The 36 Best Movies on Shudder to Stream This Halloween

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Despite its origins in Celtic culture and its spread to countries around the globe, there are few things more American than Halloween. As we continue to survive the scariest years of our lifetimes, suddenly witches, ghouls, vampires, and werewolves don’t seem so frightening. Luckily, when even the outside world is more fearsome than ever, horror films provide a much-needed catharsis from anxiety.

Both the horror industry and Halloween’s increasing ubiquity as an economic force in the United States have helped to usher in the rise of Shudder, a niche streaming service analogous to Netflix but catering specifically and exclusively to horror fans. Shudder has recently reached a major milestone: the burgeoning brand has hit 1 million subscribers, meaning that the relatively new company is likely to become even more influential in the coming years.

Shudder’s philosophy and eccentric catalog of exclusive content has helped the brand establish itself as unique in a crowded streaming marketplace. Curator Sam Zimmerman’s expanded notion of horror often includes rare foreign films and arthouse creations on the fringes of horror culture that are not often spotlighted by more typical fans of the genre.

To celebrate the brand’s newfound success and to help usher in the spooky spirits who haunt the world every October, we’ve picked out 36 of our favorite films from Shudder’s impressive repertoire.

1. 'Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror' (2019)

Who's in It: Rusty Cundieff, Ernest R. Dickerson, Robin R. Means Coleman

Runtime: 1h 23m

The history of horror films has been unfortunately white since the genre’s inception. Horror Noire, a documentary by Xavier Burgin, traces the patently racist tropes so often employed in horror and shows how newer films have transformed Black people from prototypical victims into the genre’s greatest heroes. It’s an eye-opening exploration into a topic that remains under-discussed amongst horror fans and therefore should absolutely be considered essential viewing.

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2. 'Dogs Don’t Wear Pants' (2019)

Who's in It: Pekka Strang, Krista Kosonen, Ester Geislerová, Ilona Huhta, Jani Volanen, Iiris Anttila, Oona Airola

Runtime: 1h 45m

A sadomasochistic relationship is pushed to extreme limits when a dominatrix’s client gets a bit too obsessed. In this artfully shot Finnish film, actress Krista Kosonen is beautiful and frightening as both victimizer and victim. Not exactly a traditional horror film, but fans of A24’s brand of “elevated horror” will surely find something to love here.

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3. 'Little Shop of Horrors' (1986)

Who's in It: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin

Runtime: 1h 34m

A very campy iteration of the off-broadway musical and film of the same name, Little Shop of Horrors follows a few workers (Seymour and Audrey) at a floral shop located in a lowly area of New York City. To attract more clients, they decide to show off Seymour's odd-looking plant, but what they don't realize is that the plant feeds off human blood to survive.

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4. 'Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701' (1972)

Who's in It: Meiko Kaji, Rie Yokoyama, Yayoi Watanabe, Yōko Mihara, Akemi Negishi

Runtime: 1h 27m

The incomparable Meiko Kaji (best known for playing the infamous Lady Snowblood, a role that would go on to inspire Kill Bill) stars as the eponymous incarcerated anti-heroine of this multi-part series of films. Director Shunya Ito creates bizarre and surreal landscapes filled with suffering women in these expressionistic and strange stories about an unconquerable inmate nicknamed The Scorpion. #701 is beyond brutal, as are all the films in the series (the first four of which are on Shudder), but the cinematography and poetic story structure are unforgettable.

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5. 'Impetigore' (2019)

Who's in It: Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Asmara Abigail, Christine Hakim, Ario Bayu

Runtime: 1h 46m

In this Indonesian ghost story, a young woman is poised to inherit a mansion from the biological family that abandoned her. When she goes to claim the property, she accidentally uncovers a village’s darkest secrets. What ultimately unwinds is a supernatural tale about cursed shadow puppets — but the film’s unsettling setting is enough of a selling point.

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6. 'Ring' (1998)

Who's in It: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rikiya Ōtaka, Miki Nakatani

Runtime: 1h 36m

The Ring became a cultural phenomenon in the United States when Gore Verbinski’s Westernized remake of this 1998 film dropped in 2002. The original movie (itself an adaptation of a novel by the same name) doesn’t go down quite as easily as the American version, but there are a lot of cultural contexts that were lost when this movie made its way around the world. The cursed videotape itself is strikingly different in this version, and the whole conceit makes a bit more sense through a quasi-Shintoist lens.

