Attention horror movie fans: HBO Max has a premium selection of the scariest, spookiest, creepiest movies around. If you’re looking for a Halloween movie night to haunt your nightmares, or if you’re brushing up on your film history, the streaming service is a one-stop shop. It houses a number of classic originals like Poltergeist and The Shining, as well as modern remakes and sequels, like Doctor Sleep and Annabelle: Creation. From slashers like Saw to more light-hearted flicks like Scream and The Witches of Eastwick, HBO Max is the home for horror. Here, find 20 of the scariest movies on the platform.
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The Amityville Horror (1979)
Inspired by the true story of the 1974 DeFeo family murders, the tale of the Amityville Horror House is one of the most legendary scary stories. The original 1979 movie is available on the streaming platform, as well as the 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds. (And it is some of Reynolds’ finest work.)
The films in the Saw franchise are notoriously gruesome, making them a favorite among those who enjoy the slasher side of the horror genre. These torture-filled movies are certainly not for the faint of heart, but if you want to watch Jigsaw play his games, HBO Max houses the seven original films.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Come for Jack Nicholson’s stellar (terrifying) performance, stay for the classic Stanley Kubrick visuals and cinematics in this movie masterpiece. Die-hard fans can even stay in the very hotel room that inspired Stephen King to pen the story.
This 2019 follow-up to The Shining makes for a perfect double feature. Watch Ewan McGregor play grown-up Dan “Danny” Torrance as he grapples with the events he lived through at the Overlook Hotel and the supernatural ability that made it possible for him to see those creepy twins in the first place.
Do you like scary movies? Clearly, yes. This cult classic is more self-aware satire than scary, making it an enjoyable watch even for those who don’t typically like the (often cliché) genre. Directed by Wes Craven, it stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, and Drew Barrymore (albeit only for the opening sequence).
They’re here… and by “here,” we mean on HBO Max. Loved by critics and audiences alike, this flick became a classic as soon as Carol Anne first looked into that television screen. On the New York Time’s Guide to the 1,000 Best Movies Ever Made, it’s one of only 23 horror films listed.
Freddy vs. Jason
The match-up of these two iconic horror villains––Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees––gives new meaning to “double trouble.” Fans of the original movies will enjoy this crossover, the plot of which ultimately brings the action back to Camp Crystal Lake for an explosive finale.
As the name suggests, this installment in The Conjuring cinematic universe tells the origin story for Annabelle, creepy haunted doll extraordinaire. Somewhat unusually, this prequel was considered by many critics to be better than the original. So, if you were a fan of Annabelle, you’ll definitely want to add this to your watch list.
The Mummy (1959)
While it might not be frightful by today’s horror movie standards, it is one of the genre’s oldest films available for streaming, and for that, it should be revered. It tells the tale of a mummy who seeks revenge on anyone who dares to desecrate the tomb of an Egyptian princess.
Clowns are a very common fear, and Stephen King’s killer clown “Pennywise” is certainly part of why the creepy characters have become prevalent in pop culture since the original film’s 1990 release. While most remakes fall flat, the 2017 adaptation starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise was a smash hit and received rave reviews. It even became one of the highest grossing R-rated movies of all time. Although, if you suffer from coulrophobia, maybe skip this one.
The Crow tells the story of a man, Eric Draven, and his fiancé, both of whom are murdered the night before their wedding. Draven, played by Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), is resurrected with supernatural abilities and the mission to get revenge on his killers. Arguably, this film was made famous by Lee’s tragic death, which occurred due to an incident with a prop gun while filming. Paramount Pictures chose to abandon the project after Lee’s death, but Miramax acquired the rights and finished the film. It has since garnered a cult following. A remake was said to be in the works, with Jason Momoa cast in Lee’s role, however production fell through in 2018.
King Kong (1933)
King Kong is a classic not just for the horror genre, but for cinema as a whole. As with The Mummy, viewers might be underwhelmed by the 1930s-era movie magic (or lack thereof). But when it comes to creeps and thrills, it shouldn’t be counted out just yet. It was even listed as #6 in Rotten Tomatoes “Top 100 Horror Movies.”
The Blob (1958)
Protocol exists for handling most monsters and villains. Vampire? Wooden stake. Werewolf? Silver bullet. Demon? Exorcism (fingers crossed). Psychopath? A strait jacket should do. But a shapeless, indescribable, indestructible entity that no one can explain or control? Utterly terrifying. The Blob also marked Steve McQueen’s feature film debut, although critics were not initially impressed with the actor.
The Witches of Eastwick
This isn’t a horror movie per se, but it features the devil, witchcraft, and Jack Nicholson, so it qualifies. An adaptation of John Updike’s 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick follows Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon as they unknowingly form a coven and become entangled with a mysterious, dare we say devilish, man who wreaks havoc when he moves to town. The cast in this dark comedy is unmatched, and Nicholson in particular was praised for his performance.
From the same writer who penned The Ring, this film tells the story of a single mom who moves into a shabby apartment building with her young daughter. The creepy, unexplainable occurrences begin with dark water dripping from their apartment’s ceiling, and it only gets worse from there. But perhaps the scariest parts of this film are its eerie similarities to the real-life case of Elisa Lam. This film came out in 2005, eight years before Lam’s disappearance and death.
Snakes on a Plane
What happens when you combine two of the most common fears? Snakes on a plane, obviously. This 2006 flick starring Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna Margulies is sure to give you the creepy crawlies. Just don’t watch before boarding your next flight…
Friday the 13th (2009)
No, this isn’t the original. But it also isn’t a traditional remake. Director Marcus Nispel didn’t attempt to recreate or simply modernize the classic 1980 storyline. Rather, this rendition reimagines our favorite hockey mask-clad killer and tells the tale of a young man trying to find his sister after she goes missing at Camp Crystal Lake. It stars Jared Padalecki (Prepare yourself, Gilmore Girls fans, for this is not quite Dean as you know him.), Danielle Panabaker, and Derek Mears as Jason Voorhees.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The predecessor to The Walking Dead and the modern-day zombie craze, this 1968 film is considered a cornerstone of the genre and one of the best films ever made. It follows a group of people who are trapped on a farm, outnumbered by members of the undead who set out on a cannibalistic feast.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
This remake of the 1974 slasher classic was poorly reviewed by critics, most of whom agreed that it was needlessly gorier than the original. But why not decide for yourself? Redeemably, several crew members who worked on the original also had a hand in the remake, including Tobe Hooper who directed the 1974 version and served as an executive producer for this rendition
How could a young Drew Barrymore possibly be frightening? Perhaps as a nine-year-old with pyrokinetic abilities. Based on a Stephen King novel, Firestarter tells the story of Charlie, who is born with supernatural powers. Her abilities make her a target, of course, and she and her family must take great lengths to stay safe. Heather Locklear and Martin Sheen also star.
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