This article is regularly updated as titles leave and enter Shudder. New titles are indicated with an asterisk.
Yes, there are plenty of good horror movies on Netflix (including a sturdy selection of originals). Amazon and Hulu certainly have some great titles as well. But the real horror heads know the truth: Shudder is the best streaming service for them.
If you’re new to the service and wondering where to start, don’t fret: We’ve dug into Shudder’s increasingly impressive catalogue to find the best films worth your time, from classics like Halloween to newer entries like Mandy. Watch them all.
Anything for Jackson
Julian Richings and Sheila McCarthy play a pair of grandparents who are willing to do anything to get back their grandson in this brilliant Shudder original. Justin G. Dyck happens to be a director of TV holiday movies with names like 48 Christmas Wishes, but he tells a very different kind of nativity story here as grandma and grandpa try to perform a reverse exorcism and put the soul of their dead grandson in the unborn child of a pregnant woman. It does not go well.
Takashi Miike may have made over 100 movies, but this one’s the best of them all. His 1999 thriller/horror adaptation of Ryu Murakami’s book is not only terrifying, but it proved that the Miike known more for unbridled insanity could also work in a more psychological, terrifying register. It’s the story of a widower who finds himself dating the wrong person, and it’s a masterful slow burn as the film builds to one of the most unsettling climaxes of all time.
Jeffrey A. Brown’s directorial debut is one of Shudder’s best original films to date, the story of two couples in an isolated beach house when the world just happens to end. With echoes of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King’s The Mist, Brown’s film starts as a straightforward character piece but turns into something much gnarlier. Those with aversions to foot-based grossness may want to look elsewhere.
Behind the Mask
Scott Glosserman co-wrote and directed this mockumentary that kind of plays like Behind the Music but for the greatest movie slasher that you’ve never heard of, Leslie Vernon. After playing at SXSW in 2006, the film barely got released, but it built a loyal following at home because it’s so wickedly smart. The only tragedy is that we have yet to get a sequel.
45 years after the release of the original, a remake of Black Christmas is about to hit theaters, so it’s a great time to catch up with the influential 1974 film. Something to keep in mind is that this slasher classic about a group of sorority sisters hunted on Christmas (including Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey) predates Halloween and Friday the 13th. In other words, it’s really one of the first slasher pics, a movie that shaped dozens of films to come.
A Shudder original, this Canadian film premiered at TIFF 2020, where it was the Opening Night entry for the Midnight Madness program. It’s a clever riff on the zombie genre (yes, that’s still possible) in which a tribe of indigenous people discover that they’re the only people immune to the bite of the walking dead. It’s the kind of social commentary meets brain-eating that George A. Romero would have liked. And there are zombie fish!
Peter Medak’s 1980 ghost story was promoted largely for its scares, but it’s a bit tame now in that department; now it’s more valuable as an example of how great George C. Scott was every single time he got in front of a camera. Scott plays a man grieving the loss of his wife and daughter who moves to Seattle and discovers his new house is haunted. It’s interesting to watch this movie now and consider how much it visually influenced the world of films like The Conjuring and Annabelle. It’s a clear inspiration.
Color Out of Space
Richard Stanley co-wrote and directed this adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story of the same name, marking his first time behind the camera since the disastrous 1996 production of The Island of Dr. Moreau. This one went much better. Nicolas Cage plays the patriarch of a family that moves to a remote farm, at which a glowing meteor seems to crash in the front yard. And then things get really weird in a way that only a Lovecraft movie can.
Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) wrote and directed one of the best horror films of 2020, and it’s already on Shudder. The Dark and the Wicked is the terrifying, brutal story of a pair of siblings who return to the family home when their father gets sick and discover there is something much darker at play. This film earned comparisons to The Shining and Hereditary when it was released, if that helps inspire you to watch it.
There’s a reason that so many horror directors bow at the altar of Dario Argento, the king of the giallo film. Also known as The Hatchet Murders, this is one of his masterpieces, a great starting point if you’re just getting into Argento’s career. The story of a pianist (David Hemmings) who gets caught up in the investigation into a serial killer contains some of Argento’s most unforgettable set pieces. The superb score by Goblin doesn’t hurt.
The Deeper You Dig
Billed as an Adams Family Production, this is a real labor of DIY indie filmmaking love for a husband/wife writing/directing team, who also star alongside their daughter. It’s the tale of a single mother whose daughter is killed one night in a roadside accident. The driver covers up the accidental death, leading to a tear in the fabric of supernatural happenings. It’s creepy and effective.
