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:
Stephen King’s Pet Sematary
This shocker gave millions of 1980s kids sleepless nights and, while it might have lost its edge somewhat a few decades later, it’s still a lot scarier than the recent remake – a sign that some things are better left alone. That’s actually the main theme of the movie, in which a family moving to a house in a spooky forest discovers that things buried in the nearby pet cemetery don’t stay underground for long – and when they come back, they’re not quite the same as before…
To say any more risks dulling this film’s sharp edges, so if you haven’t seen it, do dive in.
The movie that dissuaded a generation from skinny dipping, Jaws remains one of the most iconic, most copied and most beloved films of all time.
Even if you haven’t experienced its dread-filled joys before, you surely know the deceptively simple premise: when a small New Jersey seaside resort is terrorised by a giant killer Great White shark, the local police chief decides to hunt it down. But it’s this film’s presentation, script, direction and, yes, its iconic score, that make it such a winner.
Steven Spielberg cranks up the tension through his use of perspective and sound, leaving the audience constantly on edge, but Jaws isn’t afraid to season its scares with moments of levity and comedy. It’s still a fantastic watch, 40-plus years after its release (but trust us: avoid the sequels).
Happy Death Day
Like Groundhog Day by way of Scream, Happy Death Day is a clever twist on the teen slasher movie, in which our heroine experiences the same day (which happens to be her birthday) over and over, each time dying in a different manner to the same masked killer before waking up to start again.
This narrative trick makes what may have otherwise been a forgettable flick an interesting exploration of the genre – one that horror aficionados might enjoy more than they suspect…
Alien: The Director’s Cut
The best space-set horror movie ever made and the film that spawned a sprawling franchise based around its iconic titular “xenomorph”, Alien is a masterpiece of tension – not to mention a 40 year-old movie that still looks so good it could have been made last year.
When the crew of commercial space ship the Nostromo (a fantastic cast of “normal”, highly relatable characters rather than exaggerated, OTT personalities) detect a transmission from a moon out in deep space, they land to investigate and discover a strange derelict craft full of large eggs. When one of these hatches, it sparks off a deadly sequence of events that we wouldn’t dream of spoiling here but, yes, involves a murderous, predatory alien stalking its prey through the corridors and vents of the ship. It’s fantastic cat-and-mouse sci-fi stuff, and – courtesy of Ridley Scott’s mastery of lighting and the stellar production design, looks so, so good for a 40 year-old movie.
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 unravelling 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 short temper – but is the hotel exerting a malign influence over him, or is his potential for evil there from the outset?
Kubrick's only 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 lengthy 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.
The Sixth Sense
It’s almost 20 years on from its release, so we suspect there aren’t many who don’t already have the skinny on this movie’s startling final reel twist. The good news: it’s still a great watch even when you’re aware of what’s coming, as a second (or third, or fourth) viewing lets you knowingly pick out all the breadcrumbs dropped by director M. Night Shyamalan along the way.
Bruce Willis plays a child psychiatrist assigned a new case: a young boy (played by Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment) from a single-parent family who seems troubled by more than the usual growing pains. In fact, this boy says he can see ghosts – a claim Willis initially dismisses, but eventually can’t ignore.
There’s something pleasingly old-fashioned about Shyamalan’s measured direction and understated script – he relies on slow build-ups, gradual reveals and dialogue to crank up the tension – and it’s easy to see why some critics see him as modern Hollywood's answer to Alfred Hitchcock. He’s made many films since this one, but The Sixth Sense remains his best.
A Quiet Place
Perhaps closer to a thriller than an all-out horror flick, A Quiet Place warrants inclusion here due to the nigh-unbearable levels of tension it succeeds in creating. It pulls this off via a simple premise: there are horrible monsters roaming the world, and even though they’re totally blind, they’ll find and horribly murder you if you so much as clear your throat.
Real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also co-writes and directs) are superb as the parents striving to keep their children safe from these sonar-wielding uglies. Despite barely a word being uttered in the film – most of the dialogue is signed with subtitles – audio becomes a major part of cranking up the fear; a decent set of surround sound speakers goes a long way toward making the viewing experience even more butt-clenchingly stressful, particularly when Blunt’s character goes into labour…
The Exorcist (1973)
Often called the best horror film of all time (and according to critic Mark Kermode, the best film of all time full stop), The Exorcist’s lurid depiction of a young girl’s demonic possession made it an instant cult classic upon its 1974 release. In fact, when it came to UK home video in the 1980s, the BBFC considered it too graphic for even an 18 certificate. It’s a decision that’ll seem bizarre to modern audiences, as today its content comes across as tame compared even to 15-rated horror films.
That’s not to say The Exorcist lacks menace – it’s a deliciously creepy movie with a fantastic cast, brilliantly directed by William Friedkin and rich in occult atmosphere. If you’ve yet to experience the events surrounding Regan McNeil’s possession, we suggest you add this to your watchlist post-haste. And save it for a dark, quiet night, naturally.
Interview with the Vampire
This lavish movie made a child star out of Kirsten Dunst and further established Brad Pitt as a true Hollywood A-lister, but it’s Tom Cruise, playing against type as ruthless, decadent vampire Lestat, who steals the show.
Based on the novel by Anne Rice, it’s fair to say that Interview with the Vampire did much to establish the “sexy, angst-ridden vampire” trope that has since become a staple of film and TV – there’d be no Twilight or True Blood without Interview with the Vampire, for better or worse. But this isn't just some romanticised depiction of the conflicted, beautiful children of the night, and it doesn’t shy away from violence and horror at points.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
At some points hilariously campy (Keanu Reeves’ mauling of an English accent being a prime contender), at others bursting to life with gloriously gothic imagery and tone, Francis Ford Coppola’s faithful adaptation of the best-known of all Victorian horror novels is quite the cinematic feast.
With a star-studded ensemble cast (Gary Oldman! Anthony Hopkins! Winona Ryder! Tom Waits!), lavish costumes, lighting so dramatic it might as well spell out “spooky!”, and some of the most impressive haircuts in ‘90s cinema, Coppola’s Dracula feels like something of an unmissable, creepy curiosity rather than an out-and-out horror film. It captures the novel’s doomed romanticism better than any other adaptation we can think of, and presents the bloodthirsty count himself as tragic figure rather than moustache-twirling villain. A fine addition to the vampire movie canon, we say.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Don’t worry, we’re not recommending the dreadful Nicolas Cage remake (although it’s worth watching for unintentional comic value alone), but going all the way back to the 1973 Wicker Man, a glorious celebration of folky weirdness, pagan rituals and the clash between the new world (represented by prim Christian copper Edward Woodward and his buttoned-down rules) and the old ways (represented by crazy-haired spirit-worshipper Christopher Lee).
When a young girl goes missing on the remote, isolated island of Summerisle, a policeman arrives from the mainland to investigate – only to find himself drawn into a bizarre web of free-spirited paganism. A classic for its score, its atmosphere and its unforgettable final scenes.