Halloween is the perfect time to curl up on the couch, switch off the lights, and scare yourself with some good old-fashioned horror movies. And you don’t even have to waste time thinking about what to watch. MakeUseOf has your back, with a little help from Netflix.
You can forget about the best sites to watch horror movies for free. Netflix has some bone-chilling choices you can stream completely legally. And just so that you don’t have to spend time searching, we’ve put together a list of scary screen fodder just for you.
1. The Exorcist
There may be a new TV series which share the same name, but the original 1973 film is what everyone refers to when they think of The Exorcist. With good reason too, as this horror classic is a must-watch movie. It’s not only one of the best horror films ever made, but an important moment in cinema history.
The Exorcist tells the story of a girl whose body has been possessed by a demon. Her mother then calls two priests to perform an exorcism. It’s a simple plot, but the movie has iconic scenes and horror setups that served as templates for future filmmakers. In this day and age, the special effects seem a bit cheesy, but the atmospheric tension will still elicit goosebumps.
2. The Rite
For most of us, Anthony Hopkins will always be Hannibal Lecter. However, that’s not his only horror outing. Hopkins recently starred in The Rite as a senior member of the Catholic church, specializing in exorcisms.
Where The Exorcist is about the ritual itself, The Rite asks religious questions. Based on a true story, it follows the path of a young priest who goes to Rome when his faith is questioned. There, he meets Hopkins and starts working for him as they exorcise demons who possess humans. As you’d expect, Hopkins shines in this film, which is more atmospheric horror than the frights and jump scares of The Exorcist.
Roberto Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, the infamous duo behind Grindhouse, first collaborated many years ago. What they produced is one of the best cult films to watch on Netflix.
From Dusk Till Dawn features two bank robbers and a family caught in a desolate strip joint. Little do they know that this joint is a vampires’ nest. When the sun goes down, everyone except them turns into a vampire, hungry for their blood. They need to band together and survive until dawn.
Clive Barker is a legend in the world of horror films. His greatest creation can be streamed on Netflix right now. With nine films in the full franchise, it’s high time you dived into Hellraiser.
The movie introduces monsters called cenobites, that would be used by Barker in several other films and novels. They take on the corposes of mutilated humans, with the most famous of them being their leader, Pinhead. The plot is about the resurrection of a man named Frank and how a girl called Kristy tries to help him. But really, the frights are all about the cenobites and Pinhead. Once you finish with it, queue up Hellraiser 2 and any other sequels you can find for a binge-watching marathon.
Unfortunately, Netflix does not have two of the classic movie monsters, Freddy (from A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Jason (from Friday the 13th). But there’s some consolation in the form of Chucky, the terrifying doll from the Child’s Play franchise.
Curse of Chucky is the newest installment, and is directed by the writer of the original Child’s Play. In the film, Chucky torments the family of a wheelchair-bound woman. It’s the same old setup of suspecting the doll, realizing it’s the doll, and then fighting the doll. But Curse of Chucky is much better than the few flops in the franchise, and goes back to its plain old horror roots. Keep your kids away from this one.
Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name, Children of the Corn is one of the creepiest films you’ll ever watch. Let’s be clear, it’s not a good film, nor is it horrifying. But the “creepiness” is dialed up to 10.
In a small rural town, a boy convinces all of the other children to murder each and every adult. After they finish the massacre, they follow the boy’s every word. And he, in turn, follows the word of a supernatural force, known only as “He Who Walks Behind The Rows”. When a young adult couple ride into town looking for help, they’ll need to do everything in their power to stay alive.
Stephen King has never been short of horrifying ideas that will keep normal people up at night. When he is not battling for his life against undead authors, he is writing some of the best horror books out there. If you’re already scared of dogs, or want to be scared of your own dog, watch Cujo.
There is nothing supernatural about Cujo. It’s the story of a playful and happy St. Bernard (named Cujo), who gets bitten by a rabid bat and goes crazy. And we’re talking murderous crazy. No one is safe from Cujo, as his potential victims also battle the testing conditions of a hot day in rural America.
8. The Hole
Three kids in a small American town discover a trapdoor in their basement. Now, if you’ve ever watched a horror movies before, you know you shouldn’t be opening mysterious trapdoors. But where would horror movies be without at least one character making a horrible mistake?
Opening the trapdoor causes a series of mysterious events. The three children are taken into another world full of their greatest fears, which they must fight to survive. The Hole is an exploration of fears, and relies on building a spooky world that will always have you fearing the worst lies around every corner.
V/H/S/2 earned a spot in our list of the best jump-scare movies on Netflix, but the original belongs here. V/H/S is a collaborative film between six directors, each working on a short story, all of which come together for a single narrative.
What’s striking about the film is that the directors don’t opt for cheap frights. Instead, they try to put characters in situations which build atmospheric tension. And since there are multiple directors, you get multiple styles too. Four of the six short stories will make you want to put your hands over your eyes and peep out through your fingers.
10. The Awakening
There’s something about olde-worlde England that is downright spooky. The Awakening is set in the British countryside in the 1920s. Old-time English estates and foggy moors don’t need much help to be frightening. But The Awakening is almost over-eager to help.
Rebecca Hall plays a writer who debunks supernatural theories. She is soon called to an old stately home, which is now a school for boys. Apparently the ghost of a student has been haunting all the children there. At the estate, a series of strange events lead to Hall questioning everything she has always believed. And there’s a twist in the tale too.
Pontypool is one of the freshest horror movie ideas you’ll ever see. Set in a small town in Ontario, Canada, it’s all about a zombie-like outbreak. Only this time, it’s regular living people going crazy.
A strange virus has spread in the city. A radio DJ and his co-workers are the only ones who seem unaffected. The virus infects people when they hear one particular word, which causes them to go crazy and try to kill others around them. As the number of infected victims grows, can the radio crew hold out until help arrives?
12. Let Us Prey
Let Us Prey is probably among the movies that passed you by in recent years. Which is a shame, as it deserves more attention than it gets. There’s something formulaic and familiar about the film, but in a good way.
A small Scottish town, a rookie policewoman, a night shift alone, and a motley crew of men behind bars… This has all the makings of a night of terror. It’s only made worse by Six, a mysterious man who brings out the worst in everyone present. Let Us Prey is much better than the ratings indicate, and as the top IMDb reviewer notes, everyone at least seems to love the climax of the film.
Not all horror needs to be about the supernatural, or even real. Some of the scariest things are all in our mind.
Kate is caught alone in the loft of her apartment during 2003’s great blackout in New York City. It’s one of those scary scenarios that all geeks fear. Dark is a much slower film than any of the others listed here, but that pace is deliberate. Kate already suffers from paranoia, and slowly starts unraveling. Is someone stalking her, or is she imagining it? Is she in danger from a stranger or from herself? The tension is palpable in this one.
What’s Your Favorite Halloween Movie?
Let’s step outside the restrictions of what you can stream on Netflix. If you had to pick just one film, any film, to watch on Halloween for a spine-curling, hair-raising, bone-chilling time, which one would you choose?
I’d probably go with Paranormal Activity. It’s the only movie I can remember that was frightening to sit through even when watching it a second time.
What about you? Please let us know in the comments below!