14 Best Horror Movies to Stream
We’ve curated a list of horror films that will make your spine shimmy this Halloween season.
If you’re like us, your costume is top priority come Halloween season—followed closely by determining which scary movies to watch.
A good scary movie watchlist should mix classics seen and unseen with a couple of new ones just to have something to talk about in church on Sunday (that’s when Halloween lands this year). The list should also be diverse because the horror genre has so many subgenres.
So our 16 picks include slashers, man-eating demons, werewolves, greasy stranglers, pet alien gore monsters, killer clowns, pious pervs, witches, and zombies (but not typical ones). And, for the pretentious film nerds, there’s even a psychedelic psychological folk-horror flick set in seventeenth-century England.
Best horror movies to stream
Censor | Prime Video (VOD) | Psychological slasher
Censor is set in 1980s England when the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA), a political pressure group, helped to ban and prosecute 72 “video nasties” that ostensibly violated Britain’s Obscene Publications Act. The film follows Enid Baines, a woman who zealously guts horror films for the British Board of Film Classification (similar to the Motion Picture Association in the US). Long tortured by the disappearance of her sister when they were young, Enid’s past bleeds into her present when a notorious filmmaker requests that she review his latest film. She begins to suspect that her sister may still be alive and working with him, and, well, we won’t spoil things for you. If you like horror films that make you think as you squirm, watch Censor.
Terrifier | IMDbTV (Prime Video) | Killer clown
Heads up, coulrophobes: If you’re deathly afraid of clowns, you’re gonna hate Terrifier. Everyone knows about Pennywise from IT and, to a tragically lesser extent, the Killer Klowns from Outer Space—now meet Art the Clown. First appearing in a 2011 short film that was ultimately folded into writer/director Damien Leone’s 2013 anthology All Hallow’s Eve, Art is one of the most creative, sadistic, and, er, terrifying killer clowns ever. That’s probably why there’s already an Art the Clown action figure and t-shirts. Anyway, this clown cut-up’s first full-length feature is a full-on circus of cool kills and chills that’ll really rattle your cage. And, as a further PSA, you should know that Terrifier 2 is coming for you later this year. Does anyone smell cotton candy and . . . copper?
Psycho Goreman | Shudder | Sci-fi/horror comedy
Psycho Goreman is what you get when you blend the fish-out-of-water comedy of Encino Man with the fantasy and wonder of E.T. and all the foam-rubber, latex, and stage blood of a GWAR concert. When the Archduke of Nightmares, an intergalactic death-dealing alien, crash-lands on Earth, he becomes a slave to Mimi, an obnoxious little girl who found the glowing gem that controls him. Mimi renames the monster Psycho Goreman (PG for short), and leans a little too hard into bossing him around. Meanwhile, PG summons his army from back home and pledges to bathe in Mimi’s blood—but it gets complicated. Ultimately, both Mimi and PG learn a thing or two about love (and PG discovers that he likes “hunky boys”). From director Steven Kostanski (The Void), a member of the weird-movie factory Astron-6.
Pure | Hulu | Supernatural IRL horror
Forget gigantic bat wings and gaping, slavering gobs lined with extra-sharp choppers. The scariest monsters look like normal people—not humanoid beings, not werewolves in daylight attire, not even psychopathic slashers. I’m talking about the dude next door who waves at you, beaming, while his brood exits the minivan and files into the house, then becomes a sinister creep behind the door with the “live, laugh, love” wreath. Pure features more than one of these “men” who endeavor to keep their daughters in the film’s titular state by questionable, even draconian, means—all in the name of the Lord. So, yeah, Pure isn’t your average horror movie, but it’ll definitely gross you out—until the daddies get their due courtesy of an ancient demon with a righteous vendetta. Hell, yeah!
