Need to Scream? The Best Horror Movies for Every Mood & Streamer

The leaves are changing colors, the temperature’s dropping, and Trader Joe’s has released their own terror: pumpkin spice hummus. It’s spooky season!  The streaming services have plenty of frightening flicks to get you into the seasonal spirit. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites across the platform: international, family friendly, campy, and truly terrifying shows and films. If you’re feeling brave, you may want to watch these with the lights off…

Netflix

Expand Your Horizons: Paranormal — Based on a series of novels by the grandfather of Egyptian horror, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, Paranormal weaves dark humor with a weekly procedural format to deliver a kind of 1960s-set Middle Eastern X-Files.  It revolves around Dr. Refaat Ismail, a skeptical hematologist who is forced to investigate a series of supernatural events in Cairo, ranging from a mummy’s curse to a naiad to a ghost from his childhood. Alongside his old flame, Maggie, Ismail does his best to face off against these creatures while also dealing with his nosy family and young fiancee. You’ll learn a bit about Egyptian folklore and you’ll learn a lot about Egyptian history. Rating:  TV-14.      

For the Whole Family: Goosebumps — At every Scholastic book fair I’ve attended, the Goosebumps books were some of the first to go. You can still read and watch the classic horror series with your children thanks to a late 90s TV series based on the macabre tales that’s now available on Netflix. There are five seasons worth of decrepit dolls, mischievous masks, and wailing werewolves. Although the series is rated G, you may want to preview a few episodes if your little ones are especially sensitive.   Rating:  TV-G

Delightfully Campy: The Babysitter  — This underappreciated gem follows 12-year-old Cole, who, after staying up too late, discovers that his sexy babysitter is actually the leader of a satanic cult of teens….and now they need to keep him from revealing their secret. While the movie is incredibly gruesome, it’s a terrific spoof of B-movies from the 1980s and 90s full of great one-liners. It also stars two now-familiar talents, Samara Weaving (Ash vs Evil Dead) and Bella Thorne (You Get Me), and if you can’t get enough of it, there is a part two: The Babysitter: Killer Queen.  Rating: TV-MA

Genuinely Horrifying: #Alive — Another international pick, Korean thriller #Alive is set during a “pandemic,” the kind where a raging virus turns people into zombies. When a live video game streamer realizes that zombies are on the loose, he locks himself in his apartment. He’s faced with an impossible task: to find a way out. The most disturbing aspect of the film is his isolation, and, ironically, the film was released during the height of the pandemic, adding a whole new level of realism to its disturbing themes. If the idea of another lockdown terrifies you, this will make you scream.  Rating: TV-MA

Hulu’s “Huluween”

Expand Your Horizons: Let the Right One In — Before you jump into the new Demian Bechir-led TV series just released on Showtime, you will want to watch the highly acclaimed Swedish film it was based on. Released in 2008 during the height of the Twilight saga, a time when vampires were romanticized, it’s a layered, artistic version of a horror-thriller that reminds us that vampires are dangerous.  The story: A fragile 12-year-old boy is constantly bullied by his classmates and longs for a friend. One day, a mysterious, pale girl moves in next door and only appears at night. They begin an innocent romance until he discovers her secret. The film captures just how eerie these bloodsuckers can be in an aesthetic similar to Nosferatu Rating: TV-MA

For the Whole Family: Over the Garden Wall  — One of the most imaginative animated series to be released in the last few years, Over the Garden Wall follows two brothers who have to traverse a mysterious forest in order to get home. Along the way, they encounter various supernatural creatures and have to outsmart “the beast.” The series has been praised for its whimsical and witty take on fairy tales, making it the perfect amount of spooky for your little ones.  Rating: G

Delightfully Campy: Huluween Dragstravaganza — You can’t get much campier than drag queens, and a Halloween drag show is about as camp as it gets. Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Ginger Minj and Monet X Change, Dragstravganza is a Halloween variety show featuring acts from multiple queens (and a few kings!). Kesha even pops by for a number, making it the most fabulous Halloween special to be released this year.  And in case you were wondering, there are plenty of bad puns and innuendos.  Rating: TV-MA

