Get us in your inbox

The 100 best horror films, horror movies, the descent
Image: Courtesy of Lions Gate Films"The Descent"

The 25 best horror movies to stream on Halloween in the US

We've scoured five streaming sites for their creepiest titles, from horror classics to the bleeding edge of terror

Written by
Andy Kryza
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf
&
Matthew Singer
Advertising

Any time is a good time to watch a scary movie, but let’s be real – there’s just something incredibly satisfying about watching a horror flick in October. It’s a bit of social conditioning, sure. Most of us have been told since we were children that October is Spooky Season, and for the rest of our days, the month will always represent frightful fun, even when we’ve long outgrown the ritual of dressing up and going begging for candy around the neighbourhood. But early fall itself also just feels spooky – a time when the air gets crisp, the days get darker and the spices more pumpkin-flavoured. It’s probably too cold and rainy to go outside, anyway. So why not curl up and give yourself a good scare?

With Halloween approaching, we’ve scanned five streaming services – Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max and dedicated horror streamer Shudder – to scare up a veritable pillowcase of amazingly terrifying films. In this grab bag you'll find everything from gruesome slashers to goosebump-raising ghost stories, wigged-out b-movies and more than a few that’ll keep you up at night. Here are the best horror movies to stream on Halloween – or any time you need a good shock to the system.

Recommended:

🎃 The best Halloween movies of all-time
👻 The best Halloween movies for kids on Netflix
😱 The 100 best horror movies of all-time
🧟 The best zombie movies of all-time

Best horror movies streaming right now

The Omen (1976)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Hulu
With respect to The Bad Seed, Damien remains the ultimate evil kid of cinema: A floppy-haired moppet in Angus Young garb whose family lineage unsurprisingly results in a tremendous amount of turnover in the nanny department. Gregory Peck provides some scene-chewing gravitas, but the late Richard Donner is the real star here, creating a piece of enduring religious terror that isn’t afraid to go way, way over the top.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Amazon
It’s not the first zombie movie, but George A Romero’s immortal low-budget classic showed what the genre can accomplish when you aim a little higher than delivering just cheap scares. Given how often the template has been borrowed, recycled and remixed over the decades, you’re forgiven for assuming the original holds up as little more than a historic artefact at this point. But it remains as frightening now as it did in the late ‘60s, while its message about racism and American paranoia bites just as deep.

Advertising
  • Film

Streaming on: Hulu
Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling novel, this sinister Swedish fairytale is truly unique. Centred around the burgeoning romance between anaemic-looking 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and the object of his affection, a young, female vampire named Eli (Lina Leandersson), the pair soon realise that they also share a bloodlust – he’s privately fantasising about stabbing up his schoolyard tormentors with a pocket knife and she needs buckets of the red stuff to survive. What results is a tender, if disturbing, courtship, beautifully framed by Tomas Alfredson’s light and subtle direction and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s crepuscular visuals.

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Shudder
At once a classic scary story and a thoroughly modern examination of the anxieties faced by single mothers, Australian director Jennifer Kent’s debut feature is in the upper echelon of the best horror films of the last decade, and it didn’t need buckets of blood and viscera to get there. Six years after the death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is struggling to raise their young son when a mysterious book appears in the house. Reading it brings a malignant force to their doorstep – one that shares a tailor with Beetlejuice, but has much nastier intentions. 

Advertising
Train to Busan (2016)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Hulu
Passengers on a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan find themselves caught up in a zombie apocalypse after a chemical leak at a biotech plant causes human beings to turn into blood-thirsty monsters. These are the speedy kind of zombies that rush at you, and as the passengers scamper from car to car to survive, you can’t help but be swept up in the panic. Really, they missed a trick not giving this brutally enjoyable horror the moniker Zombies on a Train.

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Hulu
Gore Verbinski’s J-horror remake doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but that’s no slight. Despite the PG-13 rating, this is still one of the most chilling American horror films of its era, and the best of the J-horror remake craze. The sequence in which the gnarled, stringy-haired, soaking-wet villainess emerges from the TV to claim a victim remains an all-time bone-chiller… even if younger audiences have no idea what the hell a VHS tape is.

Advertising
Malignant (2020)
Image: Warner Bros.

7. Malignant (2020)

Streaming on: HBO Max
To this point, James Wan’s career has vacillated between torture porn (the original Saw) and more traditional scares (the Conjuring franchise), but Malignant is something else entirely – a near-literal fever dream of psychedelic violence. A woman (Annabelle Wallis) begins experiencing terrifying hallucinations of gruesome murders, then learns that what she’s witnessing isn’t just a figment of her damaged imagination. It’s a rather daring detour for one of the past decade’s most successful directors of populist horror. Not everyone will love it, but those who do will keep coming back in an attempt to unpack it all.

