The kids are in bed. You opened that bottle of barrel-aged pumpkin ale from your beer cellar. And you’re all cozy on the couch with the dog on your lap. Then you spend the next 40 minutes going through apps searching for the right movie before giving up and going to bed. Don’t let that happen to you. Check out the Internet’s most extensive list of free and subscription movies, including where to stream them.
((Updated October 23 – Sony/Crackle removed its only two redeemable horror movies. We bid them and Sony/Crackle adieu.))
You can find all of the movies you need for the season right here on Netflix. Two of my favorites are It Follows and The Conjuring, but there are several other options that may keep you up at night.
The Haunting of Hill House – This is one of the scariest television shows ever made. It just came out this month. Hill House is based on the Shirley Jackson classic about a restless, haunted mansion. This one borrows heavily from television dramas Six Feet Under and This Is Us. Stephen King tweeted his endorsement calling it “close to a work of genius.”
The Ritual – Imagine if Blair Witch Project showed the monster… and it was magnificent. This British film is about four friends who hike through Scandinavia in the absence of their recently-passed friend. As you may guess, they are not alone.
The Wailing – Is it a comedy? Is it a cop procedural? Is it horror? Is it worth the 152 minute run time? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. The Wailing follows a rural cop in Korea, whose daughter becomes infected by a mysterious plague. Chaos unfolds. You really never know what is going to happen next.
Hush – A deaf and mute woman, alone in the countryside, stalked by a masked killer. Home invasion movies have been done to death, but Director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) breathes new life into the horror sub-genre.
Veronica – This Spanish import dropped onto Netflix with a lot of hype. It’s right up your ally if you’re into Spanish schoolgirls who use Ouija boards to summon demonic forces that like to possess humans. Consider it a sub-sub-sub-sub-genre.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Not all Halloween horror needs to be heavy. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are hilarious as good-guy rednecks who get blamed for a growing body count. Many of you have seen this, but those of you still holding out… what the hell are you waiting for?
Hulu is best known for streaming TV shows shortly after they broadcast on television. The app has a few TV gems of its own, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Stephen King-inspired Castle Rock. Hulu also features a small, but effective horror movie collection.
REC – One of the scariest movies ever made. REC effectively uses found footage to make you feel as trapped and vulnerable as the characters in the movie. Even if you’ve seen the American version, Quarantine, check out REC.
Let the Right One In – One of the all time great vampire movies. It’s about a bullied Swedish boy, who befriends a vampire of an indeterminable age. She helps him exact revenge as she sorts out her own ghoulish life.
Baskin – You have not seen a movie like this before. I am sure of that. A group of cops enter an abandoned building, which takes them through the gates of Hell. The movie starts off slow, but makes up for it with a second half that’s like looking into the mind of Clive Barker after he takes four hits of acid.
The Houses October Built – This movie, about a group of haunted house thrill seekers, will not change your life. But it’s good enough for a few late night scares.
The Fly (1986) – Jeff Goldblum is brilliant as a scientist who slowly turns into a mutant creature. Special effects wizard Chris Walas delivers the gruesome transformation. Walas is the guy who melted Nazi faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark, so you know it’s fantastic.
If you have Amazon Prime, you’re automatically a member of Prime Video. It’s movie and TV collections are extensive, so you have some scary options that are “Free to Watch.”
Return of the Living Dead – Leave Night of the Living Dead to the philosophers. Crack open a beer and enjoy this amazing 1980’s “sequel.” The guy who wrote Alien wrote the script and directed. A Jim Henson protege helped bring the dead to life. A killer punk rock soundtrack set the tone. And Roger Eberg gave it 3 out of 4 stars.
What We Do in the Shadows – Imagine a season of The Real World set in New Zealand starring vampires. Taika Waititi (Thor: Rangorak) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords) co-directed this horror mockumentary that is in the same class as Christopher Guest’s classics.
The ‘Burbs – This is Tom Hanks as his funniest and most charming. He’s suspicious of the new family next door, so he decides to “drink a couple hundred beers” instead of going to the lake and “waiting for the neighbor with the gigantic head to fall down the stairs.” It’s all to our benefit.
