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Updated for October 2020
Amazon Prime’s selection of horror movies is as extensive as it is terrifying. What’s more, they have a significant selection of both new and old/classic films for your scary pleasures. So we’ve compiled our picks of the best scary movies to watch on Halloween (or any other time) on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Now, pour yourself a glass of something good and dig your fangs in to our list of the best horror movies you can watch on Amazon Prime Video.
One of the better recent found-footage efforts takes a ghastly turn when one of the filmmakers wakes up foaming at the mouth with his eyeballs rolling back in their sockets. He can also suddenly run faster than a car speeding in a school zone. Diagnosis: vampirism.
There is no cure for the undead except feeding on human blood (especially child molesters). That epic travel blog they were planning is going to be supernaturally epic.
Watch Afflicted on Amazon (US Only)
Writer and musician Craig Zahler made his feature directorial debut with this grim, ultra-violent and unique hybrid of the Western and horror genres — two great tastes, etc.
Kurt Russell is outstanding as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, who must lead a posse into the wilderness to rescue three people from a brutal tribe of Indians who may not even be human as we know it. The grisly confrontation that ensues is not for the squeamish. Zahler gets the period details and the horror right, while the rest of his excellent cast includes Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and others.
Turns out that Reynolds’ character is a contractor working in Iraq, abducted and buried by an insurgent kidnapper who has left him a cellphone. While the abductor calls to demand a ransom, Reynolds attempts to contact the outside world — with director Rodrigo Cortes never leaving the confined space of the coffin. What’s amazing is how well he and Reynolds pull this exercise in storytelling economy off.
The Cabin in the Woods
A remote cabin in the woods is one of the most frequently occurring settings in all of horror. What better location for teenagers to be tormented by monsters, demons, or murderous hillbillies? Writer/Director Joss Whedon takes that tried and true setting and uses it as a jumping off points for one of the most successful metatextual horror movies in recent memory.
Like you would expect, The Cabin in the Woods features five college friends (all representing certain youthful archetypes, of course) renting a….well, a cabin in the woods. Soon things begin to go awry in a very traditional horror movie way. But then The Cabin in the Woods begins doling out some of the many tricks it has up its sleeve. This is a fascinating, very funny, and yet still creepy breakdown of horror tropes that any horror fan can enjoy.
City of the Living Dead
Italian horror director Lucio Fulci kicked off his famous “Gates of Hell” trilogy with this gruesome, crude but surreal 1980 gorefest, in which a reporter (Christopher George) and a psychic (Catriona MacColl) struggle to stop those gates from opening and letting a horde of hungry undead into the world.
Fulci loosely based the movie on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, vying for the latter’s brooding atmosphere while indulging in his own trademark splatter. The results are somewhat slapdash but a must-see for Italian horror fans. Followed by the much better The Beyond (1980) and House by the Cemetery (1981).
An uncategorizable but still horrific entry from the endlessly provocative French director Gaspar Noe (Irreversible), Climax starts off with — of all things — a lively, lengthy dance number in which an isolated dance troupe nails the erotic, exotic, physically demanding routine they’ve practiced for months.
But then someone slips an extremely potent drug into the punch during the party afterwards, and the tight-knit troupe turns into a raging mob of psychotics who tear, beat, and fuck each other to death. Another not-for-the-faint-of-heart film, Climax is perverse, macabre, and visceral — yet somehow alive even in the midst of all its morbidity.
Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner) has to battle both hungry alligators and relentlessly rising floodwaters in this punchy better-than-you-expected thriller from director Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D). Scodelario plays Haley, a college student who goes to check on her reclusive dad during the onset of a Category 5 hurricane and finds him injured in his basement just as nature runs all kinds of amok.
Our own Patrick Sproull said in his review that the movie delivers an “exhilarating shock to the system” and simply wants to “entertain the bejesus out of you,” which is all we want in these waning days of the Republic. Killer alligators and a deadly cyclone? It’s like two scary movies for the price of one.
The Crazies is a zombie movie without the undead. And that kind of makes sense given that it was written and directed by the zombie maestro, himself: George A. Romero.
1973’s The Crazies (there’s also a 2010 remake) tells the story of an experimental bioweapon called “Trixie.” There are only two possible results from exposure to Trixie: death or irreversible raving insanity. That’s rough. But what’s even worse is that Trixie is accidentally unleashed in Evans City, Pennsylvania, turning the small town into war zone where any neighbor could become violently insane at any moment.