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7. 'Knife+Heart' (2019)

Who's in It: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolaus Maury, Kate Moran, Jonatha Genet

Runtime: 1h 42m

Although it would be easy to dismiss Knife + Heart as a campy slasher flick (it’s true—the killer uses a dildo as a deadly weapon), the poetics of this decadent film are shockingly powerful. With a gorgeous and haunting soundtrack by M83, watching Knife + Heart is like being transported into a James Bigood photoshoot that ends in a terrible tragedy.

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8. 'Halloween' (1978)

Who's in It: Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards

Runtime: 1h 31m

Halloween isn’t technically the first slasher film ever made, but it certainly crystallized a formula that would be endlessly repeated for decades. The subject of smart criticism by feminist film scholars like Carol Clover, Halloween revealed to us the power of The Final Girl while also turning America’s spookiest holiday into even more of a national phenomenon. An absolute classic without which scores of horror films created in its wake barely even make sense.

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9. 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' (2015)

Who's in It: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains

Runtime: 1h 44m

Lynchian in its depictions of an abandoned, factory-filled suburbia—but set in an “Iranian ghost town” instead of America’s heartland—A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is an artistic interpretation of the international mythos around vampires. Recontextualizing this lore, director Ana Lily Amirpour creates a beautiful and dark romance that sits just on the edge of the horror genre.

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10. 'Tetsuo: The Iron Man' (1989)

Who's in It: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara

Runtime: 1h 17m

A classic of both Japanese and avant-garde cinema, Tetsuo has influenced almost every contemporary Japanese filmmaker with its psychotic vision of the future. It’s more experimental than your average horror film—a man inexplicably morphs into a metallic monster while losing control of his body (and perhaps reality itself)—but fans of boundary-pushing art will surely appreciate its strangeness.

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11. 'Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers' (1988)

Who's in It: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Tom Morga, George P. Wilbur

Runtime: 1h 28m

The fourth in line of the massive Halloween franchise, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers brings us right back to Haddonfield, where Michael Myers (Tom Morga, George P. Wilbur) has recently returned to. This time around, he's after Laurie Strode's (Jamie Lee Curtis) daughter, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), who also happens to be his niece. On top of that, his good ole psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is attempting to stop his former patient from committing any more murders.

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12. 'Piranha' (1978)

Who's in It: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller

Runtime: 1h 46m

Yes, this film is exactly what it sounds like. Well, except that it's just your average piranha that's attacking the people at a local summer hotspot, it's a massive, genetically modified piranha that's responsible. Apparently, the piranhas were originally created as part of a secret Vietnam war operation to attack the Viet Cong.

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13. 'The House on Sorority Row' (1983)

Who's in It: Kathryn McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Zido, Robin Meloy, Harley Kozak, Lois Kelso Hunt

Runtime: 1h 31m

An absolute classic slasher film, The House on Sorority Row tracks a house of college sorority sisters as they're stalked and killed off during their graduation party. The entire thing is occurring as a result of the sisters accidentally shooting and killing their sorority mother as part of a prank gone wrong.

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14. 'Hellraiser' (1987)

Who's in It: Claire Higgins, Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Andrew Robinson, Sean Chapman

Runtime: 1h 34m

Hellraiser became a midnight classic almost instantly upon its release in 1987. The eye-popping visual effects to this day are unparalleled in grotesquery. Critics were not entirely wrong to point at the threadbare plot, but Clive Barker’s story of unbounded sexual desire is eternal. The film’s main villain, affectionately named Pinhead by fans, has become an icon of the horror genre writ large.

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15. 'Sweet, Sweet, Lonely Girl' (2017)

Who's in It: Erin Wilhelmi, Quinn Shephard, Susan Kellermann, Frances Eve

Runtime: 1h 16m

There’s something imminently impressive about a film that plays with time loops and still makes sense. Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl uses the tropes of supernatural horror as a framing device to tell the story of unrequited gay love, making the movie sort of doubly transgressive. It’s more atmospheric than straight-up scary, but it’s a great example of how horror can be used to tell so many kinds of stories.

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16. 'Host' (2020)

Who's in It: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova

Runtime: 1h 5m

Almost a year into this pandemic and the scariest thing anyone can think of is yet another Zoom call. The conceit of a horror movie held entirely over video chat certainly sounds gimmicky and exhausting, but the cleverness of Host exceeds expectations. Sure, it’s a little predictable and thin on character development, but the ingenuity required to even make this movie—the whole thing was shot by the actors themselves in individual isolation—deserves accolades.

