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The best movies on Shudder: 17 scary titles to keep you awake at night
Horror fans likely already know all about Shudder. The AMC-owned streaming service is the best place to get your horror fix, with a huge selection of films and shows from across the genre’s entire history. So what are the best movies on Shudder?
Related: The best scary movies on Netflix
These 17 titles are just a small sampling of the best scary movies on Shudder. We’ve selected a wide range of examples, including classics, underground cult hits, new releases, Shudder exclusives, documentaries, and more.
No need to stop there though. There’s an incredible number of horror films to check out on the service. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up by hitting the link below.
The 17 best scary movies on Shudder
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
One of the best horror films of all time is also one of the best movies on Shudder. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has been remade numerous times, with plenty of sequels and prequels too, but the original remains an incredible piece of indie horror filmmaking that’s tough to match.
A group of young people on a weekend getaway find themselves targeted by a chainsaw-wielding mad man when they stumble upon his home. Leatherface and his family live a grotesque reflection of the American Dream in this haunting vision of a country at an existential crossroads as the “Age of Aquarius” nears its end.
Shudder’s Host remains one of the few truly great pieces of pandemic fiction. Released in the summer of 2020, the film takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic and is framed, quite cleverly, entirely as a group conversation on Zoom.
Trying to shake things up during lockdown, a woman hires a medium and organizes a virtual séance for her group of friends. The medium realizes the energy of the event is off early on and leaves. Once she’s gone, the remaining participants start experiencing odd and concerning phenomena. Director Rob Savage uses Zoom brilliantly to ramp up the scares in this terrific Shudder Exclusive.
Hailed as a feminist rape-revenge film when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge is a disturbing, empowering, bloody, and stylish bit of filmmaking that plays with and subverts its own generic tropes. You can watch it exclusively on the horror streamer.
American socialite Jen is on a getaway with her (married) boyfriend ahead of his yearly hunting trip when his friends arrive a day early to his lavish desert summer home. After she’s viciously brutalized and left for dead by the men, Jen tends to her wounds before setting her sights on her attackers — who have no idea what kind of wrath they’ve invited upon themselves.
A prototypical slasher, 1978’s Halloween remains a high benchmark for the horror subgenre, with its iconic killer, Michael Myers, and resourceful “Final Girl,” Laurie Strode.
Years after murdering his sister, child killer Michael, now all grown up, escapes authorities and makes his way home, where he targets a group of babysitters on Halloween night. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a brilliantly stripped-down nightmare that holds up very well today. It’s also one of the best movies on Shudder.
Black Christmas (1974)
The granddaddy of all slasher films is here, and it’s one of the best movies on Shudder. See the low-budget Canadian indie that launched a genre. Black Christmas even pioneered the “the call is coming from inside the house” trope. It’s almost Christmas, and a deranged killer with a creepy habit of making calls to his victims terrorizes a sorority.
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It’s no wonder Black Christmas has been remade twice since its release four years before 1978’s Halloween. But there’s nothing quite like the original.
Deep Red (1975)
One of the most famous Italian “Giallo” films, Dario Argento’s Deep Red is a stylish and engaging thriller that blends detective noir with bloody horror.
A musician who witnesses a murder becomes consumed with the need to find the killer before he becomes a target himself. With hints of the supernatural, mysterious figures, and repressed childhood traumas, Deep Red is a wonderful bit of horror filmmaking and an essential pick from Shudder’s library.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Now more than 20 years old, Ginger Snaps is a Canadian cult classic and a near-perfect portrait of teen alienation, using lycanthropy as a clever metaphor for menstruation to tell a feminist coming-of-age nightmare.
Teen sisters Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald are obsessed with death. Their idea of a fun art project involves staging their own gruesome deaths (to the dismay of their teacher). They repeat the grim, mantra-like suicide pact, “Out by 16 or dead in this scene, but together forever.” When Ginger becomes a werewolf, she embraces her newfound gifts and appetites, while Brigitte tries to clean up the mess and save her sister.
This twisted horror classic from the mind of Clive Barker has spawned many sequels and is set for a reboot. You can watch the original on Shudder now, and it’s certainly worth your time.
A man with insatiable sexual appetites accidentally summons interdimensional beings called cenobites who tear him apart as part of a fetishistic ritual. He’s brought back, partially, when his brother and sister-in-law move into his home. Suddenly, he sees his chance to use the cenobites’ strange abilities to restore his body by taking a man’s life.
The Invitation (2015)
Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama returned to the horror genre with this stunning indie made on a shoestring budget. The Invitation is one of the best films of the 2010s and certainly one of the best movies on Shudder.