Like his zombie works, Romero uses this creative horror/sci-fi concept to great satirical and symbolic effect.
Watch The Crazies on Amazon (US Only)
The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone strangely remains both one of Stephen King’s more underrated movie adaptations as well as one of director David Cronenberg’s more unsung efforts. Yet it ends up being among the best from both author and auteur, while also providing star Christopher Walken with one of his most moving, complex performances to date.
Walken’s Johnny Smith awakens from a coma to find out he’s lost five years of his life but gained a frightening talent to touch people and see both their deepest secrets and their future. Whether to use that power to impact the world around him is the choice he must face in this bittersweet, eerie and heartfelt film, which found Cronenberg moving away from his trademark body horror for the first time.
The Devil Bat
Ah, The Devil Bat. One of those infamous vampire movies that isn’t actually about vampires. But who the hell cares when it has Bela Lugosi in it, right?
But this poverty row production from 1940 features plenty of atmospherics, as well as a giant honkin’ bat, and that’s enough to set the mood on a chilly night. Especially if you’re indulging in adult beverages or contraband. If nothing else, just bow down to Bela.
Die, Monster, Die!
This was just the second feature film ever adapted from a story by H.P. Lovecraft, with movie producers eager to find other horror writers’ work to plunder after Roger Corman hit it big with his Edgar Allan Poe movies in the early 1960s.
This one is based on Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” which you may recognize as the title of a recent nutty Nicolas Cage movie also based on the same tale. Boris Karloff stars in this one, about a scientist who discovers that a crashed meteor begins to mutate all the plant and animal life around his home, including him and his wife. It’s kind of a slow burner but it does have its weird-ass imagery.
Watch Die, Monster, Die! on Amazon (US only)
The Exorcist III
Out of the many attempts to sequelize William Friedkin’s classic 1972 movie The Exorcist, this is the only one worthy of the original. William Peter Blatty, author of the original book, wrote a sequel novel called Legion and adapted and directed it himself for this chilling movie starring George C. Scott.
Scott plays Detective Kinderman (the role filled by Lee J. Cobb in The Exorcist), who investigates a series of murders that have connections to both the first movie’s exorcism and a spate of killings done years earlier by the now-dead Gemini Killer. Even with extensive studio-forced reshoots, Blatty has fashioned an eerie theological thriller, with one sequence that is a stone-cold classic of tension and shock.
Watch The Exorcist III on Amazon (US only)
A Field in England
2013’s A Field in England presents compelling evidence that more horror movies should be shot in black and white.
Directed by British director Ben Wheatley, A Field in England is a kaleidoscope of trippy, cerebral horror. The film takes place in 1648, during the English Civil War. A group of soldiers is taken in by a kindly man, who is soon revealed to be an alchemist. The alchemist takes the soldiers to a vast field of mushrooms where they are subjected to a series of mind-altering, nightmarish visions.
A Field in England is aggressively weird, creative, and best of all clocks in at exactly 90 minutes.
Watch A Field in England on Amazon (US only)
Frankenstein: The True Story
Well, not exactly. Originally presented as a two-part mini-series on NBC back in 1974, Frankenstein: The True Story takes plenty of liberties with Mary Shelley’s milestone novel. But it keeps the essence and atmosphere of the story intact, while taking it down some interesting new narrative paths.
The cast is sensational, led by Leonard Whiting as Dr. Frankenstein, Michael Sarrazin as the creature — who starts out beautiful and ends up degenerating into a monster — and especially James Mason as the Dr. Pretorius-like Polidori, named after one of Mary Shelley’s colleagues who was there when she began writing the novel. Frankenstein: The True Story is both macabre and lush, and deserves rediscovery.
Screenwriter-turned-director Tom Holland lets a jaded, smarmy vampire named Jerry Dandridge loose in suburbia and watches the blood spurt in this beloved ‘80s horror staple.
Chris Sarandon brings a nice combination of amusement and menace to the role of the bloodsucker, while Planet of the Apes veteran Roddy McDowall is endearing as a washed-up horror host recruited into a real-life horror show. Much of Fright Night is teen-oriented and somewhat dated, but it still works as a sort of precursor to later post-modern horror gems like Scream.
