There's a universal thrill in being scared - particularly when there's no actual danger involved.
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.
Here, you'll find the Stuff team's pick of Amazon Prime's horror movie selection. There's sure to be something in here that'll put the willies up you.
You can sign up here for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime video: so, go fill your boots on scary films.
In his infinite wisdom, Stephen King identified the very high creepiness potential of clowns, choosing to propagate this concept via his beloved novel It – here adapted for the screen for a second time by Andy Muschietti in a movie which comes off like a cross between The Goonies and Halloween.
Packed with Kingian tropes (childhood trauma, small town America, loss of innocence, friendship, ancient evil) and a loving homage to the 1980s, It is a fine piece of crowd-pleasing supernatural horror in which seven misfit schoolkids are stalked by an entity that takes the form of their worst fears – and yes, in some cases that’s a clown. While it doesn’t attempt to redefine the genre, it works within horror’s confines to produce a film that’s as stuffed with heart and soul as it is with scares.
The Purge (2013)
Part home invasion horror, part satirical future-gazing, 2013’s The Purge has become something of a cult classic, spawning several sequels and a TV series along the way.
The setup is beautifully fertile ground: in a near-future USA, strife has been all but eliminated, the economy is flourishing, and everybody lives together in productive harmony. For 364 days of the year, at least. During the annual “purge”, crime becomes legal for a night and you’re free to pick up a baseball bat, head out into the evening and bash your neighbour’s head in.
This is seen as society’s safety valve, letting people release a year’s worth of pent-up aggression in an orgy of violence – but when one wealthy family finds their security shutters inadequate and a murderous gang at their door, they’re forced to question their previous beliefs.
30 Days of Night
Welcome to Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the world – and a place where the sun disappears for a month once a year. Cue the arrival of a coterie of animalistic vampires, taking advantage of the extended period of darkness to feed on the snowbound townsfolk uninterrupted.
Grisly and disturbing (even with Danny Huston's head vampire bearing an uncanny resemblance to a young Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys), it's a fine horror film with a memorable final reel.
Shaun of the Dead
The first and arguably the best film in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s "Cornetto Trilogy" (the others being Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) pits directionless shop worker Shaun (Pegg) against a flesh-hungry zombie horde as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend.
This zom-rom-com's scares might be thin on the ground, but the laughs more than make up for that – and there’s loads of heart to it too, primarily coming from the relationship between Shaun and his slacker best mate, played brilliantly by Nick Frost.
Luca Guadagnino’s stylish reimagining of the Dario Argento classic is bound to divide audiences. Ponderously paced and tottering under the weight of more themes and ideas than it knows what to do with, this is peak arthouse horror – and some might find the eventual gory payoffs too little reward for the investment.
Others will appreciate the movie’s strong sense of place (late 1970s Berlin, a divided city riven by political turmoil) and the way it builds an atmosphere of oppressive discomfort throughout with its use of sound effects, strange camera angles and Thom Yorke’s krautrock-inspired score. Dakota Johnson stars as an unworldly young dancer joining a prestigious all-female company that just might be a coven of witches, while Tilda Swinton excels in three separate roles.
Eight Legged Freaks
A gore-free “creature feature” horror that you can watch with most of the family, Eight Legged Freaks does not take itself very seriously at all – and yes, you’ve probably already surmised that from its name.
Revelling in its trashy b-movie roots and working in the same tradition as the likes of Gremlins, Critters, Tremors and Arachnophobia, it stars David Arquette as a mining engineer who returns to his remote Arizona hometown to find it’s been overrun by giant CGI spiders.
This film being the best part of 20 years old now (a teenage Scarlett Johansson is among the cast), the CGI bugs aren’t always the most convincing, but that doesn’t matter a great deal – it’s a fun action-horror caper with that bobs along merrily through its running time.
Reportedly filmed on a budget that would barely buy you a flat white and an almond croissant in one of London’s notoriously expensive coffee shops, plus running with the found footage angle that was already played-out by the time of release in 2009, Paranormal Activity could have been just another horror movie flop. But it defied all odds to become one of the most profitable movies of the period, spawning a series of (mostly underwhelming) sequels and getting the thumbs-up from none other than Steven Spielberg.
The story centres on a young couple, one of which claims to have been followed by a weird presence since childhood. A psychic warns them to not to attempt communication with said presence, advice which is promptly ignored. Cue: minor creepy occurrences captured on grainy night vision video that gradually ramp up to the point that you’ll be building a pillow fort on the sofa.
By some stretch the most accomplished horror film of 2018, Hereditary begins as a straight-up family drama and ends as… well, that’d risk ruining a ride filled with more spine-tingling twists than a runaway rollercoaster.
When her strangely secretive mother dies, Toni Collette’s Annie tries to parse the ways in which her behaviour shaped and warped her family – not just herself, but her deceased brother, her son Peter and her daughter Charlie, the latter two of which seem troubled by… something. When these troubles lead first to tragedy, then full-on nightmare, it already seems too late for Annie to steer things back on course.
If you’re looking for an intelligent, thought-provoking film that retains the power to shock – a modern movie that’s very much in the same mould as the likes of The Shining or Don’t Look Now – look no further.
