The best horror movies on Amazon Prime

The best horror movies on Amazon Prime

Clockwise from top left: First Reformed (A24); The Neon Demon (Broad Green Pictures); The Alchemist’s Cookbook (Oscilloscope); The Wailing (Well GO USA Entertainment); Creepshow 2 (Screenshot); Night Of The Living Dead (Screenshot); Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (Screenshot)
Clockwise from top left: First Reformed (A24); The Neon Demon (Broad Green Pictures); The Alchemist’s Cookbook (Oscilloscope); The Wailing (Well GO USA Entertainment); Creepshow 2 (Screenshot); Night Of The Living Dead (Screenshot); Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (Screenshot)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Streaming libraries expand and contract. Algorithms are imperfect. Those damn thumbnail images are always changing. But you know what you can always rely on? The expert opinions and knowledgeable commentary of The A.V. Club. That’s why we’re scouring both the menus of the most popular services and our own archives to bring you these guides to the best viewing options, broken down by streamer, medium, and genre. Want to know why we’re so keen on a particular movie? Click the author’s name at the end of each passage for more in-depth analysis from The A.V. Club’s past. And be sure to check back often, because we’ll be adding more recommendations as films come and go.

Some titles on this list also appear on our best movies on Amazon Prime list, but we decided horror films deserved their own spotlight since they are often not included on our year-end lists as much as other genres. The criteria for inclusion here is that (1) the film is classified by Amazon Prime as a horror film (so don’t shoot the messenger if you think something is misgenred here), (2) The A.V. Club has written critically about the movie; and (3) if it was a graded review, it received at least a “B.” Some newer (and much older) movies will be added over time as Amazon Prime announces new additions to their library.

Looking for other movies to stream? Also check out our list of the best movies on Netflix, best movies on Disney+, and best movies on Hulu. And if you’re looking to laugh, check out our list of the best comedy movies on Netflix.

This list was most recently updated Aug. 2, 2020.

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2 / 34

The Alchemist’s Cookbook

The Alchemist’s Cookbook

The Alchemist’s Cookbook
The Alchemist’s Cookbook
Photo: Oscilloscope

In many respects, The Alchemist Cookbook is a horror film, following the example of so many low-budget backwoods creepfests about ghouls and demons lurking among cracking branches and crinkly dead leaves. (Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead is the obvious reference.) As Sean, Gimme The Loot’s Ty Hickson gives what is very nearly a solo performance, ranting, guzzling soda, wolfing down Doritos, listening to The Smoking Popes and a warbly recording of “Jingle Bells,” sacrificing an unfriendly possum to evil forces. Like the protagonist of Buzzard, Sean is identified with George Miller’s Mad Max; he wears a stiff metal brace over his left leg, à la The Road Warrior. He is director Joel Potrykus’ poignant version of the loner in the wasteland, calling on unseen forces to get back at a world that is also unseen. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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3 / 34

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made

Shot on a budget of just $60,000 (coincidentally the same cost as its most obvious influence, The Blair Witch Project), Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made presents itself as a long-lost 1970s arthouse horror flick about two siblings digging a hole to hell. But screenwriter David Amito, who co-directed with Michael Laicini, also augments this supposedly recovered cult curiosity with bookending narration and a “legal notice” that recount the numerous suspicious deaths and injuries they claim have befallen anyone who’s watched the entire film. Antrum also overlays its footage with various spooky occult symbols and audio distortions, which—as the aforementioned narration informs us—may or may not be the work of whoever also happened to splice in quick glimpses of a gruesome snuff film. Keeping up so far? [Andrew Paul]

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4 / 34

Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

The affable anti-hero of the clever horror comedy Behind The Mask seems like a fun guy to grab a beer with, if not for his unfortunate aspiration to become a legendary mass murderer. To him, being a cinema-style serial killer is like being an Olympian, with a grueling training regimen that pays off in an adrenaline-pumping burst of glory. Like a heist movie, Mask spends much of its running time diligently laying the groundwork for the climactic crime, but there’s nothing arbitrary about the smart, funny, light-footed way the filmmakers handle the buildup. Here, getting there is much more than half the fun. [Nathan Rabin]