Verónica (2017)
Photograph: Apache Films

8. Verónica (2017)

Streaming on: Netflix
Is this Spanish-language horror the ‘scariest film ever’? When it landed on Netflix, many viewers took to Twitter to say just that, and indeed, director Paco Plaza (the mind behind frantic zombie horror series [Rec]) makes a worthy effort. Allegedly based on a true story, the film follows the events after a group of teens decide to do a ouija board together. Of course, paranormal activities ensue, leaving one member of the group, the titular Verónica, haunted by an evil dark spirit.

Advertising
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Netflix
Newcomer Remi Weekes’ stunning feature debut concerns a Sudanese refugee family’s relocation to a socially hostile English town, but it turns out the racist townsfolk are the least of their worries. The social commentary is broad and unsettling here, but His House is equally interested in more sinister legacies, and Weekes’ balances the messaging with a truly horrifying haunted-house nerve-shredder that stands tall alongside Poltergeist and the Hammer classics.

Fear Street 1994 (2021)
Photograph: Netflix

10. Fear Street 1994 (2021)

Streaming on: Netflix
Netflix's hard-R adaptations of RL Stine’s PG-rated paperback series proved a sleeper hit for horror aficionados earlier this year, coming out of leftfield to deliver a surprisingly series of scares that embraces the pulpy charms of the paperback series at its best. The trilogy-starter, 1994, is the best of the bunch, a film that relishes in gnarly kills but also capably riffs on ‘90s slasher fare like Scream to craft a throwback crowdpleaser destined to be a sleepover staple. Horror purists, meanwhile, should be appeased by the movie's commitment to overkill, particularly a nasty run in with a bread slicer. 

Advertising
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Streaming on: Hulu
Admittedly, the Predator franchise has always leaned more toward ‘action’ than ‘horror’, but whatever the latest instalment lacks in traditional scares it more than makes up for in sheer badassness. Director Dan Trachtenberg takes the series in the direction it should’ve gone several sequels ago: travelling back in time, pitting one of the titular intergalactic sport hunters against an Earth-based warrior from another era. In this case, it’s North America in the early 1700s, and the warrior is a young Comanche girl (the magnetic Amber Midthunder) armed with little more than her wits and a leashed tomahawk. It’s by far the franchise’s best entry since the original, while also being notably less bloody. At the same time, the design of the Predator is more horrifying than ever, its high-tech helmet replaced with an animal skull exposing its grotesque facial features for longer than is comfortable. 

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Netflix
Saw creator James Wan made a cottage industry out of mounting dread and precision-calibrated jump scares, launching a full universe of spinoffs based around his original haunted-house pastiche, most of which are also on Netflix (along with his other ghost saga, Insidious). But his first voyage into the creaky world of fact-based (well, kind of) horror remains his best, a startlingly efficient funhouse horror anchored with conviction by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life supernatural hucksters Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Advertising
Gerald's Game (2017)
Photograph: Netflix

13. Gerald's Game (2017)

Streaming on: Netflix
Mike Flanagan has endeared himself to Netflix thanks to his breakout gothic melodrama The Haunting of Hill House and horor series Midnight Mass, but the director’s crowning achievement remains this sterling, nimble adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘unfilmable’ chamber piece. Like the director’s innovative slasher Hush before it, Flanagan allows his leading lady to run the show, with Carla Guginio rising to the occasion – while chained to a bed, no less – in a tale that juggles survivalist horror, childhood trauma and the supernatural with aplomb. The climax is a master-class in skin-crawling body horror, and while the film sputters in the denouement – blame King… Flanagan stayed true to the book against the film’s better interest – it’s an enthralling piece of claustrophobic bravado.

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: HBO Max
When Steven and Diane Freeling’s youngest daughter, Carol Anne, begins conversing with their television set, strange happenings start to occur in their home. Soon, Carol Anne is kidnapped by a malevolent force and it becomes apparent that the Freelings are being targeted by a poltergeist. Directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, this supernatural horror is one heck of a ghost story that, at its heart, asks you to consider the importance of family. Aww!

Advertising
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: HBO Max
A dare-to-watch classic among emerging horror fans and a perennial favorite of film geeks, Stanley Kubrick’s meticulous, sterile, jarring Stephen King adaptation has sparked debates and conspiracy theories for 40 years, with no sign of stopping. Such is the power of Jack Nicholson with an axe to grind. Yet all these years later, The Shining remains disorienting and terrifying as ever, a film that rewards repeat viewings by unearthing more mysteries lurking in brightly lit corridors.

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: HBO Max
Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon’s punk-rock zombie pastiche is more influential than it gets credit for: Not only did it become the first bonafide rom-com upon its release, it also introduced the idea of the undead’s hunger for brains, which its loquacious ghouls moan for throughout (along with a side of cops and paramedics). Even more crucially, it’s legitimately scary thanks to its extra-goopy corpse design, making it a rare film that brings the chuckles and cringes in equal measure.