The Greasy Strangler | IMDb TV (Prime Video) | WTF horror comedy
At first, you might think this film by Jim Hosking (An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn) is just too ridiculous to be scary, and possibly a gross waste of your time. Well, the story of a disco-dancing man who emasculates his adult son by day and gets greased up to strangle people by night is absurd, super raunchy, and even a little scary. It’s also an epic good time—if you can suspend disbelief, good taste (subjective), and a need for (immediate) clarity. If you can, you’ll fall head-over-platform boots in love with this endlessly quotable, oily, oozing monstrosity birthed from a petri dish of John Waters, Napoleon Dynamite, Tim and Eric, and even some David Lynch. I’ve seen it eight times now, and I still don’t entirely understand it. But I’m getting there, and I’m having a great time. (Note: we went with the safest trailer, but it’s still NSFW.)
Freaky | HBO Max | Slasher comedy
It was only a matter of time before someone made a Freaky Friday the 13th. Except, instead of a mother and daughter swapping bodies, it’s a six-foot-five masked killer (the Blissfield Butcher) and a teen girl (Millie Kessler). You can extrapolate the jokes from that, but the film manages to avoid most of the easy ones. And, of course, you have the terror and violence that weren’t in the original Freaky Friday or its remakes/tributes/clones. That doesn’t mean Freaky is perfect. It’s a fun watch, with some cheeky kill scenes and funny Vince-Vaughn-as-a-teen-girl jokes—but it’s probably not gonna be something you watch again and again.
Dead Alive | YouTube (free) | Zombie splatter rom-com
Before Peter Jackson was known for blockbusters based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, he was a splatter-film auteur. In fact, his 1992 zom-rom-com Dead Alive (a.k.a. Braindead) has been called “the goriest fright film ever made.” Consequently, Jackson’s splat-fest was banned in four countries and remains illegal to purchase or show in Germany—but it’s more than a gorefest. The slapstick-y splatter, along with an endearing romantic subplot between cursed protagonist Lionel (Timothy Balme) and grocery delivery girl Paquita (Diana Peñalver), nearly earned Dead Alive a 15 rating (similar to PG-13) from the British Board of Film Classification. But make no mistake: Dead Alive is as terrifying as it is charming, and it’ll make your gut flutter for all kinds of reasons.
Uncle Peckerhead | IMDb TV (Prime Video) | Man-eating demon comedy
When punk-rock trio DUH goes to rent a van for a crucial upcoming tour, they discover that the vehicle comes with a driver: its fifty-something owner/resident, who just happens to become an ancient man-eating demon every midnight. Oh, and his name? It’s not Pazuzu, not Mictlan, not even Gene Simmons—it’s Peckerhead (okay, technically synonymous with “Gene Simmons”), or “Peck” for short. At first, DUH grapples with the moral and criminal implications of their association with Peck’s nocturnal repasts, but they eventually decide he’s a feature, not a bug (like when he dispatches sleazy concert promoters) and even <sniff> a friend. Or is he? Scary, cartoonish (Gen X-ers and old millennials might be reminded of Fangface), and possessed of a killer original soundtrack, Uncle Peckerhead is a blast—and Peck is the weird uncle you wish you had.
The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, Week 8: Things | Shudder | Awesomely bad horror w/host
Who’s the best horror host? Sure, Elvira is a vision in black stacked with one-liners. Yes, John Zacherle did the best Boris Karloff/refined ghoul character. And the Cryptkeeper gives ‘em all a pun for their money. But the absolute best presenter of horror and midnight movies is Lone Star beer-guzzling, shlock-cinema author/journalist/thinker/gentledude Joe Bob Briggs. There’s just no better horror movie companion—Joe Bob knows all the stories and trivia, and what makes horror fans tick. His expertise and humor enhance everything from certified horror classics to incoherent, incompetent messes like 1989’s Things, co-written by and starring Canadian MAGA-head and dreck merchant Barry J. Gillis. On its own, the film is a mystifying feast of WTF-ness. With Joe Bob on the mic, it’s all that and a bag of quips.
