The 30 best Halloween horror movies you can stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime (and more) now

10. [REC] (2007)

Available on:  Shudder (US), iTunes (UK/US)

The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for when it comes to the revival of the found footage genre. This Spanish foray into a quarantined apartment building where a mysterious virus is spreading from person to person via, err, bites, is a terrifying rollercoaster. Far superior to its American remake, [REC] is all the better for its subtitles and the fact that you could easily just be watching a fire fighter visit gone horribly, horribly wrong. Of course it ends in night vision, but all the best found footage does, and this delivers some hell of a good scares on the way. Turn off the lights and enjoy the ride.

Gore level: Medium

Violence level: Medium

9. It Follows (2014)

Available on: Netflix (UK/US), Amazon (UK/US)

Easily the best horror film of 2014, It Follows’ blend of a primally horrifying concept – a faceless, relentless creature of destruction that will follow you slowly, but endlessly, and can look like anyone you know – glacial, dreamlike flow, and affecting, underplayed, realistic performances makes it one of the most chilling and fresh new horror films in a great many years. When the overt horror happens, it happens with a nightmarish visual flair and profound instinct for how to shock and unsettle (It Follows is a film about real scares, not jump-scares) but in between these genuinely powerful moments of fear, you’ll never get a second to relax. No more than its tormented, increasingly broken protagonists do. It’s a film whose form mirrors its subject matter perfectly, and as such, one of the most immersive, troubling horror films you’ve likely ever seen. 

Gore level: Low

Violence level: Medium

8. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Available on: MaxGo (US), Amazon (US / UK) 

It’s easy to get complacent about vampires. Especially romantic, tortured vampires, veiled with period frills. But there’s a reason the archetype is so prevalent, even in the post-everything days of 2016. When executed properly, it can be an incredibly powerful, emotive, and resonant treatment, reaching deep into the dark heart of the human experience and tearing it wide open to be explored on an immense number of profound levels. Interview with the Vampire is the quintessential text in this respect, its rich, centuries-long tale dripping with pathos, complexities, existential turmoil, and no small amount of troubled yet unbridled eroticism. As a cross-section of what vampires, and good vampire fiction, are at their core really all about, there’s still no better mainstream fang-film. 

Gore level: Medium

Violence level: Medium

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Available on: Amazon (US / UK) 

Although its impact has been dulled by years of variable sequels, an increasingly comedic Freddy Krueger, and one entirely piss-poor remake, the original Nightmare on Elm Street is still a hell of a potent and terrifying film. With a killer concept based on real-life cases of unexplained, violent, unconscious death, and playing on an inescapable human fear – you’re at your most vulnerable when you’re asleep, and you can’t avoid it - Nightmare is an endlessly creative, energetic, and deliciously scary assault. Blending its stand-out kills into an increasingly ambiguous, hazy ambience of sleep-deprived confusion, increasing uncertainty and paranoia throughout, it’s still as razor-sharp and drum-tight as it ever was. And by infusing his supernatural killer with a deliriously sadistic, entirely believable personality, Robert Englund created a performance that is still as jarringly affecting now as it was in 1984. 

Gore level: High

Violence level: High

6. Poltergeist (1982)

Available on:  Amazon Prime (UK), Amazon (US), FandangoNOW (US)

If ever there were a film made of a perfect alchemy of director and producer, it’s Poltergeist. Directed by Tobe Hooper, of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Salem’s Lot fame, and written and produced by Steven Spielberg (of everything), it’s a wonderful blend of both creators’ conceits and talents at the top of their game. Spielberg’s craft in the realm of sketching out warm, believable, desperately human family units and drama, touched by the awe of the fantastical, is the bedrock of the entire film. But cutting through it like a clot-caked razor is Hooper’s flair for the nasty and genuinely unsettling. It’s a combination that should be discordant, but it isn’t, instead creating a film in which the supernatural threat is added extra weight by the closeness and care between the characters – something all too absent in far too many horror casts – and whose genuinely chilling imagery and ideas never feel hopeless or insurmountable, however bad things seem to appear. 

