Halloween never ends! Despite America’s penchant for spooky stuff during October, some people aren’t satisfied with reserving their demonic delights for just one month of the year. Netflix was once home to the greatest horror films ever made, but recently their curation has been slacking. Shudder, a newer site populated exclusively with horror content, has picked up the slack by making rare indie and foreign films available — but it’s missing a lot of classics.
Luckily, HBO Max has filled in the gaps by showcasing some of the greatest scary movies ever made. From sci-fi-inspired stories to barf-inducing torture-porn, we’re counting down the best horror films currently available on this amazing streaming service.
Sometimes credited with helping to reinvent the zombie movie genre and reinvigorate public interest in it, 28 Days Later was an unexpected success. Featuring new tropes such as fast-moving zombies, the film starred Cillian Murphy as a man who awakes from a coma to find that London is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, 28 days after it began.
The pulse-pounding sequel to 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later isn’t as good as the first film but its introduction is one of the best ever put to film when it comes to zombie horror. Taking place, well, 28 weeks after the events of the original, this film is still full of thrilling horror, as well as an ending that will leave you craving a sequel.
Truly terrifying when it was first released and absurdly campy for modern times, The Blob premiered in 1958 and was a hit with audiences, not so much with the critics. If you’re a fan of old movies and love horror, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better B-movie than this one.
The movie that launched an over $2 billion franchise, The Conjuring, starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as married paranormal investigators, immediately captivated audiences and was also a hit with critics. It has since launched a franchise that includes eight films with two of them being direct sequels to The Conjuring.
Sam Raimi’s classic and gory masterpiece, The Evil Dead introduced the world to Ash Williams, who has become somewhat of a cultural icon. This movie is, without a doubt, the most straight-up horror movie in the franchise and is truly terrifying even to this day.
The first entry on our list that falls under the “teen horror” subgenre, Final Destination sees a group of teenagers attempt to cheat death after escaping its clutches on a plane. As they slowly are killed one by one in gruesome ways, they begin to wonder if death will simply catch up with them all.
Loosely based on a true story about a Long Island family driven from their newly purchased home by malicious phantoms, the original Amityville Horror is surprisingly unsettling. There’s been endless debate about the reality of the claims made by the original supernaturally-plagued clan, but the movie’s impactful either way. Despite bad reviews upon its release, Amityville is widely considered a classic these days. (A 2005 remake of Amityville is also available on HBO Max, but it’s absolutely not worth watching.)
For die-hard Alien fans, AvP is an absolute abomination: this non-canonical fantasy totally obliterates the carefully crafted mythos of Ridley Scott. But if you take the xenomorph fables a little less seriously, Alien Vs Predator is a fun, bloody romp with cute easter eggs throughout and lots of silly ultra-violence. (By the way: the film’s tagline — “Whoever wins, we lose” — is absolute genius.)
Cronenberg’s bizarre brand of body horror is taken to a logical conclusion with this psychedelic, psychological, and apocalyptic thriller. We won’t spoil the film’s nauseating final scenes but we’ll warn you that they’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen — unless you’ve been perusing the darkest depths of the horror genre for a while.
In the mood for a more comedic take on a horror movie? Enter Freaky. Comedy legend Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton star in this slasher film which sees Vaughn portraying a serial killer that accidentally swaps into the body of Kathryn Newton’s character. It’s a hilarious and scary romp that you’re all but guaranteed to enjoy.
A subversive satire that was controversial upon release for perceived political biases, The Hunt sees a group of kidnapped people being hunted for sport. As much a satire as it is a thriller, The Hunt is an intriguing film that is more than worth a watch.
A movie that is loosely based on the book of the same name, I Am Legend stars Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville, a scientist who is the last survivor of a zombie plague living in New York City, and possibly the last human alive on Earth. He spends his days trying to find a cure in a last-ditch effort to save humanity.
Arthouse horror fans have likely studied every allegorical frame of David Lynch’s earliest masterpiece, Eraserhead. It’s not a conventional movie by any means, but Lynch’s thorough understanding of the cinematic structure of nightmares is fully realized in this surrealist classic about a father that’s terrified of his deformed child.
New Nightmare is technically the seventh film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. One might assume there’s no new territory to cover, but Craven inserts himself into the film as a protagonist, turning the series into a metacommentary on horror cinema rather than a conventional slasher.
Much like Alien vs Predator, if you’re a horror die-hard who cares about canonicity, Freddy vs Jason isn’t for you. Campy pleasures abound in this unapologetically stupid crossover. Kelly Rowland (yes, from Destiny’s Child) serves a series of classic early 2000’s looks while watching her friends get butchered by these beloved villains.
After endless spinoffs, reboots, adaptations, and sequels, it’s hard to imagine how impactful the original Godzilla truly is. Yes, it comes off as campy nowadays — but as a reflection of post-WWII nuclear anxieties, it’s a lot more cerebral than it’s usually given credit for. Besides, considering the technical limitations of that time, it’s a gorgeously crafted Kaiju creation.
What can be said about Gremlins 2 that Key and Peele didn’t already cover in their infamously zany sketch about this unimaginably goofy film? Electricity gremlin: it’s in the movie! Spider gremlin: it’s in the movie! Hulk Hogan: he’s in the movie! Gremlins 2 is a hat on top of a hat on top of a hat: the movie is an exercise in over-abundance and has even become the subject of academic analysis for its strangely incisive dystopian setting — despite it having almost nothing to do with the original movie that spawned it.