Between Hereditary and The Haunting of Hill House 2018 was a great year for turning familial trauma into horror.
Written and directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary follows the Graham family as they deal with the death of their secretive grandmother. As Annie Graham (Toni Collette) comes to terms with the loss, she begins to realize that she may have inherited a mental illness from her late mother…or something worse.
Hereditary is terrifying because it asks a deceptively simple but truly creepy question: what do we really inherit from our family?
Watch Hereditary on Amazon (US only)
The Hole in the Ground
Recent horror trends have stumbled across a universal truth: kids are very creepy. A24’s Irish horror film The Hole in the Ground makes great use of that truth.
The Hole in the Ground follows a woman named Sarah O’Neill who opts to leave her (likely abusive) husband and move out to the lonely Irish countryside with her son, Chris. Things are going well until Chris starts to exhibit some strange behaviors. Not only that, but an old woman in the village tells Sarah that her son “is not your son.” When that woman is found dead with her head in the dirt, Sarah is forced to confront that maybe little Chris isn’t her Chris after all.
Watch The Hole in the Ground on Amazon (US only)
The House of the Devil
Indie horror auteur Ti West’s low-budget creepfest is a homage to 1980s horror yet plays it straight; he sets out to make a movie with the feel of genre films from that era without making self-aware in-jokes and references — and he mostly succeeds.
But The House of the Devil is also the definition of a “slow burn”: very little happens for much of the first hour (save a jolt here and there) and then the third act explodes into a paroxysm of murder, gore and Satanic horror. That makes the film feel a little off-balance, although in the end it all becomes quite unnerving.
House on Haunted Hill
What would you do for $10,000? How about surviving a night in a mansion haunted by murder victims and owned by a psychotic millionaire? Seems like a party trick until people actually start dying.
Vincent Price is the master and mastermind of a house that suddenly makes everyone homicidal—but the real pièce de résistance is what dances out of a vat of flesh-eating acid.
Some vintage horror never dies, and this 1959 classic is immortal.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
One of a holy trifecta of remakes that actually improved on their predecessors (the other two are John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly), 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers hits that horror/sci-fi sweet spot with a cosmic premise, terrifying imagery and a nerve-rattling naturalism.
Director Philip Kaufman shifts the story from small-town California to San Francisco, while updating the metaphor from a warning against Communism to a cautionary tale of urban alienation. But in the end, watching those duplicates of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum ooze out of their alien pods is as terrifying as ever, making this a genuine classic of its time.
The Last House on the Left
Released in 1972, the directorial debut of the mighty (and sadly late) Wes Craven remains one of the most important horror films ever made. It helped kick off an era of horror cinema that tapped directly into the unrest of the late 1960s and 1970s, the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, the alienation between parents and children and the escalation of violence throughout the nation.
It also showed, in nauseatingly graphic fashion, what happens when you strip away the veneer of civilization from both the characters you are expected to despise and those you are supposed to like. The result is still a crude, disturbing and grueling experience that is genuinely not for everyone.
Whereas The Witch was an exercise in Puritan supernatural terror, The Lighthouse is more of a descent into watery psychological madness, seasoned with a heavy dollop of Lovecraftian horror. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are brilliant as the mentally crumbling guardians of the title structure, with the latter in particular giving a crazed performance for the ages.
Watch The Lighthouse on Amazon (US only)
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
This 1974 film is almost as famous for its many alternate titles (including Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) as it is for being one of the first worthy zombie films to come out in the wake of Night of the Living Dead six years earlier.
With its counter-culture protagonists and environmental message (the dead are brought back to life by a form of radiation used as a pesticide), Manchester Morgue tries to be as socially conscious as the Romero classic it emulates. But it’s all about the zombie mayhem as well — and in full color, no less. This cult classic deserves a place of honor in the pantheon of the walking dead.
It’s hard to categorize Midsommar, Ari Aster’s followup to his absolutely terrifying horror debut, Hereditary. Part straight up horror, part The Wicker Man, and part anthropological study, Midsommar seems to occupy many genres all at once. Aster himself called it a “break up” movie. But whatever genre Midsommar is, it is a brilliant, and at times deeply disturbing film.
