The 20 best horror movies on Max that’ll give you nightmares
17 mins read

The 20 best horror movies on Max that’ll give you nightmares


Put on some flip flops, leave your cellphone at home, and wander alone into a dangerous place the town weirdo definitely warned you about, because it’s time to get scared!

Right now on Max, the horror category is an embarrassment of terrifying riches with top-shelf selections available from every decade of horror history. You’ve got 2000s tank top horror next to 1980s slashers next to 1950s camp and more. It’s rad.

There’s so much great stuff to choose from, but we’ve somehow managed to narrow it down to these 20 horror movies. Honestly, you can’t go wrong.

1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead

If you ever see this face… RUN.
Credit: Image Ten / Kobal / Shutterstock

Visionary of the zombie apocalypse George A. Romero tops this list with his most iconic film: Night of the Living Dead. This 1968 classic makes for a great watch — not only as a standard-setting staple of cinema, but also as a vehicle for terror that gets under your skin and festers there. Expertly executed from start to finish, this bleak tale of strangers versus an army of the undead needles at you in a way that’s still tough to shake more than 50 years later.*Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Night of the Living Dead is now streaming on Max.

2. Eraserhead (1977)

God, Henry is just so fucked. The directorial debut of walking-talking id David Lynch, Eraserhead follows the poor guy, played by Jack Nance, as he wanders through a surrealist blend of horror and humor, featuring an alien baby, sperm monsters, a lady with big ol’ cheeks, and more bizarre characters. The plot has been interpreted as a representation of Lynch’s own fear of being a parent, with Henry serving as a kind of placeholder for Lynch himself. It’s fascinating, freaky, and really fun. — A.F.

How to watch: Eraserhead is now streaming on Max.

3. The Conjuring (2013)

It’s the suburban Rhode Island haunting that started the entire Conjuring Universe. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as married paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (who were real people, by the way) in a jump scare-filled seance that holds tight from start to finish. Having already honed his craft through projects like Saw, Dead Silence, and Insidious, director James Wan proves to be an especially skilled scarer in this outing. If you’re looking to get rattled, this is the pick. — A.F.

How to watch: The Conjuring is now streaming on Max.

4. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Be warned: this horror anthology is so deliciously spooky that you’re gonna wanna make it an annual tradition. Written and directed by Michael Dougherty, Trick ‘r Treat tears a page from Creepshow, unfurling a collection of horror shorts with comic book-style panache. In the mix are vengeance-seeking ghosts, trouble-making trick-or-treaters, werewolves on the prowl, and a cryptic critter, who is a deadly enforcer for the rules of Halloween. Splashed with gore, rich in lore, and studded with familiar faces, this terror-laced film is a terrific treat. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor 

How to Watch: Trick ‘r Treat is now streaming on Max.

5. The Blob (1958)

The Blob

“Intergalactic goo” sounds funny enough until you’re screaming in your living room watching “The Blob.”
Credit: Allied / Kobal / Shutterstock

Mark my words, anyone who reduces director Irvin Yeaworth’s iconic The Blob to “just a B-movie” hasn’t actually seen it. An astounding feat of filmmaking for the time, that maintains a surprisingly watchable flow 63 years later, The Blob is a solid selection for anyone seeking that classic scary movie vibe. Stand by helplessly as intergalactic goo terrorizes the citizens of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Then, be genuinely impressed by how the ’50s townspeople manage to corral the thing through smart, sensible sci-fi means. Nice job, humans! — A.F.

How to watch: The Blob is now streaming on Max.

6. House (1977)

Reader, cue up House and avail yourself of one of the weirdest and most wonderful viewing experiences out there.

Sometimes listed as Hausu, director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s surreal 1977 horror comedy is a whirlwind of spectacular and bizarre images unlike any other title on this, or frankly any, list. Running just under an hour and a half, it’s a breezy jolt of strange beauty and intense dread that uses dreamlike images to tell the story of six girls as they’re eaten by a house. Yeah, it’s something. — A.F.

How to watch: House is now streaming on Max.

7. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Gremlins will always be among the best holiday horror films, but as a matter of general scary viewing, its sequel is actually better. (Hard to believe it can get better than a gremlin in a microwave, I know!) Gremlins 2: The New Batch follows everyone’s favorite high-maintenance pets as they once again get wet, stay up after midnight, and torment the local citizens. Oh, and did I mention they’ve mutated? Director Joe Dante returns for an extremely amusing addition that goes further, faster and with way sillier special effects than the last Gremlins outing. — A.F.

How to watch: Gremlins 2: The New Batch is now streaming on Max.

8. Scanners (1981)

An image from "Scanners."