Fear Street trilogy | Netflix | Afterschool special slasher
Is Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy the greatest thing since sliced bread? (Hey, when does a reference become a spoiler?) Well, it’s fun and frightening, just like you’d expect from Goosebumps author R.L. Stine—but it’s not for kids. Director Leigh Janiak ratchets up the violence and spice for this triptych of films based on Stine’s book series about the cursed town of Shadyside. Fear Street starts in 1994 (part one), slides backwards to 1978 (part two), and concludes in 1666 (part three), when the curse originated. So, the trilogy is a satisfying binge-watch, much like devouring Goosebumps books in quick succession as a kid. But, again, Fear Street is too lurid and scary for the Goosebumps age range (7–12 years), despite having moments that lend an ABC Afterschool Special vibe to the proceedings, which is amusing and fascinating.
Malignant | HBO Max | Slasher comedy
One of the most heinous film spoilers is revealing a twist, which is meant to be a huge surprise. So why are we committing this mortal sin? Because this buzzy film by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) spoils itself. Its title is a clue, and its opening scenes all but blurt everything out. Even the critics ruin the surprise in their reviews, while acting gobsmacked themselves. (Oh, come on.) But that doesn’t mean you should cut Malignant out of your Halloween watchlist. The film, a supernatural body-horror with slasher elements, is a fresh-ish take on the parasitic twin trope with enough good squirms, shocks, and sicko-pleasing scenes to be fun. But with a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of only 50%, there’s an even chance that you still won’t dig Malignant. That said, it’s a must-see for horror fans, even if it’s just to learn what side you’re on.
A Field in England | Shudder | Artsy psychological folk horror
As though Fear Street Part Three: 1666 doesn’t reach far enough into the past, Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic psychological folk-horror tale occurs in 1648 during the English Civil War. The film follows three soldiers and an alchemist as they search for a tavern that doesn’t exist and also for an Irish wizard who stole documents from the alchemist’s master. Though the four men forge a deep bond on their journey, things fall apart as expectations are dashed and horrific mistakes (owing to greed, deceit, and magic mushrooms) are made. Artfully shot in black and white with a handheld camera, cleverly edited, and with immersive sound design, the film is a riveting experience that fuses elements of The Breakfast Club (strangers bonding), Stand by Me (friends on a journey) and Jacob’s Ladder (war and acid flashbacks).
An American Werewolf in London | Shudder | Creature feature
Truly great werewolf movies are rare because werewolf kills and transformation scenes require expensive practical effects, and filmmakers often go with cheaper, experience-ruining, computer-generated imagery. John Landis’s 1981 classic is probably the best werewolf film of all time, owing to Landis’s direction and Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning practical effects work. When two backpackers get attacked by a vicious lycanthrope on the English moors, it leads where you expect: to a new werewolf and a new string of murders. What you don’t anticipate is a sweet love story and humor (both tasteful and gallows-esque), which give An American Werewolf in London and its monster an uncommon humanity (another trait that’s important in werewolf films). Watch for a cameo from Frank Oz—the voice of Muppets like Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Animal, Grover, and Cookie Monster—as a clueless US diplomat.
Candyman (2021) | Prime Video (VOD) | Supernatural slasher
Nia DaCosta’s remake of Clive Barker’s tale about a lynched slave turned bogeyman is still in theaters, but it should be available to stream on VOD services by the end of September. It’s cowritten and produced by Jordan Peele, who knows a thing or two about horror (see Get Out and Us), and it features Tony Todd—may he remain the only Candyman—in the titular role. Even better, the only way to make Candyman more frightening is for it to reflect contemporary racial tension and show how violent bigotry is—gag—back in the spotlight. And that’s exactly what this Candyman delivers. It’s a scary time, and while it might not be Daniel Robitaille (Candyman’s government name) coming to split us “from groin to gullet,” the metaphor is effective af.