The greatest horror movies of all time get under your skin with original conceits. They sharpen your paranoia to burrow down into your brain. They grab hold of your heart with iconic imagery-you’ll never forget Freddy’s claws, no matter how hard you try.
Most of the major streaming services take spooky, scary dramas quite seriously, including HBO and HBO Max, which are able to house a number of creepy classics you can’t find anywhere else based on their deals with 20th Century, Warner Bros., and Turner Classic Movies. So switch off the lights, grab a blanket, and hold onto your nearest loved one-these stream-ready horror movies are here to fill your head with nightmares. Have fun!
With a bunch of blue-collar stiffs just trying to get home, Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie is, like many of the best sci-fi films, basically another genre kitted out with science-fiction elements. But what elements they are: that dingy ship, which suggests the future isn’t so bright for regular slobs like the crew of the Nostromo, and the vicious killing machine found on a cold, dead planet. That alien, complete with a grossly sexual life-cycle and particularly violent tendencies, is one of the greatest creations in any film, a horrifying representation of all the things we simply have to fight, even when the battle seems futile.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)*
This classic creature-feature from director John Landis (The Blues Brothers) is a were-horror that transforms into gut-busting comedy for stretches of pale moonlight. Known for a wicked transformation sequence conducted by makeup maestro Rick Baker, An American Werewolf in London‘s backpacking buddy duo, played by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, takes the movie to unexpected heights, as they deal with the repercussions of living with lycanthropy. A dizzying, wildly entertaining experience.
The Amityville Horror (2005)*
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family, claiming he heard voices in the family home that convinced him to do it. The following year, the Lutz family moved into that same home and started to experience what can only be explained as a haunting, which is where this nightmarish tale really begins. The film is inspired by unexplainable true incidents in that real, eerie Amityville home on Long Island, and is just one of the many installments of the film series; but the 1979 original is by far the scariest, focusing on the original paranormal events that continues to baffle audiences.
The Blob (1958)
There’s not a whole lot to the tale of a giant glob of goo that lands in a small town and begins devouring everyone, but there’s something so damn fascinating about the monster itself that this oldie still calls for your attention. It’s still so gloriously gross, it’s hard to look away.
The Brood (1979)
Body horror purveyor David Cronenberg’s The Brood is one distorted film about the monstrous sides of motherhood. Conceptualized as the filmmaker was going through his own divorce, it cozies up to a father (Art Hindle) in distress as his mentally ill wife (Samantha Eggar) seeks treatment from a controversial psychotherapist (Oliver Reed) who supposedly transforms his patients with his mind-and-body-altering practice known as “psychoplasmics.” It’s not technically a creepy kid movie, but there sure are the creepiest “kids” (AKA inner child/traumas/literal multiplying monsters) you’ve ever seen running loose and committing murder after murder in this late ’70s cult classic. They’ll give you the creeps, but even more so, The Brood will leave you feeling sick, thinking about the repercussions of parenthood gone wrong and just how powerful the inner demons left by those relationships are.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
This low-budget black-and-white indie didn’t make much noise when it was released onto the drive-in circuit in the early 1960s, but it’s gone on to become one of the most celebrated horror films of the decade. It’s a hallucinatory tale of a young woman who believes she’s being stalked by a mysterious man-or maybe she’s simply losing her mind. Stick with it through the dry spots because act three is straight-up terrifying, provided you’ve been paying attention and have all the lights off.
The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan scared the shit out of moviegoers and restored faith in horror films when he dramatized Ed and Lorraine Warren’s haunted farmhouse visit for the big screen. As the two paranormal investigators (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) go head-to-head with a wicked presence, you’ll find yourself audibly yelping and wanting nothing to do with the dark. The impeccably choreographed jump scares are damn good, but the Warrens’ nail-biting heroics and the family’s intoxicating paranoia woven throughout are even better-proof that big-budget horror flicks don’t have to suck.
Doctor Sleep (2019)*
If you’re going to make a sequel to The Shining, here are two essential requirements: Stephen King has to write it, and there’s probably nobody better to adapt it than Mike Flanagan, who did a great job with King’s Gerald’s Game. Here, Flanagan delivers another smart, dark, fascinating adaptation; Ewan McGregor plays the now-grown Danny Torrance-and rather excellently-who is forced to hit the road and do battle with a “shine”-swallowing vampire (Rebecca Ferguson, also great) who’s nearly immortal.
