Horror movies are as ancient as cinema itself. Since the silent era, filmmakers have leaned on the grim, grotesque, and otherworldly to provoke and disturb audiences. Even the current savants of horror cinema — names like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers — rely on many of the same tricks as the genre pioneers to bring the creeps to audiences the world over. It’s a good thing, then, that Amazon Prime has a more-than-reputable repertoire of skin-crawling horror films, even if you have to dig a little to find them.
That’s what we’re here for. If you’re looking to enjoy an intense fright night, check out our list of the best horror movies that you can stream on Amazon Prime today, featuring films with everything from aliens to zombies, all with troubling twists and turns, from as early as the 1920s to present day.
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The House of the Devil (2009)
Hailed as a throwback to ’70s and ’80s horror cinema, Ti West’s The House of the Devil follows Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a down-on-her-luck college student who could use a bit of cash. So she decides to take a babysitting job. What’s the harm, right? Well, it turns out there’s no actual “child” at the residence. Instead, Samantha is tasked with caring for the ailing mother of the property owner’s wife, a mysterious man named Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan). As the night wears on, the $400 gig turns into an all-out nightmare as one bizarre event leads to the next. Those in need of slap-you-in-the-face gore and thrills may not be satisfied by the atmospheric slow burn of The House of the Devil, and that’s OK. But those willing to lean into the gradual tension-clencher will not be disappointed by Ti West’s brilliant homage to horror’s heyday.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov
Director: Ti West
Runtime: 93 minutes
Mausoleum doesn’t pretend to be an Oscar contender in any way. That being said, if you’re looking for a ridiculous piece of genre cinema that you can unplug your brain and laugh with, this is a sure bet for you and anyone else you drag to the TV room (except the kids, that is). Mausoleum opens with teenager Susan Farrell (Julie Christy Murray) mourning the death of her mother. Lured to the cemetery’s mausoleum, Susan succumbs to an ancient curse. Years later, adult Susan (Bobbie Bresee) is married and living in a looming regal home with her successful husband, Oliver (Marjoe Gortner). Turns out the curse wasn’t finished with Susan though, as the woman begins transforming into a hellish creature with a penchant for blood. This is camp cinema at its finest — cheap, low stakes, but a ton of fun.
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Stars: Bobbie Bresee, Marjoe Gortner, William Vail
Director: Michael Dugan
Runtime: 96 minutes
Ju On: The Grudge (2002)
Misery loves company in Ju On: The Grudge, a Japanese horror film about a killer curse born of one family’s infidelities and homicide. When Takeo Saki finds out his wife is in love with another man, he murders her, their son, and the family cat. The nuclear unit returns as a band of homicidal phantoms, preying upon anyone that enters their resting place. Rika, a social worker tasked with caring for the next homeowners’ geriatric mother, soon bears witness to the band of ghouls and their horrid acts.
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Stars: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Takashi Matsuyama
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Runtime: 96 minutes
The feature film debut of one of the genre’s newest auteurs, Ari Aster, this gruesome and terrifying story follows a grieving family of four, some seemingly malevolent spirits, and the potential that a history of mental illness has plagued the bloodline, resulting in a series of elaborate deaths — or is it all a part of some bigger plan? Toni Collette is mesmerizing as the emotionally volatile Annie, the matriarch of the film’s doomed clan. Her powerhouse performance is only further buttressed by the talents of co-stars Gabriel Byrne (the father), Peter Wolff (the son), and Milly Shapiro (the extremely unusual daughter, Charlie). With sets that feel like elaborate mazes and camera-work that truly traps the viewer in the family’s physical and metaphorical labyrinths, Hereditary is one we’ll be talking about for a long time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne
Director: Ari Aster
Runtime: 127 minutes
Train to Busan (2016)
It’s the zombie apocalypse, and passengers on a train to Busan are trapped as the walking dead seek out human flesh to feast on. Set in South Korea, the plot centers around Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a workaholic divorced father traveling with his young daughter. The small family unit meets a host of idiosyncratic players on their train-ride, including a selfish COO, cheerleader, and homeless stowaway. When a woman who is infected boards the train, it becomes a do-or-die fight to survive. Lovers of the undead genre will feel quite at home with this thriller movie.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Runtime: 118 minutes
A pagan cult is at the center of this horrifying film about a group of friends who travel to Sweden to attend a festival that only comes around every 90 years… but get more than they bargained for upon arrival. The tone is immediately set when they discover the tortuous and disturbing commune is involved in human sacrifice and purging evil. It’s unsettling, but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s the perfect flick to watch. A co-production between the U.S. and Sweden, it’s offered in English language. A hypnotic, dread-laden score by Bobby Krlic, set against Pawel Pogorzelski’s bright, ethereal visuals will be a treat for cinephiles; but anyone with a preference for disturbing-over-scary should feel a connection with Midsommar almost instantly.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Director: Ari Aster
Runtime: 148 minutes
The Lighthouse (2019)