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5 / 34

Bringing Out The Dead

Bringing Out The Dead

Nicholas Cage
Nicholas Cage
Screenshot: Bringing Out The Dead

An uncompromisingly dark, expertly directed and acted film, Bringing Out The Dead relies less on the forward momentum of its story than its overall tone, an alternate version of New York as hell (or maybe purgatory) from the team behind Taxi Driver. The fact that it deals with a far less sociopathic variety of fragile psyches, and fails to build up to a similarly extreme climax, may make its impact less immediate. But it also makes its story more universal. Nicolas Cage stars as a New York City medic on the verge of burning out, a condition that’s compounded after he saves the life of former junkie Patricia Arquette’s father after not arriving soon enough to ensure that he won’t spend the rest of his life in a coma. Over the course of three nights, Cage is accompanied by three decidedly different fellow medics (John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore). Caught between life and death, Cage has no choice but to work, contemplate whether he’s doing the right thing, and wonder how much more he can take. [Keith Phipps]

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6 / 34

The Cabin In The Woods

The Cabin In The Woods

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: The Cabin In The Woods

Where Scream put a postmodern twist on slasher films, The Cabin In The Woods takes on the whole genre and twists even harder. Director Drew Goddard, screenwriter of Cloverfield and a veteran of Lost and Alias, co-wrote the film’s script with Joss Whedon, who worked with him on Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. The script brings to the fore Whedon’s love of subverting clichés while embracing them and teasing out their deeper meaning. [Keith Phipps]

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7 / 34

Citadel

Citadel

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Citadel

Early in Ciaran Foy’s thriller Citadel, a therapist tells the intensely agoraphobic Aneurin Barnard that if he carries himself like a victim, he’s more likely to be targeted by criminals. But it’s hard for Barnard to behave any differently. Almost a year ago, he helplessly watched through an elevator window while his pregnant wife was attacked and rendered comatose by hooded thugs; now, Barnard has a newborn baby to look after, in an impoverished neighborhood where there have been multiple kidnappings. He has every reason to be petrified. Citadel starts off in the tradition of such all-alone-and-paranoid suspense classics as Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, where every creaking floorboard and shifting reflection touches off a mild panic in the protagonist. Foy plays up the fear by finding the creep-out potential in every square foot of Barnard’s residence. His front door has frosted glass—the better to see amorphous figures lurking on the stoop—and a latch that won’t hold. The power in his neighborhood is faulty, and flickers out at inconvenient times. Meanwhile, his child cries constantly, especially when Barnard’s trying to hide from the murderous gangs that he knows are after him. Finally, Barnard decides to take the offensive, and Citadel becomes less quietly unnerving and more overtly horrific. [Noel Murray]

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8 / 34

Climax

Climax

Climax
Climax
Photo: A24

How does one classify a film as brilliantly deranged as Climax, Gaspar Noé’s all-out assault on the senses? It’s a profanely funny hangout movie that morphs, with scary speed, into a claustrophobic freak-out, a better Suspiria than the Suspiria remake. It’s an unholy club-banger musical, like a Step Up sequel set in the deepest circles of hell. And in its microcosmic vision of society in collapse, it might be the closest that Noé, French arthouse cinema’s “edgy” showboat extraordinaire, has ever come to actually saying something, to finding method in madness. [A.A. Dowd]

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9 / 34

Coherence

Coherence

Emily Foxler
Emily Foxler
Screenshot: Coherence

The minimalist sci-fi mindbender Coherence boasts a scenario as tried and true as the walking dead: Bickering individuals hole up in a house during a crisis, discovering that the threat looming beyond their walls may pale in comparison to the conflict happening within them. There’s a wrinkle in the design this time, however, and it’s that the characters are their own worst enemies not just in a figurative sense, but in a literal one, too. Confused? Writer-director James Ward Byrkit has the answers, and he’s not stingy about providing them. What separates his film from other exercises in Twilight Zone trickery is its refusal to play coy with a high concept. Unlike, say, the feature-length rug-pull The Signal, Coherence doesn’t get off on withholding. It would rather milk its premise for all it’s worth than stockpile secrets. The result is an uncommonly clever genre movie, reliant not on special effects—of which there are basically none—but on heavy doses of paranoia. [A.A. Dowd]