Marcin Wrona directed this unforgettable Polish film about a possible possession at a wedding. A man finds a skeleton and has increasingly terrifying visions as the night goes on in what is basically Wrona’s take on the classic Dybbuk story. Culturally rich and daring, Wrona’s film was acclaimed worldwide, which he sadly never saw, committing suicide just before its release. The tragedy makes his film all the more haunting.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 epic retelling of the classic novel is one of the most lavish and ambitious Hollywood productions of its era. Gary Oldman gives one of his best performances as the title character, but it’s Coppola’s incredible craftsmanship and unforgettable design that make this movie an underrated horror classic.
There are a ton of familiar faces on Shudder like Mike Myers, Pinhead, and Jason Voorhees, but sometimes you want something a little off the beaten and bloodied path. Check out this little black-and-white indie about a man who stumbles onto a tech start-up called XVR that allows people to literally step into someone else’s shoes. A clever little film that Rod Serling would have loved.
This Canadian has become a true cult classic in the nearly two decades since its release. People who love Ginger Snaps, really love this movie. Do a Google search and you’ll find passionate arguments that it’s a modern masterpiece. And then check out this feminist werewolf tale for yourself and see if you agree.
Sometimes when you see a new film, you know you are in the hands of a daring debut director. Such was the case when this black-and-white vampire western — yes, another one of those — premiered at Sundance. Ana Lily Amirpour has a style that is distinctly her own, blending her background and interests into something daring and new.
Maybe you’ve heard of it? It seems unlikely that anyone subscribing to a service called Shudder hasn’t seen John Carpenter’s game-changing masterpiece, but maybe it’s been a few years for you and you’re considering a revisit. You really should go back to Haddonfield and see where the saga of Michael Myers began. It’s the rare horror movie that can send chills up your spine every time you see it.
More comedy than horror, this 1989 cult hit with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater now looks to be ahead of its time in so many ways. Consider the way Michael Lehmann captures the clique culture of youth in a manner that feels like it’s still relevant today. On top of that, it’s a film that predicted the tragic way in which violence would become a hazard for people just trying to get an education. A box-office flop when it was released, this is a movie that seems to grow in popularity every year for a reason.
Forget that Clive Barker movie on Hulu and dig back into the franchise that helped make the author a household name, at least in households with horror fans. Hellraiser is still an incredibly powerful film, the only one really to get that mix of surreal horror and human frailty that defined the Barker brand. Just the first two movies are currently on Shudder, but that’s really all you need.
Horror films typically have an exaggerated style that makes them easier to watch. Whether they’re the slasher pics of the 1980s or the “elevated horror” of today, we can feel comfortable that these films don’t reflect real life. What was (and is) so startling about this drama is how genuine it feels, capturing the grimy, dirty life of a pair of sociopaths who feed each other’s penchant for violence.
Forget the awful remake, stick with the Wes Craven classic, a low-budget movie that changed the horror landscape when it was released in 1977. Following Craven’s debut in The Last House on the Left, a true horror master developed with this story of cannibals living in the Nevada desert. It still has gruesome power.
Rob Savage directed the first major pandemic-produced horror film, a movie about a séance gone wrong over Zoom, which was filmed since the COVID-19 outbreak shut down the world. Directing the project via Zoom himself, Savage produced a surprisingly effective piece of work. And it only runs 56 minutes!
Ti West is the kind of the slow burn, horror movies that simmer their way to explosive final acts. His best to date remains this 2009 genre flick starring Jocelin Donahue as a college student hired to babysit by a creepy couple. Clearly, there’s something wrong, but West delays the payoff until the very end, allowing tension to build with each passing scene. Greta Gerwig co-stars in a small role.
One of Takashi Miike’s breakthrough films internationally, this 2001 action flick is still banned in several countries around the world. There is naturally a lot of violence on Shudder, but Ichi is its own special category of crazy. When it was released, it was the kind of film that one had to special order from online companies, and now it can be streamed directly to your phone while you’re on the bus. Isn’t technology wonderful?
The midsection of what is sometimes referred to as Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, this 1980 giallo often gets ignored when people discuss the career of one of Italy’s best directors. It may not be Suspiria, the first film in the trilogy, but there’s still so much flair and craftsmanship on display here that you owe it to yourself to take a look, especially if you like Argento’s more popular films.
