Welcome to Halloween season. Maybe your neck of the woods is experiencing the first touch of lousy weather you’ve had since the spring. Maybe you’re staying in all weekend to drink spiked cider and eat candy. Maybe you found this article in January and just want to watch horror movies without having to do anything more exhausting than pointing and clicking.
Congratulations, boys and ghouls. We’ve looked at what horror movies are available on Netflix for you to watch right now, and picked our favorites. There’s no ranking here, it’s just an assortment of our favorites for you to kill a chilly October night with.
We have impeccable taste. You can trust us. Why think when we can do that for you?
The home invasion movie has been done to death. Yet, You’re Next still feels wildly original and fresh, because it breaks every rule in the horror movie playbook.
This Adam Wingard film dispenses with all pretense when a family reunion in the country is immediately shattered by mysterious killers wearing animal masks. They just don’t stalk this large, but dwindling family; they massacre them in groups. Previously, it is only when everyone breaks off on their own that the terror truly can begin. You’re Next dispenses with that genre fallacy and most others. Nobody is safe, and the end is so mean spirited that you’ll want to stand up and cheer.
The House of the Devil
Generally speaking, they don’t make them like they used to. Except of course when they do. Ti West’s The House of the Devil is a wickedly tense throwback to low budget 1970s and early ‘80s horror—it returns to an era before everyone had to get sliced and diced in jump scares by the lake.
In this film, Jocelin Donahue is Samantha, a college student and the girl next door. Samantha desperately wants enough money to afford her own apartment, so she takes a cryptic babysitting job where she is not allowed to see the kids in a big spooky mansion on the same night as a lunar eclipse.
House of the Devil is a case study in how to build tension, because there is almost no gore and even fewer jump scares. Instead, the movie taps into the old, grueling sense of anticipation. You keep waiting for something bad to happen until you’re ready to scream out of anxiety. The actual ending is not quite as satisfying as the build-up but this movie’s grasp on classic horror and the satanic suburban panic of the 1980s makes it a satisfyingly brutal experience.
From Dusk Till Dawn
And here we have what is quite possibly the most quotable film on this list, although certainly not the best. The pairing of Robert Rodriguez (director) and Quentin Tarantino (writer) made for an insane, two-pronged Grindhouse-style extravaganza. It’s a low-rent heist aftermath movie for its first half and then it shifts gears into insane survival horror for the second.
From Dusk Till Dawn is the only movie you’re going to watch this month that features Tom Savini wielding a gun on his crotch, and Fred Williamson killing vampires alongside George Clooney and Harvey Keitel. It’s unlikely you haven’t seen this one, but even if you have, there’s always a good time to be had at the Titty Twister.
A loose adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s short story “Herbert West-Reanimator,” this 1985 gem is responsible for some of the weirdest scenes ever committed to film. Horror and sci-fi icon Jeffery Combs gives his most memorable performance as Herbert West, a mad genius able to resurrect the dead…sort of. Mostly funny, sometimes scary and always weird, Re-Animator is a true classic. Wait until you get to the part where the severed head…never mind, you’ll see.
Writer-director Stuart Gordon would go on from Re-Animator to craft many other cult favorites such as From Beyond, Robot Jox, and Castle Freak. In short, Re-Animatoris horror royalty. If you’re a horror fan, watch it again. If you’re new to the genre, here is one of the most enjoyable places to start.
As much a comedy as a horror film, Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow should always be on the table when discussing October viewing options. Unlike the TV show of the same name, this demented reimagining of Washington Irving’s classic short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” never forgets the selling point is to have them rolling in the aisles. And more than a few heads do just that.
As a film with the most varied and imaginative uses of decapitation, Sleepy Hollowcuts a bloody path across Upstate New York. In fact, despite its American setting, we might as well confess what Sleepy Hollow really is: a modern day Hammer horror movie.
Burton incorporates all of his favorite tropes here. The intentionally stuffy faux-British acting (even though all the characters are of Dutch descent); the exaggerated and formal clothing; more than a few heaving bosoms; and lots and lots of gore.
This film is so perfectly macabre and gleefully grotesque that you might even be forgiven for not noticing at first glance how dryly funny and deadpan a place Sleepy Hollow tends to be.
If you don’t know the ending yet for Rosemary’s Baby, let me promise you that it will scare the Hell out of you. Even if you do know it, this movie will not be any less than petrifying, lingering long after credits roll for any couple. Made before “jump scares” became ubiquitous with American horror in 1968, Roman Polanski presents a mystery film suffocating with dread and unspoken tension. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is the happy homebody for her self-centered thespian husband (John Cassavetes) when they move into an Upper West Side apartment with the nicest neighbors.
