With Halloween on the horizon, now is the perfect time to binge watch horror movies with all your friends! Whether you’re browsing through Netflix’s seemingly endless catalog of terrifying films (of varying degrees of quality) or falling back on some tried-and-true classics, there are tons of movies out there that you could watch.
As a life-long horror aficionado, I’m bound to be watching something spooky most nights year-round. And while I love discovering new movies there is a handful that I can just watch over and over again without ever getting tired of them. These are the movies that I’ll stop everything just to watch when they are on TV or that I’ll put on when I’m looking to waste some time.
They’re not the best horror movies out there, but I love them just the same.
So if you’re looking for your next great scare – start with some of the classics like Friday the 13th (the first one has a young Kevin Bacon!) or Nightmare on Elm Street (the first this series features a young Johnny Depp). But if you’re looking for something entertaining to watch that never gets old, consider one or some of the ten movies I’ve listed here that myself and our staff members will love from now until the end of time.
One of the first horror movies I remember falling in love with, Scream is a modern classic that remains one of my favorite slasher films of all time. Of course, considering that this movie is over twenty years old now it’s starting to become more classic than modern. Sidney Prescott is the perfect final girl, and the supporting cast was some of the most entertaining characters you’d find in a slasher movie. It has some pretty great twists and if nothing else we’ll always remember Randy’s rules. (“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie!) Plus the rest of the franchise is often just as entertaining… though Scream 3 pushes it. Skip the television series of the same name, though. Randy would have hated it.
I don’t think any horror film has ever caught me by surprise as much as Cabin in the Woods. When went to see it in theatres I expected some mindless, cookie cutter slasher film (plus some bonus Chris Hemsworth). But what they gave us was so much more amazing than that. If you have a friend that hasn’t watched this movie yet don’t tell them anything going in because it makes the movie that much better. AND SPOILER ALERT IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET: Like anyone else who loves this movie, I love how they imagine there are secretive organization plotting away and bringing all the stereotypical horror monsters and villains to life. It’s just such a clever take on horror films. I will say that as much as I love watching Cabin in the Woods, no rewatch will ever be quite the same as that first time.
There’s just something incredibly appealing to me about movies that are restricted to one generally confined space. In Cube, a group of strangers is abducted and trapped in a series of cubes they must travel between if they have any hope to escape. Here’s the thing, though: some of the cubes are booby trapped. It’s an entertaining movie with some interesting characters dealing with their uniquely horrifying circumstances. And the cast is surprisingly full of actors that will be very familiar — especially to science fiction fans. There’s a sequel (Hypercube) and a prequel (Cube Zero), and while the rest of the series isn’t nearly as good the other movies both offer new and interesting takes on the whole Cube concept.
Terrifying, quick-moving zombies and equally terrifying human characters made 28 Days Later a game changer in the zombie genre when it was first released; years later, the film still holds up. In the film, Cillian Murphy’s character, Jim, wakes up from a coma to a world overrun by the ‘infected’ and from then on he finds himself on a nerve-wracking journey of survival. It’s a great movie and one that keeps you hooked even after watching it a dozen times or more. Plus it’s got a super creepy Christopher Eccleston, which, on its own, is reason enough to watch it. (Fun fact: he’s not the only Doctor to end up in a zombie film though Peter Capaldi’s character in World War Z is way less interesting.)
Yes, the original Dawn of the Dead is a masterpiece of zombie cinema. I know, I know! George Romero can never be beaten. But you have to admit that Zack Snyder’s updated take on the zombie survivors chilling out at the mall is a super entertaining movie… as long as you don’t put too much thought into the whole zombie baby subplot. Dawn of the Dead is one of my absolute favorite go-to movies and growing-up my family stopped everything to watch it every time it came on one of the movie channels. (Seriously, we spent Thanksgiving one year just watching Dawn of the Dead and we had company over!) Personally, my favorite part will always be Kenneth and Andy’s rooftop bromance as the two play board games and more macabre shooting games.
I wasn’t sure whether to include The Purge: Anarchy or The Purge: Election Year on this list since I tend to watch them both but ultimately I chose Anarchy (including the first Purge film was never an option). And the reason I chose Anarchy is that it’s probably the best example of why I enjoy this franchise. The first film created an intriguing, violent world but squandered the story’s potential by focusing on one family in one household. Meanwhile, Anarchy puts the viewer on out on the streets in the middle of Purge Night with a great mix of characters struggling to survive in a world gone crazy. It’s action-packed and entertaining even if the social commentary is hardly subtle. SPOILER ALERT: Election Year was a great follow up but it does have the downside of ultimately ending Purge Night (at least for the time being).
Okay, so, no list of beloved horror movies would be complete without Shaun of the Dead. I guess it’s not really a “horror movie” per se but if that’s the case then neither is the next movie on our list, Zombieland. Shaun of the Dead — the first film in Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy” featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost — is a hilarious take on the zombie apocalypse set in London. The titular Shaun is a slacker whose zombie apocalypse goals include rescuing his girlfriend, rescuing his mom, and, of course, getting to the Winchester to “have a pint and wait for this to blow over.” This is one of those movies we can’t say recommend enough — but you’ve probably already seen it a million times and already feel the same way.
Much like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is probably more of a comedy than a horror movie, though there are a lot more terrifying close calls with zombies (some of whom move pretty quickly) in this film. Plus there’s a creepy, freakin’ clown zombie and no one wants that. But then we also get not!zombie Bill Murray to balance things out, so it’s okay. Zombieland is awesome and it’s long since earned its place in pop culture history. Cleveland (played by Michael Cera) gave us his own set of rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse which Scream’s Randy would totally have appreciated had he survived to see it. This is one of our all-time favorites, it’s one of the most quotable zombie films out there and we’ll love it forever.
I know that an updated version of It (with Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard) was just released, but for decades the original It miniseries was one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. Any time it would come on television, I’d make time to watch. If you rewatch It now there are parts of the miniseries that obviously feel dated, but the cast just can’t be beaten. Tim Curry’s Pennywise is iconic and to this day still haunts my dreams now and again. I’m sure the new movie is good — I just haven’t seen it yet — but I suspect this will always be my definitive version of the story. And I will always make time for it. If you’re looking for something less spooky, though, check out The Stand miniseries also from the early 1990’s, which is another miniseries I’ll always make time for.
By now, you’ve probably realized that my brand of horror generally comes with at least a hint of comedy. The Final Girls is a more recent film but I absolutely love it. The film spoofs old-school teen slasher films by putting a group of horror fans inside a little-known cult classic called Camp Bloodbath. For Taissa Farmiga’s character Max, it’s a bittersweet experience because her mother was one of the victims in the film and now she’s literally living out the film alongside that character. It’s a genuinely fun, entertaining film and the cast and characters are super fun. The fact that there hasn’t been a sequel made yet is a total travesty. I’m still holding out hope!
Obviously, this is a non-exhaustive list of our staff’s go-to horror movies — or even mine, if we’re being honest — but it’s a good place to get you started! The list I put together with the rest of our staff was much longer. That’s why I also want to take a moment to give shout-outs to The People Under the Stairs, Final Destination, The Faculty, Alien, The Frighteners, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, The Strangers, Silent Hill (yes, really), and Nightmare Before Christmas (if that one counts).
What are your go-to horror movies? Let us know in the comments!
Oh, and Happy Halloween, y’all!