There are plenty of reasons to watch a horror movie. Through the monsters, ghouls, and carnage, the viewing audience lives out a kind of escapism from our day-to-day tribulations. In many cases, we may identify with the onscreen ensemble as members of the cast struggle to survive, no matter the odds. Sometimes though, we just like getting a good scare. Fortunately for Amazon Prime subscribers, the streaming channel is home to hundreds of remarkable genre films from Hollywood’s Golden Age to curations from modern-day cinema. To help you find something that suits your tastes, we’ve scoured the annals of Prime Video to bring you this roundup of the best horror movies this month.
In this action-horror follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film, Alien, director James Cameron’s Aliens finds Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as Ellen Ripley. After she wakes from a cryogenic slumber 57 years after the events of the first film, a search-and-rescue team convinces the heroine to return to the ship she fled, under the condition that if aliens are discovered, they’ll be exterminated. What the hard-headed salvage team doesn’t expect is an entire colony of Xenomorphs and adjacent species, creatures hellbent on nothing but destruction. A fast-paced follow-up to the slow-burning nature of the original film, Aliens is a spectacular amalgamation of the horror, action, and sci-fi genres.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn
Directors: James Cameron
Runtime: 137 minutes
The Sixth Sense (1999)
In M. Night Shyamalan’s box-office hit, The Sixth Sense, a young Haley Joel Osment stars as Cole Sear, a disturbed boy with a terrifying secret: The child has the otherworldly ability to see ghosts. At times, these phantoms are benevolent. Other encounters with the spirits are more challenging, with some experiences nothing less than horrific. As Cole goes through his day-to-day, a child psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), attempts to help the child reckon with his supernatural abilities. Featuring standout performances from Osment, Willis, and Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense grossed over $670 million against a budget of $40 million, while cementing the career of writer-director Shyamalan.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Directors: M. Night Shyamalan
Runtime: 107 minutes
Death Proof (2007)
The second leg of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double-billing, Grindhouse, Death Proof stars Kurt Russell as the charismatic Stuntman Mike, a deranged driver with a taste for blood. Picking up female victims in his decked-out stunt car, Mike purposefully launches into deadly crashes that kill his passengers while leaving him unscathed in the captain’s seat. His modus operandi goes unchallenged until his fateful encounter with a group of three women filmmakers and real-life stuntwoman, Zoë Bell. A violent but loving homage to ’70s exploitation cinema that works in more ways than one, Death Proof gives Kurt Russell permission to channel his inner action hero, albeit with ill intent. It’s a thrilling experience, to say the least.
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Stars: Kurt Russell, Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson
Directors: Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 114 minutes
The Neon Demon (2016)
16-year-old Jesse (Elle Fanning) is an aspiring model who has recently relocated to Los Angeles. When she secures work with a prolific agency, the sky appears to be the limit for the fresh face. But as Jesse faces scrutiny and a series of uncomfortable exchanges with her older peers, mixed with a cycle of visceral and disturbing dreams and hallucinations, the veil of high fashion begins to peel back, revealing a strange and sordid underbelly for the youthful talent. A hypnotic tale of horror with a mighty sucker punch of an ending, The Neon Demon is as much an homage to ’70s foreign-language horror flicks as it is a fitting entry in the canon of writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn.
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Stars: Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone
Directors: Nicolas Winding Refn
Runtime: 117 minutes
The Dead Zone (1983)
Schoolteacher Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) could never imagine his traumatic midlife surprise. On his way home from a local fair, Johnny gets into a car wreck that sends him into a five-year coma. Awakening to find that his loving girlfriend Sarah (Brooke Adams) is now married, Johnny experiences an even greater shock when he discovers his ability to read a person’s future by merely touching them. Johnny’s power is a benevolent gift that he uses to help and save others, but when local law enforcement pressures him to use his gift to help track down a murderer, Johnny must contend with a darker side of his unchosen second sight. An adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone has long been hailed as one of the best King adaptations of all time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt
Directors: David Cronenberg
Runtime: 103 minutes
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
It’s hard to imagine a mashup of Christmas, zombies, and singing and dancing working together in any coherent way, yet somehow director John McPhail and scribe Ryan McHenry pull it off in Anna and the Apocalypse. Based on McHenry’s BAFTA-winning short Zombie Musical, Anna follows the fight for the survival of titular high school hero, Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends as a swarm of the undead descends on their peaceful Wales hamlet of Little Haven. Combining typical public-school drama, musical numbers, and plenty of gore, Anna is a lot to absorb. But if you’re willing to unplug your brain to experience the full manic mayhem, there’s simply no way you’ll be disappointed. Leaves Prime Video on May 11.