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10 / 34

Creepshow 2

Creepshow 2

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Creepshow 2

A direct extension of its EC Comics-inspired predecessor, Creepshow 2 is helmed by Michael Gornick but boasts a script based on stories by Stephen King and penned by the original’s director, George A. Romero. Tethered together by animated sequences featuring the pun-loving Creep (makeup whiz Tom Savini) and a young Creepshow comics fan named Billy (Domenick John) who’s dealing with some nasty bullies, this superior sequel offers three macabre tales marked by a mixture of silliness, salaciousness, gruesomeness, and ghost-story eeriness. The fun begins with “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” in which George Kennedy’s store owner in a dying Middle America town has his faith in people reconfirmed by a noble Native American chief. Such cheer, however, doesn’t last long, as he’s soon robbed and assaulted by the chief’s vain Hollywood-bound nephew (Holt McCallany), and is then avenged by his gigantic wooden Indian chief statue, which applies war paint and goes out scalping with his hatchet. [Nick Schager]

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11 / 34

Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers

A good boy
A good boy
Screenshot: Dog Soldiers

The impressive directorial debut of writer-director Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers has all the makings of a cult phenomenon: black humor, a genre-mashing plot, and an irresistible premise that pits agile super-werewolves against terrified military grunts. Dog Soldiers could easily coast on the ingenuity of its premise alone, but Marshall’s film has a lot to recommend it beyond its fusion of genres. Trainspotting’s Kevin McKidd leads a fine cast as a gifted, humane soldier sent to participate in war games against an elite special force. But the games soon take a backseat to survival, as McKidd and his band of grunts discover that their mock foes have been torn apart by a mysterious beast, leaving only the doomed troop’s sinister captain behind. Desperate to stay alive, they encounter sympathetic zoologist Emma Cleasby, who takes them to a house where they make a final determined stand against an enemy far fiercer than any they’ve encountered. Dog Soldiers walks a fine line tonally: With too much humor, the film might devolve into camp, but played too straight, the conflict between werewolves and dog soldiers risks becoming silly instead of suspenseful. Thankfully, Marshall finds an ideal mixture of comedy, suspense, and horror. Equally effective as a war movie and a horror film, Dog Soldiers’ cast and punchy script help turn its luckless soldiers into much more than interchangeable werewolf chow, and put an invigorating new spin on two of cinema’s most venerable genres. [Nathan Rabin]

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12 / 34

Excision

Excision

AnnaLynne McCord
AnnaLynne McCord
Screenshot: Excision

It’s hard to discuss what’s so amazing about Richard Bates Jr.’s offbeat teen horror picture Excision without talking about what happens at the end, which is predictable, but in the best way. The last five minutes or so of Excision is the gory, appalling, Vault Of Horror eight-pager that the entire film has been building to, and pays off all the weirdly beautiful gore effects that Bates has previously strewn throughout the film’s stylish dream sequences. Yet what makes Excision such an original is what precedes that payoff. AnnaLynne McCord (in a gutsy performance, at once monstrous and sympathetic) plays a pimply, gawky high-school senior who has sexy fantasies about mutilation and spends her spare time researching ways she can help her sister Ariel Winter, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. The whole movie is as body-conscious as its heroine, watching with real fascination as McCord pierces her own ears, sniffs her used tampons, and imagines herself crawling across naked men and women so that she can submerge herself in a gore-filled bathtub. Long before Excision turns into the story of an adolescent mad scientist and her sick scalpel skills, it’s already been a celebration of viscera. [Noel Murray]

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13 / 34

First Reformed

First Reformed

First Reformed
First Reformed
Photo: A24

The title of First Reformed, Paul Schrader’s best film in a very long time, refers to an old abolitionist church in upstate New York, a metaphor for Christianity’s neglected values. The First Reformed has no congregation to speak of, only visitors and tourists, and its care has fallen into the hands of a lost soul, the gentle, hollow-cheeked Rev. Toller (Ethan Hawke, in one of his most moving performances). He is God’s clinically depressed man—a former military chaplain, an alcoholic haunted by his son’s death in the Iraq War, privately humiliated by the example of Christ and the stern Dutch ministers who once hid runaway slaves under the floorboards of this small clapboard church. With the First Reformed weeks away from a reconsecration that’s being underwritten by an energy conglomerate, and his mental and physical health deteriorating, he nonetheless commits to keeping a dark secret: he’s been asked to hide an explosive vest that was found in the garage of a disturbed local man. Call it Chekhov’s suicide bomb. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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14 / 34

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins
Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins
Screenshot: Ginger Snaps

