This list was updated June 15, 2017 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, but we didn’t just want to pick the best horror movies on Netflix. Here, we’ve 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.
An American Werewolf in London (1981): Makeup supervisor Rick Baker is the true star of John Landis’s film about two American tourists who run afoul of a lycanthrope while backpacking though England. Transforming man into beast before the audience’s very eyes was an estimable accomplishment in the days before CGI, and Baker’s practical magic set a new bar for facial prosthetics.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): In this slasher classic, Freddy Krueger — he of the striped sweater, pepperoni face, and tattered fedora — torments children in their dreams. Before a long line of increasingly goofy sequels transformed the killer into a caricature of himself, he ruled ’80s horror with an iron fist and razor-fingered glove.
The Craft (1996): A quartet of teenage girls seize dominion over their high school through the dark powers of witchcraft, but soon realize that they may be tampering with forces beyond their control. At once a ’90s time capsule, a feminist-tinged cult item, and a masterfully curated mixtape (the soundtrack includes Siouxsie and the Banshees, Portishead, and Letters to Cleo), Andrew Fleming’s film can still cast a spell 20 years later.
Scream (1996): 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Honeymoon (2014): If you’re thinking about having your romantic honeymoon in a cabin in a very secluded forest, perhaps it’s time to rethink a beach or city setting. Take it from Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway), who’s seemingly delightful rustic getaway turns into an increasingly erratic and mysterious series of events, including encounters with bright lights, animal bites, and worm-like creatures. And death, lots of death.
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); The Pact (a spiffy haunted house movie with enough ambition to keep those with trope know-how on their toes); The Den (an internet horror-thriller that will help you forget Feardotcom); Stake Land (a post-apocalyptic vampire road movie). 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!); Children of the Corn (a risible Stephen King adaptation that spawned almost ten sequels — you’ll get acquainted with them later); 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); Stage Fright (Scream meets Glee for a horror musical that sounds great on paper).
The Human Centipede and The Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence (if you don’t know the conceit of these two films, you live in a happier place than I do); 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).
Sharks, snakes, poultry, etc …