Plus, their building has history too, like a Devil worshipping warlock who was beaten to death by a mob at the turn of the century. It also has a lovely basement perfect for summoning demons for a little midnight rape. This movie is meant to be savored and slowly unpacked, and when you find the newborn sleeping underneath all those blankets—you’ll wish you never laid eyes on it or this movie. Isn’t that the point of horror?
Let the Right One In
Is this the finest vampire movie of the last decade? Probably. While some might be more familiar with the English language remake, Let Me In (which is also quite good), there’s no denying the ice cold, skin crawl of the original. Eerily quiet at times, stangely romantic, and with at least one completely out of left field laugh, Let The Right One Ingives you more than you ever knew you wanted out of the vampire genre.
What’s more, the most horrific moments deal less with vampirism and more with the lengths that Eli’s adult “handler” goes to to protect her (and himself) from identification. That ending should make you profoundly uncomfortable too.
When Stephen King once discussed his inspiration for writing The Shining, he recalled the time he discovered his young son had destroyed story notes in his office. “I could kill him,” King mused of his mindset in that moment. Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook likewise finds the darker side of parenting with the scariest film of 2014.
A horror movie that is ostensibly about what happens when a single, low-income mother discovers that her child’s nightmare boogeyman is real, there is genuinely realterror here that comes beating from the darker side of her “Babadook” heart. While a loving son, there is no denying that the film’s young Samuel is a “problem child,” and through supernatural possession his mama has found a grim solution of sorts. When William Friedkin calls it the most terrifying horror movie he’s seen, you’re doing something right.
Another scary movie from 2014, Oculus also holds the title of being one of the most tragic in recent memory. Starring geek favorite Karen Gillan with a convincing American accent, this horror film plays like a particularly grim opera when two estranged siblings are reunited as adults after a decade’s distance.
Apparently on an ugly night 10 years ago, Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) killed his father to defend himself and his sister. However, Tim insisted that an evil mirror forced his father’s hand. For his honesty, Tim was locked up in a psychiatric ward while older sister Kaylie (Gillan) waited on the outside. As an adult, Tim knows that he was simply coping with a traumatic situation… but Kaylie suspects that some things are evil simply on their own. Including a mirror that can distort your perception of reality.
On the day Tim gets out, Kaylie reveals she has acquired the mirror that they once both believed took their parents’ souls. And now she wants to prove her theory right by destroying it. But the mirror has other plans for the wayward children. And they’re deliriously cruel.
You probably have had that moment: the one where you’re not sure if you can truly understand what your partner is thinking. Well, the greatly underappreciatedHoneymoon takes that sensation and amplifies it a thousand-fold for incredibly icky, body horror results.
Essentially flipping the script from Rosemary’s Baby, Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie (of Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones fame, respectively) are visiting the bride’s family lake house as a honeymoon retreat. They weren’t planning on going outside much anyway. However, perhaps they should, as things get a bit tense once Treadaway’s Paul finds Bea (Leslie) walking naked in the woods at night, completely catatonic at first. After that things get weird.
Even if you have a rough idea where Honeymoon is going from that point on, the slow burn will still eventually get under your skin. As the husband realizes he has no idea what’s going on in his wife’s pretty head, you start to second guess even your best theories. And then things enter the realm of the truly fucked up for the finale.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas movie, not a Halloween movie. The 1993 movie is based on a poem by Tim Burton and directed by start-stop animation wizard Henry Selick. The music was written by Danny Elfman, who sings the part of Jack Skellington. Chris Sarandon (Dog Day Afternoon, Fright Night) does the speaking voice. Catherine O’Hara (After Hours, Best In Show) plays Sally, the rag doll created to keep William Hickey’s mad scientist company, but who loves Jack. Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee plays a trick or treater loyal to the Boogie Man.
Skellington discovers a portal from Halloween Town to Christmas Town and decides to exchange gifts. The voices are wonderful. The songs are perennial. You can watch this with your kids when they are infants to get away from whatever kiddie shows they’re supposed to be watching. You become a kid again. It is that transformative.
Of the first of three theatrical films that Clive Barker would direct himself, Hellraiserwould go on to warrant eight sequels and create one of the most notorious horror franchises of all time. That said, this isn’t about the sequels. Part of the beauty ofHellraiser is how little we actually know about what is going on. While later tales would explain the origins of Pinhead and his Cenobites, the first film leaves this up to interpretation.
Hellraiser focuses on the relationship between Julia and Frank, not on the Cenobites’ interference (well, not until the end anyway). The first film is not the broad battle against evil the later installments would be, but an incredibly unique haunted house story. A corrupt romance growing ever more so. Sex and violence mixed with blood and guts. With a budget of roughly $1 million, Barker is able to craft a tale far more interesting and disturbing than better funded projects, the sequels included. Pain and pleasure, indivisible.