Proof that America doesn’t have a monopoly on pre-fab suburban hellpits, thedarkly funny Canadian horror film Ginger Snaps takes place in a town called Bailey Downs, which looks like a new development that just kept on developing. In this squeaky-clean environment, the Fitzgerald sisters, Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), are like a two-person trenchcoat mafia, given to wearing layers of dowdy clothes and isolating themselves in glowering secrecy. If they look to other kids like they’re always sharing some nasty, private joke, that’s because they usually are. Their biggest passion is for suicide fantasies. For a class project, they arrange a slideshow of gruesome tableaux—impalings by pitchfork and picket fence, a bathtub drowning, a classic hanging with an eerily stenciled note around the neck. They love to kick around moony scenarios about the awesomeness of their own deaths, and they even have a suicide pact (“Out on the scene and dead by 16, but together forever”), but it’s one thing to toe the line, and another to cross it. [Scott Tobias]

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15 / 34

Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Grave Encounter

Execution is everything in a found-footage horror movie, and execution is what makes Grave Encounters a worthy addition to the subgenre. The concept—a documentary crew enters an abandoned mental hospital in hopes of filming paranormal activity, only to get way more than they expected—goes beyond typical into the realm of cliché. The film opens with the same shots of the crew joking around and testing out their equipment you see in all found-footage horror movies, and the institution itself is so outrageously, exaggeratedly creepy—we’re talking bloody bathtubs and walls covered in the apocalyptic scrawlings of mental patients—that it’s hard not to chuckle. But the movie wants us to chuckle. Grave Encounters revolves around a very 2011 bit of meta-humor by making this particular documentary crew work for one of those cheesy pseudo-scientific cable reality shows, like Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures or Paranormal State or Psychic Kids: Children Of The Paranormal. [Katie Rife]

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16 / 34

Hellraiser

Hellraiser

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Hellraiser

Working with a modest budget, director Clive Barker created a bloody fairy tale complete with a wicked, if not quite evil, stepmother in the form of theater actress Clare Higgins. Playing the wife of ineffectual husband Andrew Robinson (Dirty Harry), Higgins barely hides her contempt as the two move into a family house once inhabited by Robinson’s hard-living, now-missing brother, with whom Higgins once had an affair. Thanks to supernatural forces, Robinson’s brother returns, sort of, as a skinless pile of organs that entreats Higgins to kill for him in an effort to flesh out his half-formed body. Meanwhile, Robinson’s scream-prone daughter (Ashley Laurence) begins to suspect that matters might be amiss, a suspicion confirmed by the arrival of four pale demons fitted out in bondage gear. One of these, a bald demon with nails pounded into his skull, has become the most enduring image of Hellraiser and its sequels, and rightly so. A deeply unsettling, S&M-inspired creature whose blurring of the division between pleasure and pain extends to a blurring of the division between good and evil, it neatly and instantly sums up some of Barker’s themes. Pinhead barely appears in Hellraiser, a film that, with its intense and uncomfortable family drama, might have even worked without him. With him, however, it becomes one of the most innovative and memorable horror films of the ‘80s, a middle ground between mainstream fare and the work of David Cronenberg, in its most powerful moments conjuring up the latter’s ability to make viewers feel uncomfortable in their own bodies. [Keith Phipps]

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17 / 34

Hereditary

Hereditary

Hereditary
Hereditary
Photo: A24

Of all the blood-curdling images conjured up by Hereditary, the most traumatically terrifying new horror movie in ages, one sticks out as particularly definitive: Toni Collette, face twisted into a grotesque grimace of fear, staring off screen at a ghastly something we’ll soon have the bad luck of laying eyes on too. Her recurring expression of fright and pain is more than just a perfect mirror, reflecting back the audience’s own mounting distress. It also captures, in shuddery microcosm, the tactics of this relentless, ingenious shocker, the way it builds its haunted house on a foundation of raw and ugly emotion. The real horror—a tempest of unspoken, unspeakable feeling—lurks behind the safer, faker kind, enhancing every macabre funhouse moment. [A.A. Dowd]

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18 / 34

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse
Photo: A24

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe have the kind of faces Norma Desmond waxed nostalgic about in Sunset Boulevard. Like all the stars of the silent era, they don’t need dialogue; a whole movie could be hung on the topography of their features, on what Pattinson does with those haunted eyes he used to fix on Kristen Stewart and how Dafoe uses that toothy goblin grin of his for mirth or menace. The Lighthouse, a monochromatic nightmare from the writer and director of The Witch, supplies both actors with plenty of dialogue—pages upon pages of outrageous sea-shanty vernacular. But it also knows when to let those interesting faces, ornamented with spectacular tufts of hair, do the talking for them. Very early on, the filmmaker, Robert Eggers, arranges them side by side in the frame by way of introduction. Staring right into the lens, they look starved and weary and American, as though they’ve walked straight out of an early, faded photograph. Or maybe we’ve walked into one, snapped on a lonely spike of seaside rock, circa a primeval yesterday of the 1890s. [A.A. Dowd]

