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The 8 Best Horror Movies on Max

Max (formerly HBO Max) has 120+ horror movies in its catalog—we highlight eight of our favorites and list dozens more.

There are 120+ horror movies on Max™ (formerly HBO Max), and we’d say about 64 of those are worth watching. We have eight recommendations, including non-traditional vampire movies, a goofy sequel to a brutal classic, Cronenberg body horror, Gary Busey vs. a werewolf, and two differently disturbing modern horrors. We also list dozens more scary movies to watch on Max.

A claw-like hand thrusts a baby bottle through a grate.

From which of our eight Max horror movie recommendations does this shot come? (Video screenshot)

Pro tip: Do you need age-appropriate horror movie recommendations for the youngsters? Check out Scary Movies for Kids and New and Upcoming PG-13 Horror Movies for Kids.

The 8 best horror movies on Max

1. Barbarian (2022) | Horror thriller

In a dark cellar, a feral woman baby-talks in the face of a terrified, cringing man.

You will drink this milk, Justin Long, and you will like it! (Video screenshot)

Barbarian, the directorial debut of Zach Cregger (The Whitest Kids U’Know), was one of 2022’s most original and successful horror films. It’s best not to say too much about the plot aside from that it’s about a nightmare Airbnb. You’re probably thinking of misrepresented amenities, extra charges, and a host Karen.

Well, Barbarian kinda sorta has all that stuff—plus violence and wall-to-wall uncomfiness. So, if you haven’t seen Barbarian, go into it cold (just like stars Bill Skarsgård, Georgina Campbell, and Justin Long) for pure, immersive, WTF horror.

2. Cronos (1993) | Vampire

A gray-haired man in a suit uses his finger to gather blood from a bathroom sink counter.

One person’s cocaine nosebleed is another’s secret snack. (Video screenshot)

In the first feature film from Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Nightmare Alley, Hellboy), an old antique dealer—Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi)—discovers a golden device resembling a scarab within a sculpture. The object embeds itself in Gris, feeding on his blood and restoring the old man’s youth and vigor.

As Gris and his new gadget become acquainted, a dying rich man who’s chased the device for years tries to purchase it, then steal it. Gris resists, and the man has him killed—or so he believes. Gris resurrects as a vampire seeking to settle the score without becoming a soulless bloodsucker like his pursuer.

Refreshingly different, Cronos will satisfy your craving for something more than the same old vampire stories.

3. Hereditary (2018) | Supernatural, occult

A close-up photo of a catatonic teenage boy lying in bed.

Peter Graham (Alex Wolff) lies catatonic in one of the most WTF moments in horror history (if you know, you know). (Video screenshot)

Ari Aster’s feature debut is pee-your-pants scary. Maybe you already knew that, since Hereditary came out five years ago, and people tend to talk about movies that scary.

It also helps that Aster’s film boasts a mind-scrambling story, incredible cinematography and sound design, and a gobsmackingly brilliant performance by Toni Collette that highlights Hereditary’s themes of grief and loss.

It gets better. Aster pairs those gut-wrenching emotions with occultism and family trauma. The result is a freaky horror film that could’ve kickstarted a Satanic panic revival (but we’re past that as a society, yeah?).

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) | Cannibal comedy

A bald hippie uses a coat hanger to pick at the metal plate in his head.

Cannibal hippie Chop Top (Bill Moseley) cleans his plate. (Video screenshot)

Pretty much every Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel/reboot/remake sucks to high heaven—except this blackly comedic sequel.

We’re not sayin’ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is as terrifying as Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original. It’s not. Hooper does, however, harness enough of the original film’s terror to satisfy while adding new touches that give TCM2 its charm.

We meet a new member of the cannibalistic Sawyer clan (Chop Top, the hippie twin to his hitchhiking brother Nubbins in the first film), and Dennis Hopper plays the sheriff as only Hopper can. There’s also great gore, goofy gallows humor, and a bangin’ soundtrack featuring Oingo Boingo, The Lords of the New Church, The Cramps, Concrete Blonde, and more. None of that redeems the film for those who wanted a second helping of the original TCM’s raw terror. But it did make TCM2 a buzzin’ good time—and classic of the VHS era.

5. Silver Bullet (1985) | Werewolf + Gary Busey + Stephen King

A cockeyed werewolf bares its fangs.