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17. 'The Prowler' (1981)

Who's in It: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney, Farley Granger

Runtime: 1h 29m

Another classic slasher flick, The Prowler is as dark as it sounds. Set in 1980, the film centers around a bunch of college students who are stalked and killed by an unknown prowler dressed as a soldier. The act isn't completely random, however, as his actions occur on the anniversary of his ex-girlfriend's death, for which he committed himself back in 1945.

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18. 'The House of the Devil' (2009)

Who's in It: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig

Runtime: 1h 35m

Although it was released in 2009, House of the Devil somehow feels like a relic of horror’s heyday in the 1980s. It’s a true slow-burn, with the movie’s Satanic events reaching a frightening crescendo about ¾ of the way through. While most horror films follow a sort of obvious pacing, The House of the Devil plays with these expected formulas to surprise even the most jaded fans.

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19. 'Black Christmas' (1974)

Who's in It: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Runtime: 1h 38m

An unbeatable classic in the horror and slasher realm, 1974's Black Christmas takes place during the time of the approaching winter vacation at college. A group of sorority sisters still at their house start receiving suspicious phone calls, and following that, they're hunted down by a serial killer.

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20. 'Revenge' (2017)

Who's in It: Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède, Jean-Louis Tribes

Runtime: 1h 48m

The rape-revenge horror subgenre can often be too brutal for your average audience and Revenge might be a bit too viscous for more casual horror fans. That being said, the film has poignant moments of beauty interspersed between explosions of violence and sexual terror. New York Times critic A.O. Scott was right to call this film “a synthesis of exploitation and feminism”—meaning that anyone hoping to take away a clear moral message might be disappointed—but ethical complexity isn’t something we should shy away from.

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21. 'Jessica Forever' (2019)

Who's in It: Aomi Muyock, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Augustin Raguenet, Lukas Ionesco

Runtime: 1h 37m

Jessica Forever is a French experimental sci-fi horror film with a plot left purposefully vague. Jessica is the modelesque leader of a hunky band of paramilitary “orphans” who are endlessly pursued by a swarm of drones for unknown reasons. The group’s members are forbidden from falling in love—but boys will be boys and love can’t be contained. If you can think of Jessica Forever as an artistic allegory for loneliness and ostracization it works incredibly well. But if you’re looking for a more fleshed-out plot with lots of world-building, you’d be better off pursuing more lowbrow fare.

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22. 'Watcher' (2022)

Who's in It: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman

Runtime: 1h 35m

This psychological thriller tracks Julia (Maika Monroe) and her husband, Francis (Karl Glusman) who have just moved to Bucharest. All isn't fine and dandy, however, when a string of gruesome murders take place in their new apartment building and Julia starts being followed around town.

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23. 'House on Haunted Hill' (1959)

Who's in It: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal, Richard Long, Carolyn Craig

Runtime: 1h 55m

This William Castle-directed horror film finds Frederick Loren (Vincent Prince) hosting a haunted house party with his wife and a few of his friends, with a major prize of $10,000 for whoever last the entire night. However, it ends up being a serious game where guests are actually murdered—not just a simple, good time of a game.

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24. 'Carrie' (1976)

Who's in It: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt, Amy Irving, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley

Runtime: 1h 38m

Sissy Spacek portrays the iconic high schooler, Carrie White, in this supernatural horror film, where she finds herself being ostracized and tormented at school by many of her classmates. However, at her senior prom, she realizes that she's not as helpless as she once thought when she discovers that she has telekinesis.

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25. 'Train to Busan' (2016)

Who's in It: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Su-an

Runtime: 1h 58m

Train to Busan might at first seem like a fairly exciting—if not a bit typical—zombie film. More astute audiences will be able to read between the lines to see a story about wealth inequality, but even if you can’t detect the latent social criticism, the action scenes are enough to keep less academic viewers entertained and engaged.

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26. 'The Love Witch' (2017)

Who's in It: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise

Runtime: 2h

Anna Biller’s campy retro melodrama The Love Witch might repulse your typical slasher fan with its sophisticated and slow-paced take on feminist themes. But if you’re down for more cerebral, arthouse horror—or interested in eye-popping object styling and costuming—The Love Witch is likely to be a new favorite. Biller’s eye for retro aesthetics is impeccable and the movie’s ’70s-inspired mise-en-scene is so dutifully recreated that it barely feels like a film from 2016.