Advertising
House (1977)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: HBO Max
HBO Max is full of familiar horror icons, from Freddy to Jason and beyond. For some supremely weird counterprogramming, however, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s dark and twisted fantasy is hard to top. House is one of the most bugnuts horror films of all time, a cartoonishly hallucinogenic tale about schoolgirls battling a witch in a haunted house full of man-eating pianos, blood-spewing cats and flying heads. Ôbayashi plays nothing straight, and the result exists in the dreamscape between Suspiria, Pufnstuf, Scooby-Doo, Japanese pop music and Ken Kesey. 

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Amazon

The monsters at the centre of Neil Marshall’s supremely claustrophobic cave-in horror don’t make their appearance until the midway point, splattering the stalactites in one of cinema’s all-time great jump scares. But the reason those pasty bastards work so well isn’t just due to their gruesome design: It’s the fact that we’ve already spent a grueling amount of time watching the women at the core of the story struggle through an emotionally devastating series of maladies. Once the creatures attack, we’re uncharacteristically attached to their head-torch-wearing dinner. This is a film that severs the artery of hope early and slowly allows it to bleed out before our eyes. 

Advertising
The Wailing
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Amazon
Na Hong-jin throws so much at the wall during The Wailing’s 2.5-hour runtime that it’s remarkable any of it sticks. This is a film that dabbles in comedy, folk horror, witchcraft, ancient mythology, zombies, murder and police procedural tropes. Yet against all odds, everything sticks in an ethereal masterpiece of sustained dread and sudden horror. The less you know the better. Buckle up. 

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Amazon
Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino would have been a fool to try to replicate giallo master Dario Argento’s colorful, sadistic dreamscape when remaking the seminal Suspiria. So he didn’t. Instead, Guadagnino’s Suspiria swings wildly in the other direction, keeping the gruesome kills and enchanted ballet school narrative and stripping it of color. The result is a fascinatingly surreal experience that works alongside Argento’s work rather than against it, and features an all-timer of a grossout death that reduces an elegant dancer into a pile of cracked bones and mangled flesh. 

Advertising
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  • Film
  • Science fiction

Streaming on: Amazon
Philip Kaufman’s update of the b-movie classic builds upon the anxieties of the original to tremendous effect, crafting an all-time great paranoid thriller with creature-feature trappings that stand tall next to John Carpenter’s The Thing. The wonderfully bleak ending gets most of the attention (rightfully so), but Body Snatchers is invigorating throughout, a film that masterfully wrings tension out of the unknown while satisfying the requisite horror and chase-movie beats with aplomb.

  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Shudder
The first Stephen King adaptation is still among the best, with director Brian de Palma’s Gallo-indebted visual freakouts proving the perfect pairing for the tale of a lonely teen who loses control of her violent telekinetic urges. In the wake of America’s school-shooting epidemic, Carrie has taken on an unfortunate urgency that makes it ripe for revisiting. Meanwhile, Piper Laurie’s turn as the titular character’s religious-fanatic mom is a hall-of-fame nut-job performance full of bug-eyed fury. The actress earned an Oscar nod and confessed she thought she was filming a comedy at the time. To her credit, ‘they’re all gonna laugh at you’ has been a mainstay of nightmares for 45 years and counting.

Advertising
The Beyond (1981)
  • Film
  • Horror

Shot in the Louisiana bayou, gore maestro Lucio Fulci’sThe Beyond feels as much like a fever dream as a film: tarantulas tear off people’s eyelids, women start to bleed for no reason and reanimated corpses drag the innocent down into the depths of the pit. Starkly beautiful but utterly horrifying, this is a singular work of the imagination and one of the most unclassifiable horror films of all time. 

Halloween (1978)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Shudder
The sequel to David Gordon Green’s reboot is here, and it appears to forget everything that makes John Carpenter’s classic truly scary. It wasn’t the gore or the jump scares that helped Carpenter’s low-budget babysitter massacre change the face of horror cinema. It was its patience and mounting dread. Like the shark from Jaws, Michael Myers is scarier glimpsed in the shadows. With the Halloween films, the first cut truly was the deepest. It’s a lesson the series has forgotten a dozen times and counting.

Advertising
Re-Animator (1985)
  • Film
  • Horror

Streaming on: Shudder
Stuart Gordon’s batty HP Lovecraft riff starts with a statement of intent by interpolating a very ‘80s drum-machine rhythm into Bernard Herrmann’s iconic Psycho score. This is very much a film that wrings unexpected madness from familiar scenarios, from Jeffrey Combs’ nebbishly cocky Herbert West as the film’s Frankenstein to the various blood-spewing newly undead creatures, chief among them a randy academic whose own decapitation does little to quell his urges. Like Return of the Living Dead, this is a horror comedy that respects both sides of the genre coin.

Recommended

    More on Halloween

      You may also like
      You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!