Florence Pugh stars Dani, a young woman trying to heal in the wake of an enormous tragedy. Dani follows her boyfriend, Christian, and his annoying friends to an important midsummer festival deep in the heart of Sweden. Christian and company are there partly to get high and have fun and also partly to study the unique, isolated culture for their respective theses. To say that they get more than they bargained for is an understatement. But Dani may just end up getting exactly what she needs.
Horrors always lurk at the bottom of murky lakes, but the dead-eyed doll heads and evil statues staring from beneath the greenish surface of this one will have you begging Swamp Thing for mercy. That’s before some brutally disfigured orphans shamble out of the woods.
When Jenny visits her archaeologist father in Italy, long-drowned secrets start bubbling to the surface. To think, all this was supposed to be a vacation. Riccardo Paoletti’s directorial debut is worth checking out.
Night of the Living Dead
George A. Romero’s 1968 zombie classic The Night of the Living Dead messed up the minds of late ’60s moviegoers as much as it messed with every horror movie that followed. Shot on gritty black and white stock, the film captures the desperate urgency of a documentary shot at the end of the world. It is a tale of survival, an allegory for the Vietnam War and racism and suspenseful as hell freezing over.
Night of the Living Dead set a new standard for gore, even though you could tell some of the bones the zombies were munching came from a local butcher shop. But what grabs at you are the unexpected shocks. Long before The Walking Dead, Romero caught the terror that could erupt from any character, at any time.
They’re coming to get you. There’s one of them now!
Nothing beats a classic, and that’s exactly what Nosferatu is. As the unofficial 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this German Expressionist masterpiece was almost lost to the ages when the filmmakers lost a copyright lawsuit with Stoker’s widow (who had a point). As a result, most copies were destroyed…but a precious few survived.
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 making him resemble 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.
Watch Nosferatu on Amazon (US only)
Post-apocalyptic zombie fans won’t want to miss the love child of The Walking Dead meets 28 Days Later, now with amnesia. When a man who’s forgotten every fragment of his identity (Sharlto Copley) wakes up in a body pit crawling with pathogens, he scrambles out to fight a swarm of brain-craving undead along with five other amnesiacs.
It gets even more terrifying when the pieces of memory hiding in his flashbacks are unearthed.
War is terrifying enough as is. It doesn’t need the addition of Nazi super soldier zombies. Thankfully the J.J. Abrams-produced Overlord decided to include them anyway.
Overlord picks up on the eve of D-Day when a paratrooper quad is sent in behind enemy lines to destroy a German radio tower located in an old church. Their plane is shot down and only a handful survivors land. Those who do will soon discover that the horror has just begun.
Watch Overlord on Amazon (US only)
Hard to see in the U.S. since its 1989 release (it’s still not out here on DVD or Blu-ray for reasons unclear), Paperhouse was directed by Bernard Rose, who went on to make the equally acclaimed Candyman three years later.
But Paperhouse may be his masterwork. A young girl named Anna (Charlotte Burke) finds the line between reality and her dreams blurring, with her alcoholic father transforming into a frightening monster in the dream world. A slightly confusing ending doesn’t lessen the impact of this highly effective dark fantasy fable.
Pet Sematary (2019)
After the classic Stephen King novel of the same name and Mary Lambert’s 1989 movie, what could there possibly be left to say about Pet Sematary? Quite a lot actually! Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer breathe new life into this old tale…not unlike a certain “sematary” itself.
Jason Clarke stars as Louis Creed, an ER doctor from Boston who moves his family to rural Ludlow, Maine to live a quieter life. Shortly into their stay, Louis and his wife Rachel (Amy Semeitz) experience an unthinkable tragedy. That’s ok though as neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) knows a very peculiar place that can help.
Watch Pet Sematary on Amazon (US only)
Director and writer Don Coscarelli has said that this 1979 cult classic was inspired by a recurring dream — and we believe him, since Phantasm has the surreal, not-quite-there feel of an inescapable nightmare from start to finish.
With its bizarre plot about a funeral parlor acting as a front to send undead slave labor to another dimension, the iconic image of the Tall Man, killer dwarves and those deadly silver spheres, Phantasm was and is like no other movie of its era.
Watch Phantasm on Amazon (US only)
The Pit and the Pendulum
Following the success of his first Edgar Allan Poe movie starring Vincent Price, 1960’s The Fall of the House of Usher, director Roger Corman returned to Poe for a second serving, once again starring Price and also featuring horror queen Barbara Steele, with a script by Richard Matheson.
