This list was updated September 30, 2015 to reflect Netflix’s current offerings.
Netflix Streaming can be overwhelming — so many options, yet so hard to browse — and we here at Vulture want to make it easier for you to find a great film, fast. We weeded through every single horror movie currently available to stream on Netflix and pointed out the good ones, the bad ones, the disturbing ones, and the just plain silly ones.
Everyone’s going to have differing opinions on what movies are great, but I think we can all agree that the ones below are more likely to fall in the plus column rather than the minus.
Scream (1996) and Scream 2 (1997): For many people under 30, these jokey yet scary Wes Craven deconstructions of the slasher film genre were the first real horror movies that they were allowed to see. The films still hold up, and the first movie’s use of the song “Red Right Hand” introduced me to Nick Cave, a worthy reason to love Scream on its own.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010): Not unlike Cabin in the Woods, a movie that completely flips the script, imagining those creepy redneck guys that always pop up in forest-adjacent horror movies as the nice ones, with the typically fragile college students as the aggressors. Witty and bloody.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Day of the Dead (1985): George Romero redrafted the rules on zombies when he unleashed his visceral, slow-cooked Night of the Living Dead in 1968. The writer-director fuled his crude, black-and-white vision with allegorical anger — a world overrun by the dead wasn't far off from our own. By the time he got to Day of the Dead (Netflix Streaming skips the essential Dawn installment), the themes were razor sharp and gut-ripping more gruesome than ever. Day doesn't need legendary status to tie your stomach in knots.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Along with The Exorcist, which came along five years later in 1973, this Roman Polanski film helped kick off the horror boom of the 1970s. It’s still all sorts of messed up. There’s a scene in which the lead character is raped by Satan, for Christ's sake. “This is no dream, this is really happening!”
The House of the Devil (2009): Director Ti West’s movies might not be for the average horror fan. The House of the Devil, in particular, is an exercise in tension-building, an experiment in how long you can “bore” your audience before pulling the trigger.
Let the Right One In (2008): An innocent love story that just happens to be about a young boy and his equally young (if ageless) vampire friend, this 2008 Sweden-set bloodsucker tale, remade for U.S. audiences in 2010 as Let Me In, is a masterpiece that floats between cold Scandinavian storytelling and steaming hot-blooded genre violence.
The Babadook (2014): A generic monster from a children’s book becomes a stand-in for demons in a grieving mother’s psyche in Jennifer Kent’s Aussie breakout. After watching, you may spend the new few weeks muttering the “Babadook” under your breath and scaring your friends.
Hellboy (2004): A horror comedy about a wisecracking demon fighting Nazis and supernatural monsters. Horror is a house with many rooms (horror/sci-fi, for example, though The Thing is sadly no longer available on Netflix Streaming) and funny movies take up one significant wing.
American Mary (2012): Jen and Sylvia Soska emerged as the horror talent pool's premiere (and much-needed) female voices after American Maryhit big on the festival circuit. A grungy fable of body modification and financial crisis, the movie follows a medical student-turned-stripper who enters the dark world of underground surgery to make even quicker bucks. The Soska's refreshing style weaves female themes in with horror's gory legacy. A lady can spill blood with a bone saw as well as any dude.
The Host (2006): No, not the movie based on the Stephenie Meyer book; that was no good. This is the 2006 South Korean sea monster movie directed by Joon-ho Bong, and it’s very entertaining. Also, it remains one of the highest-grossing South Korean movies ever.
Re-Animator (1985): There haven’t been that many great (or that many at all) H.P. Lovecraft adaptations on the big screen. Perhaps it has to do with the author’s creatures being so amazing-looking that they usually drive people who gaze upon them insane — a high barrier for any movie. But this one adapts one of Lovecraft’s less cosmically grand stories into a wacky and bloody tale about a medical student who just loves to bring dead things back to life.
V/H/S (2012) and V/H/S 2 (2013): The anthology film has long been a staple of the horror genre, but this franchise had the genius stroke of tagging on to the latest stylistic boom and making all of its shorts found-footage stories. Each segment has a different director and therefore has a completely different style and feel and conceit — making V/H/S and its sequel completely schizophrenic and all the better for it. Some critics called the first film out for its lack of cohesion, which seems to run counter to the purpose of an anthology film.
You're Next (2013): Two members of Team V/H/S, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, evolve past the found footage gimmick to rejuvenate the slasher in this overlooked 2013 highlight. With all the '80s reboots vying for attention, it only takes You're Next a thoughtful motive, a dash of comedy, and an array of inventive kills to rise above the rest. In an alternate dimension where animal-masked hunters don't show up at a house, Wingard and Barrett's characters would implode in The Family Stone-like fashion. It's all the better that someone comes to kill them.