“Scanners” has absolutely 0 chill
Credit: Moviestore / Shutterstock

Get your mind blown by Scanners. (See what I did there? ‘Cause it’s about people’s heads exploding?) In writer-director David Cronenberg’s super goopy sci-fi nightmare, Earth must contend with a super-powered group of people capable of telepathy and psychokinesis — and the bad dudes who want to use that power for evil. It’s no The Fly, The Dead Zone, or even Shivers. But it’s the best body horror on Max right now.A.F.

How to watch: Scanners is now streaming on Max.

9. Final Destination (2000)

Ali Larter just trying to get from A to B in "Final Destination."

Ali Larter just trying to get from A to B in “Final Destination.”
Credit: Shane Harvey / New Line / Kobal / Shutterstock

It’s the James Wong movie that ignited a freaky franchise, known for its no-holds-barred approach to Macgyver-esque kills and their rapidly diminishing returns across five films. 

Written by Jeffrey Reddick, who first conceived the idea as an X-Files spec script, Final Destination (2000) stars Devon Sawa as a high schooler who escapes death when a psychic vision gets him off an airplane destined to crash. But when mysterious accidents start claiming the lives of the other survivors, our protagonist discovers death may be coming for him yet. It’s a genius idea executed remarkably well in its first outing. Even if you disliked the sequels, this one is unequivocally fantastic — equal parts fun and fucked up. — A.F.

How to watch: Final Destination is now streaming on Max.

10. Friday the 13th (1980)

Fans of the slasher genre know the mask-wearing, machete-wielding Jason Voorhees all too well. But if you’re a relative newcomer, then an inaugural trip to Camp Crystal Lake is essential. 

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller — the latter of whom has actually described the work as a direct “ripoff” of John Carpenter’s Halloween Friday the 13th follows a group of teenagers spending the summer at a camp with a supposed death curse. Over the next 95 minutes, a spine-tingling whodunnit unfolds through a series of impressive practical effects-rendered kills and a twist you genuinely won’t see coming. This isn’t Jason like we know him today, but it is the story that started his reign of terror. — A.F.

How to watch: Friday the 13th is now streaming on Max.

11. The Brood (1979)

With all-time greats like The Fly and The Dead Zone available, The Brood rarely makes horror fans’ short lists for David Cronenberg recommendations. But if you’re looking for a uniquely weird psychological thriller with an amazing gross-out finale, this 1979 romp just can’t be beat.

Oliver Reed stars as Dr. Hal Raglan, a clinical psychologist experimenting with what he calls “psychoplasmics” — a process by which chemically-induced physical ailments, designed to alleviate long-standing emotional trauma, are administered to vulnerable patients. But when Nola, a patient played by Samatha Eggar, is hospitalized by Raglan, her estranged husband Frank, played by Art Hindle, decides to investigate. — A.F.

How to watch: The Brood is now streaming on Max.

12. Orphan (2009)

The big twist in director Jaume Collet-Serra’s Orphan has been memed so often that trying to protect anyone who hasn’t seen it from getting spoiled is probably a futile exercise. But it’s a futile exercise I’m going to attempt anyway — on the off-off-off chance someone out there will be able to fully enjoy this utterly bonkers fright fest thanks to my vagueness.

Starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard, Orphan tells the story of a young couple who adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl named Esther, portrayed by Isabelle Fuhrman. Once home, however, Esther’s charming demeanor gives way to some seriously scary behavior. Good luck. — A.F.

How to watch: Orphan is now streaming on Max.

13. The Lost Boys (1987)

A scene from "The Lost Boys."


Credit: Warner Bros / Kobal / Shutterstock

Follow director Joel Schumacher on a dark, hilarious, and remarkably stylish adventure into teenage vampirism with The Lost Boys. As a matter or storytelling, the tale of new-in-town brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) facing off with a gang of bloodthirsty vampires isn’t particularly good; there are cohesion problems, some clumsy scripting, and an overall pacing issue that plagues nearly every scene.

Still, it’s got one hell of a vibe that’s earned the project a cult following. I mean, it has teen vampire Kiefer Sutherland and frequent, vicious use of the word “bloodsucker.” What more could a horror fan ask for? — A.F.

How to watch: The Lost Boys is now streaming on Max.

14. Scream (1996)

Scream is one of those landmark moments in horror history that can be used to define everything that came before and after it. Directed by A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Wes Craven, the story of scream queen Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, teeing off with masked murderer Ghostface is full of tense turns, sensational kills, and the best jokes about horror movies ever made.

Supporting performances from Courteney Cox, Rose McGowan, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, and more offer a solid throwback viewing that doesn’t compromise on quality. This is a genuinely good movie, even if the self-referential comedy from Craven can get a little exhausting. — A.F.

How to watch: Scream is now streaming on Max.