Larry Cohen was a trailblazing voice in genre cinema, one of the most daring and original directors of his generation. Don’t believe us? Check out this excellent documentary about a filmography that included God Told Me To, It’s Alive, The Stuff, and Q. It would be nice if there were more actual Cohen films on Shudder, but this is a good look at his whole career.
Tilman Singer writes and directs this film that feels more like a lost flick from the ‘70s era of European horror than something that came out in 2019. It’s truly impossible to describe a film that plays out like a hallucination more than a literal story. There’s a police station, a possession, and then a deconstruction of the very genre. You won’t forget it.
Panos Cosmatos gave Nicolas Cage one of the best roles of his career in this 2018 film that already feels like a cult classic. For about an hour, Mandy is a slow burn about a man who goes through a living hell when a cult kidnaps and murders his wife (Andrea Riseborough). And then for the second hour, it’s a crazy movie that’s just washed in blood and features a chainsaw fight. You can’t adequately describe it in words, so you just need to see it.
All three films in the original trilogy about a killer cop are on Shudder to satisfy your B-movie need for cheesy violence. The 1988 William Lustig original was ignored when it came out but grew a following over the years on VHS and DVD, leading to sequels and even a remake. Both 1990’s Maniac Cop 2 and 1993’s Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence are on Shudder. Time for a marathon!
In just the short time since this Joe Lynch film premiered at South by Southwest in 2017, its stars have become significantly more popular, which should spark interest in this dark comedy–horror flick. Those stars are Steven Yeun (Burning) and Samara Weaving (Ready or Not), who play two people in an office — he works there and she’s a client — when an inhibition-destroying virus unleashes total havoc. It’s like Office Space meets Fury Road.
The Mortuary Collection
After premiering at this year’s semi-virtual Fantasia Fest, this anthology film lands exclusively on Shudder, and it’s one of their best originals. The great Clancy Brown stars as a creepy mortician who shares the scariest stories that he’s ever heard with a young woman who comes to his door. With echoes of practical effects gore masters like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, this is a wonderful riff on the Tales from the Crypt brand of bloody horror.
Ana Asensio’s 2017 thriller is a terrifying story of an undocumented woman who is forced to become a pawn in a horrible game in order to survive. Embedding a commentary on class inequity and privilege in a riveting story, this film announced Asensio as a triple threat as she also wrote and stars in the film.
Horror movies tend to produce documentaries about their popularity and fandom at a higher rate than, say, realistic dramas. One of the best of this subgenre is Never Sleep Again, a detailed look at why Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street series became such a game-changing phenomenon in the genre. Over four hours, you get detailed looks at all the films with interviews with the major players. One, two, Freddy’s coming for you!
Clive Barker wrote and directed this adaptation of his Cabal and released it to a much more muted response than the one that greeted his hit Hellraiser. But kover the years, Nightbreed has developed a loyal following, in part due to the various versions of it now available. The one on Shudder is the theatrical version, in which Craig Sheffer plays a man who becomes convinced his therapist is a serial killer, and his own investigation leads him to a tribe of monsters. Good times.
This Japanese indie is a great example of a true word-of-mouth phenomenon, a movie made for almost nothing (reportedly as little as $25,000) that has made over $30 million worldwide, largely through recommendations. The less you know the better, so try and avoid spoilers. All we’ll say is that what you think this movie is for the first half-hour is not exactly right, and it takes a turn that results in one of the smartest, most heartfelt zombie flicks in years.
Another low-budget flick that produced an empire, Don Coscarelli’s totally bonkers 1979 film isn’t as much an influential genre classic as it is kind of unlike anything before or since. Who can forget the first time they saw Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man, one of the best horror characters of his era? The crazy plot here is secondary to the unforgettable imagery and style. There’s a reason it spawned four sequels and has a very loyal cult following 40 years later. (Note: Phantasm III, IV, and V are all on Shudder too. Tall Man Marathon!)
Jamie Lee Curtis will always be most associated with Halloween, but this is also an essential film to understand why she was the Scream Queen of her generation. It’s an influential slasher pic about a masked killer stalking teens on Prom Night, but it’s what JLC brings to it that made it a hit.