Night of the Comet – Two valley girls awaken in post-apocalyptic Southern California. The script is witty. The 80’s soundtrack rocks. The clothes are bitchin’. It’s much better than it should be skewering sci-fi classics.
Troll 2 – The worst movie ever made has a legion of followers. It’s so popular, there’s a documentary about its production and reception. This is one you don’t need to follow closely. Put it on the background at a party, allowing people to dip in and out of the fun.
I have HBO Go just to watch Game of Thrones and the occasional new movie. This Halloween season, HBO did not go all out to provide us with scares. But there are four worth checking out.
It (2017) – Don’t confuse this adaptation of the Stephen King book with the 90’s miniseries. Bill Skarsgard’s take on the demonic clown Pennywise is terrifying. And the CGI brilliantly brings the bad things to life.
The Descent – If you are claustrophobic or afraid of mutant Kentucky cave creatures, don’t watch this movie. The Descent features a kick-ass group of women, who bring their deep personal issues into the deep caves of rural Kentucky. This is one of the best horror movies of this generation.
Drag Me to Hell – Drag Me to Hell has a fine polish to it, but underneath that glossy coat remains the chaotic foundations of what made Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy so good: Theatrical ghostly confrontations, well-timed scares, and cringe-worthy grossness.
The Lost Boys – This is like the Karate Kid or Outsiders of vampire movies. It’s pure nostalgia for many of us, but still holds up for younger generations.
Shudder features an extensive list of horror and thrillers from around the world, all picked by expert curators. You’ll find classics like Halloween, The Evil Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and new Shudder-only movies and shows. It’s only $4.99 a month, and features a 7-day trial, so it’s worth checking out, even just for the next week.
The House of the Devil – There are some movies that you can take a break from. Get up. Grab a beer. Fire off some texts. The House of the Devil is not one of those. Watch this movie in its entirety from start to finish. The slow burning pace is peppered with bursts of violence. It all comes together in a heart-pounding final 20 minutes.
Terrified – Tragedy hits an Argentinian neighborhood – over and over. The experts are called in, but even they are not safe. This one is creepy and full of fantastic scares.
Pulse (2001) – Stunning imagery and horrifying camera reveals make this a J-horror classic. That the evil haunts its victims through tech devices and computers makes it all the more relevant today.
We Are Still Here – Horror hipsters love this movie. Like The House of the Devil, it’s in no hurry to get anywhere, it has a fun retro asthetic, and it has a solid payoff at the end – even if the CGI is not especially great. This is low-budget film making at its best.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – You may want to see this film because it’s director is a powerful new female voice from Iran. You may also want to see this film because it’s hip vampire-noir with a splash of new wave coolness.
FilmStruck is an incredible app for anyone who loves movies. It features classics from AMC and critically-acclaimed newer films from the Criterion Collection. Genre fanatics love the hard-to-find movies included for $10 a month.
Eyes Without A Face – U.S. audiences only saw a bastardized version of this 1962 French classic. Lucky for us, Criterion remastered the French original. Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro said of Eyes Without A Face, “It influenced me a lot with the contrast between beauty and brutality.”
Onibaba – The fear of loss can drive people to become monsters – even good people. This movie is set in a rice paddy in Japan in the 14th century, but its themes of loss and loyalty still feel accessible to modern moviegoers.
Eraserhead – Raising a baby is tough. Raising a baby in an industrial area is tougher. Raising a deformed baby creature in an industrial area is the toughest. David Cronenberg’s cult classic is bizarre, unsettling, and perfect for anyone tired of the usual Halloween horrorfest.
House (1977) – This is a mind f**k of horror pop art. Don’t watch the trailer. Just pop in some edibles and go for a ride.
Godzilla (1954) – Get your monster mayhem fix here. You’ll find the original Godzilla and much of the early expanded universe that includes Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla.
Vudu offers new movies to rent and free as-based movies for us cheapskates. There are some decent, if not great, horror flicks.
You’re Next – Another home invasion movie. This one has enough twists and turns to keep you watching.
Frailty – The late Bill Paxton directed this gem. He stars as the monster, a single father and devout Christian, who hears a message from god.