15. The Lure (2015)

The Lure has been described as a lesbian mermaid horror musical, but somehow even that doesn’t come close to capturing what this audacious Polish film is. Agnieszka Smoczyńska‘s debut feature is the darkest retelling of The Little Mermaid you could imagine, incorporating grisly violence and the sex work industry into that classic fairytale.*Oliver Whitney, Freelance Contributor

How to watch: The Lure is now streaming on Max.

16. The Witch (2016)

Anya Taylor-Joy in "The Witch."


Credit: Parts And Labor / Rt Features / Rooks Nest / Upi / Kobal / Shutterstock

Writer/director Robert Eggers’s haunting folk horror flick follows an isolated family living in 1630 New England as paranoia and religious fervor brew after an infant goes missing. Rebellious teen Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) bears the brunt of the blame from her Puritan parents, but her eerie twin siblings (is there any other kind?) and their friendship with a goat they’ve nicknamed Black Phillip lets the viewer know something far stranger is afoot.

“What really sets this movie apart from its horror peers […] is its sheer beauty,” wrote Yohana Desta in her review for Mashable. “Every scene is meticulously styled. The costumes have a quiet beauty. Every frame could be a painting, or a macabre Vogue editorial. The score (and scenes with lack thereof) is a perfect accompaniment, rattling and haunting.”* — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

How to watch: The Witch is now streaming on Max.

17. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Yes, it’s The Silence of the Lambs — the first horror movie ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Don’t get us wrong: Director Jonathan Demme’s chilling tale of a rookie FBI Agent hunting for a killer with the help of [checks notes] another killer is unmistakably deserving of the groundbreaking accolade. But 20 years later, its legacy is a thought-provoking chance to chew over what Hollywood awards bodies do and don’t deem worthy of major recognition, particularly in the horror space. 

Bask in the ghastly glory of Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter and the steadfast stoicism of Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling. Then consider queueing up another of the only seven horror films nominated for the most sought-after Oscar: The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), The Sixth Sense (1999), Black Swan (2010), Get Out (2017), and The Shape of Water (2017), that last of which finally scored that second win — and yes, counts as horror if you’re going Black Lagoon rules.*A.F.

How to watch: The Silence of the Lambs is now streaming on Max.

18. Cujo (1983)

The film that literally gave me my very first panic attack (ahh, memories), Cujo is one of those titles that has become so iconic it’s like Kleenex – an eponym standing in for all rabid dogs. So I probably don’t have to tell you what Cujo is about, but let’s. Based on Stephen King’s book, a sweetheart of Saint Bernard is out chasing a bunny when he gets bitten on the nose by a bat instead. And before you know it, it’s the whole foaming-at-the-mouth treatment for the pupster. 

Cut to an unlucky (to put it mildly) lady and her little boy (Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro), whose car breaks down in the mad dog’s path, and what you’ve got here is the claustrophobic thriller to end all claustrophobic thrillers. The dog keeps them trapped in the car during what appears to be the hottest week in the history of the planet. Simple and absolutely histrionically terrifying.*Jason Adams, Freelance Contributor

How to watch: Cujo is now streaming on Max.

19. Hereditary (2018)

Milly Shapiro in "Hereditary."


Credit: A24

Ari Aster’s feature-length directorial debut left viewers all shook up, from the very first click of little Charlie’s (Milly Shapiro) tongue. As Jess Joho wrote in her review, “Opening with the passing of Annie Graham’s (Toni Collette) elderly mother, Hereditary follows as the death ripples through each member of the house with consequences both small and catastrophic. It’s entrenched in domestic horror, so anyone who’s ever experienced familial grief or strained relationships will be able to identify with the stench of decay at its rotting core.” Yum! — Jenni Miller, Freelance Contributor

How to watch: Hereditary is now streaming on Max.

20. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

You can thank the internet for facilitating pop culture’s reevaluation of numerous cult classics. But few were as overdue and as important as the critical reassessment of Jennifer’s Body.

Directed by Karyn Kusama and written by Diablo Cody, this snarky story of a teen girl sacrificed to the devil by a rock band was largely maligned upon its release in 2009. Critics complained about its balance of comedy and horror, with many admitting they just didn’t get it.

But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, female horror fans and filmmakers took to social media to reconsider the film’s strongest elements — namely, its nuanced approach to addressing sexual trauma and playful presentation of queer characters in a horror context. You’ll want to queue this one up just for Megan Fox’s wickedly fun delivery of, “No, I’m killing boys.* — A.F.

How to watch: Jennifer’s Body is now streaming on Max.

Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from a previous Mashable list.

UPDATE: Dec. 28, 2023, 2:33 p.m. EST Updated to reflect current movies available to stream on Max.





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