Despite being reviled upon its release, David Lynch’s (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) Eraserhead is a grotesque masterpiece. About a man (Jack Nance) living in an industrial environment who finds out he’s the father of a deformed infant, it’s an uncomfortable journey into body horror, as well as the primal fears and anxieties of parenthood, that’s made even darker by the accompaniment of Lynch’s haunting score. Eraserhead got its cult film status and critical reevaluation playing as a midnight movie back in the day, and it’s just as horrific and stunning of a visual experience to watch in the witching hour now. (Plus, you’ll be officially clued into what you friends mean when they call something “Lynchian.”)
The Girl With All the Gifts (2017)*
If you’re fed up with “young adult dystopia,” and equally over the zombie movie, The Girl With All the Gifts is good news. The movie combines both genres into one tasty combo plate that’s unexpected at every turn. It’s about a group of survivors who accompany a young zombie/human hybrid into the wilderness after their facility is invaded. A weird one, but it’s also really quite good.
The horror of nuclear weaponry is manifested as movie history’s greatest monster in the signature science-fiction film from Japan. Monster movies had been around for decades, turning common fears into cinema boogeymen, but there was nothing quite like a giant lizard with radioactive breath and an oddly pleasing roar as a symbol for the dangers nuclear weapons posed to man and nature alike. The fact that Godzilla was such a perfectly designed creature helped, of course. This first film set in motion a series of wildly inventive characters and stories that continue to decimate cities on camera even now.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)*
It takes a certain amount of confidence to mount a new version of one of Wes Craven’s very best films, and that confidence is what helped Alexandre Aja (High Tension) to modernize this tale of cannibals vs. suburbanites in stark, brutal, and intense fashion. It’s definitely not your average road trip flick, but one with a disturbing it could happen to you quality, and has an especially creepy cast of characters to make the horrors one family encounters especially frightening.
The Invisible Man (2020)*
The classic H.G. Wells story gets a modern remake that somehow avoids all the problems that have plagued similar films. Elisabeth Moss delivers a fantastic performance as a woman intent on escaping her abusive boyfriend, only to realize that he’s still stalking her. Invisibly. Remarkably intense, consistently clever, and full of characters worth caring about, this is one of the best “studio” horror films in recent years.
The creepy clown. The red balloon. This adaptation of what’s often considered horror genius Stephen King’s biggest, toughest, and most popular books didn’t disappoint fans. This film is special, turning the story into one of the creepiest, classiest, most well-received King movies in years, largely due to the talented young cast and their portrayal of how damn frightening adolescence is. Bill Skarsgård will make all of your fears very real as the razor-sharp-toothed Pennywise, but the heartwarming ensemble makes conquering them very possible. IT: Chapter Two is also streaming, so you can make a (very long) marathon of it-although the second installment isn’t as good as the first, but you do get to see big names like Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and James McAvoy as the grown-up versions of those adorable kiddos.
“Da-dum… da-dum… da-dum da-dum da-dum!” You know the music. You know the “bigger boat” line. Maybe you even remember that dolly zoom shot of Roy Scheider sitting on the beach with his family when the screams of terror ring out and everyone runs like hell. But no matter how much pop culture chomps on the remains of this classic, there’s no stripping this understated, fundamentally humanist monster picture of its primal power. Even in the age of Sharknado and The Shallows, Jaws is still scary, funny, and essential viewing. These are waters you’ll want to get back into.
Some actors are so much fun to watch you can simply write a character for them and build the whole movie around that star vehicle-and that’s precisely what Ma is for Octavia Spencer. Oh, sure, this fairly straightforward thriller-which is about a bunch of teenage friends who take advantage of a quietly unhinged woman in their neighborhood-would probably be decent enough with anyone in the lead role, but it’s the effortless wit, warmth, and (occasional) weirdness of Spencer that makes Ma a whole lot better than average.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
You don’t come across too many horror films that create their very own subgenre, but that’s pretty much what George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead pulled off. The word “zombie” was around long before 1968, but this was the film that introduced legions of re-animated corpses who wander around in large groups and devour any living human they can get their hands on. The original film remains one of the most influential horror movies ever made, and the sequel is pretty much the Casablanca of zombie cinema.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The movie that first unleashed Freddy Krueger on your dreams is a reminder that monstrous designs don’t have to be corny. Robert Englund’s original version of the character is a sadistic serial killer, plunging his knifed hands into victims, and occasionally blowing them up into geysers of blood. Confront this horror story on an all-too-quiet night.