When a man heads to a dinner party at his estranged ex-wife’s house with his new girlfriend, he soon begins to suspect something is off. As he gets reacquainted with old friends, he can’t help feeling that they’ve been brought together for nefarious reasons. When his ex and her new husband begin pitching a new self-help group that sounds suspiciously like a cult, he’s still the only partygoer demanding answers. Is this an innocent get-together, or are there darker motives behind the bizarre invitation?
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
A polarizing movie that manages to be both progressive and conservative in its treatment of gender and sexuality, 1983’s Sleepaway Camp had a considerable influence on the horror genre.
One summer, when shy young Angela heads off to Camp Arawak, death follows her. Fellow campers and counsellors drop dead all around. The film delves into Angela’s past to reveal all kinds of trauma and repression. This all leads to a shocking finale that begs us to question who we label as monsters and why. Sleepaway Camp is fun, weird, and dark, making it one of the best movies on Shudder.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Zombies as we know them today wouldn’t exist without Night of the Living Dead. George A. Romero’s indie horror classic launched one of the most popular horror subgenres that persists to this day.
When the dead begin coming back to life and try to eat the living, a group of survivors hole up together in a house, revealing tensions and threats from within that may be as dangerous as the hordes of ghouls outside. Night of the Living Dead reads as an allegory for the Vietnam War, American race relations, social inequities, and more. It’s one of the most important horror films in history and one of the best movies on Shudder.
There are plenty of movies in which Nic Cage goes after the people who made him angry, but even among these, Mandy is a great choice. This Shudder Exclusive is a revenge flick that’s not afraid of excess.
Married couple Red and Mandy live a quiet, peaceful life, and that’s how they like it. All of that changes when a mysterious cult leader shows up and demands to take possession of Mandy. When refusal isn’t an option, Red goes on a bloody rampage of revenge, tracking down the cult on a violent quest that includes tons of cocaine, LSD, and a peculiarly oversized chainsaw. This one’s hard to believe, but it’s also not to be missed.
Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)
Jordan Peele’s 2017 feature film Get Out was a major horror game-changer, telling an overtly anti-racist story that painted a damning portrait of whiteness and the omnipresence of anti-Black racism. Bt it was hardly the first example of Black horror.
Horror Noire, produced by Shudder, traces the origins and history of Black horror in cinema. With commentary from scholars, critics, and cinema icons, it traces the threads of Black horror and cements the importance of films like Ganja & Hess, Blackula, Tales from the Hood, Candyman, and so many more (including Get Out, of course).
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
A clever bit of horror satire, Rita Mae Brown’s screenplay for The Slumber Party Massacre is a parody of the slasher genre, with exaggerated use of the male gaze and other common tropes of the time. Filmed as a more straightforward horror pic by Amy Holden Jones, the film works on many levels and cleverly subverts expectations.
A group of teens having a slumber party find themselves targeted by the mysterious “driller killer,” an escaped murderer armed with a power drill and a desire to hurt women.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)
When A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge came out in 1985, it bombed with audiences who ridiculed its queer undertones and rejected it after the success of the first film. It was eventually reclaimed by audiences who revived it on the indie circuit, highlighting its themes and using it in drag shows. But it destroyed its star’s career.
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Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street follows Mark Patton, who was effectively outed by Freddy’s Revenge and blamed for homoerotic imagery that was clearly intentional and baked into the film’s DNA. Now, Patton wants an apology and an acknowledgment that he played the role like he was asked to. The documentary is also a celebration of queer audiences and the act of reclaiming discarded films.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
A classic of horror cinema and a defining example of German Expressionism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was a major inspiration for later films, including most notably the work of Tim Burton. The silent film remains a terrific viewing experience more than a century later. It may well also be the first film to include a twist ending.
A man tells a tale of his hardships and how he became consumed by a need to stop the evil Dr. Caligari, who hosts a somnambulist act with his mysterious sleepwalker Cesare. The man comes to realize that a string of murders may have been committed by Cesare under the control of Caligari and learns that the doctor may be more than he appears.
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)
This odd horror film, featuring an early performance by the late Bill Paxton, has become a cult hit and a popular example of queer horror for its positive portrayal of its gay characters at a time when such representation was rare.
High school senior Billy Lynch is all set for college. With a basketball scholarship and budding romance, Billy’s on top of the world. But his aunt, who has raised him since his parents’ deaths, has other plans. She grows jealous of Billy’s new girlfriend, and she can’t stand the thought of him leaving for school. Soon, she starts taking matters into her own murderous hands.