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27. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974)

Who's in It: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain

Runtime: 1h 23m

As time progresses, horror movies have had to become more extreme to keep up with an increasingly desensitized fanbase. With that in mind, it’s surprising how truly revolting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains to this day. Yes, it’s true, there’s a sophisticated criticism made in the film about the increasing ruin of the rural world brought about by urban sprawl—but most will have trouble seeing those themes beyond all the bloodshed in this gory and grotesque nightmare. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the few classics of the genre that remains as sickening today as it was decades ago.

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28. 'Ichi The Killer' (2001)

Who's in It: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun

Runtime: 2h 9m

Takashi Miike has been dubbed a master of horror by critics and Ichi The Killer is often considered his bloodthirsty magnum opus. Based on the manga of the same name, Ichi tells the story of an eponymous psychotic gangster whose cruelty borders on the magically real. The violence of this movie is truly next-level—only the most intrepid viewers will ever need to see this film twice.

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29. 'Mandy' (2018)

Who's in It: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake

Runtime: 2h

Panos Cosmatos stunned critics with his opaque sci-fi thriller Beyond the Black Rainbow in 2010. His follow-up film, Mandy, shared a lot of the same visual themes and motifs: lots of psychedelic scene-chewing and maximalist design. Whereas Black Rainbow was cold and humorless, Mandy is inherently campy thanks to a deeply unhinged performance from Nicholas Cage. But it’s not just funny, Mandy’s visuals are entirely unique and the movie’s more existential themes somehow don’t contrast with Cage’s silliness.

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30. 'Re-Animator' (1985)

Who's in It: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson

Runtime: 1h 26m

Technically an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story (but bearing little aesthetic resemblance to the ominous prose of the writer that inspired the film) Re-Animator is a classic horror-comedy with gruesome special effects that remain impressive in 2020. It’s not the most sophisticated sci-fi ever made, but there’s a lot of charm to the movie's classic 80s gross-out humor.

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31. 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

Who's in It: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea

Runtime: 1h 37m

Considered the first zombie film ever made, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead has since its release become understood as an emphatic rebuke of American racism. Romero’s decision to cast a Black lead actor was almost unthinkable at the time and changed the entire context of the film. Less talked about is the movie’s gorgeous, expressionist cinematography and use of chiaroscuro. It’s a near-perfect movie and remains an important piece of American culture that exposes the more insidious nature of American identity.

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32. 'Nosferatu, the Vampyre' (1979)

Who's in It: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz

Runtime: 2h 4m

A classic horror film that most of us likely found out about from a specific episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Nosferatu, the Vampyre is about Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski), who becomes interested in his real estate agent's wife named Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) after seeing a photograph of her in a house that he was touring (and ultimately decided to buy). However, both Lucy and Dracula's real estate agent, Jonathan (Bruno Ganz), start being haunted in their dreams by him, leading them to believe that he's a vampire.

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33. 'Carnival of Souls' (1962)

Who's in It: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison

Runtime: 1h 18m

This old-school horror film tracks Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), whose life almost basically becomes haunted after taking part in a road race that ended in a major crash. After surviving, she moves to Salt Lake City, Utah, and becomes obsessed with a nearby abandoned carnival.

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34. 'Children of the Corn' (1984)

Who's in It: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger

Runtime: 1h 32m

Based on Stephen King's short story, Children of the Corn, this film adaptation is centered around a group of children in Nebraska who become under the influence of a supernatural entity that tells them to kill the adults in town. The entity itself is referred to as, "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," with the aforementioned rows referring to the prevalent rows of corn stalks on the farms of Nebraska.

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35. 'Phantasm' (1979)

Who's in It: Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester

Runtime: 1h 29m

The first iteration in what would turn out to be five films, Phantasm focuses on the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), who transforms the dead people of Earth into zombies to act as his own minions. While most people don't suspect him of anything, a boy named Mike (Michael Baldwin) is the only one who stands by his findings, attempting to convince those close to him about the Tall Man.

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36. 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane' (1976)

Who's in It: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Scott Jacoby, Mort Shuman

Runtime: 1h 40m

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane ended up solidifying Jodie Foster as an actress even further at just 13 years old, as she portrayed Rynn Jacobs, a young girl who lives with her father in Maine. However, after her neighbors get a little suspicious of her absent father, it results in a few somewhat accidental death and a budding relationship between her and Mario, a local teenager.

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