Mixing horror and comedy is not necessarily an original notion, but few have done it better than this hilariously meta-slasher. The definitive horror flick of the 1990s, this kick-off to the Scream series proved that even that era’s scary movies had to be happily self-aware. But none were as funny—or menacing—as this first 1996 installment from Wes Craven.
Featuring the genre’s first completely self-sufficient and heroic survivor girl (Neve Campbell), Scream also boasts a slew of other firsts, including the film nerd (Jamie Kennedy) who’s seen this all before at the multiplex and video store. Not that it will necessarily help him to look behind the couch at the most crucial moments. Yet, the best aspect is still undeniably the movie’s first 10 minutes, which is a beautiful short of playful banter collapsing into nihilistic despair with a gutted Drew Barrymore gasping through a slit throat to her parents on the other end of a telephone call.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a fantastic little satire on the horror genre that, in a similar fashion to Scream, is packed with laughs, gore, and a bit of a message. When a group of preppy college students head out to the backwoods for a camping trip, they stumble upon two good-natured good ol’ boys that they mistake for homicidal hillbillies.
Their quick, off-the-mark judgment of Tucker and Dale lead to these snobs getting themselves into sticky, often bloody, and hilariously over-the-top situations. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil rides a one-joke premise to successful heights and teaches audiences to not judge a book by its cover.
Scream, a movie based around the predictable patterns of ’80s slasher films, found itself in an amusing spot. With the blockbuster success of the film, obviously the studio wanted a sequel; the kind of decision that had diluted the genre in the first place. Though many felt this was a betrayal to Williamson and Craven’s original, the truth is that Williamson had begun working on it the same weekend he scripted the first film.
While not as strong as its predecessor, Scream 2‘s continued commentary on the genre is welcome, as is its often comedic dialogue and wacky twists. Nearly 20 years later, the film stands as a great period piece for the genre; it just bleeds ’90s. They even got Robert Rodriguez to shoot the fake movie within the movie, Stab. Though it exhibits a few plot holes and the twists can be hokey at times, Scream 2 is and was important to the continuing popularity of the slasher genre.
The Silence of the Lambs
Although Thomas Harris’ human monster, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, was introduced to moviegoers in Manhunter four years earlier (and ably portrayed by Brian Cox), it was this 1991 adaptation of Harris’ novel and Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning personification of the demonic Lecter that turned him into a cultural icon. But Jonathan Demme’s Best Picture winner is about more than Hannibal the Cannibal: it’s about the evil that lurks not just behind the eyes of a thing like Lecter, but behind the closed doors of any modest home anywhere in the world.
It’s also about the mundane, everyday evil of sexual objectification, as experienced by every woman in the film, starting with FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). It’s about all the different forms that evil can take, and for that alone it’s still an unsettling and superb hybrid of horror and police procedural.
Is Patrick Bateman an American Psycho because of his meticulous grooming, perpetual snobbery, and misogynistic treatment of women, or because of, oh say, that fetish for ax murdering? Maybe he’s just bug nuts simply for being a guy that thinks Phil Collins and Huey Lewis are the most talented songwriters of the ‘80s? It’s a tough call.
What’s not a tough call is saying that Christian Bale’s creepy tour de force performance as Bateman, and the shape Bale got in to portray the part, based on the character from Bret Easton Ellis’s novel of the same name, is as astonishing as it is unsettling. One part slasher and one part comedy of manners, American Psycho is a new American horror classic.
Night of the Living Dead
You wouldn’t have The Walking Dead and all the other zombie mayhem you’ve enjoyed over the years if it wasn’t for this little film, which was made for around $70,000 back in 1968 by Pittsburgh-based director George A. Romero and a gang of nine friends. The modern zombie genre all leads back to this film, and the best part is that the movie still has the power to terrify and unnerve, thanks to its handmade feel, its bleak atmosphere, and the low-budget esthetic which actually works in its favor.
It may not be as shocking as it was back in 1968, but it is still one of the landmarks of horror cinema.
While we wouldn’t call this one a horror film per se, The Crow is definitely a twisted revenge tale with some very dark moments. Based on a celebrated comic book, the movie’s premise is a bit out there: a dead musician named Eric Draven is brought back from the dead by a supernatural crow so that he can avenge the rape and murder of his fiance. Draven sinks deeper into the seedy underworld of Detroit on Devil’s Night, taking out the thugs that ended his life in gruesome ways.
It is a real artistic gem, too, full of gothic spirit and an awesome soundtrack to boot. Brandon Lee, who tragically died in an accident during filming, gives an inspired performance as Draven.