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
Directors: John McPhail
Runtime: 98 minutes
The Reef (2010)
When four friends hit the high seas to deliver a yacht to a client in Indonesia, their voyage is quickly uprooted when their vessel capsizes in a coral reef. As the disparate foursome decides to swim to a nearby island with whatever supplies they can hang on to, a great white shark emerges from the depths and begins stalking them. While we’ve all seen our fair share of cheap shark-genre chillers, writer-director Andrew Traucki delivers his story through horrific slow burns, buttressed by the magnificent talents of the main ensemble. This is one of the better 90-minute oceanic horror films out there and a testament to the power of a good script and a director with a strong vision. Australian waters have never felt so foreboding.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley, Adrienne Pickering
Directors: Andrew Traucki
Runtime: 98 minutes
Pet Sematary (2019)
When your next-door neighbor tells you “sometimes, dead is better,” you should probably listen. In this 2019 reimagining of the Stephen King classic, Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his family relocate to upstate Maine for a new job in the country. The new family home is charming and spacious, but nestled deep in the woods behind the domicile is a sprawling pet cemetery — one with the mythic power to raise the dead. When tragedy strikes the Creeds, Louis and his neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) turn to the cemetery for its revival soil. Not such a good idea, for those brought back from the other side are not the same. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer deliver a solid, character-driven horror remake, with enough backbone for its new ideas, but plenty of nods to the iconic 1989 film adaptation that came before it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Stars: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz
Directors: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Runtime: 101 minutes
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead is a two-hour adrenaline thrill ride with no restraints. Nicolas Cage is Frank Pierce, a dispossessed New York City ambulance paramedic. Frank always gets third shift, and it’s brutal. Overdoses, shootings, you name it. Haunted by visions of patients he failed to save on these night runs, Frank attempts to quit his job again and again, but he just can’t bring himself to walk off. One night, Frank and his partner Marcus (Ving Rhames) respond to a 911 call for a man named Mr. Burke (Cullen O. Johnson) entering cardiac arrest. Burke’s distraught daughter Mary (Patricia Arquette) is on-site, and through conversation, Frank finds out they have a mutual acquaintance. While Frank attempts to keep in contact with Mary, his psychosis deepens, and his nights keep getting longer. On-again/off-again Scorsese scribe, Paul Schrader, wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of the Joe Connelly novel of the same name.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Nicolas Cage, John Goodman, Ving Rhames
Director: Martin Scorsese
Runtime: 121 minutes
The House of the Devil (2009)
Hailed as a throwback to ’70s and ’80s horror cinema, Ti West’s The House of the Devil follows Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a down-on-her-luck college student who could use a bit of cash. So she decides to take a babysitting job. What’s the harm, right? Well, it turns out there’s no actual “child” at the residence. Instead, Samantha is tasked with caring for the ailing mother of the property owner’s wife, a mysterious man named Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan). As the night wears on, the $400 gig turns into an all-out nightmare as one bizarre event leads to the next. Those in need of slap-you-in-the-face gore and thrills may not be satisfied by the atmospheric slow burn of The House of the Devil, and that’s OK. But those willing to lean into the gradual tension-fest will not be disappointed by Ti West’s brilliant homage to horror’s heyday.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov
Director: Ti West
Runtime: 93 minutes
Mausoleum doesn’t pretend to be an Oscar contender in any way. That being said, if you’re looking for a ridiculous piece of genre cinema that you can unplug your brain and laugh with, this is a sure bet for you and anyone else you drag to the TV room (except the kids, that is). Mausoleum opens with teenager Susan Farrell (Julie Christy Murray) mourning the death of her mother. Lured to the cemetery’s mausoleum, Susan succumbs to an ancient curse. Years later, adult Susan (Bobbie Bresee) is married and living in a looming regal home with her successful husband, Oliver (Marjoe Gortner). Turns out the curse wasn’t finished with Susan though, as the woman begins transforming into a hellish creature with a penchant for blood. This is camp cinema at its finest — cheap, low stakes, but a ton of fun.