One of the more recent films on this list, The Lighthouse is filmed in black and white and uniquely in an almost square 1.19:1 aspect ratio to set the historical scene. The setting is the late 19th century and a storm strands two lighthouse keepers on a remote island. As they try and survive without going insane and killing one another, they experience vivid and frightening visions and reveal purported secrets. Writer Robert Eggers has said that his brother, who co-wrote the film with him, originally wanted to make the movie a contemporary take on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Light-House, but it then evolved into something completely different and utterly terrifying.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Director: Robert Eggers
Runtime: 109 minutes
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
The scene is an island. After being shipwrecked, a man meets a big game hunter who he soon discovers loves to play a sinister game where he hunts other humans and displays their severed heads as trophies. Adapted from the 1924 short story of the same name written by Richard Connell and just an hour-long, it was interestingly made by a team that worked on the film King Kong, starred some of the same actors, and was filmed on the same set at nights.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Joal McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong
Director: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Runtime: 62 minutes
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Mandatory viewing for any classic horror movie fan, and widely considered the zombie film of all zombie films, Night of the Living Dead follows seven people stuck in a rural farmhouse, swarmed by herds of the undead that are desperate to feed on their flesh. Despite a small budget, it performed incredibly well at the box office. The film has since become a cult classic and has been analyzed for not only its cinematic quality but also interpreted as a piece of exquisite (albeit visually gruesome) social commentary.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Judith O’Dea, Duane Jones, Marilyn Eastman, Karl Hardman, Judith Ridley, Keith Wayne
Director: George A. Romero
Runtime: 96 minutes
Dubbed an unauthorized production of Bram Stoker’s work and originally called Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens), the silent German Expressionist film was about a vampire named Count Orlok who takes a special interest in his estate agent and, more importantly, his wife. Despite Stoker’s heirs having filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the film given its striking similarities to Dracula, and a court ordering all copies to be destroyed, some pressings managed to survive. It is now described as being “based on Dracula by Bram Stoker.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Max Schrek, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder
Director: F.W. Murnau
Runtime: 94 minutes
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
A silent film, it’s one of many that tells the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all based on the 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the 1887 stage play by Thomas Russell Sullivan. As the well-known story goes, a doctor conducts experiments trying to separate what he believes to be dual personalities found in every human. But things go awry, resulting in him flipping back and forth between his own good and evil sides.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Charles W. Lane, Nita Naldi
Director: John S. Robertson
Runtime: 79 minutes
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
When a group of college students set out to a cabin in the woods for some R&R, they get more than they bargained for. It seems there are evil technicians in an underground lab watching them, feeding them drugs to monitor their reactions, and looking on as monsters and zombies attack them. While the plot sounds like something out of a low-budget B-list indie horror flick, the film, which was produced and written by Joss Whedon, was well received by critics and audiences, alike.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Director: Drew Goddard
Runtime: 95 minutes
A revered cult classic, Phantasm follows the terror-plagued odyssey of teenaged Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) through a haunted but picturesque suburbia. The film opens with Mike’s brother, Tommy, being brutally murdered in a local cemetery, and from there, the horrors only grow. Turns out the killer could be a ghoul known only as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). As Mike and a family friend, Reggie (Reggie Bannister), begin unpacking the mysteries surrounding Tommy’s death, the Tall Man mythos becomes painfully real as a bevy of chromium murder-drones and other paranormal menaces descend on the duo. Written and directed by Don Coscarelli — who was inspired by classics such as Dario Argento’s Suspiria — the look and feel of Phantasm can be found in recent genre films like It Follows, where dreamy visuals and lush, eerie soundtracks set the stage for horrors both campy and poignant.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
Director: Don Coscarelli
Runtime: 88 minutes
Hot off the success of his 2017 film, Call Me by Your Name, director Luca Guadagnino dove headfirst into the production of Suspiria, a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Technicolor nightmare about a prestigious German dance academy with a mysterious and sordid past. In Guadagnino’s rendition, Dakota Johnson plays Susie Bannion, the American newcomer to the foreign school, and what a wicked first day of classes she has. An expelled student, Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz), is murdered, and not long after the ex-matriculate confessed to her therapist that the dance academy is run by evil witches.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Runtime: 133 minutes
Grave Encounters (2011)
Critics remain divided on Grave Encounters, but for those with an open mind and a willingness to giggle, it’s the perfect midnight creeper. The setup is pretty familiar, thanks to our planet’s long and animated history of ghost-hunter shows like Ghost Adventures and Netflix’s recent docu-horror entry, Haunted. The film follows a paranormal research team investigating an abandoned asylum that is purportedly haunted — what could possibly go wrong? As ghouls emerge, exits vanish, and time starts to fold in on itself, the crew members start dropping like flies. It’s not elegant Oscar cinema, but for diehard found-footage fans, Grave Encounters is a steady genre romp that once you start, you won’t want to stop.
