Amazon is a unique streaming platform. Unlike subscription-based streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Peacock, Amazon provides the largest catalog of movies available to rent or purchase digitally. Just about every new movie, from blockbusters to no-budget indie films, can be found on Amazon, and its selection of older movies can’t be beat.
Of course, Amazon does have a subscription service as well. For subscribers to Amazon Prime, there is a rotating library of horror movies available to watch for no extra charge. Amazon also partners with other streamers including HBO, Showtime, Starz, AMC, Shudder, and more, offering channels that extend its library even further. With so much to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what to watch.
This list is divided into three sections: movies you can watch for free as part of your subscription to Amazon Prime, new and upcoming horror movies made or distributed by Amazon Studios, and the best horror movies available to rent or buy digitally on Amazon not included as part of Prime.
Best Free Horror Movies with Amazon Prime
Maniac is an interesting anomaly of 1980s slasher movies. The movie takes place from the perspective of serial killer Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) as he compulsively stalks and kills women. Slasher movies from the era typically took place from the perspective of the victims, so by putting the viewer in Frank Zito’s head complete with Zito’s thoughts narrating his actions, Maniac is one of the more unnerving serial killer movies ever. Also, Tom Savini’s brutal special-effects work in Maniac means that this movie is definitely not for the squeamish.
John Landis directs David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London, one of the greatest werewolf movies ever made. Naughton stars as an American backpacker named David Kessler who is attacked by a werewolf while in England. David’s friend Jack (Griffin Dunne) is killed in the attack, but David has become a werewolf himself. Warned about his condition by his dead friend Jack, David tries (and mostly fails) to keep himself and everyone around him safe despite his condition.
Return of the Living Dead might not be the first zombie comedy ever, but it is certainly one of the most influential. For one thing, this story about a zombie outbreak caused by two bumbling employees (James Karen and Thom Matthews) at a medical supply warehouse originated the idea that zombies specifically want to eat brains. It is also one of the first movies to feature zombies that run, though Nightmare City (1980) is arguably the actual first movie to show fast zombies. Most importantly though, Return of the Living Dead is an absolute blast to watch with infinitely quotable dialogue, memorable characters, and a great combination of comedy and horror.
The Hellraiser franchise may have gone in some weird directions over the years (including to outer space and into video games), but the first movie in the series is a superb work of horror. Based on the novella The Hellbound Heart (1986) by Clive Barker, the movie features Doug Bradley as the extradimensional Cenobite known popularly as Pinhead who appears on Earth to reclaim the soul of a man who escaped him and his colleagues. The movie features great gore effects and an overwhelmingly dark and oppressive atmosphere, and the finale is one of the most visually stunning sequences in the entirety of 1980’s horror.
The Descent is an incredibly claustrophobic horror movie that mixes psychological horror, survival, and monsters. The film follows a group of friends as they go spelunking and end up trapped inside the cave they’re exploring. They venture deeper into the cave, finding that they are not alone. The stakes are raised by the fact that one member of the group, Sarah (Shayna Macdonald), is on the brink of a mental collapse while recovering from a traumatic experience, and another member, Juno (Natalie Mendoza), has a secret she’s keeping from Sarah. The Descent is the best movie of director Neil Marshall’s impressive resume which also includes Dog Soldiers (2002) and Centurion (2010).
Trollhunter is a fantastic found-footage movie that follows a group of Norwegian students as they document the hunt for a mythical troll. The movie mixes a bit of comedy with fantasy, horror, and Norwegian folklore to create an entirely unique and fun experience.
South Korea has a knack for creating fresh and fantastic zombie movies, and Train to Busan is the finest example of this. The movie takes place mostly on a speeding train as a zombie outbreak spreads throughout South Korea. The passengers quickly discover that the zombie infection made it on board, and a dwindling number of survivors do their best to survive in hopes that their destination will provide safety. Train to Busan is packed with action, and the drama hits surprisingly hard as the audience grows more and more attached to the characters who are always just a zombie bite away from certain death.
Because the 2018 remake of Suspiria is quite different from the 1977 original, it stands alone as a beautifully grotesque story about witches. The movie is set within a dance academy in West Berlin during 1977. Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is a new student just arriving from a small town in Ohio, and her natural dancing abilities attract the attention of the mysterious Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). What ensues is a dark and unsettling horror film that feels more like a tribute to Argento’s masterpiece rather than a straightforward remake.
New & Upcoming Amazon Original Horror Movies
Released on Amazon Prime Video March 18, 2022.
Master is a topical drama that uses a haunted-house aesthetic to emphasize its points. Regina Hall plays Gail Bishop, the first Black woman appointed “master” at an elite New England university. At the same time, one of the few Black students on campus, Jasmine (Zoe Renee), is having a difficult time adjusting to life at the school. Both women try to navigate their new roles in life while being haunted, literally and figuratively, by the school’s history.
