Halloween is on a Tuesday this year, creating a bit of a conundrum for the seasonally minded. Even if you’re going out to a party the weekend before, there’s still the day of, when sitting around and watching your regular sitcoms would feel, well… less than festive. And for those for whom navigating a crowd of drunken revelers is a nightmare unto itself, it’s a great excuse to spend two more blissful nights at home watching scary (or not so scary, if that’s more to your taste) movies.
In that spirit, we’ve compiled 31 Halloween-friendly titles currently available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go/Now, Filmstruck (the new streaming home of the Criterion Collection), and/or horror-specific streaming service Shudder. Some require an additional channel add-on through Amazon or Hulu before you can watch, but those usually come with a free trial period. If you’re able to spend a few dollars to rent an individual title, the options are far more varied; in that case, might we suggest using our list of the 25 best horror films since the year 2000 for inspiration?
Post-trick-or-treat TV time
After getting home from trick-or-treating, the kids are going to need something to watch while they come down from their sugar highs enough to go to bed.
Universal Monsters collection (Shudder): Almost 75 years on, Universal’s original monster movies are mild enough for all but the most nightmare-prone young horror fans. A beloved tradition in this writer’s household growing up.
The Witches (Amazon Prime): Angelica Houston’s transformation scene, on the other hand, might actually freak some kids out. But isn’t that part of the fun?
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Netflix): A Goth kid in striped knee socks is born every minute thanks to Tim Burton’s beloved claymation holiday hybrid. Will your offspring be next?
Horror movies marketed to teenagers are extremely common. Horror movies that don’t pander to their teenage audiences, on the other hand, are harder to find.
Boys In The Trees (Netflix): Newly arrived on Netflix, this Australian import deals with bullying and the dissolution of childhood friendships in ways that should ring true for high schoolers.
It Follows (Netflix): A bold choice, perhaps, given the film’s intense scares and sexual themes. But the teenage characters are extremely relatable, and it’s probably more effective than those STD scare films from health class.
The Craft (Netflix): Okay, so this one’s more of a guilty pleasure. But The Craft’s Goth fashion and casual paganism are just as appealing to today’s teenage girls as they were to their ’90s counterparts.
Halloween is also for lovers, and there’s something kind of sexy about the adrenaline rush you get from a good scare. Get comfortable with your beloved on the couch and settle in.
Cat People (Starz via Amazon Channels): Paul Schrader’s remake of the 1942 horror classic is sultrier than a greenhouse in July, from its David Bowie theme song to star Nastassja Kinski’s sensual performance.
Spring (Shudder): An American abroad in Italy eats and loves, but should probably do some more praying in this unclassifiable blend of talky indie romance and Lovecraftian body horror.
Nina Forever (Shudder): A guy, a girl, and the guy’s dead ex form an extremely bloody love triangle in this morbid and unexpectedly touching British horror-dramedy.
Light And Dark
Just because you can’t stomach extreme shocks doesn’t mean the horror genre has nothing for you this Halloween. Might we suggest cutting the tension with some laughs?
Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil (Netflix, Shudder, Hulu): The emphasis is on the comedy in this goofy, gory slasher comedy, told from the perspective of two friendly rednecks who don’t understand why teenagers keep dying all around them.
Night Of The Creeps (Shudder): The Monster Squad director Fred Dekker’s debut pays affectionate ode to 1950s creature features, with a little bit of blood and a whole lot of cheese.
Housebound (Netflix): Like Fright Night, this quirky Kiwi horror-comedy about a young woman placed on house arrest at her parents’ place has its creepy moments, but in the end comedy tips the scale.
So, you think you’ve seen it all, eh? Whether it’s pummeling intensity or extreme content, these films push the boundaries.
The Eyes Of My Mother (Netflix): Shot in elegant black-and-white, The Eyes Of My Mother pulls off the tricky feat of being both sickening and thoughtful.
High Tension (Hulu): Many of the “New French Extremity” films that pushed the boundaries of onscreen violence in the ’00s are absent from streaming services, but High Tension—and its controversial ending—are on Hulu.
We Are The Flesh (Shudder): Proving its hardcore horror-fan bona fides, Shudder has an entire section devoted to notorious extreme-horror titles like Nekromantik and Cannibal Holocaust. This repulsive little nugget is exclusive to the service, though.
Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (Shudder): It’s not filled with wall-to-wall gore, but the brutality and nihilism of John McNaughton’s unblinking look at the daily life of a serial killer is still incredibly difficult to sit through.
You’ve Never Seen That?!
There’s no better place to catch up on the horror classics you hate to admit that you’ve never seen than the privacy of your own couch. Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers are hard to find on (free) streaming, but other cornerstones of the genre are simply awaiting your click.
Night Of The Living Dead (YouTube): Thanks to a copyright registration error, George Romero’s game-changing 1968 zombie movie is available for free in its entirety on YouTube.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Amazon Prime): Tobe Hooper’s visceral, intense 1974 classic is available to stream in a 4k digital transfer made to mark its 40th anniversary. You’ll never look at BBQ the same way again.
The Exorcist (Max Go, via Amazon Channels): William Friedkin’s Oscar-nominated 1973 horror hit still retains the power to shock audiences more than 40 years later.
The Blair Witch Project (HBO Go/Now): Watch it again. In total darkness. With the sound turned up. Alone.
You don’t have to turn off your brain just because it’s Halloween. Talk a pretentious friend who’s usually skeptical of horror into one of these arthouse-friendly alternatives.
Nosferatu, The Vampyre (Shudder, various Amazon Channels): Not only are Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, and Isabelle Adjani all catnip to arthouse film lovers, but Herzog’s 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau’s silent classic is atmospheric as all get out.
The Witch (Amazon Prime): Thought provoking and wildly divisive, you can form your own opinion on Robert Eggers’ historical horror movie now that it’s streaming on Amazon Prime.
Ganja And Hess (Brown Sugar via Amazon Channels): Spike Lee likes this languid, symbolically loaded 1973 experimental horror film so much, he re-made it as Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus in 2014.
Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em
Listen, we’re not here to judge, but we are here to tell you that these films are best enjoyed with an herbal supplement (and we don’t mean deadly nightshade).
House (Filmstruck): One of the wildest films in the Criterion Collection catalog plays like an episode of Scooby-Doo re-enacted by Japanese schoolgirls on ’shrooms.
The Cell (HBO Go/Now): The film’s final hour is almost exclusively made up of striking surrealist imagery, which is what we’re here for, isn’t it?
Sick of watching nubile, half-dressed co-eds tripping over branches and screaming for help? Of auxiliary girlfriend characters who seem to exist only to get kidnapped and/or tortured? These female-focused horror flicks provide a refreshing alternative.
Raw (Netflix): This uncommonly assured debut feature explores sisterly love and sexual awakening in the form of a fiercely uncompromising cannibal horror movie.
The Descent (Showtime via Hulu or Amazon Channels): Opening with six female friends descending into an unexplored system of caves, The Descent not only features a strong female ensemble cast—a rarity in the genre—it’s also one of the most intense horror movies of the new millennium.
The Slumber Party Massacre (Amazon Prime): At first glance, this might seem like your typical, T&A-filled ’80s slasher movie, but it was conceived as a feminist satire of the genre written by lesbian feminist Rita Mae Brown.