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19 / 34

Midsommar

Midsommar

Midsommar
Midsommar
Photo: A24

Midsommar, a disturbing, ambitious, and unsettlingly colorful horror movie from the writer-director of Hereditary, unfolds within a remote village in northern Sweden, a land where the sun never completely sets. The place doesn’t look especially threatening, in its bucolic summer-camp splendor, and neither do its residents, a community of calm, welcoming, very… Swedish hippies, decked out in white frocks and garlands, smiles plastered perennially across their faces. Audiences will, of course, know to instinctively distrust them; in a horror movie about a cult, the true believers often come on friendly, the better to lure sacrificial lambs to the slaughter. But in Midsommar, that mask of holistic, New-Age-that’s-really-very-Old-Age congeniality never entirely slips, even when the bloodshed starts. And that’s a big part of the movie’s black magic, its spooky-queasy power: It makes madness look like an extension of the commune’s blissed-out worldview—a benevolent malevolence. [A.A. Dowd]

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20 / 34

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer
My Friend Dahmer
Photo: FilmRise

My Friend Dahmer, a coming-of-age drama tracing the struggles of an adolescent Jeffrey Dahmer to fit in at his high school, is going to make some viewers uncomfortable. Some may even lash out against the film, deeming it insensitive toward the families of the 17 men and boys Dahmer raped, murdered, and dismembered before he was apprehended in 1991. And the film does make a bold request of its audience: to try to understand, and even sympathize with, a teenage boy who, at times, seems like any other tortured adolescent—until you remember that he went on to murder 17 men and boys. If there wasn’t a Jeffrey at your high school, the movie implies, you may have been the Jeffrey. [Katie Rife]

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21 / 34

The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

Elle Fanning
Elle Fanning
Photo: Broad Green Pictures

Ever heard the one about the girl eaten alive by showbiz? That’s the meat, more fetid than fresh, that Nicolas Winding Refn tears his teeth into with The Neon Demon, which gives a deep-red (and Deep Red) paint job to the most moribund of cautionary tales: the rise and fall of a bright-eyed ingenue. Last time the Danish director shot a movie in Los Angeles, he made dream-pop noir from the minimalist crime sagas of Michael Mann and Walter Hill. Returning to the nocturnal cityscape of Drive, Refn perverts All About Eve into a baroque death reverie—bathing the fashion industry in harsh pools of giallo light, slowing time to a hypnotic crawl, chopping away all but the faintest traces of plot. Style doesn’t triumph over substance in The Neon Demon. It devours it. [A.A. Dowd]

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22 / 34

Night Of The Living Dead

Night Of The Living Dead

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Night Of The Living Dead

George Romero’s landmark zombie thriller Night Of The Living Dead remains bracing, but nothing could compare now to the way the film was received back in 1968, at a time when even the gamiest exploitation movies were fundamentally goofy and harmless. The grainy black-and-white cinematography and the “They’re coming to get you, Barbara” joshing of Night Of The Living Dead’s opening scene led late-’60s audiences to prepare themselves for a cheesy throwback to ’50s drive-in trash, but George Romero quickly ramped up the intensity, then continued to tighten the screws, in a movie packed with surprising twists and vivid characterizations. It wasn’t just the gore that shocked viewers—although the movie’s rotting, flesh-eating ghouls definitely delivered on the zombie premise as well as any film had before—but also the way that Romero’s assured direction pulled people into his story of a freaky apocalypse and its ragtag band of survivors, before Romero turned mere suspense into outright bloody terror. [Noel Murray]