The movie gets off to a slow start and very little of the plot is derived from Poe’s moody short story, but the picture drips with Gothic atmosphere and saturated colors. Vincent Price gives another mesmerizingly over the top performance, and the final 20 minutes — where we finally see the title torture device swing into action — is worth the price of admission alone.
Watch The Pit and the Pendulum on Amazon (US only)
Another cult favorite from the late ‘80s, Pumpkinhead stars Lance Henriksen as a country store owner whose young son is killed by a bunch of teens on motorbikes. The grief-stricken dad consults with a local witch to get his revenge — and she assists him by summoning the monstrous title demon.
The directorial debut of makeup FX wizard Stan Winston, Pumpkinhead boasts one of the most memorable screen monsters of its time and a haunted performance by the great Henriksen (also notable is Florence Schauffler as the terrifying witch). But Winston’s direction itself is routine, causing Pumpkinhead to just miss being a true classic. It’s still a terrific Halloween watch.
Watch Pumpkinhead on Amazon (US only)
A Quiet Place
Thanks to a killer premise and excellent execution, A Quiet Place was one of 2018’s best horror movies and now it’s ready for a second life on streaming.
The film, directed by erstwhile Office star John Krasinski (who also stars in the project) follows the Abbott family as they try to survive a dangerous post-apocalyptic world. To make things even more difficult, however, the world is populated by blind creatures that also possess a devastatingly strong sense of hearing.
Father Lee and mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) try to protect their children from these monsters – all the while not making a sound. The formula of A Quiet Place is destined to be oft-repeated for a reason. Horror really works when you’re unable to scream.
Watch A Quiet Place on Amazon (US Only)
Season of the Witch
Bored Stepford-esque housewife Joan (Jan White) is stuck in a suburban bubble with an abusive husband when she meets a mysterious new neighbor (Virginia Greenwald) who practices witchcraft. Pretty soon, Joan is casting spells to have affairs with college boys half her age, suffering from Satanic nightmares that wake her up to grim reality, and initiated into her neighbor’s backyard coven.
Proof that you never know what really goes on behind white picket fences. Another fine bit of weirdness from George A. Romero.
Watch Season of the Witch on Amazon (US only)
Suspiria is not necessarily a remake of the 1977 Italian film of the same name so much as its inspired by it. And that makes sense, as the simultaneously vibrant and creepy tone of the original film is nigh impossible to replicate it. So this Suspiria goes in a bit of a different direction tonally.
Dakota Johnson stars as Susanna “Susie” Bannion, a woman who enrolls in a prestigious Berlin dance academy that also happens to be run by a coven of witches. As Susie climbs up the ladder of the Markos Tanz Akademie she comes to learn more about its secrets.
Roman Polanski, in addition to being a creep and outright sex criminal, has a grand fascination with apartments, directing an unofficial “Apartment Trilogy” with Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Tenant. And it’s not hard to see why. There is something a little strange about dozens if not hundreds of relative strangers all calling the same place “home.”
1976’s The Tenant is the culmination of Polanski’s obsession with communal living and in some ways is the creepiest. Polanski stars as Trelkovsky, a paranoid young file clerk who is on the verge of succumbing to the constant dread he feels. Things are exacerbated when Trelkovsky moves into a Parisian apartment and discovers the previous occupant killed herself. What follows is a tense and trippy exploration of fear itself.
Watch The Tenant on Amazon (US only)
Get ready for this epic-length (156 minutes!) story of possession and exorcism in a small village from director Na Hong-jin. Kwak Dowon stars as a cop who investigates a series of mysterious and violent deaths, only to discover that they have a supernatural cause that soon infects his family.
Despite odd moments of humor here and there, The Wailing is almost unremittingly bleak and its imagery is thoroughly unsettling. Deliberately paced and building an atmosphere of unspeakable dread, The Wailing is a standout of Asian horror.
Watch The Wailing on Amazon (US only)
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau garnered a ton of attention back in 2010 for this moody, low-key, character-driven study of a family of cannibals impacted by the death of its patriarch.
There’s no back story about how the clan became eaters of human flesh; they simply are, and the movie accepts that and focuses on the dilemma in front of them. That is more effective than spelling everything out. An English-language remake from director Jim Mickle (Stake Land) popped up in 2013.