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Stars: Ben Wilkinson, Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger
Director: The Vicious Brothers
Runtime: 92 minutes
Ah yes, the joys of buying your first home. As if closing costs, inspections, and the pains of moving day weren’t hell enough, imagine being trapped in a neighborhood where all the houses are exactly the same — and there’s no escape. That’s where director/co-writer Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium gets started. After Tom and Gemma (Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) travel to the mysterious development of Yonder with their oddball realtor, Martin (Jonathan Aris), the agent seemingly disappears. Upon further investigation, the couple discovers that Yonder seems to have no visible end, and that no matter where they go or what they do, Tom and Gemma can’t get away from their “dream home.” Even after burning it to the ground, it magically reappears.
Vivarium is a co-production between Ireland, Denmark, and Belgium that had its world premiere at Cannes 2019. A labyrinthine nightmare, Eisenberg and Poots flourish as Tom and Gemma, an innocent young couple that slowly begins losing their minds and overall grip on reality, especially once a newborn baby arrives — appearing out of the clear blue. Is this maze of suburbia all in their head, or are their sinister forces at play? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, Jonathan Aris
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Runtime: 97 minutes
Secret Window (2004)
A year after his first appearance as everyone’s favorite drunken swashbuckler, Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp ditched the pirate garb to star in writer/director David Koepp’s Secret Window, an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1990 novella Secret Window, Secret Garden. Depp plays Mort Rainey, a down-on-his-luck author going through a nasty divorce. Mort spends his days dealing with a serious bout of writer’s block, a creative hindrance only exacerbated by the arrival of John Shooter (John Turturro), a Mississippi author that claims Rainey plagiarized his own work, a novel titled Sowing Season. While Mort claims he couldn’t have, as his story in question, “Secret Window,” was published two years before Shooter’s own, Mort reads Shooter’s manuscript and discovers the two stories are practically mirror images of each other.
The eerie Shooter delivers an ultimatum: Provide proof that “Secret Window” was published first, and keep away from the police. Shooter leaves the cabin, but his black mark on Mort’s life starts to manifest further as a series of murders begin piling up — with all signs pointing toward the bitter and reclusive Mort. Now over 15 years old, Secret Window continues to be just as chilling and perplexing nearly two decades later, a tough feat for any PG-13 horror film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Stars: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello
Director: David Koepp
Runtime: 95 minutes
Lords of Salem (2012)
Here’s another witchy pick for all our evil coven fans, and one that doesn’t get enough attention. Writer/director Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects) brings a seedy punk-rock aesthetic to the Salem witch trials in this 2012 horror film, starring his wife and Zombie film stalwart, Sheri Moon Zombie. Moon plays Heidi, a drug-addled radio DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a record from an unknown sender, with a written note that reads “a gift from the lords.” True to the genre’s tropes, Heidi plays the record, which is seemingly nothing more than a series of woodwind and string instruments playing the same melody over and over. Well, as the film unfolds, it turns out the ancient-sounding tune is some kind of musical hex that puts all the women of Salem into some kind of trance. Worse is that Heidi herself begins experiencing a series of disturbing visions, ripe with images of demon priests, coven rituals, and cryptoid offspring that H.P. Lovecraft would be proud of.
Rob Zombie’s canon can be pretty hit or miss. While Lords of Salem may not be for everyone (especially those used to the more traditional genre trappings of Corpses or Rejects), it’s Zombie taking a stab at a more fantastical slow-burn horror. In our opinion, it’s an effort not in vain. Lords is filled with some truly haunting imagery, as well as Sheri Moon’s best performance in one of her husband’s films.
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Stars: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips
Director: Rob Zombie
Runtime: 100 minutes
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