Haxan is a 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film that documents the cultural understanding of witchcraft throughout history. It sounds pretty dry, but the makeup, styling, and special effects are absolutely stunning and — occasionally — extremely funny. Haxan has become a cult classic amongst occultists for its shocking depictions of demonic dealings.
Another modern remake, this version of The Invisible Man focuses on Elisabeth Moss’ character Cecilia who is being hunted by her abusive boyfriend who has somehow figured out a way to make himself invisible. As she slowly begins to unravel the mystery, she fights back, vowing to stop him at all costs.
The modern reboot of the Stephen King classic, 2017’s It portrays a shapeshifting monster that most frequently takes the form of a killer clown who terrorizes a town in Maine. As people begin dying, a group of kids decides to fight back and protect the ones they love.
The follow-up to It, It: Chapter 2 marks the return of the original group of kids, who 27 years after the events of the first film, return to Derry, Maine after Pennywise resurfaces. They vow to defeat him once and for all by joining forces again to combat the malevolent presence.
Horror musicals aren’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but lovingly detailed puppetry from the Jim Henson Company and an absolutely enthralling performance by Ellen Greene elevate this adorable musical out of the realm of kitsch. The music is certainly a bit schmaltzy but it’s impossible to finish the film without getting at least one stuck in your head.
The 1980s horror classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the first on-screen appearance of slasher icon Freddy Krueger. It is also one of Johnny Depp’s earliest on-screen roles, so if you haven’t seen this cinematic classic, you’re in for a treat.
With the exception of Hideaki Anno’s politically dense Shin Godzilla, Mothra Vs. Godzilla is the standout spinoff of the original kaiju film. The mythos surrounding the eponymous winged monster is endearingly complex — and there’s something ineffably glamorous about the insectoid titan and her colorfully-dressed adherents.
For a time, John Waters’s Multiple Maniacs was absolutely impossible to find. Luckily, Criterion snatched up a rare print of this perverted classic, and their gorgeously rendered restoration is a filthy treat. The ludicrously glamorous drag queen Divine embarks on a series of stomach-churning misadventures in this midnight movie — until a lesbian experience in a church transforms her from a raunchy madame into a pious worshipper of a deranged god. Waters’ unabashed queerness and putrid charm shine through every shot of this psychotic ode to lewdity.
George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is considered the first zombie movie ever made and is one of the rare horror films from that time period to feature a Black male protagonist. That casting choice smartly changes the entire context of the movie — especially its depressing conclusion. Both historically important and hauntingly shot, Night of the Living Dead is a groundbreaking horror movie that deserves the veneration it’s received since its release in 1968.
Tobe Hooper and Steven Speilberg’s unexpected team-up in 1982 wound up producing one of the most iconic American films ever made. Big budget special effects bring this ghost story to life, but amazing performances from the entire cast give the movie a real emotional core. Besides, who can resist a horror film with a reputation for being actually cursed?
Thomas Harris’s Hannibal tetralogy, detailing the unthinkable crimes of the fictional cannibal Dr. Lecter, has been spun off into an extremely profitable franchise of films and TV shows. Red Dragon, a prequel to Silence of the Lambs, explores the psychological turmoil of Detective Will Graham as he attempts to solve a serial killing with the aid of the series’ nefarious maneater. Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins create a gripping air of suspense throughout, but the sickening love story at the center of the film is really where Harris’s excellent plotting and emotional sophistication shine through.
Another entry that is a remake of an earlier film, Thir13en Ghosts follows a group of people trapped inside a haunted mansion that is full of, you guessed it, 13 ghosts. It isn’t the best movie on the list. but is carried by its cast and provides some quality scares along the way.
At this point, Scanners is better known as the source of the infamously graphic exploding head gif than for its actual artistic merit. Cronenberg’s twisted sci-fi horror movie, about telekinetically gifted humans being hunted by a shadowy mega-corporation, was given middling reviews upon its release in 1981, but the movie’s use of extremely gruesome special effects and its oddly prescient dystopian setting has garnered the movie a cult following in the ensuing decades.
“Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill.”
Equal parts horror and superhero movie, Wesley Snipes takes on his iconic role of a vampire hunter in Blade. Fighting vampires while possessing the powers of a vampire himself, Blade is a ton of fun and also scratches that horror itch as well.
A whole lot of movies go by the title of The Mummy, and this iteration is the 1959 classic. Starring cinematic legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, The Mummy shares plot threads with other versions of this character but is definitely a must-watch for any horror fan.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made — regardless of genre. Stephen King continues to loathe the auteur’s hyper-stylish interpretation of his novel, but let’s face it — this is one of the rare instances where the movie’s a lot better than the book. Shelly Duval and Jack Nicholson are a match made in hell, playing a married couple driven mad by isolation and resentment while caretaking an abandoned hotel during a snowstorm. But is the Overlook haunted — or are they both going insane?
In Corpse Bride, an effete aristocrat finds himself unwittingly betrothed to an undead beauty. The amount of work that went into creating every second of this lushly animated stop-motion film is hard to fathom: every shot is so densely detailed and beautifully composed that the movie’s somewhat corny, kid-friendly plot is easy to ignore in favor of the astonishing artistry. Burton’s idiosyncratic vision of the afterlife remains both adorable and strikingly original.
When Twin Peaks ended in 1991, fans were left on a total cliffhanger. A few years later, David Lynch returned to his mysterious fictional town with a movie that ostensibly serves as a prequel for the show — although absolutely nothing is clarified or explained in this deeply terrifying film. Meditating on protagonist Laura Palmer’s immense suffering, Fire Walk With Me explores the psychological impact of sexual trauma through an indecipherably surreal lens.