19 Best Horror TV Shows To Watch On Streaming, Including Netflix, Amazon, And Shudder
Television is the perfect format for telling horror stories. TV provides horror writers and directors with the best of both worlds--long-form storytelling over many episodes (and seasons), and short sharp bursts of terror in an anthology format. With the rise of streaming services and the constant need for content, studios and companies have quickly realised that scary TV is a popular and often economical way to pull in viewers.
Anthology horror has long been one of the most successful ways to present small-screen terror. The classic show The Twilight Zone revolutionised the way scary stories were told on screen, and the following years have seen a host of shows delivering short-form frights. While horror can be as multi-layered and intricately plotted as any genre, there is something about building to a well-timed twist or shock over a limited, tightly-focused running time that has made the format so successful.
On the other hand, TV can also provide the perfect format for epic, sweeping scary stories that span generations. Last year's Netflix hit The Haunting of Hill House showed how a brilliant 10-hour horror drama could be adapted from a modest novel in a way that would be impossible for a movie to do.There are also those shows that are spin-offs from already successful movies that allow us to watch the stories that there was no room for, and find out more about these iconic horror heroes and villains.
With so many streaming services to choose from, there is a wealth of great horror TV out there. Unsurprisingly Netflix has a lot, but AMC's specialist streaming service Shudder has been picking up some great shows over the last few years. Similarly, Hulu, Amazon, and CBS All-Access have all brought some a number of great, scary shows to audiences. So to help you pick through the horror TV out there, here's our pick of the best shows currently available to stream...
19. iZombie (Netflix)
It might not have the profile of something like The Walking Dead, but The CW's unusual zombie drama has built up a dedicated fan base since it premiered in 2015. Based on the Vertigo comic book (a DC comics imprint), iZombie stars Rose McIver as a medical student-turned-zombie named Liv who uses her strange undead powers to help the police solve crimes. The fifth and final season hits Netflix in May, the first four are available now.
18. Black Lake (Shudder)
Scandinavia has dominated TV crime drama over the past decades, with shows such as The Killing and The Bridge finding popularity in the US and the UK. Black Lake is a Swedish murder mystery, but one that steps fully into horror territory and can be found on Shudder. The title refers to a remote, abandoned ski resort with a dark history. A group of friends pay the site a visit with the idea of potentially reopening it; madness and murder inevitably follow. While it's hardly the most inventive set-up, what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in style, scares, and atmosphere.
17. Ash vs. The Evil Dead (Netflix)
For years fans of Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead movies had been hopeful that Raimi and star Bruce Campbell might return for a fourth movie. While another film never happened, viewers were rewarded with this hugely enjoyable TV spin-off. Campbell reprises his role as hapless Ash, who is still fighting the undead forces of the Deadites 30 years later, alongside two younger work colleagues. The mix of broad comedy and over-the-top zombie action is every bit as wild and entertaining as in the movies, and while the show was cancelled after three seasons, it's great to pay another visit to one of horror's most enduring characters.
16. Inside No. 9 (Hulu)
British comedians Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton were part of the team behind the brilliantly dark comedy series The League of Gentlemen, which took heavy influence from rural horror classics such as The Wicker man and Straw Dogs. The anthology series Inside No. 9 indulges their love of the genre even more. Like the Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, the show takes its influences from many different places, but the episodes that go for the scares are highly effective, such as Season 4's "Tempting Fate" and Season 3's "The Devil of Christmas." The show's greatest moment is last year's Halloween special, which was broadcast live in the UK and played ingeniously with the format, tricking its audience into thinking something had actually gone terribly wrong with the broadcast.
15. Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
This entertaining suburban zombie comedy was recently cancelled by Netflix after three seasons, which is a shame--but there's till 30 episodes to check out. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant play Sheila and Joel, married real estate agents in the Californian town of the title. Life is good until Sheila becomes a zombie with an insatiable desire for human flesh. Just as director George Romero did with classic movies such as Dawn of the Dead, Santa Clarita Diet creator Victor Fresco uses the zombie theme to explore a variety of satirical subjects about modern American life, as well delivering plenty of gory horror.
14. Outcast (Hulu)
Robert Kirkman is best known as the creator of The Walking Dead, but he was also behind this impressive supernatural series. Based on Kirkman's comic books, Outcast centres on a man who attempts to find a solution for the demons that he believes have possessed him for years. This leads him to meet an evangelical preacher whose life's mission is to battle evil forces, and encounters others who also experience possession. It's an intelligent, thoughtful show that still delivers a good number of scares. Sadly, Outcast never found the popularity of The Walking Dead and was cancelled after two seasons, but is well worth checking out.
13. Devilman Crybaby (Netflix)
This anime series is a new adaptation of Go Nagai's classic '70s manga and subsequent anime series Devilman, about a teenager who becomes possessed and transformed into an avenging demon with a pure human heart. The show brings it right up to date, embracing the age of social media and web journalism, and more importantly is packed with some of the most extreme content ever to hit Netflix. It's a sometimes funny but often disturbing collision of sex, gore, and demonic madness, that definitely not for everyone. But for horror fans who love the weirder and more explicit ends of the genre, it's an absolute must-see.
12. Wolf Creek (Shudder)
Greg McLean's Wolf Creek is one of the scariest and most harrowing Australian horror movies of the past two decades, and inspired this spin-off TV show. John Jarratt reprises his role as demented serial killer Mick Taylor, who continues to pick off unwitting tourists in the Outback. McLean acts as showrunner, and while it might not offer anything you can't find in the movie or its sequel, it's every bit as gripping, brutal, and beautifully shot as the films.
