lined your grandmother’s mantel, you’re in for a scare -- this red-headed, freckled doll doesn’t play around.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Horror legend Barbara Crampton headlines this hunk of '80s B-movie gold, in which a group of teenagers camp out in a mall overnight only to find themselves the targets of malicious, malfunctioning security robots. Warning: No one is actually getting "chopped" in the movie. Robots do impale, electrocute, and blow the heads off their victims, though, and it is wonderful.
Let's face it: The desire to cheat death is the purest expression of a fear of mortality. So even when the hip medical students (played by Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, and Oliver Platt) in Flatliners "crack" the key to defeating Death by experimenting with controlled near-death experiences, they've only delayed the inevitable (and made Death angry). And if movies have taught us anything, it's that you don't want to make Death angry.
If you're fed up with "young adult dystopia," and equally over the zombie movie, The Girl With All the Gifts is good news. The movie combines both genres into one tasty combo plate that's unexpected at every turn. It's about a group of survivors who accompany a young zombie/human hybrid into the wilderness after their facility is invaded. A weird one, but it's also really quite good.
The Innkeepers (2011)
A haunted house movie for millennial slackers, The Innkeepers stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as the employees of a creepy, old inn that's about to be shut down for good. Known for its supernatural occurrences, the duo try to prove the ghosts are real before the doors shut on their beloved workplace. They very much succeed.
It Comes at Night (2017)
In this a post-apocalyptic nightmare-and-a-half, the horrors of humanity, the strain of chaotic emotions pent up in the name of survival, bleed out through wary eyes and weathered hands. The setup is blockbuster-sized -- reverts mankind to the days of the American Frontier, every sole survivor fights to protect their families and themselves -- but the drama is mano-a-mano. Barricaded in a haunted-house-worthy cabin in the woods, Paul (Joel Edgerton) takes in Will (Christopher Abbott) and his family, knowing full well they could threaten his family's existence. All the while, Paul's son, Trevor, battles bloody visions of (or induced by?) the contagion. Trey Edward Shults directs the hell out of every slow-push frame of this psychological thriller, and the less we know, the more confusion feels like a noose around our necks, the scarier his observations become.
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Remember this creepy-ass song? Victor Salva's equally creepy-ass brainchild, about a man-eating beast hell-bent on finishing its feeding ritual, is back to remind you of Halloweens past. It's a fun, early-2000s monster movie, starring Justin Long and Gina Philips, with what is now a pretty absurd antagonist -- imagine Crichton's version of the dilophosaurus had a baby with the Frankenstein creature. Weird, yes, but still great. What's more: Jeepers Creepers 2 is also available on Amazon Prime.
After surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) takes to a teenage boy Martin (Barry Keoghan) whose father died when he was young (Barry Keoghan), it becomes evident that Martin blames Steven for his wrongful death from a botched surgery -- and either his wife or one of his children must die to make up for it. Yorgos Lanthimos' psychological thriller pulls its material from the Greek tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, drawing disturbing stages of injury, a deteriorating will to live, and a pitch black mood that permeates throughout. Rather than a gore fest or paranormal disturbance, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an art-horror movie that’s as disturbing as any slasher flick, but for its mastery over its unnerving mood more than anything else.
Let Me In (2010)
A slightly revised but solid version of its Swedish predecessor, Let the Right One In, this Twilight-esque teen vampire flick was Americanized and brought to the big screen in 2010. Kodi Smit-McPhee stars opposite a young Chloë Grace Moretz as Owen, an ostracized young boy who rapidly develops an unshakeable bond with Abby, a female vampire. If you're looking to tune into a horror film that's loaded with the typical amount of blood, violence, gore, and jump scares, perhaps Let Me In isn't the one for you -- the film has its scary moments, but most of the plot centers on the development of Abby and Owen's relationship.
The Monster (2016)
From The Strangers director Bryan Bertino comes this familial horror story about an alcoholic mother, her 10-year-old daughter, and the shadowy monster circling their broken-down car. Like The Babadook, The Monster uses horror tropes and imagery to metaphorically explore a trouble relationship, but doesn't skimp on the thrills either. Whatever lurks outside in the woods is hungry and ready to slaughter -- and every attack pressurizes an already fraught relationship.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
This documentary-style film budgeted at a mere $15,000 made millions at the box office and went on to inspire a number of sequels, all because of how well its scrappiness lent to capturing what feels like a terrifying haunted reality. Centered on a young couple who is convinced an evil spirit is lurking in their home, the two attempt to capture its activity on camera, which, obviously, only makes their supernatural matters worse. It leans on found footage horror tropes made popular by The Blair Witch Project and as it tessellates between showing the viewer what’s captured on their camcorders and the characters’ perspectives, it’s easy to get lost in this disorienting supernatural thriller.
For a writer considered to be the king of horror, it’s surprising how few of Stephen King's movie adaptations manage to deliver real scares. This tale of grief is one of the exceptions. Long touted as the only book of King’s to actually scare the author himself, the novel’s themes and terror carry over beautifully to the screen with harrowing scenes of loss and unsettling sequences of return: young Gage with the scalpel, hunched Zelda rushing towards the viewer... this is a terrifically disturbing movie. Some underwhelming acting from the leads holds it back from absolute greatness, but the mighty Fred Gwynne balances that particular ledger with arguably the best supporting turn in a King movie.
Every year we see one or two horror "anthology" movies reinvigorate the medium just by existing. Slightly more impressive is a multi-story anthology that somehow manages to tie all the stories together at the end. There isn't a weak link in Southbound, which entwines five stories into a tangible desert highway purgatory. Those who hold a fondness for old EC horror comics (or the original Creepshow) would do well to track this one down.
The Uninvited (2009)
Stepmothers have gotten a bad rap in fiction, and The Uninvited leans into this nightmare of a fairytale-trope with all of its weight. The movie centers on a young woman named Anna (Emily Browning) who returns home from a stint in the hospital following a suicide attempt after the disturbing death of her mother, only to find her father remarried to her late mother’s former nurse. Not only is she haunted by what feels like an entirely new home life, but she also sees visions of her dead mother yearning for her to uncover the truth of her death. The plot may be pretty predictable, but there’s a handful of frights that will leave you just as fearful as Anna in her own home.
The set-up of Unsane alone is interesting: The impressively eclectic Steven Soderbergh tackles full-bore horror with a movie shot entirely with an iPhone camera. But is it any good? Survey says: thankfully, yes. It's a noir-style paranoia thriller about a troubled woman (Claire Foy) who unwittingly signs herself up to be remanded to an asylum, and things get even twistier from there.
The Woman in Black (2012)
This Daniel Radcliffe-led ghost story marked the return of Hammer Film Productions, known in the '50s, '60s, and '70s as the paramount purveyor of gothic horror. The Woman in Black summons the company's spooky spirit for a tale of a dead mother who seeks fresh blood in place of her sacrificed son. It's more of a haunted-house-in-movie-form than anything terribly frightening, but Radcliffe's years in the Harry Potter trenches make him the perfect conduit for all the dank, British atmosphere and wail-worthy jump scares.
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