There’s nothing like a good horror movie to make you feel alive (and to make you worry that you won’t be for much longer). Good horror comes in all types: sneaky and suspenseful, eerie and upsetting, grisly and gross, loud and surprising, campy and goofy. There’s a bit of all of those types of great horror on Netflix, which boasts a catalog that includes everything from The Shining to Zombeavers, the latter of which did not make our list (sorry, Zombeavers fans, I’m sure the film has plenty of redeeming qualities). This is our list of the best horror movies on Netflix.
The Best Horror Movies on Netflix
John Landis’ cult classic An American Werewolf in London is about exactly what the title suggests: a young American, backpacking around London, who becomes a werewolf. It’s a weird, funny, and frightening movie that has more than earned its status as a cult classic.
This Aussie horror film has gained international acclaim and is also at the center of one of my favorite memes. The monster in The Babadook springs from a disturbing children’s book – and, as the rhyme in the book says, “you can’t get rid of a Babadook.” You may also know The Babadook from the internet meme claiming that the Babadook is a gay icon – which doesn’t have anything to do with what this movie is about, but is pretty funny nonetheless.
There have been about 800 Children of the Corn movies at this point, but this original one still holds up pretty well. This is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, and it’s chock full of creepy kids. There are no adults in the town run by the kids in Children of the Corn, and it quickly becomes clear that the kids have been offing everyone older than their teens. As you might imagine, that’s bad news for the couple whose car has just broken down there.
It Follows is built on a brilliant concept that doesn’t fare well in explanation. It Follows is about a deadly shape-shifting spirit that follows a person until that person sleeps with someone else – and then it switches to the new person. If it gets you, it works its way backwards down the chain of sexual history. Yes, It Follows is basically about a ghost that is also an STD – but, as silly as that sounds, the concept works brilliantly on the screen.
Freddy Krueger is one of cinema’s most famous horror villains, and for good reason – his creepy claws and awful face are about as spooky as he gets. Old Freddy was burned alive by angry parents (as a child-murderer, he kind of had it coming), but he’s back from the dead and ready to murder more children. Wes Craven is behind this nightmare, of course. Fun fact: a very young Johnny Depp pops up in this film.
Creepy kids have a long and rich history in horror movies, but no creepy kid is as iconic as Damien, the terrifying child in The Omen. Damien is the son of the Devil, and his mortal parents aren’t quite up the challenge of raising a scion of Lucifer himself. And you thought your kids were rotten! The Omen isn’t just one of the best horror movies on Netflix – it’s one of the best horror movies ever made.
Scream is a near-perfect slasher flick. Our protagonist is a young girl whose mother was brutally murdered just a year before. Now it’s starting to look like it’s her turn, as she and her friends are stalked by a killer who loves horror movies. This was one of the definitive horror movies of the 1990s – remember those Scream masks every Halloween – and it really holds up pretty well. If you like it, the recent MTV television reboot is also available on Netflix.
Looking for the campiest horror flick on Netflix? You’ve found it. Sharknado is self-aware but pretends not to be, and it fills its run-time with a nonsensical premise (Sharks! In a tornado!), terrible acting, and gratuitous gore. Sharknado was a made-for-TV movie, and that made-for-TV budget is on full display as we watch a bunch of people we’ve never heard of and, for some reason, Tara Reid do battle with fake-looking sharks that are flying through the air. If you can’t get enough of this, check out Sharknado 2: The Second One, which is also on Netflix and has pretty much the exact same plot except for being set in New York City instead of Los Angeles. There are also two further installments, but I can’t vouch for those, because I have never seen them and probably never, ever will.
There are no shortage of movies based on Stephen King’s popular horror movies, and King himself is pretty pleased with most of them – but not this one. King felt that Stanley Kubrick did too little with the Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) character arc. Far be it from me to say Stephen King is wrong, but I will say that, as far as I can tell, he’s the only person on the planet that doesn’t like this movie. The Shining is widely considered one of the best horror movies ever made, and it’s easily one of the best horror movies on Netflix.