Genuinely Horrifying: Lights Out  — Part of the Very Very Scary section on Hulu, Lights Out shouldn’t be watched with the lights off (or alone, for that matter). The film follows Rebecca, who has to confront her own childhood fears in order to protect her stepbrother from a sinister figure who only appears when – as the title suggests – the lights go out. Originally based on a short film, Lights Out delves into deeper and more adult themes such as depression. It has a lot more to say about what truly scares us than other recent horror flicks.  Rating: TV-MA

HBO Max

Expand Your Horizons: Vampyr — When Vampyr was first released in Germany in 1932, it wasn’t well received. Yet over time, this nearly silent film has been praised for its originality and unsettling images, such as when one of the characters finds a coffin containing his body in it. It’s one of the film’s many dream sequences, making it difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not. The plot is simple: a wandering traveler ends up in a creepy castle, where a vampire happens to live. A slowly paced story, Vampyr was shot in a washed out look to up its fear factor. This isn’t even the scariest version of it – German censors requested that certain scenes be toned down.  Rating: TV-MA

For the Whole Family: Corpse Bride — It was directed by Tim Burton (along with Mike Johnson), and it’s similar in tone to The Nightmare Before Christmas, but Corpse Bride hasn’t received the same love as its predecessor. This charming stop-motion film follows Victor, who is about to marry Victoria. He accidentally ruins the wedding and places the ring on a tree root, which awakens the corpse bride. He ends up in the land of the dead, which is far more entertaining than the living, but he wants to return to Victoria. Catchy songs, clever animation, and a captivating story make Corpse Bride a perfect family watch.

Delightfully Campy: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? — Starring two of golden Hollywood’s leading ladies, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Is the creme de la creme of camp. Davis plays Baby Jane, a washed up and bitter child actor who now has to take care of paraplegic sister (who was actually a star), Blanche. Jane becomes fed up with Blanche in their decaying Hollywood mansion and relishes tormenting her. Both actresses went completely over-the-top with their roles and tried to outdo each other. Their famous rivalry was even made into a miniseries, aptly named Feud. 

Genuinely Horrifying: The Witch – Starring Anya Taylor-Joy in her film debut, The Witch provides a healthy dose of historic horror. Set in Puritan America, the film centers on William and his family, who have been banned from the village for being too religious. Now isolated on their own farm, the family begins to experience strange behavior, making William think that his daughter Thomasin (Taylor-Joy) is a witch. But is she? While there are plenty of disorienting moments, the real terror lies in the blatant oppression of women — which is still happening today.  Rating: TV-MA

Paramount Plus with Showtime 

International: The Woman in Black — Starring Daniel Radcliffe in one of his first post-Harry Potter roles, The Woman in Black is a love letter to gothic horror. Adapted from a 1989 cult classic TV series, and based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill, its set in Edwardian England and follows a young widower (Radcliffe) who journeys to a countryside village. The locals do not trust this stranger, and they especially don’t trust him when people start dying. He’s determined to prove that the deaths are the work of the mysterious woman in black. Be prepared for a few shocks and twists that will come when you least expect it.  Rating: TV-MA

For the Whole Family: The Addams Family and Addams Family Values — There are multiple iterations of our favorite creepy and kooky family, but the early 90s films may be the most fun. The whole clan is featured in both of these films; the first of which includes Uncle Fester returning to the family and the second where the kids are sent to summer camp and Uncle Fester falls for a black widow. Filled with biting satire and one-liners, there are plenty of moments that will appeal to adults as well as kids. Addams Family Values also has a strange Thanksgiving musical that comments on the racism surrounding the holiday, so these are educational as well.

Delightfully Campy: Jennifer’s Body — If you’re a lover of campier, B-rated horror or feminist revenge tales, we have to give a shout out to cult classic Jennifer’s Body, which stars Megan Fox as a possessed high school student who starts killing men who only want a woman for her body. Initially, the film wasn’t the most well received, but it has since been praised for its feminist take on horror and its sheer absurdity.  Check out The New Yorker’s take on what the film foretold.

Genuinely Horrifying: A Quiet Place — Oftentimes, the most terrifying moments happen in complete silence. A Quiet Place capitalizes on this idea, taking place in a world filled with blind monsters who have super hearing. Make one sound, and they attack. It may be the only horror film where audiences were completely silent while watching it. In addition to being disturbing, it’s also a stressful film – a noise as simple as stepping on a twig can set the monsters off.

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