Overall, Amazon Prime’s offering of first-rate horror is, well, horrific. If you love campy B (or C) movies and oddball foreign flicks, then digging through their catalogue can be a lot of fun.
Some highlight titles from my excursion down that rabbit hole include Halloween Store Zombie Wedding Movie, IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Hellitosis: The Return of Stankmouth. But if you are looking for some more mainstream titles to get your scare on, the following is a list of some of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Robert Wiene was an extremely prolific German screenwriter and director between the two World Wars. His most well known work is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is a stellar example of German Expressionism, the stylistic movement that was a direct precursor to the American film noir style.
In the film, a carnival hypnotist uses a sleepwalking subject to kill people. One night, the sleepwalker is meant to kill a beautiful young woman, but relents when he sees her beauty. With hints of fairy tale mixed into the story and set amongst an impressively distorted mise-en-scène, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a wonderful example pushing a stylistic concept right to the edge of sustainability, and it’s certainly one of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime.
Another early classic horror movie on Amazon Prime is Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau’s incredible German Expressionist vampire story.
With slow pacing and incredible visuals, the film relates the story of a young man sent into unknown lands on a business trip, only to find that his host is reclusive and notorious for a very good reason. Based on Bram Stoker’s original Dracula (unofficially and without permission), Nosferatu is not one to miss for fans of horror or early film.
Many people think that George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is the first zombie movie, but they forget about Victor Halperin’s 1932 classic, White Zombie.
Romero’s film is famous for its timely and novel presentation of racial tension, and Halperin’s work is no different. Set in Haiti and dealing with the original tradition of voodoo zombies, the racial implications of imperialism, colonialism, and nativism play heavily in the film’s modern-day reading.
Starring the incomparable Bela Lugosi, White Zombie also deals with issues of power dynamics in and around sex and gender, making it as relevant today as it ever was, and indeed one of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime.
While I’d call this soft-core horror, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s adaptation of the Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud (aka Thomas Narcejac) novel, Les Diaboliques (aka Diabolique) is known as a pure suspense thriller with a morbid plotline.
The story is that of two women, a wife and her husband’s mistress, who plot together to murder their husband/lover. But after he is killed, the body disappears and strange happenings begin to reap psychological damage on the guilty women. A classic of post-war French cinema, this one should rank high on any Hitchcock fan’s list, as supposedly the master of suspense himself bid for the rights to the story but missed out.
Night of the Living Dead
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead redefined our culture. Debuting at a time of cultural upheaval early in the New Hollywood era, it introduced filmgoing audiences to what we now consider the modern-day zombie. In doing so, Romero also laid bare the ever-present social commentary of horror films, throwing into relief racial tensions, government distrust surrounding the Vietnam War, and Cold War anxieties about scientific advancement — all in a thrilling package.
The story is that of a small group of people trapped in an isolated farm house when the dead begin to come back to life and hunt the living. The film truly is the seminal zombie film of the modern era (despite my comments about White Zombie above).
If you haven’t seen this classic, it is high time you do; if you have seen it, check out the remastered version and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film’s release with another viewing. This isn’t just one of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime, it’s one of the best horror movies of all time.
Another George A. Romero classic that is offered through Amazon Prime, The Crazies is much less popular than Night of the Living Dead, despite its compelling story and similar political awareness.
The film details the struggle of a small group fleeing from both a toxic exposure and the Army forces sent to contain the people in the danger zone. Again voicing concerns about governmental truthfulness and the overzealousness of armed involvement during the Vietnam era, The Crazies is quintessential small-budget 70s filmmaking and should be high on the list for horror fans looking for a sleeper classic.
Long a staple of feminist film studies in the horror genre, Carrie is the story of a young girl whose repressive Christian upbringing comes to a dramatic end when she develops psychokinetic powers at the onset of puberty.
A social outcast, Carrie is terrorized by her classmates and berated by her mother. But she uses her powers to exact revenge — at first unknowingly, and then with great control. Perhaps Sissy Spacek’s best known role, the film is a horror classic that withstands the test of time and ranks among the best horror movies on Amazon Prime.
The Last Exorcism
I’m a sucker for a good exorcism movie; sadly, I’ve been pretty disappointed by a lot of the offerings over the last 10 years or so (The Devil Inside was… ugh).
The Last Exorcism also taps into the mockumentary/found-footage trend, which can also be either hugely successful, or a crutch for a mediocre screenplay. Luckily, The Last Exorcism does a good job of using the mockumentary style to create one of the better exorcism movies of the last decade. The writers set up a good frame story to excuse the style, presenting us with a documentary crew who is following a pastor around for his last exorcism, despite the fact that he confirms to his audience that he does not believe in demons or possession.
With a good twist at the end and a well-paced story, The Last Exorcism is a favorite in a genre and style that both often disappoint.
Writer/director Robert Eggers’ first feature film, The Witch, is one of the best movies I saw in 2017, and it certainly earns its spot on this list of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime.
The story is that of an outcast family trying to survive alone in 1630s New England. With the fears of witchcraft and devil worship from Puritan culture creating the emotional backdrop for the film, the slow burn of the plot and the breathtaking acting set this film apart from anything else I’ve seen in a long time.
Combined with excellent production design, sound design, and cinematography, The Witch is one to enjoy in a pitch black room with the volume way up.
Those are our picks of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime, ready to stream today.
While we strive to cover a breadth of time periods and subgenres, true horror fans should consider getting Shudder, which is an Amazon prime add-on channel focused solely on horror. They have an extensive library that should keep you in fear all year round.
Did we miss any of your favourite scary movies? Let us know in the comments to make sure your fellow readers don’t miss out on the very best of Amazon Prime horror. Looking for other great Amazon Prime content? Check out our list of the best classic movies on Amazon Prime, best comedies on Amazon Prime, and the best TV shows on Amazon Prime.