Horror has too long been a man’s game, so we should celebrate when a great film by a female director lands on Shudder. The people behind the company enjoy this movie so much that they’ve been using a blood-soaked image of its star, Matilda Lutz, in a lot of their marketing. Lutz plays a woman who is raped and nearly murdered by a trio of monsters. You will cheer her bloody, vicious vengeance.
Tell me a scary story. Who doesn’t love a good frightful fable every now and then? Josh Ruben directs, writes, and stars in this clever Sundance hit making its exclusive streaming premiere on Shudder. Ruben plays a struggling writer who rents a remote cabin, only for the power to go out. Another horror writer (played by the great Aya Cash) happens to be his neighbor, and the two share scary stories throughout the night. More meta comedy than most movies on this list, it still builds to a surprising ending.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are carving a unique niche in which they make genre films that are borne out of a very human dynamic. Last year’s The Endless and the upcoming Synchronic are about people more than the bizarre circumstances in which they find themselves. Same goes for this phenomenal 2015 film about a young man who travels to Europe after the death of his mother. There, he meets a beautiful young woman, who … well, she has a secret. Imagine Before Sunrise written by H.P. Lovecraft and you have some idea where this is going.
Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are) directed this fresh riff on vampire mythology and Nick Damici rocks as a hunter of bloodsuckers who takes a lost young man under his wing. Most memorable is the vision of a future decimated by the end of the world, resulting in a film that feels like post-apocalyptic action like Mad Max blended with Dracula. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Brandon Christensen co-wrote and directed this shocking film, a twisted tale that envisions a woman’s postpartum grief turning into something much darker. Christie Burke is phenomenal as a woman who gives birth to twins but loses one in the process. The natural depression combines with the unimaginable grief to convince her that something is coming for her other child. Or maybe she’s right?
The great Stuart Gordon passed away in early 2020 and there were several remembrances that included his most notable films like Re-Animator, but don’t skip this twisted thriller from 2009. Based on a true story, it’s the tale of a woman (Mena Suvari) who hits a man (Stephen Rea) with her car and then basically leaves him stuck in her grill, barely alive, as she figures out what to do next. Vicious and underrated.
The wave of Asian horror in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s produced a few instant classics of the genre, but this may be the best of the bunch. Kim Jee-woon’s 2003 South Korean flick is the story of a young woman who returns home after a trip to a mental hospital and faces off with a new stepmother and something possibly supernatural. It’s a modern classic.
Few films made the same cultural impact as Tobe Hooper’s 1974 splatter classic, a movie he shot with his friends and unknown actors in central Texas for almost no money and that would change film history forever. A lot of horror movies, even great ones, come and go, but people are constantly returning to the world of Leatherface and his cannibal family. It’s one of the few horror films of its era that feels nearly as terrifying today as it did the day it came out.
There aren’t enough films on Shudder that aren’t from the United States or Asia. This Mexican offering from Issa Lopez is an exception, and it’s a good one — a tender, empathetic tale of the orphans of the Mexican Drug War with stylistic echoes of one of its biggest fans, Guillermo del Toro.
A legitimate phenomenon that has grossed almost $100 million worldwide, this 2016 South Korean movie is one of the best zombie flicks of its era. It’s simple — zombies on a train — but that’s one of the reasons it works so well. It has a propulsive, nonstop energy, and it feels like its legacy is just getting started. There’s a reason that James Wan is working on a remake and director Yeon Sang-ho is prepping a sequel to his own hit.
Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie’s 2016 Canadian film may be the least known on this list, but just trust us: You’re going to dig it. So low budget that a lot of its effects were crowdfunded on Indiegogo, The Void is the story of a small group of people at a hospital at which a portal to the other side just happens to open. It has echoes of Lovecraft with a style that’s reminiscent of John Carpenter’s wonderful single-setting work. And the creature effects are just aces.
Na Hong-jin’s 2016 film is not one you should pick to watch casually a date night. It takes a commitment of over 150 minutes, but it’s worth every one of them. There’s a cumulative power to this story of a policeman who investigates a strange series of events in a small town and basically discovers ancient evil. The Wailing is epic, and it rewards your commitment to it with a final act that’s devastating and unforgettable.
A remake of the Mexican film, this Jim Mickle grisly thriller is the tale of a reclusive family who believes in tradition, including the ones that date all the way back to when people ate other people. A gnarly little cannibalism thriller, it includes a great early performance from Emmy winner Julia Garner of Ozark and The Assistant fame.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.