There’s nothing better than watching a scary movie in a packed theater.
The collective breath holding. The nervous laughter. The occasional, and hopefully clever, laugh line from the guy or gal sitting behind you.
And, in the best cases, the blood-curdling screams if the horror movie is firing on every possible cylinder.
None of that is possible at home, unless your clan resembles “The Brady Bunch” on steroids. Size matters when it comes to horror movie watching. The more, the scarier.
Then again, a trip to the cineplex will set you back plenty, assuming your popcorn fix can’t be denied. Babysitters aren’t cheap, either.
Good thing there are a gaggle of fine horror movies on Netflix from which to choose. It’s not the theatrical experience, but in a pinch it’ll more than do.
A few of the following horror movies you may know by heart (but won’t mind seeing again). Here’s betting most titles will be unfamiliar to all but the serious horror hound. Some mix belly laughs in with the fear factor. Others are just so unsettling they make turning off the lights a dicey proposition.
Suspense matters for gore hounds, and these films pack plenty of thrills.
The best way to appreciate this 1982 classic is to watch the 2015 remake first.
Yes, the great Sam Rockwell is the star, but in every other way the new version lamely updates the original. So why not revisit the source material?
Young Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) goes missing in the middle of a perfectly average suburban home, and that’s where the fun begins. There’s plenty to love here, from the scariest toy clown in movie history to the very real, very sweet bond between the film’s parents -- Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams.
The film is flat-out scary, and even some less than special effects can’t ruin the shock value after all these years. Watch it again and wonder just how directed the film -- gonzo auteur Tobe Hooper (the man on the credits) or Steven Spielberg (the writer and producer who excels at ’80s style suburbia).
FAST FACT: Drew Barrymore auditioned for the Carol Anne part but lost out to Heather O’Rourke. Barrymore’s consolation prize? A pivotal role in Spielberg’s “E.T.”.
The Girl with All the Gifts
Sick of zombie movies? The minds behind this indie thriller have your back. Even better, they’ve assembled an impressive cast for this shrewd spin on the undead genre.
Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine star in a film that suggests not everyone bitten becomes a mindless ghoul. The kiddies featured here shouldn’t be left alone, but at times they seem as precious as any pre-teens.
What follows is smart, surprising and occasionally gripping. Plus, the top flight talent means we’re actually invested in the characters who may end up as zombie food. That’s always a plus with the genre.
FAST FACT: Close’s sister in law adores zombie movies. So she used her family ties to score a cameo -- as a zombie, of course.
This Netflix original proves some of the best horror movies offer the easiest gimmicks. Here, it’s a deaf woman trying to stay one step ahead of a home intruder.
Think about it. We’ve seen dozens of similar stories before. Here’s the ingenious twist: what if our heroine couldn’t hear the villain’s footfalls, let alone a creaking door or shattered glass? Death seems inevitable for a hearing impaired Final Girl, no?
“Hush’s” gimmick ups the ante on the home invasion genre, something director Mike Flanagan milks in scene after scene.
FAST FACT: “Hush” star Kate Siegel is not only married to director Flanagan but she also co-wrote the film’s script.
Sometimes the most intriguing horror films flow not from the supernatural but from our own twisted psyches. Take this slow burn shocker from director Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”).
The story involves a former couple still tortured by the death of their child. The evening, an expansive dinner party, offers hope of reconciliation. A darker threat is lurking all the same, one leading to infighting and much more.
This is arthouse horror, no doubt, but the drip, drip drip of dread transforms it into a bona fide thriller.
FAST FACT: Kusama said the production’s three-day rehearsal proved essential to making the most of the movie’s tight space demands.
Imagine “The Hangover” took a turn for the macabre.
This indie treat follows four friends eager for a once in a lifetime bachelor party. Naturally, they get far more than they bargained for. No, Mike Tyson doesn’t show up. The title character does, though, and that’s when things get interesting.
Director Gregg Bishop (“Dance of the Dead“) shows a knack for bro chemistry without missing the essential horror beats. What follows is slick and satisfying, with an ending sure to crawl under your skin.
FAST FACT: Bishop introduced Lili (Hannah Fierman), the entertainer the friends unleash in “Siren,” in his “V/H/S” contribution, “Amateur Night.”
Girl on the Third Floor
Most horror movie couples are sweet and wildly undeserving of what’s lurking around the narrative corner. The same can’t be said for the protagonist in this sly thriller.
C.M. Punk plays Don, tasked with renovating an old home before his wife can officially move on. Only Don has an unsavory past, and there’s an obvious strain in the couple’s relationship.
And, as we soon find out, Trieste Kelly Dunn’s character has plenty of reason to be suspicious of her on-screen beau.
The film delivers more than just an unconventional couple. The haunted house-style spooks feel fresh, too, and that’s a blessing given how shopworn the genre is at this point.
The film’s ending may not be satisfying to every viewer, but the atypical ride and compelling characters make the trip more than worthwhile.
FAST FACT: Veteran horror movie producer Travis Stevens made his directorial debut with 2018’s “Better Off Zed,” a charming horror-romance. “Girl on the Third Floor” marks his second stint as director.
Here’s another excellent horror film with a singular flaw: too much hype.
We’re living at a time when saying, “it’s the best [fill in the blank] ever” is required to slice through the cultural noise. So too many folks dubbed this Spanish import the scariest movie ever.
It’s still a fine fright-fest, featuring relatable characters and a gripping final reel. The story follows a teenage girl (Sandra Escacena, excellent) who attempts a seance with disastrous consequences. The teen’s efforts to protect her siblings saving her own skin are both admirable and touching.
FAST FACT: “Veronica” narrative drew from a 1991 case involving a dead teen with an alleged interest in Ouija boards.
Blame “Blair Witch Project’ for the found footage wave. That 1999 film proved micro-budget horror could draw a crowd while making a mint.
Naturally, dozens of copycats followed, including the bold 2015 film “Creep” and now its sequel. Mark Duplass is back as the mysterious man you’re better off avoiding at all costs. We now know all about his odd proclivities. The filmmakers still squeeze something fresh, and deadly, out of the character’s plight.
The found footage angle feels more organic here than in the first movie. The sequence of chills is different too. The original back-loaded the shocks by choice. The sequel takes it from there, setting up a curious tension and then teasing it out over the film’s running time.
Desiree Akhavan stars as a struggling videographer who agrees to shoot one creepy subject for an entire day. What could go wrong?
FAST FACT: The inspiration for ‘Creep 2’ came from video artist Laurel Nakadate who dressed in alluring outfits and visited the homes of men who approached her in public. [Warning: video link leads to news clip with nudity]
Can you stand yet another zombie movie? You might if it’s more of a character study than the latest wave of brain chompers.
Some of the best undead films have a serious message to share. The unofficial granddaddy of the genre, 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead,” spoke quietly about the horrors of racism. That didn’t deflate the scares, though.
Here, beyond a bizarre jab at fracking, Martin Freeman strikes a blow for parenthood. He plays a suddenly single father left to care for his very young child … during a zombie apocalypse. Suddenly your child’s school pick up routine doesn’t sound so frightening.
FAST FACT: The Netflix original sprang from a seven minute Aussie short similarly dubbed “Cargo.”