Lady in White – An atmospheric ghost story about a boy who, on Halloween, gets locked in his school classroom. After witnessing something awful, he sets out to solve the mystery of a local legend. It’s really a charming movie… I think. I haven’t seen it in 25 years.
The 50 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen – Critics and horror aficionados reflect on the most underrated horror movies. It’s basically gonzo horror porn, minus the money shots. Definitely worth a watch to get you in the Halloween mood.
The Devil’s Doorway ($3.99 rental) – This is the only rental I am mentioning, because it’s a great, terrifying horror movie by rising horror director, Aislinn Clarke. It’s relentless with its scares. No joke. The pacing is scare, scare, scare, scare… you get the idea.
Tubi has hundreds of ad-supported movies. Many are terrible. But they’re worth looking through. I downloaded the app to watch Lake Mungo recently and spent the night looking through it’s collection of 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s camp classics. If you’re into a more serious Halloween experience, Tubi has those for you as well.
Lake Mungo – It feels like a true crime story on HBO, but with a supernatural twist. Speaking of twists, this one will have you spinning as the plot unfolds.
Splinter – This is a movie with body-ripping parasites and a meandering dismembered hand, but it’s not campy. Splinter takes itself very seriously. You should too.
Shadow of the Vampire – When the cameras stop rolling, some actors stay in character. Some don’t. Which category does John Malkovich’s character fall into? Shadow of the Vampire takes us behind the scenes of the 1922 classic Nosferatu.
They Look Like People – Shapeshifters are stalking the planet and I have to save my best friend! Friend – let’s go into this basement, where my madness will unfold.
The Burrowers – A western that’s not about revenge or treasure. It’s about survival — both for the main characters and the hungry creatures stalking them.
Starz has become a premiere movie destination, offering a lot of new movies, but it still features some classics. You can download the app by itself for Roku or Chromecast, or you can subscribe to it through cable. Right now you won’t find a large selection of modern horror, but it does feature some of the all-time classics.
Slither – Before Director James Gunn made us laugh and cheer in Guardians of the Galaxy, he made us laugh and cringe in Slither. It’s another parasite film, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Quarantine – This is the American remake of REC. It’s a little less intense than the found footage original, but still delivers a wallop of scares.
Tremors – Kevin Bacon is back to tell you to kick off those Sunday shoes. But don’t get too footloose. The creatures of this 1990 classic will kill you if you aren’t careful. Truly an underrated movie.
The Thing (1981) – A sci-fi and horror classic, that twists you through its plot while occasionally bludgeoning you with incredible special effects. Watch it. Now!
Universal Horror Classics – Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolf Man. The movies that brought horror into the mainstream.
Don’t expect the latest and greatest from Showtime. There are a few popular titles to pick from. But for the cost per month to download the app or subscribe to the cable channel, it’s not really worth it.
Cloverfield – This is what a Godzilla-style attack on New York would look like if caught on camera.
Pitch Black – Vin Diesel before he got fast and furious. The scares are there, for a smart sci-fi film.
The Pact – As if recovery is not enough, this former drug user loses her mom, and sister. The family home will not offer any solace. A terrific opening scene sets the tone for a scary indie horror flick.
Stake Land – Road trip! There is a safe haven in this vampire-infested world, but finding it won’t be easy. Also not easy: Being bored by this movie.
Black Christmas (1974) – This slasher laid the foundation for other horror classics, including Halloween. You’ll have to cut through a lot of story, but it still has an edge that makes it worth your time.
You can only find the Roku channel on the streaming device. It doesn’t have an extensive collection of movies or television, but you there are two of the scariest movies out there, and one 80’s classic worth returning to for Halloween.
Paranormal Activity 3 – Easily the best movie in the franchise. The director brilliantly uses camera movement to deliver scares. It also has an actual ending that explores the lore of the franchise.
The Evil Dead (1981) – Small budgets force directors to get creative. Sam Raimi did not shy from the challenge. He ended up with shaky and effective camera shots, and awesome over-the-top gory effects. This is a horror classic that will scare you, even if you’ve seen it.
Ghostbusters (1984) – Also a classic. You’ll never regret crossing streams with Dr. Peter Venkman and his crew of ghost hunters.
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