Say what you like about the sequels, but those who caught Saw before all the surprises were spoiled were in for a big, bruising treat. Now-seasoned vets James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (writer) as first timers are clearly having a ball with this buffet of horror delights. The low-budget, high-energy horror show goes from suspense to shocks and from police procedural to outright gory mayhem without skipping a beat. We’re not ashamed to admit that the ending, with the reveal of the Jigsaw Killer, totally got us. If you think this movie is little more than “torture porn,” then you need to give it another spin.
Horror master Wes Craven subverts and parodies his own slasher filmography in this meta-whodunnit from The Vampire Diaries creator Kevin Williamson. While the opening scene-Ghostface dialing up Drew Barrymore to ask, “Do you like scary movies?”-became instantly iconic, the rest of the thriller, led by Neve Campbell and a who’s who of mid-’90s stars, is a spine-tingling murderfest punctuated by jokes at the genre’s expense.
The Shining (1980)
Stephen King hates this psychotropic adaptation of his 1977 horror novel because director Stanley Kubrick took too many liberties. Well, sorry, Mr. King-Kubrick shot a classic. The Shining swaps the book’s creaky floor boards and vivid premonitions for silence and a seeping sense of dread. Kubrick preys on his viewers by hanging on the terror-those twins, that wave of blood, the pages and pages of “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY”-and leaving the explanation blank. There are ghosts haunting its every corner of The Overlook Hotel, poisoning Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) until he’s pure evil. For all the “Here’s Johnny!” spoofs in the word, Nicholson’s snarling rendition will always cut like an axe.
Brian De Palma’s (Scarface, Carrie) first entry into thrillers may be a low-budget slasher, but there’s a lot more to this psychological horror show that meets the eye. A blatant homage to Hitchcock, the film follows a murder and cover-up committed by a young model (and maybe/maybe not her twin sister) played by Margot Kidder and the investigation by a journalist (Jennifer Salt) who witnesses the event through her window across the way. Sisters takes a few turns, but De Palma’s stylish split-screen shots and experimental methods to get into his subjects’ psyches is a trip worth taking. This madhouse of a horror movie is disturbed in all the right ways.
The double, the doppelgänger with questionable intentions and mysterious origins, is a potent concept for both horror and comedy. Fittingly, writer and director Jordan Peele uses the device to elicit scares and laughs in Us, his sophomore feature about a family, led by intrepid parents Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and Gabe (Winston Duke), facing off against their jumpsuit-wearing, scissor-wielding counterparts in the middle of a leisurely vacation. What begins as an unsettling home invasion thriller with socio-political undertones in the vein of Michel Haneke’s Funny Games gives way to a more frenzied, twist-filled science-fiction brain-teaser that tunnels deep into feelings of paranoia like an episode of Lost or The Twilight Zone. Peele’s theme-park ride sense of pacing, particularly in a mid-movie sequence scored to the music of the Beach Boys and N.W.A., keeps you from questioning some of the leaps in narrative logic. Us explodes in a million directions and raises questions that simply can’t be answered. Untethering the ideas becomes half the fun.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Follow up your viewing of A Nightmare on Elm Street with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which is by no means just a meta warm-up for the director’s late-career resurgence. By casting the actors from his 1984 original Nightmare on Elm Street as themselves, he finds a surprisingly thoughtful, poignant way back into a franchise that was almost swallowed by camp after years of catchphrase-filled sequels. Funny, subtle, and genuinely frightening, New Nightmare is a work of keen-self-criticism from a genuine master of horror.Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.Follow the Thrillist Entertainment editors on Twitter @ThrillistEnt.
Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.
What is special about the year of the Rabbit?
As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.
What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?
There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.
New South Wales
Darling Harbour Fireworks When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.
Dragon Boat Races When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.
Lion Dances When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.
Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.
Auntie Philter When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.
Lunar New Year Festival When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.
BriAsia Festival When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.
Chinatown Adelaide Street Party When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.
Crown Perth When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.