Released on Amazon Prime Video September 16, 2022.
Goodnight Mommy is an Amazon Original that presents a new take on the 2014 Austrian film of the same name. Naomi Watts stars as the mother of two boys who begin to suspect she isn’t who she says she is. The boys, Elias and Lukas, notice a change in their mother’s demeanor since they were last with her, and the bandages covering her face (explained as the result of cosmetic surgery) help solidify their distrust. Are they living with an imposter? Though the original Austrian film may be more disturbing, this American remake from director Matt Sobel crafts a good mystery with a few notable deviations from the original story.
Releases on Amazon Prime Video September 30, 2022.
After best friends Abby and Gretchen begin high school, Gretchen begins to act differently. Searching for answers, Abby determines that a demon has taken possession of Gretchen’s body. Abby won’t give up her friend easily, and she embarks on a quest to use the power of friendship to vanquish the demonic force getting in-between her and her best friend. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is based on the novel of the same name by Grady Hendrix.
Releases on Amazon Prime Video October 28, 2022.
In Run Sweetheart Run, Ella Balinska stars as Cherie, a single mother who is set up on a blind date. Though the night begins well, it turns into a fight for survival as Cherie runs through the streets of after-hours Los Angeles, pursued by her date. Run Sweetheart Run premiered in 2020 at Sundance, but its wide release became a victim of circumstance, getting delayed indefinitely when theaters began closing in 2020. Amazon picked up the rights though, and this Blumhouse-produced thriller will finally be shown to the world when it releases on Prime Video in October.
Best Horror Movies on Amazon to Rent or Buy
Them! came out in the 1950s when nuclear-powered monsters were all the rage, and it still stands as one of the finest sci-fi horror movies, and easily the best of the “giant bug” movies, of the decade. Directed by Gordon Douglas and starring James Arness, James Whitmore, and Joan Weldon, Them! is about the fight against a colony of giant ants mutated by radiation from the testing of an atomic bomb. The movie’s theme as a cautionary tale about the unknown dangers of the Atomic Age are quaint by modern standards, but the well-developed story and incredibly fun action are still entertaining to this day.
Few movies have affected horror cinema in the way Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho has. The movie’s influence is still very apparent in modern horror, making Psycho required viewing for every serious fan of horror. From Janet Leigh’s iconic shower scene to Anthony Perkins’ phenomenal performance, Psycho is an absolute classic. Since it’s such an important part of cinematic history, it’s odd that it isn’t always readily available on subscriber-based streaming services. Thankfully it’s available to rent on Amazon
In Blacula, William Marshall stars as Mamuwalde, an African prince who is turned into a vampire by Count Dracula himself. Nearly two centuries later, Mamuwalde, dubbed “Blacula,” finds himself in Los Angeles where he becomes convinced that a beautiful woman named Tina (Vonetta McGee) is the reincarnation of his long-dead wife Luva. Blacula is essentially a Blaxploitation adaptation of the Dracula story by Bram Stoker. It’s campy, sure, but it’s also really good. William Marshall is fantastic in the lead role, and the power of his performance helped inspire a wave of Blaxploitation horror movies in the 1970s. The sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (1973), is arguably even better, and it is also available to rent on Amazon.
Of all of the many, many movies and TV shows based on Stephen King’s writings, Carrie remains one of, if not the, very best. Directed by Brian De Palma, Carrie stars Sissy Spacek in the lead role as a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl whose body is going through both natural and supernatural changes. To make matters worse, Carrie’s fanatically religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie) holds a profound resentment for her daughter and abuses her physically and mentally. The final scenes in Carrie rank up there with with the finest moments in horror history.
Written by Stephen King, directed by George A. Romero, and with special effects by Tom Savini, Creepshow is at the pinnacle of 1980s horror. It is an anthology horror movie designed as a tribute to the EC horror comics of the 1950s, and the comic-book aesthetic gives Creepshow a timeless appeal. Also, the five stories that make up the movie are supremely entertaining. They have just the right amount of comedic and horrifying elements that will have you laughing right up until the point the monsters, gore, or bugs creep you out.
The Fly, a very loose remake of the 1958 movie of the same name, is one of the greatest body horror movies ever. David Cronenberg was already well-known for his grotesque sci-fi horror movies by the time he made The Fly, and this movie continued the director’s success at grossing out his audience. But The Fly isn’t just about watching Seth Brundle’s (Jeff Goldblum) body fall apart as he turns into a giant fly. Cronenberg incorporated universal themes relating to the inevitability of ageing and death, and it’s hard not to draw parallels to the horrors of disease.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) is forced to spend another night in the demon-infested cabin in the woods in Evil Dead II. Though similar in many ways to The Evil Dead (1981), this sequel dramatically increases the overt, slapstick comedy that director Sam Raimi became known for. Fans may be divided on which of the first two entries in the Evil Dead franchise is the best, but most will agree that both are supremely fun.