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23 / 34

Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Paranormal Activity 3

The first two Paranormal Activity movies referenced the past, when two sisters first encountered a hostile specter as children. Delving into a box full of VHS camcorder tapes, the third revisits that childhood in 1988, when “Toby,” an imaginary friend that isn’t so imaginary, begins tormenting the girls, their mother, and their stepfather in a California home. Paranormal Activity 3 also has one new technical wrinkle, and it’s brilliant: In addition to the cameras in the bedroom, Smith mounts a third to the base of a rotating electric fan, so it pans back and forth from the dining room to the kitchen and back again. Playing with action in and out of frame has been the series’ stock in trade—without an effects budget, the audience’s imagination will have to do—and Joost and Schulman exploit the rotating camera for all it’s worth, picking up disturbances that appear and disappear with each scan. The mythology behind the series feels all the more grafted-on this time around—and it presumably extends all the way back to the Lumière brothers—but the Paranormal Activity movies are built on fundamental horror concepts, and those fundamentals still hold. [Scott Tobias]

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24 / 34

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Nothing in his previous work behind the camera suggested that John Krasinski was any kind of master craftsman. But maybe the nine sitcom seasons he spent emoting directly to the camera taught the Office-drone-turned-director something about nonverbal storytelling, as he does wordless wonders with this taut suspense contraption about an Earth hushed into silence by blind, echolocating monsters. The sleeper hit of the year, A Quiet Place smuggled some pure visual filmmaking into the multiplex, getting moviegoers to sit still (and, yes, maybe even shut up) for a nearly dialogue-free portrait of a family in mourning. The monsters helped, of course. [A.A. Dowd]

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25 / 34

Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby

Mia Farrow
Mia Farrow
Screenshot: Rosemary’s Baby

In the afterword to the 2003 edition of Ira Levin’s novel Rosemary’s Baby (reprinted in the booklet included with The Criterion Collection’s new Rosemary’s Baby Blu-ray edition), Levin writes about how the success of the movie touched off a wave of occult horror movies in the ’70s, and adds, “Here’s what I worry about now: If I hadn’t pursued an idea for a suspense novel almost 40 years ago, would there be quite as many religious fundamentalists around today?” Levin’s asking this somewhat puckishly, but it’s a valid question. There had been schlocky B-movies about devil worshippers before, but Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby was a big Hollywood studio prestige project, with high production values and a striking blend of nightmarish fantasy and naturalism. And as Polanski leads the audience step-by-step through Levin’s queasy plot, he pushes them toward a conclusion straight out of a Louvin Brothers gospel song. Oh yes, brethren: Satan is real. [Noel Murray]

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26 / 34

Sharknado

Sharknado

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Sharknado

In a stunning sequence of unadulterated camp, Sharknado proves it knows what it’s doing. A successful B movie not only embraces its more ludicrous tendencies, but finds a new, even campier angle to exploit. It acknowledges that it’s ridiculous even while the characters, facing a shark or a sharktopus or a sharknado, don’t. In the case of Sharknado, it sends Ian Ziering into the belly of a Great White with a chainsaw so he can cut himself out of the Great White with a chainsaw, and then drag the presumed dead Nova out with him since it turns out they both got swallowed whole by the same Great White because sometimes life hands you awesome, and it’s called Sharknado. [Caroline Framke]

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27 / 34

The Silence Of The Lambs

The Silence Of The Lambs

Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
Screenshot: The Silence Of The Lambs

After scaring the wits out of millions, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence Of The Lambs joined It Happened One Night and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as one of the few movies to score Oscars in all five major categories (Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay). Hiring Demme, surely among the warmest and most humane American directors, to handle such a violent story turned out to be a masterstroke of casting against type: He knew from his early years working for Roger Corman how to deliver the genre goods, but his empathy, particularly with regard to women, is what makes the film so enduring. Jodie Foster’s journey makes the film a terrifying fable, and far more than the sum of its overflowing case file. [Rob Dean]

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28 / 34

The Stepford Wives

The Stepford Wives

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: The Stepford Wives

Katharine Ross plays a young wife who, at her husband’s suggestion, moves with her family from New York City to the quiet suburb of Stepford in this classic thriller from 1975, which has just resurfaced after a long period of video unavailability. Once in Stepford, she finds nearly all the women to be contentedly sedate and not only uninterested in “women’s lib,” but also interested in little outside of baking and cleaning. To say much more would spoil a highly suspenseful movie for those who haven’t seen it, but The Stepford Wives is about more than mere suspense. With its references to consciousness-raising groups and other archaic matters, it’s very much of its time, but the film is effective for its vision of homogenized suburbia as a place in which housewifery has made women as interchangeable as the mass-produced products in their supermarket. [Keith Phipps]