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Stars: Bobbie Bresee, Marjoe Gortner, William Vail
Director: Michael Dugan
Runtime: 96 minutes
A pagan cult is at the center of this horrifying film about a group of friends who travel to Sweden to attend a festival that only comes around every 90 years… but get more than they bargained for upon arrival. The tone is immediately set when they discover the tortuous and disturbing commune is involved in human sacrifice and purging evil. It’s unsettling, but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s the perfect flick to watch. A co-production between the U.S. and Sweden, it’s offered in English language. A hypnotic, dread-laden score by Bobby Krlic, set against Pawel Pogorzelski’s bright, ethereal visuals will be a treat for cinephiles; but anyone with a preference for disturbing-over-scary should feel a connection with Midsommar almost instantly.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Director: Ari Aster
Runtime: 148 minutes
The Lighthouse (2019)
One of the more recent films on this list, The Lighthouse is filmed in black and white and uniquely in an almost square 1.19:1 aspect ratio to set the historical scene. The setting is the late 19th century and a storm strands two lighthouse keepers on a remote island. As they try and survive without going insane and killing one another, they experience vivid and frightening visions and reveal purported secrets. Writer Robert Eggers has said that his brother, who co-wrote the film with him, originally wanted to make the movie a contemporary take on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Light-House, but it then evolved into something completely different and utterly terrifying.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Director: Robert Eggers
Runtime: 109 minutes
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Mandatory viewing for any classic horror movie fan, and widely considered the zombie film of all zombie films, Night of the Living Dead follows seven people stuck in a rural farmhouse, swarmed by herds of the undead that are desperate to feed on their flesh. Despite a small budget, it performed incredibly well at the box office. The film has since become a cult classic and has been analyzed for not only its cinematic quality but also interpreted as a piece of exquisite (albeit visually gruesome) social commentary.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Judith O’Dea, Duane Jones, Marilyn Eastman, Karl Hardman, Judith Ridley, Keith Wayne
Director: George A. Romero
Runtime: 96 minutes
Dubbed an unauthorized production of Bram Stoker’s work and originally called Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens), the silent German Expressionist film was about a vampire named Count Orlok who takes a special interest in his estate agent and, more importantly, his wife. Despite Stoker’s heirs having filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the film given its striking similarities to Dracula, and a court ordering all copies to be destroyed, some pressings managed to survive. It is now described as being “based on Dracula by Bram Stoker.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Max Schrek, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder
Director: F.W. Murnau
Runtime: 94 minutes
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
A silent film, it’s one of many that tells the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all based on the 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the 1887 stage play by Thomas Russell Sullivan. As the well-known story goes, a doctor conducts experiments trying to separate what he believes to be dual personalities found in every human. But things go awry, resulting in him flipping back and forth between his own good and evil sides.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Charles W. Lane, Nita Naldi
Director: John S. Robertson
Runtime: 79 minutes
A revered cult classic, Phantasm follows the terror-plagued odyssey of teenaged Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) through a haunted but picturesque suburbia. The film opens with Mike’s brother, Tommy, being brutally murdered in a local cemetery, and from there, the horrors only grow. Turns out the killer could be a ghoul known only as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). As Mike and a family friend, Reggie (Reggie Bannister), begin unpacking the mysteries surrounding Tommy’s death, the Tall Man mythos becomes painfully real as a bevy of chromium murder-drones and other paranormal menaces descend on the duo. Written and directed by Don Coscarelli — who was inspired by classics such as Dario Argento’s Suspiria — the look and feel of Phantasm can be found in recent genre films like It Follows, where dreamy visuals and lush, eerie soundtracks set the stage for horrors both campy and poignant.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
Director: Don Coscarelli
Runtime: 88 minutes
Hot off the success of his 2017 film, Call Me by Your Name, director Luca Guadagnino dove headfirst into the production of Suspiria, a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Technicolor nightmare about a prestigious German dance academy with a mysterious and sordid past. In Guadagnino’s rendition, Dakota Johnson plays Susie Bannion, the American newcomer to the foreign school, and what a wicked first day of classes she has. An expelled student, Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz), is murdered, and not long after the ex-matriculate confessed to her therapist that the dance academy is run by evil witches.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Runtime: 133 minutes
Ah yes, the joys of buying your first home. As if closing costs, inspections, and the pains of moving day weren’t hell enough, imagine being trapped in a neighborhood where all the houses are exactly the same — and there’s no escape. That’s where director/co-writer Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium gets started. After Tom and Gemma (Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) travel to the mysterious development of Yonder with their oddball realtor, Martin (Jonathan Aris), the agent seemingly disappears. A labyrinthine nightmare, Eisenberg and Poots flourish as Tom and Gemma, an innocent young couple that slowly begins losing their minds and overall grip on reality, especially once a newborn baby arrives — appearing out of the clear blue. Is this maze of suburbia all in their head, or are their sinister forces at play? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, Jonathan Aris
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Runtime: 97 minutes