Demon Knight is a feature-length spinoff of the immensely popular Tales from the Crypt television series on HBO, and it’s one of the more underrated horror movies from the 1990s. Billy Zane plays The Collector, a demonic entity who is hunting Frank Brayker (William Sadler), the guardian of a mystical key that contains a dangerous power. Brayker is trapped inside a boarding house with a group of strangers, and Demon Knight plays out as a fantastically fun horror comedy as the charismatic Collector tries to manipulate his way into the building, kill everyone, and take the key for himself.
A J-horror masterpiece second in international influence only to Ringu (1998), Ju-On: The Grudge is a fantastic introduction for anyone wanting to get into Japanese horror. Told in a format similar to an anthology film, Ju-On: The Grudge chronicles the effect a cursed house has on the various people who are unfortunate enough to enter. As ghosts Kayako and Toshio torment their victims, the mystery behind the origins of the house’s curse becomes clear. Director Takashi Shimizu also directed the American remake, The Grudge (2004), but the original is still the most chilling version.
Shaun of the Dead is probably the greatest zombie comedy of all time. The movie features enough tributes to the history of zombie cinema that longtime zombie fans will constantly be recognizing the references. At the same time, the story manages to perfectly balance comedy, horror, and emotional drama in a way that will entertain viewers that may have no previous interest in the zombie genre. It even manages to throw in some social satire in ways that echo many of the greatest zombie movies that came before it.
Released somewhat late in the cycle that came to be known as New French Extremity, Inside is a brutal home-invasion movie about a mysterious woman (Beatrice Dalle) who will do anything she can to take a pregnant woman’s (Alysson Paradis) unborn child. Inside is one of the most memorable movies of 2000’s French horror thanks to its incredible tension and scenes of unforgettably bloody violence. Inside can be a rough and depressing watch, so it’s not a movie for someone looking for a fun horror movie, but it is an impressive work of brutal art.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as a couple who are terrorized by a trio of masked strangers in the aptly titled The Strangers. This home-invasion movie is masterful in its building of tension as the unnamed strangers toy with their victims over the course of a night. Critics were divided on The Strangers when it was initially released, but fans made it a surprise hit in theaters. The movie continued to find its audience on home video, presumably because it’s the perfect movie to watch alone, at night, in a completely quiet house.
As both an homage to horror movies and as a skewering of the tropes that make up those same horror movies, The Cabin in the Woods is one of the best horror comedies of the 2010s. The movie begins with a typical plot featuring a group of young people made up of horror archetypes heading out into the deep, dark woods for a weekend getaway in a secluded cabin. Shenanigans ensue, but it’s not long before viewers are shown that not everything is as it seems. There is something sinister (and rather silly) going on beneath the cabin. With a fantastic script and a cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, and Richard Jenkins, The Cabin in the Woods is a must-watch for fans of self-aware horror comedies.
Ready or Not is a fabulous survival-game horror movie and easily one of the best horror movies of 2019. Samara Weaving stars as Grace, a bride marrying into the rich and eccentric Le Domas family. Anyone marrying into the family must adhere to the tradition of playing a game drawn randomly from a special box of cards. Grace is forced to play Hide and Seek, but she quickly discovers that the Le Domas family isn’t just trying to find her, they’re trying to kill her. The tone of Ready or Not is often comedic, but it stull delivers some seriously tense moments of horror.
X is a slasher movie with a throwback aesthetic and a modern sensibility. The movie follows a crew shooting a porn film in secret in the guest house of an elderly couple. The old woman of the house, Pearl, takes an keen interest in the production, specifically becoming interested one of the stars of the movie, Maxine Minx. When night falls, Pearl can’t help but get closer to the film crew, leading to a night terror for everyone involved. X takes inspiration from the exploitation movies of the 1970s, and it adds layers of gore and pathos that are just as surprising as some of the twists and turns of the plot. Plus, with a cast including Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, and Brittany Snow, it’s hard not to love X.
Watcher is an agonizingly tense stalker movie starring modern scream queen Maika Monroe. Monroe plays Julia, a woman who moves to Bucharest with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman). Francis has a new job that takes up most of his time, which often leaves Julia alone in a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language. Julia begins to suspect that a man across the street is repeatedly staring at her, and news of a serial killer on the loose in the city contributes to her growing fear and paranoia. Though the story may feel familiar, it’s perhaps this familiarity combined expertly crafted scenarios that make it so frightening.