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29 / 34

Suspiria

Suspiria

Suspiria
Suspiria
Photo: Amazon Studios

Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece Suspiria (1977) is beautiful to look at, but calling it an art film is a distinctly revisionist impulse. Although the heightened aesthetics and hysterical melodrama of Italian opera have undoubtedly influenced Argento’s style, he also overlays those high-art impulses onto B-movie genre forms. Shot mostly without sync sound and dubbed for both its Italian and American releases, Suspiria wasn’t intended to be a museum piece. In fact, take away the delirious beauty of the color-coded lighting and surging prog-rock score, and you’ve got a simple slasher movie, a film whose “witches at a ballet school” mythology is a mere delivery device for the real attraction: the violent, symbolic violation of young female bodies. Not so with A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s new remake of Suspiria, a film that replaces Argento’s fixation on sexualized violence with arthouse ostentation. In his version, Guadagnino doubles down on the commitment to aesthetics that has given Argento’s original such staying power, but draws from a wholly new set of influences: Soviet-era Eastern Bloc architecture, folk-art collage, ’70s feminist performance art, the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. What was bright and colorful is now drizzly and gray, and what was lurid is now self-consciously weighty. [Katie Rife]

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Vampire’s Kiss

Vampire’s Kiss

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage
Screenshot: Vampire’s Kiss

A performance like Nicolas Cage’s gonzo turn in the brilliant 1989 black comedy Vampire’s Kiss—and this is true of many Nicolas Cage performances—raises the question of what good acting really means. Cage’s unbridled exuberance is reason enough to cherish Vampire’s Kiss, but Minion’s script gives it purpose. As a study of misogyny, the film taps shrewdly into Peter’s fear of women—of being dominated, as he turns submissive and powerless to love, or of being understood by his therapist (Elizabeth Ashley). Cage is all raging id, aggressive and demonstrative and unrelenting in his stampede through the night, but he’s tortured for it all the same. In writer Joseph Minion’s world, the pursuit of love eats people alive—and if there’s anything left of them, this buzzard of a city will pick it clean. [Scott Tobias]

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The Wailing

The Wailing

The Wailing
The Wailing
Photo: Well GO USA Entertainment

Pure evil proves an elusive matter for a provincial policeman to investigate in the Korean film The Wailing, a supernatural thriller that veers between caustic comedy and blood-soaked horror over the course of its operatically intense two and a half hours. It’s anyone’s guess why the film’s otherwise peaceable rural-village setting has lately seen a rash of grisly murders. Yet perhaps the most mysterious thing about The Wailing has to do with the spell it casts rather than with the mechanics of its plot. The Wailing might be a somewhat meandering and nonsensical genre recombination, but that spell never breaks over its lengthy running time. [Benjamin Mercer]

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We Are What We Are

We Are What We Are

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Photo: We Are What We Are

We Are What We Are, a loose remake of the Mexican film of the same title, takes the original’s basic premise—a creepy family gets thrown into disarray when one of the parents unexpectedly dies—and invests it with rural Gothic atmosphere. Directed and co-written by underrated genre specialist Jim Mickle (Stake Land), it plays less like a contemporary horror film than an increasingly gruesome drama, building to a climax—completely original to this version—where the movie’s core themes are expressed through grotesque imagery. Considering the material, a viewer might expect hysterical scenery-chewing; however, the fine-tuned cast—including Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, and Tarantino mainstay Michael Parks as the soft-spoken doctor—deliver measured, understated performances that make the characters’ actions seem more believable than they have any right to be. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath, a supernatural thriller that moves with the precision of a well-oiled infernal machine. Essentially a haunted-house spin on Gaslight, the movie plonks Michelle Pfeiffer in the middle of a creaky Vermont house, where she’s mostly left alone by her scientist husband, Harrison Ford. It’s not long before her mind begins to play tricks on her: The couple next door’s spats, as well as the ecstatic cries of their lovemaking, seem to be coming from a neighboring room; doors unlatch and picture frames shatter unbidden. The way that tension pays off is unfair to divulge—though DreamWorks’ trailers were notoriously free with a critical reveal—but suffice it to say that her unease has its roots in both the otherworldly and the entirely tangible. Director Robert Zemeckis is as shameless as Hitchcock in his deployment of cinematic tricks; the way to love the movie is to give into the sensation of being pleasurably led by the nose. But few have led so expertly and with such terrifying command. It’s scary how good he is at it. [Sam Adams]

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