17 Best Horror Movies To Watch On HBO Max
17 Best Horror Movies To Watch On HBO Max
HBO Max is here, and there are hundreds of movies and TV to watch right now. The film section combines new and old content from Warner with classics from the Criterion channel, and a wealth of titles from third party companies, meaning whatever your choice of genre or taste in cinema, there will be something for you.
This is especially true if you're a horror fan. The horror section on HBO Max features dozens of titles from across the decades, from big studio shockers to groundbreaking indies. There are some classic horror franchises, such as the Nightmare on Elm Street series, hugely influential films from the likes of George Romero and David Cronenberg, and new hits from genre specialists Blumhouse. It's not all American cinema either--there are scary gems from Japan, Sweden, and Mexico as well.
So here's our guide to the best horror movies to watch on HBO Max. And one you've read that, check out our guide to everything you need to know about the new service, the difference between HBO Max, HBO Now, and HBO Go, and our first impressions of HBO Max.
And speaking of things you should be watching, consider listening to GameSpot's weekly TV series and movies-focused podcast, You Should Be Watching. With new episodes premiering every Wednesday, you can watch a video version of the podcast over on GameSpot Universe or listen to audio versions on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Apple Podcasts.
17. Funny Games (2007)
Michael Haneke made his modern classic Funny Games twice--once in 1997, then 10 years later in the US with Tim Roth and Naomi Watts in the lead roles. For once, the Hollywood remake is every bit as effective. What makes the film so powerful is the way that Haneke implicates his audience, as we watch a pair of well-spoken, polite young men hold a family hostage. The antagonists frequently break the fourth wall to address the audience, making us question why we watch movies like this in the first place.
16. The Brood (1979)
David Cronenberg directed this dark horror drama while going through an acrimonious divorce, and its bleak view of human relationships makes it one of his most personal movies. Of course, this being a Cronenberg film, it also features plenty of shocks and over-the-top body horror too. It focuses on a mentally ill woman (Samantah Eggar) who physically manifests the feelings of rage at her estranged husband as diminutive and deformed creatures, who carry out a series of bloody murders. The sight of Eggar giving "birth" is one of the most memorably disgusting moments in Cronberg's filmography.
15. Hostel (2005)
Most of the so-called "torture porn" movies that followed the success of Saw in the early 2000s were forgettable trash, but Eli Roth's Hostel was an exception. A group of American tourists find themselves prisoners of a mysterious organisation that allowed the wealthy to torture and kill. It's often brutal and unpleasant, but also well made with plenty of dark humor and an edge of social satire that helps balance out the gore.
14. Carnival of Souls (1962)
This low-budget supernatural chiller wasn't a hit back in 1962, but the film has picked up a cult reputation over the years. It's a spooky tale of a woman who seemingly survives when her car plunges into a river, but spends the rest of the film in a strange state between life and death. Carnival of Souls was director Herk Harvey's only film, and weird atmosphere and unsettling narrative ambiguity makes it a perfect late-night watch.
13. House (1977)
It took nearly 30 years for this indescribably weird cult Japanese film to get a proper release in the US, but has since become a favorite of horror fans looking for something a little different. The plot follows a group of schoolgirls who experience all sorts of supernatural madness when they visit an old country house. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi based much of the films on ideas supplied by his young daughter, which accounts of the movie's oddball tone and some truly bizarre sequences. The deliberately artificial-looking VFX and the stilted performance from his non-professional cast make House less like watching a movie and more like experiencing a very surreal dream.
12. Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)
Häxan is a groundbreaking horror mock-documentary, made back in 1922, that explores the phenomenon of witchcraft across the centuries. Director Benjamin Christensen's meticulous recreation of the medieval era meant it was the most expensive Swedish movie of the silent era, and its depiction of torture, sexuality, and generic satanic madness led it to being banned in the US for many years.
11. The Hitcher (1986)
Rutger Hauer made a terrifying villain in this '80s horror thriller, in which he plays a psychotic hitchhiker pursuing an innocent man across Texas. The pared down script and relentless pace makes for a tense and scary ride. It also features one of the most memorably horrific deaths in '80s horror, in which co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh gets... well, you'll know it when it happens.