Directed by Lawrence “The Empire Strikes Back” Kasdan, scripted by legendary screenwriter William Goldman from a Stephen King novel and starring a host of Hollywood mainstays, 2003’s Dreamcatcher has all the makings of an absolute classic – and yet bombed at the box office and was largely ridiculed by critics.
Over 15 years later, it’s probably due a reappraisal as, while it certainly falls a long way short of the sum of its parts, it works as something of a cinematic curiosity. Part horror, part sci-fi thriller, part comedy (we’re still not sure if that last part is intentional or not), it’s an undeniably bizarre cinematic undertaking that will leave you and your friends with plenty to dissect afterwards. Is this the only movie where Morgan Freeman plays a total asshole? What’s the significance of the dreamcatchers? And did you just watch the most disgusting method of alien propagation ever committed to celluloid?
The Secret of Marrowbone
A well-crafted horror yarn set in the 1960s, The Secret of Marrowbone ticks off a whole bunch of genre tropes – creepy mirrors, a huge decrepit house, children left to their own devices, something apparently living in the walls – but still manages to deliver some shocks and surprises by its final reel.
While it doesn’t quite live up to its initial promise, the cast of mostly young Brit thesps, including modern day scream queen Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), George MacKay (Captain Fantastic), Mia Goth (Suspiria) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), do a fine job of portraying a group of people plagued by dark secrets, troubled pasts and frighteningly present dangers.
What We Do in the Shadows
Outstanding horror-comedies are few and far between – for every American Werewolf in London, there are five Scary Movies – but this low-budget Kiwi mockumentary (directed by and starring Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi) about a house of dysfunctional vampires succeeds in hitting the spot.
With plenty of laughs mined from the awkwardness of being a neurotic immortal living in the modern world, it’s certainly leaning more towards the comedy side on the spectrum, but it’s not without genuine moments of creepiness. If you’re a fan of This Is Spinal Tap as well as Salem’s Lot, it’s one to get your teeth into.
The Devil’s Backbone
Set in the last the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo del Toro’s superb horror concerns an orphanage, an unexploded bomb and a missing child. Revealing any more risks spoiling the creepy, mysterious allure of this spine-tingling film, whose historical setting becomes an integral part of its message. Only a writer and director of del Toro’s talents could pull off a cerebral foreign language horror movie that appeals to English-speaking audiences – and if there’s one horror movie on Amazon that the most ardent subtitle-hater should sit through, it’s this one.
Under The Skin
An alien takes the form of Scarlett Johansson and travels across Scotland, seducing men to harvest their flesh. The premise is simple enough for a low-budget indie flick but, as the title implies, there's much more than meets the eye here. Rarely has there been a bolder piece of cinema. And by that we mean it unapologetically screws with your head.
To classify this as sci-fi or horror would be a gross oversimplification. It starts off like a straight-up predator movie but morphs into a coming-of-age/road-trip story told from the alien's perspective.
This is an aggressively artsy experiment. Director Jonathan Glazer mixes heavily stylised visuals with hidden-camera footage. Much of the film doesn't appear to make sense, but that doesn't matter. It's chilling enough to command attention and the sense of unease is so gripping it will affect you regardless of your understanding. Johansson's performance, meanwhile, is disturbing and mesmerising.
It'll certainly polarise opinions, but if you're open to something different it's a singular and utterly compelling experience.
One notable bullet point in Ben Wheatley’s rise to Brit cinema wunderkind, Kill List is an indie film with real flair and punch; a blend of genres that’s drenched with a jarring atmosphere and mood that’ll keep your eyes locked to the screen until the jaw-dropping final reel.
Like your horror films disconcertingly strange? Put Kill List on your watchlist.
Proof that Aussie cinematic characters go further than Mick “Crocodile” Dundee, Wolf Creek introduces a bloke who’s easily as memorable and far nastier than the knife-wielding, globe-trotting bushman.
John Jarratt plays another Mick, an outback roughneck who offers to help a trio of teens after car trouble causes leaves them stranded in the national park that gives the film its name. Sounds like a predictable, clichéd slasher movie, right? It would be if Mick Taylor wasn’t so terrifyingly deranged, and it hadn’t been shot with such rare beauty for a film that descends into such horrific depravity. Not for the faint hearted.
And if you're yearning for more once the ordeal is over, great news: Wolf Creek 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime too!
Night of the Living Dead
George Romero’s recent death has reminded the world of the director’s pioneering genius. This man almost single-handedly invented both the zombie movie genre (heck, he essentially invented the pop culture zombie full-stop) and the horror-film-as-allegory, and he did so with this 1968 movie – which was also one of the first films to feature a black actor in the leading role. Without Night of the Living Dead, there’d be no Walking Dead, no World War Z, no Resident Evil… you get the idea.
The film’s plot is deceptively simple: as the dead begin to return to life as mindless, flesh-hungry ghouls, a disparate group of survivors barricade themselves inside a house in an attempt to make it through the night. But, as is often the case with zombie apocalypse tales, it quickly transpires that the biggest danger to their lives may not be the shambling hordes of undead, but human nature itself…