Last Updated: September 7, 2020
Specialized streaming service Shudder is full of excellent horror films, but what are the best horror movies on Shudder? The Shudder streaming service is owned and operated by AMC Networks and offers a wide variety of options for subscribers, whether they’re looking for 1980s classics, foreign hits, indie gems, new releases, or iconic films that have paved the way.
Like other streaming platforms, Shudder produces original content as well. The service also features over 50 collections for those looking to explore different sub-genres. In addition, Shudder has curated watch lists from industry people like Rich Sommer, Nick Antosca, Barbara Crampton, and Kumail Nanjiani.
For those not sure what horror film to stream next on Shudder, don’t be afraid. Here are the best horror movies on Shudder, the best scary and creepy films of all description to watch on the best horror streaming service, presented in alphabetical order.
Streaming exclusively on Shudder, 2019’s 3 From Hell is director Rob Zombie’s third and possibly final entry into his saga about the Firefly Family, a group of sadistic killers. 3 From Hell starts with the Fireflies locked up, but Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) manage to escape and wreak more havoc, thanks to the help of their relative Foxy (Richard Brake). The late Sid Haig also makes his final appearance as Captain Spaulding.
Crafting a meta horror movie can be a difficult balancing act, with the film needing to playfully needle the cliches of the genre, while being careful not to cross the line into making fun of it. 2006 cult hit (and new addition to Shudder) Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon rides that line perfectly, focusing on the titular character, an affable, charming young man whose goal is to join Jason, Freddy, and Michael – who are real people in this universe – as one of the world’s great slashers. A documentary crew is happy to film his twisted exploits, until they become targets themselves.
One of the quintessential examples of 1980s Italian horror, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond rarely makes logical sense, but wow is it good at scaring the hell out of viewers. Rarely does a scene go by without something incredibly creepy, startling, unsettling, or gory happening, and the film’s ending is one of the most haunting in history. For those who fear subtitles, The Beyond, is available on Shudder in an English dub.
One of the grandfathers of slasher cinema, director Bob Clark’s 1974 classic Black Christmas was one of the first horror films to use the trope of a creepy caller, as well as one of the first to present slasher-style kills from the killer’s own point of view. While the recent Blumhouse remake turned out to be quite flawed, the original Black Christmas’ story of a mysterious madman targeting a sorority house is very much one of the best horror movies on Shudder.
In this 2015 Mickey Keating film, a woman struggles with her sanity upon landing a care-taking job in New York City. As the title character in Darling, Lauren Ashley Carter delivers a highly-expressive performance, with her non-verbal acting driving each scene. There’s a definite Kubrickian feel to Keating’s visual aesthetic, and his tight pacing boosts the inherent tension. In other words, Keating is a technically-proficient filmmaker, one who effectively incorporates his cinematic influences.
Darling is indeed a stylish production, but not in the typical art house sense. Meaning, Keating and company prioritize the viewer experience rather than lingering on cryptic details. It’s a smart horror film that’s fueled by a strong female lead, and it suggests that Keating is fully capable of helming a major studio production. For those not convinced, check out the original Shudder series The Core, in which Keating (the host) breaks down the fundamentals of effective horror filmmaking.
The werewolf is one of horror’s oldest monsters, dating back to the Universal classic The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr. One of the most creative spins on the werewolf story is 2000’s Ginger Snaps, a Canadian indie from director John Fawcett that’s gone on to cultivate a large cult fanbase. Goth sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are obsessed with death, that is until death comes knocking via an attack by a werewolf on Ginger. Before long, Ginger becomes a murderous beast, and it’s ultimately up to Brigitte to try and stop her reign of terror. This coming-of-age horror tale is well worth howling at on Shudder.
John Carpenter’s original Halloween is one of those Shudder movies that’s so famous it feels a bit pointless to summarize it, as even most who aren’t horror fans have probably seen it at least once. Needless to say, it’s one of the best horror movies on Shudder. Carpenter’s tale of a masked slasher named Michael Myers terrorizing Haddonfield, IL babysitter Laurie Strode remains just as effective today as it was in 1978, and it’s no wonder that the franchise it spawned absolutely refuses to die, much like Myers himself.
Those who’ve only seen actor Michael Rooker as Merle on The Walking Dead or Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy films may be quite shocked if they sit down to watch 1986’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on Shudder. Rooker plays the title role, a man based on real life murderer Henry Lee Lucas, and wow does he make an impression. It’s easy to see why Rooker ended up becoming such an in-demand character actor, as he oozes menace at all times, yet still on occasion seems to show a bit of humanity. Sadly, it never lasts.
Directed by Ti West, 2009’s The House of the Devil pays homage to the visual aesthetics of 1980s horror, and is a terrific Shudder selection. As college student Samantha Hughes, Jocelin Donahue taps into the feeling that something is horribly wrong – that something bad is about to happen. Her character needs some extra money to get by, but she’s concerned by the behavior of a man who’s offering a house-sitting job. Samantha can’t quite gauge his intentions, but she takes the job anyway when the man offers more cash.
Over the past 10 years, West has built an impressive resume as a writer-director who often edits his own films. In The House of the Devil, West shows remarkable restraint with his storytelling, knowing when to push and when to pull back. The same goes for Donahue, and together, she and West imbue The House of the Devil with a sense of dread and retro style, which suits them both perfectly. West is clearly a passionate filmmaker, one who embraces all aspects of the process, and his leading lady is clearly a star.