Beware the terrifying, cockeyed Derpwolf! It is pretty scary, tho . . . (Video screenshot)

This adaptation of Stephen King’s 1983 Cycle of the Werewolf novella is one of our favorites. After a freaky opening scene between a drunken rail worker and the werewolf, Silver Bullet drops you into small-town Maine (Tarker’s Mills, ayuh). Right away, you feel at home, like you know everyone, and you’re high on summer, excited for the July 4th festivities.

The story unfolds through teen Marty (Corey Haim). He takes a lot of crap for being disabled, but he’s a good kid, and his family loves him—especially his wild Uncle Red (Gary Busey), who shows up with a big surprise for Marty.

Then the vicious, gooey killings start—and Marty finds himself in the middle of the action.

No spoilers here, though. Just know you can’t go wrong mixing Stephen King, werewolves, and Gary Busey who, to our delight, ad-libbed many of his lines.

6. Scanners (1981) | Body (and mind) horror

Two men sit at a conference table. One is perfectly calm, eyes closed. The other looks like his head might explode.

Prelude to a splat: Daryl Revok (Michael Ironside) can kill a dude just by taking a nap. (Video screenshot)

We always talk about the head explosion scene in David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi body horror classic, Scanners. We text the GIF to shock our friends and pretend it’s the film’s only highlight.

The grue doesn’t saturate the entire film, but the stress does. Credit that to strong performances—especially from the eerily intense Michael Ironside as the evil telepath Daryl Revok—along with the music and sound design.

Howard Shore’s high-pitched, discordant score drags a violin bow along your last nerve and, combined with the sound design, with its jumble of un-mutable inner monologues and alarming sounds, make you wonder if your head might explode. And that’s Cronenberg for you.

Pro tip: New to Max (formerly HBO Max)? Read our Max review.

7. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) | Vampire-snake action horror

A wild-eyed, hairy man—standing in front of a huge, neon-adorned roadhouse bar, bellows into the camera.

Chet (Cheech Marin) needs to see your I.D. (Video screenshot)

Thirsty for more non-traditional vampire lore? Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino directed and wrote this one, respectively.

George Clooney and Tarantino play maddog criminals Seth and Richie Gecko, who must get to Mexico fast. They hijack the Fuller family’s RV, promising to release the father and his two teens in the town of El Rey.

Upon arrival, Seth and Richie casually take down the bouncers of a chaotic roadhouse bar called the Titty Twister. Seth orders the family to stick around and celebrate with the brothers, but the bouncers want revenge.

That’s when From Dusk Till Dawn takes its famous left turn. Blood, guts, boobs, and one-liners abound as the Geckos, the Fullers, and genre film legends like Tom Savini and Fred Williamson fight a legion of snake-like vamps, including Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, and Danny Trejo. Propelled by a badass soundtrack featuring The Blasters, Tito and Tarantula, and ZZ Top, From Dusk Till Dawn is a wild ride that’ll leave you panting.

8. The Menu (2022) | Kitchen nightmare

A woman closes her eyes as chocolate melts over her head and flames peek out from behind her.

Is that dark chocolate?! Eeeewwwwwww. (Video screenshot)

Mark Mylod’s The Menu is what you get when you mix a dash of Saw, a teaspoon of Clue, and a pound of Gordon Ramsay.

Various people get invited to a remote five-star restaurant where a world-class chef (Ralph Fiennes) and his crew will provide a mysterious dining experience—on the house. As dinner is served, the courses get stranger and oddly relevant to the guests and staff. Grievances air, secrets reveal, and scores settle as the chef and crew show themselves as a culinary death cult and proclaim that nobody is safe.

At once a biting satirization of fine dining that examines what matters in life, The Menu will have you closely question your life choices.

A woman, head wrapped in bandages, cautiously climbs a staircase in Eyes Without a Face.

It was at this moment she knew she wasn’t in a Billy Idol video. (Video screenshot from Eyes Without a Face on Max)

More Max horror movie recommendations

  • The Brood (1979)
  • The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  • Carnival of Souls (1962)
  • Child’s Play (1988)
  • The Descent (2005)
  • Eraserhead (1977)
  • Evil Dead Rise (2023)
  • Eyes Without a Face (1960)
  • The Fly (1986)
  • Green Room (2016)
  • Gremlins (1984)
  • House (1977)
  • The Host (2006)
  • Jennifer’s Body (2009)
  • The Lure (2015)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Signs
  • Sinister
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Tusk
  • We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
  • The Witch (2015)
  • You’re Next

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