It's nearly Halloween, where our thoughts turn to the macabre: ghosts, ghouls, things that go bump in the night.
And what better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights, curl up on the couch and watch a horror film? Thankfully, the days of having to venture out to the video shop or cross your fingers that something suitable is on are over - there's a horrifying wealth of scary movies available at your fingertips on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.
Here, you'll find the Stuff team's pick of Now TV's horror movie selection. There's sure to be something in here that'll put the willies up you.
Searching for scares on a different streaming service? We've got you covered:
Deep and crisp and even it may be, but the Antarctic snow of John Carpenter’s cult horror classic is far from pure. The movie’s eponymous parasitic extraterrestrial, unwittingly woken from an icy slumber beneath the permafrost, is able to assume human form, leading to near-unbearable suspense – who is human, and who is the alien? - as the inhabitants of a cut-off research station are preyed upon in gruesome fashion.
In a world of Saws, Hostels and Human Centipedes, Hitchcock’s The Birds might seem awfully quaint. What’s scary about a flock of crows hanging out in a playground? Hasn’t anyone who’s ever eaten a chip by the seaside received some unwelcome attention from a seagull?
It’s exactly this supposed lack of menace that the master of suspense turns into a threat, cleverly eschewing music completely to instill an unsettling sense of dread. Without The Birds, we’d also never have had Big Train’s brilliant ‘The Working Class’ sketch – and for that we must be eternally grateful.
28 Days Later
Years before The Walking Dead made zombies cool and terrifying again, 28 Days Later reinvigorated the genre. Idiots release a virus that causes people to get all snarly and bitey, who infect anyone daft enough to get close. Unfortunately for Jim, who’s been in a coma, he awakens to find an eerie, deserted London, before soon finding himself pursued by the surprisingly sprightly infected.
Although this tale of survival horror goes off the boil in the final act, it’s a compelling and exciting ride – and a lesson for Rick Grimes and co., who should think themselves lucky. Sure, they’ve the odd problem with psychos armed with baseball bats, but at least their zombie foes don’t take after Usain Bolt.
28 Weeks Later
With the infected dying off, American-led NATO forces wade into the UK. The Isle of Dogs becomes a heavily guarded safe zone, into which returning Brits are crammed, presumably wishing they’d extended their holidays indefinitely. However, given that this is a horror film and not 100 minutes of grumpy Brits in tiny bunks, one tiny oversight rapidly leads to gore o’ clock.
It’s safe to say that this is an action-packed sequel, frequently brutal and with plenty going for it. 28 Weeks Later is comparatively lacking in the smarts department, though, and is rather heavy-handed on the occupation angle. Still, it ends well, and you’ll be hankering for 28 Months Later – which has been rumoured for ages, but at this rate will probably take 28 years to show up.
The Torrance family take up residence in an isolated hotel for the winter, to cure father Jack of his writer's block. But Jack's son Danny is haunted by disturbing visions, and the hotel's old ghosts worry away at the author's fraying sanity.
Director Stanley Kubrick trims back Stephen King's haunted-house story into a study in ambiguity. Jack Nicholson's Torrance is a mean drunk, with a temper – but is the hotel exerting a malign influence over him, or is his potential for evil there from the outset?
Kubrick's one foray into the horror genre may feel safe and familiar at first – its iconic scenes blunted by a thousand parodies and college-dorm posters – but its unsettling qualities quickly become apparent. The Shining looks like no other horror film. Kubrick dwarfs the characters with his trademark wide, symmetrical shots of architecture, and tracks them through a maze of corridors with lingering steadicam shots. The atmosphere is heightened by flashes of disturbing tableaux – a gore-drenched elevator, a beautiful woman who turns into a hag. The images linger long after the credits roll.