The 15 Best Horror Movies Streaming On HBO Max Right Now
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It's that time again folks. Pumpkins spice, store aisles filled with ghoulish decorations, an abundance of candy corn--someone has to eat them--and more are indicative of the Halloween season. Something most folks call Autumn.
If stores can start playing Christmas music right after October 31st, we should be allowed to prepare for trick-or-treaters come September 1st. Or at the very least get our horror movie marathon situation all sorted before Hallows' Eve. Because the last thing you'd want to do is pick any old film after going through the trouble of ordering food and inviting some friends over. Nope. Get Out of here with that foolishness.
Hilarious puns aside, there are a ton of horror movies housed on various streaming platforms to choose from. Take HBO Max for instance. While it isn't Shudder, it does sport a decent selection. Our list below implies as much by showcasing the top 15 horror films on the platform.
15. Malignant (2021)
James Wan is a genius. A great director with a litany of solid films under his belt. And while Malignant proved to be somewhat divisive, it stands as another win for the director. Just, maybe not for the reasons one might think.
Malignant is a campy slasher that's more than a little absurd. Stylishly shot with dream-like sequences and set pieces seemingly pulled from old Tim Burton movies, it invokes an otherworldly charm. It's also completely bonkers; the fight in the police station is worth the price of admission alone. And the twist ending? Forget about it!
Malignant is like a gory parody/tribute to Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case. When not creeped out, you'll be laughing even when you aren't supposed to. Essentially, it's an entertaining popcorn film that's worth checking out come Halloween night.
14. Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins is a dark comedy/horror classic. Not only does it offer a unique spin on gremlins--these creatures still cause havoc but aren't found near planes and such, like the one found in The Twilight Zone: The Movie--it also gives the world Gizmo. Like, who doesn't love them some Gizmo?
The film is full of hilarious moments. There are also some really dark aspects, namely a generational issue caused by a terrible accident on Christmas eve. Beyond that, there's the struggle to survive in a town overrun with violent, lizard-like creatures whose sole purpose is to cause mayhem. Gremlins basically offers a fun, yet scary good time.
13. The Omen (1976)
There's nothing funny about The Omen. It's a suspenseful "what if" that depicts the early days of the apocalypse by way of the antichrist that mostly works. The film is unsettling; it takes a slower approach, building up tension that lingers even after a character is brutally murdered. The eerie score helps in this regard.
The Omen, like other films on this list, proves that children can be scary at times. And the picture it paints for the audience is quite dreadful. So much so, that the duller aspects of the film can be ignored for a decent part of its run time.
12. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
28 Weeks Later is a solid "infected" film on HBO Max. Following the events of 28 Days Later, it depicts NATO's efforts to control the last safe zone in London after the spread of Rage--a hate virus that causes the infected to seek out and violently attack others. Of course, they eventually fail in this endeavor, resulting in widespread panic and bloodshed.
28 Weeks Later provides plenty of thrilling moments. It can be exhausting to watch at times as the frightening atmosphere almost never relents. Still, 28 Weeks Later is ultimately entertaining for those of us looking for a scary zombie/infected experience.
11. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Annabelle: Creation is one of the best films in the Conjuring franchise, let alone the Annabelle series itself. Not only do fans get to see the origin of the creepy doll--which still sports a "why in the hell would you buy this for your child" vibe--the film also provides a decent plot and solid jump scares. An aspect of which is elevated by strong acting and clever shots by director David F. Sandberg.
Basically, Annabelle: Creation is a spooky good time waiting to happen.
10. It (2017)
It had some big shoes to fill when it was released. While the original made-for-tv version wasn't genre defining, it was well enough received. Thankfully, director Andy Muschietti knocked it out of the park.
As the first part of the most recent adaptation of Stephan King's famous book, It does a great job of encapsulating the first half of the story. Overall, the film proved to be a frightening affair. And Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise was great; his blank stare and fading smile was pure nightmare fuel.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The original Nightmare on Elm Street is the best. While we know everyone loves the comical sequels and the outstanding Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the original is where it's at.
