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.
Train to Busan
A South Korean zombie flick with almost no guns, set almost entirely on a high-speed train? Where do we sign up?
While Train to Busan doesn’t really do anything to break the zombie movie mould, it’s an enjoyably fraught tale of a father and daughter (and a small group of other survivors) trapped in a confined space with a bunch of fast-moving, vicious and utterly relentless infected. If you’re sick of Western horror movies and fancy something a little different, it’s well two hours of your time.
Based on one of the cases investigated by real-life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, and directed by James Wan (best known for Saw, Insidious and Aquaman), The Conjuring concerns the 1970s haunting of a New England family by a malevolent spirit – and comes with all the standard jump scares, creepy whispering voices, levitating furniture and screaming that you’d expect from a modern-day horror movie.
Despite taking many, many liberties with the source material, it’s an entertaining, well-paced ride on the ghost train – and it proved such a box office success that there’s already been one sequel (just scroll down for more on that) and several spin-offs.
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.
Gremlins isn’t your typical horror movie, despite its grotesque villains and ability to rack up some tension. It’s actually a remarkably light-hearted, family-friendly take on the genre, with very little visible violence or gore, buoyed along by its wholesome Christmas setting. In fact, it skirts the line so well that it actually inspired the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.
Those not around in the 1980s may not be aware of the movie’s plot-starter, but it’s quite clever: when a teenager is given a cute, cuddly and friendly creature as a gift, he’s warned not to get it wet or feed it after midnight – but not what happens if he breaks those rules. We quickly find out the answer to that question, and the rest of the film concerns dealing with the terrifying consequences.
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.
The Girl with All The Gifts
A lowish budget Brit zombie movie based on the novel of the same name, The Girl with All The Gifts might not sound all that promising on paper, but manages to surprise both in its grim, unrelenting tone and in its ability to offer a fresh twist on the old zombie tropes – albeit one that we’re all but certain has its roots in the novel’s author playing The Last of Us on PlayStation 3.
Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close play three vestiges of authority – a teacher, a soldier and a scientist – in a United Kingdom in which society has collapsed due to a fungal outbreak that causes people to become flesh-eating “hungries”.
An animated prequel to Train to Busan (which is getting a full sequel at some point in the near future), this film shows how the zombie apocalypse spreads from the titular city centre train station. A young runaway and her father are the principal characters here, and their attempts to reunite are scuppered by the early stages of the outbreak, in which anyone bitten becomes an enraged, fast-moving ghoul intent on chowing down on the nearest warm-blooded human.
As you’d expect from an animated film, the performances are a lot “broader” and more pronounced than in the live action Train to Busan, but with both being helmed by director Yeon Sang-ho, there’s a neat consistency between the two.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Sometimes campy to the point of absurdity (Keanu Reeves’ English accent being a prime contender), at others bursting into life with gorgeous gothic imagery and tone, Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of the best-known of all Victorian horror novels is quite the cinematic feast.
With a star-studded cast (Gary Oldman! Anthony Hopkins! Winona Ryder! Tom Waits!), lavish costumes, lighting so OTT it might as well spell out “spooky!”, and some of the nattiest haircuts in ‘90s cinema, this version of Dracula feels like an unmissably creepy curiosity rather than an out-and-out horror film. It captures the doomed romanticism of Stoker’s book better than any other adaptation we can think of, and presents the blood-sipping Transylvanian himself as a complex tragic figure rather than a moustache-twirling monster. A welcome addition to the vampire movie compendium, we say.
The Conjuring 2
With a burgeoning host of spin-offs set in the same spooky “cinematic universe”, James Wan has built The Conjuring into nothing less than a franchise, and this, the second main instalment, is a fine distillation of why: it ticks all the horror boxes (creeping dread, jump scares, people getting possessed by evil demonic forces) without copious amounts of gore, swearing or sex. In other words, The Conjuring 2 embodies a new type of mainstream horror movie that practically anyone can watch.
Being accessible doesn’t mean being great, of course, and compared to masterful horror movies like The Shining or understated, thought-provoking ones like Let the Right One In, Wan’s brand of popcorn-friendly chiller – in which Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s real life-inspired 1970s ghost busters Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to London to deal with the real life-inspired Enfield poltergeist – feels somewhat shallow and hackneyed, with more than its fair share of dodgy Lahndan accents. But it’s hard to deny that it’s well-paced and well-served with creepy vibes.
Let the Right One in
A young girl – or is she? – befriends a bullied boy in this inventive Swedish vampire film. It turns the genre on its head, the vampire haunting a snowy housing estate merely providing a backdrop (albeit one with bloodsucking and murder) against which the children’s relationship plays out.
Like every successful foreign-language film, it was immediately remade by the Americans – and for once the remake isn’t all that bad, either. But since Amazon has just put the original on Prime in the first time since we can remember, we suggest you grab your reading glasses and settle down for some sublime subtitle-accompanied indie horror.
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.
This 2017 Brit chiller stars Rafe Spall as one of four old friends enjoying a Scandinavian hiking trip that goes terribly, terribly wrong when the group decides to take a shortcut through a creepy pine forest. The Ritual succeeds in balancing the requisite jump scares and creepiness with a level of self-awareness that’s become all too rare in today’s humour-free, self-important horror flicks.
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.
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…