Gore level: Low

Violence level: Low

5. Child's Play (1988)

Available on: Amazon (US), Netflix (UK)

The series has long-since slipped into (really good) post-modern self-parody – 2013’s back-to-roots Curse of Chucky notwithstanding – but the 1988 original is a brilliant example of when blending horror and comedy really works. Aware of how ludicrous its central concept it – the soul of a dead serial killer possesses the body of a doll, in order to kill and possess its young owner – it nonetheless holds back from playing it for cheap laughs, toying (pardon the accidental pun) with the silly excess of its idea while also delivering a bona fide slasher movie-cum-supernatural horror. It’s a film that understands that neither tempting half of its make-up has to be at the expense of the other, and it’s all the better for it. 

Gore level: Medium

Violence level: Medium

4. 30 Days of Night (2007)

Available on: Netflix (UK), Amazon (US) 

Not the deepest exploration of vampire mythos, preferring to rely on shocks and visceral scares rather than philosophical soul-searching, 30 Days of Night is still a heck of a good time. With a small group of mismatched townsfolk trapped in their  Alaskan homestead after the month-long nightfall that sends most of the populace away, and a cabal of vicious, single-minded, and entirely intelligent vampires on the maraud, it’s not far off a snowbound Aliens with undead sanguiphiles providing the teeth. Though there are actually a great deal of emotional gut-punches along the way, the brutal imagery heightened by some strong character work from the ensemble cast, not least among the bad guys themselves. 

Gore level: High

Violence level: High

3. The Wicker Man (1973)

Available on: iTunes (US / UK), Amazon (US / UK) 

The king of ‘folk horror’ films, The Wicker Man is the perfect introduction to the most creepingly sinister of genres, covering all of the important thematic and tonal bases, and the requisite, spiralling weirdness, but doing so all by way of a deeply accessible, cleverly slow-burn journey. Following a repressed but stoic, mainland English policeman as he journeys to a remote island to investigate a disappearance, The Wicker Man is the ultimate in isolated fish-out-of-water horror. With a slow, gradually all-pervading sense of indefinable wrongness, its glacially closing trap heaps on the tension and stress with every passing moment. It’s a film dripping with cloying anxiety and fatalistic dread, and one whose creeping, inexorable, one-way trip into the depths of an alien nightmare will ultimately shred you at whatever point you see what’s finally coming. If indeed you do at all. 

Gore level: Low

Violence level: Low

2. Carrie (1976)

Available on: Google Play (US), Amazon Video (US), NowTV (UK), Sky Go (UK)

Forget the 1999 sequel, the 2002 television movie, and the 2013 remake. The original is the only Carrie that matters.  Bolstered by the presence of a ‘proper’ director in The Untouchables and Scarface’s Brian De Palma, it’s one of the best early Stephen King adaptations, delivering real shocks and arresting imagery with no small amount of affecting characterisation and small-town tension. With powerful performances throughout, headed up by Sissy Spacek, this story of high-school pressures, small-minded intolerance, and desperately messy, telekinetic fallout is a classic for a great many good reasons. That’s why it’s been remade and riffed on so many times, but it’s also the reason that none of the follow-ups can match it for a second. 

Gore level: Medium

Violence level: Low

1. Battle Royale (2000)

Available on: Netflix (UK/US), Showtime (US), Shudder (UK/US) 

The final film of storied director Kinji Fukasaki, Battle Royale is a staggering career mic-drop. A near-future precursor to The Hunger Games, set in a Japan where one high-school class every year is chosen to fight to the death on a remote island in order to quell teenage insubordination, it’s a film that doesn’t for a moment flinch from the harrowing brutality of its concept. But simultaneously it painstakingly explores the emotional and interpersonal impact of the situation with just as much verve. As much a traumatic character drama as it is an action-horror movie, Battle Royale is layered with philosophical and political discourse, existential pondering, and a great deal of distressing psychology. One of the smartest treatments of one of the most horrific concepts you can imagine. 

Gore level: High

Violence level: High