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:
Friday the 13th (1980)
Inspired by the likes of Black Christmas and the original Halloween, the 1980s was awash with slasher movies. You surely know the formula (subsequently sent up brilliantly in Scream): a lone psychopath stalks hapless teens, often to the accompaniment of extremely creepy music, before offing them in increasingly inventive and gory fashions.
Friday the 13th is one of the better examples of the sub-genre, in which a group of summer camp counsellors heads to the secluded Camp Crystal Lake to prepare for the annual influx of kids. This camping ground was the site of a tragedy years before, in which a child drowned due to negligent counsellors – and it seems that this year the child might be back in search of revenge.
This movie spawned about a dozen sequels of varying quality, as well as a middling 2009 reboot, but take our advice: stick to the original.
We dig director David Gordon Green’s approach with this most recent of Halloween movies: ignore all the previous sequels (yes, even that one starring Busta Rhymes), don’t make Michael Meyers Laurie Strode’s secret brother, remove any hint of a supernatural element – and just generally smash that reset button. The result is a a direct sequel to the best slasher movie of all time (the 1978 Halloween, also available to stream on Now TV), and almost as well-crafted and creepy.
Meyers has been in a maximum security mental hospital since his now-infamous killing spree, but 40 years behind bars hasn’t cured him of his desire to creep around suburbia filleting babysitters. Meanwhile Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie is a PTSD-addled gun nut, obsessed with the idea that Meyers will break his bonds and return for revenge. Her daughter and granddaughter think she’s crazy, but when her predictions prove prescient, all three generations of Strode women are suddenly in a fight for their lives.
David Cronenberg’s directorial career is filled with movies that, while they might not fall neatly into the “horror” genre, are certainly horrifying. Graphic violence, psychosexual weirdness, body horror and more are very much on display in Videodrome, Cronenberg’s 1983 exploration of the power of television.
A box office bomb, this movie is now considered one of Cronenberg’s finest – its depiction of a man beset by hallucinations (or are they) after watching a troubling late night broadcast sucking the viewer into a grim, cryptic world of corporeal corruption, sadomasochism and murder.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Like Friday the 13th, Wes Craven’s 1980s classic has spawned numerous sequels, a full-on reimagining and created one of horror cinema’s enduring icons – the knife-fingered, striped sweater-wearing, pizza-faced Freddy Krueger.
A fantasy-ridden twist on the slasher genre, nightmares are the real killer here: Krueger’s spirit haunts the dreams of a bunch of high school kids, allowing Craven to create all kinds of weird and wonderful deaths for his cast – which includes a teenage Johnny Depp.
Mixing genres doesn’t always pay off, but Overlord is a wild ride that manages to be both a serviceable war movie and a decent horror film. Following a group of US paratroopers dropping into Nazi-occupied France the night before D-Day, it starts out fairly serious but quickly descends into a schlockly, Wolfenstein-esque funfest, full of excellent practical special effects. It’s perfect stuff for a casual Halloween movie night.
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).
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…