10. Cronos (1993)
Guillermo Del Toro's debut tells the story of a strange insect that secretes a serum that seems to reverse the ageing process but also brings on more undesirable side effects. Cronos contains many of the elements that would mark Del Toro's future work--a confident mix of horror, fantasy, and drama, impressive performances, stylish direction, and a clear love of the genre.
9. Alien (1979)
One of the most influential movies of the '70s, Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic is no less scary than it was 40 years ago. As Spielberg did with the shark in Jaws, many of the scares come from the way Scott refrains from showing us much of the alien, leading to some incredibly tense sequences as the crew of the Nostromo attempt to get it before it gets them.
8. Happy Death Day/Happy Death Day 2U (2017/2019)
The Happy Death Day movies are two of the smartest, funniest horror comedies of recent years. The first is essentially a slasher movie remake of Groundhog Day, with Jessica Rothe's student Tree forced to relive the day she is murdered by a masked killer over and over again. The sequel takes more of a sci-fi approach, as Tree and her friends attempt to find out why they've been thrown back into the loop. Rothe's charismatic performance and the knowing and consistently funny approach to the ridiculous material make this a hugely entertaining double-bill.
7. Eraserhead (1976)
David Lynch made his debut with the terrifying weird Eraserhead. It might not be a traditional horror movie, but it's every bit as scary and disturbing as anything on this list. Like many of Lynch's subsequent films, it's both nightmarish and strangely funny, as we follow Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) as he struggles to bring up a mutant baby in his tiny apartment. From the "man-made" chicken dinner to the Lady in the Radiator, there's been nothing else quite like it before or since.
6. Sisters (1973)
Brian De Palma's Sisters wasn't his first movie, but it was the first to fully embrace the flamboyant visual style and love of over-the-top shocks that he would become known for. Margot Kidder plays a woman whose separated conjoined twin embarks on a bloody murder spree. It's a gloriously enjoyable Hitchcock homage, packed with gore, twists, and some highly inventive split-screen photography.
5. Scanners (1981)
Another David Cronenberg classic, this thrilling story of warring psychics features one of the cinema's greatest exploding heads. But there's much more to it than that. It's a thrilling sci-fi mystery and is one of the Cronenberg most accessible and entertaining movies.
4. Freaks (1932)
Tod Browning's Freaks was a critically reviled box office failure at the time, but is now considered one of the greatest horror movies of the 20th century. It tells the story of a group of travelling carnival sideshow performers, who become the target for a devious, money-hungry trapeze artist. Browning famously cast actors with real disabilities as the main characters, and in doing so made an incredibly compassionate film. The idea that the real monsters are the able-bodied humans who seek to exploit the "freaks" isn't exactly subtle, but it makes for some powerful horror cinema.
3. Us (2019)
Jordan Peele's sophomore feature showed that Get Out was no fluke. Like its predecessor, it combines social satire with a horror mystery, and features Lupita Nyong'o in two fantastic performances as a mom trying to protect her family, and her evil doppelganger. Peele cranks the tension masterfully, but also provides plenty of dark laughs alongside the shocks and surprises.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George A Romero's zombie classic wasn't the first zombie movie, but it laid the groundwork for the entire genre as we know it. It's still a remarkably effective film, as a group of strangers hide out in a farmhouse overnight while the flesh-eating undead roam the countryside. Like all of Romero's films, it has a strong social undercurrent--Duane Jones was the first black leading man in a horror movie, and the tragic final scene still packs an incredible punch.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street series (1984-1991)
Wes Craven's original Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the world to one of horror's greatest icons--vengeful razor-fingered child killer Feddy Krugger, who haunts the dreams of his teenage victims. The huge success of Craven's scary and imaginative original led to five sequels over the next few years. While the quality of the Elm Street sequels vary--and Robert Englund's portrayal of Freddy ultimately becomes more funny than scary--there are great moments in all the films. Part 3 (Dream Warriors) is particularly good, and Craven's 1991 deconstruction of the Freddy phenomenon, Final Nightmare, paved the way for the similarly meta Scream series later that decade.
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