The Devil’s Rejects
If you haven’t seen The Devil’s Rejects yet, do so immediately. We don’t care what you think about Rob Zombie’s other movies. Chances are we agree with you about most of them! But Zombie somehow made very special schlock in this exploitation throwback to ‘70s grindhouse horror movies. And we do mean grindhouse. There are no glaring winks or nudges.
The movie picks up after House of 1000 Corpses, Zombie’s debut film (and shall we say “homage” to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre?). But this film is nothing like that one. Instead of following victims waiting to be tortured to death by a psychotic inbred family, it is the said inbred family of serial killers who have been victimized. Discovered and on the run, the film is a grotesque road trip movie that proves just as brutal as the Texas sun is on that paved street.
The movie dares you to root for monsters with no other real point of empathetic entry. Their victims are exactly that—passing bodies to be defiled. Yet, there is bizarre humanity to be found in this nightmare for three cult killers. And if you think they’re driving off into the sunset, you’ve got another bloody thing coming.
Cannibals get a bad rap. It’s nothing personal; they just need your energy to come closer to realizing their potential as mystic gods. That’s certainly the operating logic inRavenous, a delicious slice of juicy horror-comedy.
In one of the most unlikely of genre mash-ups, Ravenous starts out as a period piece not that far removed from Dances with Wolves when Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is assigned to a desolate outpost by the U.S. cavalry in the 19th century. And there, he will meet a drifter (Robert Carlyle) who brings tales of cannibalism and survival in the wilderness. But as they approach where the incident occurred, it turns out there was no survival at all.
As horror derived from a comedy of manners, this is the sweetest tasting movie about consuming human flesh you’re likely to ever come across.
Normally, we do not condone putting remakes on lists. However, not all remakes reinvent nightmares so precisely as Maniac, a 2012 redo of a 1980s cult classic. Only now things are taken a shade creepier.
The story of a man who likes skinning women and turning them into fleshy mannequins, it’s already a nasty premise. But when the remake is shot almost entirely from a first person POV camera angle, so that you are visibly watching him slaughter and scalp these young women, some still alive as the flesh begins to peel… well voyeurism was taken to a whole new level.
Ironically casting Elijah Wood as the killer whose face we barely see, prepare to study Frodo’s hands a lot as he tackles this very gruesome and unglamorous role of a mass murderer. The effect is not subtle. You are being placed inside the shoes of a serial killer with the implicit acknowledgement that you on some level want to see and revel in the slaughter as much as that of our protagonist. It’s cinematic shaming in the horror genre at its best.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
In the Iranian ghost town of Bad City, there is a girl who walks alone at night. But if you should venture to speak with her, you might regret finding out why.
This wonderfully surreal film from Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour should bridge differences with its implicitly lascivious nature. A young man who is forced to walk a depressing and desolate street because his father is a heroin addict finds himself enamored with a young woman whose black cape might be a shroud for all the corpses she leaves in her wake. It’s clever, occasionally romantic, and completely subversive of both real-life cultures and their vampiric alternatives. Celebrate the year’s good news by sinking your teeth into this holiday treat.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
For some unfathomable reason, Netflix chose to remove the original Nightmare on Elm Street, by far the most atmospheric of the series, from its rolls on October 1st, the very day that kicks off horror movie season. While you could content yourself with the spectacularly homoerotic (but vastly inferior) Nightmare on Elm Street 2, you’re better off reflecting on the entire franchise with this documentary.
Never Sleep Again isn’t just a title. Make sure not to start this one too late in the evening, because it’s a whopping four hours long, which is to be expected since it has eight movies to cover (the 2010 remake is thankfully ignored). While we might be cheating just a little bit by including this, four hours detailing the genesis of horror’s most genuine supervillain is just too good to pass up in October.
But if all else fails, rest assured nothing beats a classic. And that is exactly whatNosferatu is—the classic vampire film. As the unofficial 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this German Expressionist masterpiece was almost lost to the ages when the filmmakers (not unfairly) lost a copyright lawsuit with Stoker’s widow. As a result, most copies were destroyed. Yet a precious few survived, and now it can be viewed on Netflix of all things!
This definitive horror movie from F.W. Murnau might be a silent picture, but it is a haunting one where vampirism is used as a metaphor for plague and the Black Death sweeping across Europe. When Count Orlock comes to Berlin, he brings rivers of rats with him and the most repellent visage ever presented by a cinematic bloodsucker.
The sexy vampires would come later, starting with 1931’s more polished vision of Count Dracula as legendarily played by Bela Lugosi, but Max Schreck is buried under globs of makeup in Nosferatu and closer resembles an emaciated cadaver.
Murnau plays with shadow and light to create an intoxicating environment of fever dream repressions. But he also creates the most haunting cinematic image of a vampire yet put on screen. Check it out.
And Happy Halloween.