The straightforward nature of the plot, Freddy's imposing persona, and the impressively bloody kills make it a truly memorable horror film. There's also the fact that it was the first film where the slasher kills people in their dreams, a terrifying concept to say the least.
8. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is hailed as one of the scariest movies of all time. For good reason, considering some of the disturbing images lead to accusations that the film should have been rated X and not R. Hair-raising special effects and convincing performances make way for one of the most unsettling moments of its time.
The Exorcist is the one demonic possession film to rule them all. Or rather, it proved to be an inspiration for later projects. Depending on your appetite for this type of content, you may want to steal yourself before watching. Just know that not all of the projectile vomiting came from the possessed little girl in the film.
7. Poltergeist (1982)
How The Exorcist is to demonic possession, Poltergeist is to haunted house films. The story starts out tame enough. It follows a family experiencing a light haunting of sorts, with bent silverware and furniture being moved about. Things eventually go from strange to harrowing though, with one kid being pulled into another dimension; it's impossible to hear the name Carol Anne and not think about a certain rope scene.
Poltergeist is a classic. It has a great cast, solid script and excellent pacing. There's also the amazing special effects, courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic, that made all of the spooky happenings on screen feel real. Basically add this film to your horror movie marathon list post haste!
6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project might not be on many people's radar. It's more about the concept than the actual plot. The idea that you (the viewer) stumbled upon these tapes depicting the last moments of these people's lives is scary. This is especially true when considering the marketing that went into promoting the film.
While other found footage movies have certainly had an impact, not many were quite as influential. Even less were as creepy. If you haven't watched The Blair Witch yet, we'd recommend giving it a chance.
5. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead may be several decades old, but it still proves to be a good time for zombie fans. For newer viewers, it would be akin to watching a classic movie at a late night drive-in. They may laugh at some of the acting and the way the zombies look, but still be creeped out by certain events towards the end. For everyone else, it'll be a nostalgic experience. Whatever the case, make sure to grab some popcorn and dim the lights before starting one of the best zombie movies ever made.
4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the best remakes ever. The premise followed the same basic outline as the previous film/book but elevated the content via great acting, a strong script and excellent pacing. It's also pretty scary.
The idea that humanity is slowly being taken over by aliens, each replaced with doppelgangers, is scary enough on paper. Learning that they can tell who's who based on our emotions is terrifying; once found out, they'll let out a screech alerting their buddies that you aren't one of them. You essentially have to pretend to be dead inside to not end up dead.
3. The Conjuring (2013)
Jame Wan's The Conjuring is one of the best modern ghost/demonic possession movies ever created. Set in the 1970's, it follows the exploits of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to help a family that's being haunted by an evil presence. Mayhem ensues as they search for answers; the ghosts and such do far more than just move furniture about and slam doors in the middle of the night.
The Conjuring works on so many levels. From the excellent shots and strong acting to the solid scares and dreadful atmosphere. The plot is solid too; it even explains why the ghosts and such haunt their victims first instead of outright killing them. The film is right up there with Insidious in terms of quality!
2. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is one of Stanley Kubrick's best films. It features powerful performances, a creepy plot, and imaginative special effects. Easily a solid addition to anyone's late night horror collection.
The film isn't without its issues, namely the stuff that went on behind the scenes. Apparently, Kubrick was cruel to the cast, in particular to Shelley Duvall and Scatman Crothers; he forced them to redo an absurd number of takes for several scenes that led to some real long term harm. The Shining still turned out to be a great horror film (enough to land at number two on our list) but that doesn't justify the actors' poor treatment.
1. 28 Days Later
28 Days Later is an amazing "infected" film. Centered on a group of survivors during an apocalyptic event, it provides a bleak view on humanity that's undercut by the main cast's desire to help one another. Things are grim but there is hope.
The film takes a minimalist approach compared to the sequel. There are moments where people are forced to fight for their lives. But it's more hack and slashing and less gunplay; a bat cracking an infected person's skull vs. a bullet to the face. This slower pace allows for better character development, tense moments and bits of levity to balance it all out. In other words, 28 Days Later should definitely be included in your horror movie marathon.