The Best Horror Movies on HBO and HBO Max
For when you're in the mood for a good scare.
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 HBO and HBO Max, which are able to house a number of creepy classics you can't find anywhere else based on their deals with 20th Century, Warner Bros., and Turner Classic Movies. So switch off the lights, grab a blanket, and hold onto your nearest loved one—these stream-ready horror movies are here to fill your head with nightmares. Have fun!
*Denotes titles available on both HBO and HBO Max
The Amityville Horror (1979)*In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family, claiming he heard voices in the family home that convinced him to do it. The following year, the Lutz family moved into that same home and started to experience what can only be explained as a haunting, which is where this nightmarish tale really begins. The film is inspired by unexplainable true incidents in that real, eerie Amityville home on Long Island, and is just one of the many installments of the film series; but the 1979 original is by far the scariest, focusing on the original paranormal events that continues to baffle audiences.
The Blade Trilogy (1998, 2002, 2004)It's hard to imagine Wesley Snipes' Daywalker, decked out in his Oakleys and leather trench coat, as a character that would fit neatly into the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. From its vampiric blood rave aesthetic to the icky effects of its hunted revenge, the Blade movies have only grown more impressive with the passage of time. Snipes gives some of his most badass performances, staking vamps and tossing off one-liners with an effortlessly cool demeanor. It remains slick, corporate-approved entertainment with a gonzo, cult-film soul.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of one of Bram Stroker's gothic classic is an operatic spectacle. While there's been more than a few adaptations inspired by the 1897 novel and its eponymous bloodsucker, the filmmaker returns to the text for a faithful interpretation that comes alive (undead, rather) in its extravagant production and costume designs that's just as romantic as it is eerie. Gary Oldman terrifies as the longing, ancient monster, Winona Ryder is beguiling as his long-lost lover Mina, Anthony Hopkins delivers as Van Helsing, and Keanu Reeves has gotten a fair amount of criticism for his accent and portrayal of Mina's lover Jonathan; you'd be remiss not to sink your teeth into it.
The Craft (1996)Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True star in this mid-'90s gem that imagines a high school group of misfits as a literal witch coven. The in-fighting, backstabbing, and jealousy that might be found in any stereotypical teen movie culminate in a series of competing spells, attempted murder, general mayhem, and a climactic fight scene between Tunney's Sarah and Balk's Nancy. It's as action-packed as a teen movie can get.
The Blob (1958)There's not a whole lot to the tale of a giant glob of goo that lands in a small town and begins devouring everyone, but there's something so damn fascinating about the monster itself that this oldie still calls for your attention. It's still so gloriously gross, it's hard to look away.
The Brood (1979)Body horror purveyor David Cronenberg's The Brood is one distorted film about the monstrous sides of motherhood. Conceptualized as the filmmaker was going through his own divorce, it cozies up to a father (Art Hindle) in distress as his mentally ill wife (Samantha Eggar) seeks treatment from a controversial psychotherapist (Oliver Reed) who supposedly transforms his patients with his mind-and-body-altering practice known as "psychoplasmics." It's not technically a creepy kid movie, but there sure are the creepiest "kids" (AKA inner child/traumas/literal multiplying monsters) you've ever seen running loose and committing murder after murder in this late '70s cult classic. They'll give you the creeps, but even more so, The Brood will leave you feeling sick, thinking about the repercussions of parenthood gone wrong and just how powerful the inner demons left by those relationships are.
Carnival of Souls (1962)This low-budget black-and-white indie didn't make much noise when it was released onto the drive-in circuit in the early 1960s, but it's gone on to become one of the most celebrated horror films of the decade. It's a hallucinatory tale of a young woman who believes she's being stalked by a mysterious man—or maybe she's simply losing her mind. Stick with it through the dry spots because act three is straight-up terrifying, provided you've been paying attention and have all the lights off.
The Conjuring (2013)James Wan scared the shit out of moviegoers and restored faith in horror films when he dramatized Ed and Lorraine Warren's haunted farmhouse visit for the big screen. As the two paranormal investigators (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) go head-to-head with a wicked presence, you'll find yourself audibly yelping and wanting nothing to do with the dark. The impeccably choreographed jump scares are damn good, but the Warrens' nail-biting heroics and the family's intoxicating paranoia woven throughout are even better—proof that big-budget horror flicks don't have to suck.
Doctor Sleep (2019)*If you're going to make a sequel to The Shining, here are two essential requirements: Stephen King has to write it, and there's probably nobody better to adapt it than Mike Flanagan, who did a great job with King's Gerald's Game. Here, Flanagan delivers another smart, dark, fascinating adaptation; Ewan McGregor plays the now-grown Danny Torrance—and rather excellently—who is forced to hit the road and do battle with a "shine"-swallowing vampire (Rebecca Ferguson, also great) who's nearly immortal.
Eraserhead (1977)Despite being reviled upon its release, David Lynch's (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) Eraserhead is a grotesque masterpiece. About a man (Jack Nance) living in an industrial environment who finds out he's the father of a deformed infant, it's an uncomfortable journey into body horror, as well as the primal fears and anxieties of parenthood, that's made even darker by the accompaniment of Lynch's haunting score. Eraserhead got its cult film status and critical reevaluation playing as a midnight movie back in the day, and it's just as horrific and stunning of a visual experience to watch in the witching hour now. (Plus, you'll be officially clued into what you friends mean when they call something "Lynchian.")
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)You've see pulpy crime movies and you've seen vampire movies—but have you seen the ultra-violent mash-up of them both? From Dusk Till Dawn, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, criticizes the cheap, big studio genre movies of the time by throwing the concepts into a blender, along with some Tarantino-esque bloodiness, to create a ridiculous, yet trendy, cult film. Tarantino takes a leading role in the film, opposite George Clooney, as the two play criminals who take a family (featuring patriarch Harvey Keitel) hostage and across the Mexican border. It's there at a dingy desert strip club that they make the fine introduction with a group of bloodthirsty vampires—including Selma Hayek in an iconic appearance—and campy gruesomeness ensues.
The Girl With All the Gifts (2017)*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.
Godzilla (1954)The horror of nuclear weaponry is manifested as movie history's greatest monster in the signature science-fiction film from Japan. Monster movies had been around for decades, turning common fears into cinema boogeymen, but there was nothing quite like a giant lizard with radioactive breath and an oddly pleasing roar as a symbol for the dangers nuclear weapons posed to man and nature alike. The fact that Godzilla was such a perfectly designed creature helped, of course. This first film set in motion a series of wildly inventive characters and stories that continue to decimate cities on camera even now.
The creepy clown. The red balloon. This adaptation of what's often considered horror genius Stephen King's biggest, toughest, and most popular books didn't disappoint fans. This film is special, turning the story into one of the creepiest, classiest, most well-received King movies in years, largely due to the talented young cast and their portrayal of how damn frightening adolescence is. Bill Skarsgård will make all of your fears very real as the razor-sharp-toothed Pennywise, but the heartwarming ensemble makes conquering them very possible. IT: Chapter Two is also streaming, so you can make a (very long) marathon of it—although the second installment isn't as good as the first, but you do get to see big names like Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and James McAvoy as the grown-up versions of those adorable kiddos.