This 2018 psychedelic horror was a festival circuit hit and is now thrilling Shudder subscribers. Directed by Panos Cosmatos, Mandy features Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough as two outsiders whose quiet life is disrupted by “a pack of gnarly psychos.” The visuals are hauntingly poetic, and the performances are quietly beautiful, at least until Red (Cage) and Mandy (Riseborough) unleash their fury upon a cult named the Children of the New Dawn. For one character, revenge comes through a psychological shaming. For the other, revenge is achieved through violence and rage.
Mandy establishes a meditative mood through Cosmatos’ brilliant use of color and music. In the first half, Riseborough commands the most attention, primarily in how she moves within the frame and communicates information without speaking a word. This sets up a crucial mid-movie moment, in which Mandy delivers a primal scream and sparks the second-half conflict. From there, Cage takes over the film, as Red attempts to process a variety of emotions. Truly a visceral experience, Mandy balances B-movie aesthetics with A-level performances.
This George A. Romero classic is both timely and highly influential. For one, Night of the Living Dead changed the game in 1968 with its powerful social commentary and black hero, Ben (Duane Jones). In other words, it had something to say about American culture. The premise is seemingly simple: zombies emerge from a graveyard and locals flee to a nearby house for protection. Within this setting, however, the film explores race and gender while subverting expectations about how one should act during such a crisis.
Night of the Living Dead doesn’t offer a tidy resolution. Inside the house, Ben makes some questionable decisions, but he’s merely trying to survive. Meanwhile, an older man locks his family in the basement while other survivors attempt to process media reports about the zombie invasion. From a 2019 perspective, the film holds up by emphasizing how people use information to align with their best interests. Some characters would rather stay in their comfort zone, while others realize they must escape and think about the larger picture. For one particular character, the narrative is especially complicated, evidenced by the film’s jaw-dropping conclusion. Shudder’s documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror expands on Night of the Living Dead’s narrative subtext, along with the film’s legacy.
The original entry into director Don Coscarelli’s legendary cult franchise, Phantasm introduced audiences to The Tall Man, a mysterious non-human entity who robs graves and murders anyone who gets in the way of his dark goals. It also began one of the weirdest stories in history, one which often doesn’t make sense, but still gets a lot of love all the same, operating as it does on a kind of nightmare logic. Three of Phantasm‘s sequels are also on Shudder.
Based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, Stuart Gordon’s horror comedy Re-Animator blends smart dialogue with gory visuals. Right from the start, the film establishes a campy tone as Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) revives a dead colleague and delivers the now-iconic line, “I gave him life!” After the graphic pre-credits sequence, West continues his research at Miskatonic University while creeping out new roommate Dan (Bruce Abbott) and his girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton). In the film’s first half, Re-Animator hooks the audience through quotable dialogue, a wild re-animated cat scene, and Crampton’s undeniable star power. But it’s Re-Animator’s disturbing final act that may require an immediate re-watch.
To be clear, Re-Animator’s climax is not for everybody, even Shudder subscribers. A severed head essentially terrorizes the protagonists in a basement lab, but the dialogue hilariously complements the WTF visuals. As a director, Gordon clearly intends to shock the audience, but he does so through wink-of-the-eye humor. And that’s what makes Crampton’s lead performance so effective, as she plays it straight while her male co-stars camp it up. As a whole, Re-Animator doesn’t take itself too seriously, and expects that viewers will embrace the comedy rather than frown upon the most problematic moments.
From Argentina, this horror film will find a permanent home in viewers’ subconscious, and it will soon be remade by Guillermo del Toro. At first, Terrified plays out like a procedural, as a cop investigates paranormal activity in three different homes, assisted by three researchers. They ultimately focus on one specific house and make a surprising discovery: there’s a dead boy sitting at a dinner table. At that point, Terrified becomes deeply unsettling, but only because it’s unclear how director Demián Rugna will sustain the horror. In the past, a jump scare would be sufficient. Now, however, audiences – and Shudder subscribers – are looking for something more.
Terrified is fascinating because of the Whys and Hows. At times, the film uses narrative cliches to push along the story, such as the “one last job” angle, but it succeeds by consistently building upon its scares to elevate the tension. Terrified is relentless and genuinely creepy, a foreign film that plays into common fears, such as a baddie hiding under the bed.
One of the most unrelenting horror films in history, director Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an assault on the senses of Shudder subscribers, and was also an assault on the cast, as the production was infamously hellish. Still, the final product, which gave cinema the iconic villain Leatherface is still just as effective today as it’s ever been, and remains far and away the best film in its ever-growing franchise.
While some horror movies are effective when the the central threat is obvious from the get-go (i.e. Pennywise in IT, Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street), The Wailing benefits from a completely mysterious antagonist. Police officer Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won) investigates a series of deaths that just so happened to begin soon after the appearance of a stranger in a small Korean village. As he attempts to discover the truth behind the situation, the local death toll (as well as unbridled mania) continues to rise. This top Shudder pick received a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes with a 99 percent rating, and Ridley Scott has considered producing a remake.