Some other good movies to check out: The Blair Witch Project (the found footage movie that started it all); Hellraiser (Clive Barker, puzzle box, pinhead); Troll Hunter (another found-footage movie, this one a Norwegian mockumentary about the title creature); Day Watch(directed by Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov, a key entry in an insane supernatural saga); From Dusk Till Dawn (a Western that morphs into a vampire flick); Here Comes the Devil (a satanic mystery set in hills of Mexico); World War Z (The magic reshoots downsizes the second half of Brad Pitt's zombie epic into a the right kind of claustrophobic scarefest); The Pact (a spiffy haunted house movie with enough ambition to keep those with trope know-how on their toes); Jug Face (not only do backwood crazy folk sacrifice women to an ancient monster, they rub it in by sculpting clay jugs in the image of their victims faces); The Den (an internet horror-thriller that will help you forget Feardotcom); Ju-On: The Grudge (before arriving stateside and devolving into parody, those creepy pale ghost kids terrorized Japanese victims); Stake Land and We Are What We Are (one's a post-apocalyptic vampire road movie, the other a brooding tragedy of family and cannibalism — polar opposites from the mind of writer-director Jim Mickle). Finally, for old school horror buffs in a silent mood, there’s the original big bad vampire, Nosferatu (as well as director F.W. Murnau’s Faust).
The ABCs of Death (anthology horror with a great concept — one death for every letter of the alphabet — that also proves to be its own undoing, since we’re talking about 27 shorts!); Leprechaun (a movie that can't make Warwick Davis chasing Jennifer Aniston around in a wheelchair goofy fun); Children of the Corn (a risible Stephen King adaptation that spawned almost ten sequels — you’ll get acquainted with them later); Scream 3 (we get it); Darkness Falls (From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 director Jonathan Liebsman, a horror movie about the tooth fairy) Devil (remember when this trailer played before a movie and everyone laughed at the line, “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan"?); The Prophecy (Christopher Walken starred in three movies as the archangel Gabriel, which is kind of perfect and also kind of dumb); Mimic (Guillermo del Toro directed this Mira Sorvino giant bug movie, and he was very displeased with the final product, as was I); The Hole (not even Howling and Gremlins director Joe Dante returned to the big screen in 2012... four years after he shot this meandering, kid-centric movie); Grave Encounters 2 (better off marathoning actual Ghost Hunters episodes); Cursed (Another Craven misfire, this time with werewolves); Bruiser (the forgotten George Romero film, having come out between The Dark Half and Land of the Dead); Contracted (a killer STD has major metaphorical potential); Dead Silence (Saw and Insidious director James Wan attempt at a serious killer doll movie); All Cheerleaders Die (a biting satire of female horror characters that forgot to sharpen its teeth); The Awakening (it's unjust how hard Rebecca Hall works to make this ghost story play); John Dies in the End (a fury of Supernatural-like weirdness that Phantasm director Don Coscarelli can't keep on a leash); Argento's Dracula (the Susperia director gives Dracula the power to morph into a giant grasshopper, so there's that); Stage Fright (Scream meets Glee for a horror musical that sounds great on paper); The Last Days on Mars (John Carpenter couldn't make “zombies on Mars” work and neither can this flashy indie).
The Human Centipede and The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (if you don’t know the conceit of these two films, you live in a happier place than I do); Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (this movie came out at a time — the mid-Eighties — when movie murderers and serial killers were seen primarily in jokey or cheap slasher films. This film feels different, more raw. The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker plays the title character.); Ravenous (19th century cannibals can be funny as long as Robert Carlyle and Guy Pearce are doing the (scene) chewing); The Snowtown Murders (grim Australian serial killer story); Maniac (Elijah Wood in the remake of a 1980 movie about a killer who likes scalps; the murders are shown from the point of view of the killer.).
Sharks, snakes, poultry, etc ...
THE MARIO BAVAS
Bava was an Italian director who made his name in the “giallo” subgenre of the Sixties and Seventies. The first films below are two of his most famous — Sabbath is a three-part horror anthology film from which the metal band took its name, and Sunday has a scene in which a mask of nails is pounded into a woman’s face.
THE AMAZINGLY TITLED
These pretty much speak for themselves, don’t they?
Cockney's vs. Zombies
The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine
THE ENDLESSLY SEQUELIZED
Again, because of Netflix Streaming’s slapdash collection, many franchises have sequels available to watch, but not the originals. Such as the following:
And then there are the franchises that just keep going on and on.
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror
Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return
Children of the Corn 7: Revelation
Children of the Corn: Genesis