11. Bates Motel (Netflix)
After two movie sequels, a made-for-TV film, and a much-maligned shot-for-shot remake, you'd be forgiven for wondering what more could be done with the characters and setting of Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho. But Bates Motel showed that great casting and smart writing can breathe new life into even the most familiar material. It's something of a prequel to Hitchcock's movie, with Freddie Highmore as the young Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother, and reveals that the pair were involved with murder and madness long before the events of the movie. The show ran for five seasons, all of which you can find on Netflix.
10. The Twilight Zone (CBS All-Access, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime)
The granddaddy of TV terror. Rod Sterling's groundbreaking anthology series mixed horror, sci-fi, and fantasy across 159 episodes of mind-bending, twist-laden brilliance between 1959 and 1964. The show has returned a couple more times--in the 1980s and in 2019--but it's this original run that set a blueprint that has influenced movies and TVs for decades since. Obviously not every episode is a classic, but the standards throughout that original five-season was remarkably high, and they can be streamed on a variety of services. So whatever you subscribe to, there's no excuse not to explore the Zone.
Disclosure: CBS All Access is owned by CBS, GameSpot's parent company.
9. The Chalet (Netflix)
This compelling French mystery focuses on a group of old friends who are reunited when they stay in a remote chalet in the French alps. Inevitably, things get dark quickly, as bodies pile up and suspicions arise between these old acquaintances. The Chalet keeps things interesting by intercutting the present day events with flashbacks to the same characters, in the same location, 20 years earlier, where the seeds for the scary stuff were first sown. It's an extremely bingable six-part series and one of the best foreign language shows on Netflix.
8. Slasher (Netflix)
The anthology format is a hugely popular one for horror TV, and like American Horror Story, Slasher tells a single standalone story across each season. As the title suggests, the show takes its inspiration from stalk n' slash movies, most notably Halloween and Friday the 13th, with its mix of suburban and summer camp settings. But as well as paying gory homage to those classics, it manages to be a funny, thrilling, and well-acted series that works for both hardcore horror fans and those less familiar with genre conventions. The third season hits Netflix on May 23, 2019.
7. The Twilight Zone (CBS All-Access)
Within a couple of years, Jordan Peele has gone from much-loved comedy star to one of horror's most exciting filmmakers. As well as directing the hugely successful Get Out and Us, he has helped bring the iconic Twilight Zone back to screens. The format remains the same--weird and creepy tales with a twist in the tale--and Peele takes over from the show's iconic producer/presenter Rod Serling by hosting each episode. The series has attracted an impressive cast, including Kumail Nanjiani, Steven Yeun, Greg Kinnear, and John Cho, and proves that this format can freak audiences out just as well in 2019 as it did in 1959.
Disclosure: CBS All Access is owned by CBS, GameSpot's parent company.
6. Stranger Things (Netflix)
Stranger Things is, of course, more than just a horror show. But scares, monsters, and gore do play an important part of what has made it such a success. Season 2 in particular upped the horror content, and Episode 8, in which Demodogs invade Hawkins National Laboratory, was as tense and scary as many horror movies in 2018. Season 3 is set to hit Netflix in July, and co-creator Ross Duffer has cited legendary horror filmmakers John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and George Romero as an influence, so expect even more scary fun.
5. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
This adaptation of the Archie comic book was originally intended to be a spin-off of The CW's Riverdale, but ultimately ended up on Netflix as its own stylish, highly-acclaimed show. It's one of the most effective teen horror shows out there, which remains impressively spooky throughout and takes its inspiration for classic slow-burning ‘70s horror movies such as The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby. The show features a stand-out performance from Kiernan Shipka as the young half-witch who must use her powers to fight a variety of dark forces. All 20 episodes of Season 1 are on Netflix, with a second season due in 2020.
4. Hannibal (Amazon Prime)
As with Bates Motel, a Hannibal Lecter prequel show didn't initially seem like a great idea, especially with Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox already having delivered two incredible on-screen portrayals of Thomas Harris's iconic serial killer. But with Bryan Fuller running the show and Mads Mikkelsen delivering an equally stunning performance, Hannibal quickly emerged as one of the boldest and most brilliant horror shows around. Fuller cleverly took Harris's lead and made Hannibal a secondary character in his own show, with Hugh Dancy's FBI investigator Will Graham the perfect foil to the cannibal genius. As the series went on it got weirder and more ambitious, with some unforgettable imagery and consistently gripping storylines. There has been consistent talk of a revival ever since its abrupt cancellation after Season 3, so let's hope this happens.
3. Beyond The Walls (Shudder)
Beyond The Walls was the first show that Shudder released, and it remains one of the best horror series of recent years. As the title suggests it's a spooky house story, in which a woman mysteriously inherits an old house and starts to hear terrifying noises from behind the walls. It's an atmospheric, gripping, and brilliantly-made mystery, with stunning photography and set-design. In addition, this French production is only three episodes, which were presented consecutively as a movie at some film festivals, making it far less of a time commitment than many other shows.
2. American Horror Story (Netflix)
When AHS premiered in 2011, there was some surprise that Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and Nip/Tuck, would be able to deliver the horror goods. But over eight seasons of weird, funny, gory, scary, and unique anthology storytelling, Murphy has absolutely proven that he can. Everyone has their favorite season--whether it's the focused and relatively restrained Murder House, the incredibly campy Coven, or the absolutely insane Hotel. The first seven seasons are on Netflix, and it's never too late to dive into the madness.
1. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)
The Haunting of Hill House isn't just one of the best horror shows of recent years, it's also one of the best dramas in any genre. Gerard's Game director Mike Flanagan took Shirley Jackson's classic novel and expanded it into a powerful 10 part series that focused on the effects of the haunted house of the title upon a family over the course of nearly three decades. It provoked tears and frights in equal measure, and expectations are high for Flanagan's 2020 follow-up, The Haunting Of Bly Manor.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company