Scariest Movies to Watch on Shudder

If there’s a streaming service for horror cinephiles, it’s Shudder. Reasonably priced and loaded with macro-scale-appealing works just as it’s packed with niche cult favorites, there’s something for everyone on Shudder. And that includes Shudder original films. Well, provided they possess the stomach for horror.

What follows is the best of the best on Shudder, and there are even more that could have been included. Not to mention, Shudder has horror TV series, as well. From little-seen cinematic treats to John Carpenter stone-cold classics, Shudder is a worthy subscription for horror fans. What follows merely serve as great starting points.

10 Alligator (1980)

One of the ultimate movies about deadly alligators or crocodiles, the simply-titled Alligator delivers on the one promise its title makes. And, even over 40 years later, the practical effects gator looks terrific. The narrative follows a detective and a herpetologist as they track down a now-massive alligator that, years ago, was flushed down the toilet by his owner.

A Horror-Comedy With Bite

Alligator is, to an extent, a genre-blender. The awful sequel leans more into comedy to its own detriment, but even the first film has its cheekily self-aware moments. But it wisely takes itself seriously, and the late, great Robert Forster was the best actor they could have cast for the lead role in a creature feature. He was the consummate professional, and took the material seriously, ultimately crafting one of his best performances.

9 Black Christmas (1974)

Bob Clark directed two classic Christmas movies over the course of his career (as well as the truly regrettable but massively profitable Porky’s). The first film was Black Christmas, which has a fair claim to the distinction of being the first straightforward slasher film. It was certainly the first holiday-themed one. The second film was 1983’s A Christmas Story, which is, suffice it to say, quite a bit gentler.

As Frightening as a Christmas Movie Can Get… Except for The Polar Express

Like Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Black Christmas isn’t heavy on blood. But the phone call scenes are some of the most unsettling minutes in cinema history, and they’re highly likely to stick with the viewer. It’s also exceptionally well-shot, even intermittently employing the killer POV technique that Halloween would later perfect (and rightly get much credit for). That said, the shot of the killer’s eye in Black Christmas is scarier than anything in the entire Michael Myers saga.

8 Day of the Dead (1985)

Day of the Dead takes place once most of humanity has been eliminated. Now there are just stragglers. Fortunately, some of those stragglers are scientists. And, seemingly fortunately, some of those stragglers are soldiers. But, how do those two groups mix? Just as the zombies outside present a dangerous threat, so too does dwindling supplies and boiling tensions within the confines of a secure facility.

Quite Underrated

Easily one of the best zombie movies on Shudder, Day of the Dead stands as a greatly underappreciated conclusion to what was once a trilogy. George A. Romero pointed a finger sharply at society in the third film, just as he did twice before, but this time it’s more about interpersonal communication during crises. And, true to form, human beings don’t do so hot in those kinds of scenarios. This particular entry in Romero’s zombie catalog features some of the most intense gore and violence of all Night of the Living Dead films, as well as a particularly memorable performance from the late Joseph Pilato.

7 Dog Soldiers (2002)

Neil Marshall’s directorial debut, Dog Soldiers, isn’t quite as solid as his sophomore film, The Descent, but it’s close. A claustrophobic, lupine nightmare taking place in a single building, this take on both the war film and the werewolf genre movie is genius and terrifying. And, of course, quite bloody. It follows a group of soldiers in training who suddenly come under siege by a group of werewolves.

What Makes It One of the Best Werewolf Films?

On one furry hand, the practical effects are out of this world. On the other hand, the acting is top-notch. Not to mention, as far as twist endings go, this one very successfully comes out of left field. How often can that be said with sincerity? Dog Soldiers would be an excellent and terrifying start to Marshall’s prominent career behind the camera, with plenty of terrifying lycanthropes to go around.

6 Halloween (1978)

If you’re going to make your next Saturday a 12-hour Shudder binge day, there’s really one place to start (or, conversely, end). That’s on the streets of Haddonfield in John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween. The plot, of course, follows the murderous exploits of the soulless Michael Myers, who’s recently escaped an institution and quickly selected his teenage female targets.

The Greatest Slasher

Scary to this day and the start of one of cinema’s most storied franchises (though there’s a fair argument it shouldn’t have, even if Halloween 4 is a blast), Halloween is really an exercise in restraint. There’s never a dull moment, which is saying something considering there are any number of scenes where the camera just sits there and monitors the situation. But that is the appeal. Halloween makes you feel like you’re there and one of Michael’s potential victims.

5 Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser (1987)

Release Date
September 11, 1987

Andrew Robinson , Clare Higgins , Ashley Laurence , Sean Chapman , Oliver Smith , Robert Hines

What a directorial debut. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, his directorial debut, which he adapted from his own The Hellbound Heart, is the ultimate example of how bloody, sinewy cinema can be quite beautiful. This is a tale of resurrection, of appreciation for life, and of appreciation (or just morbid curiosity) for what comes next. When hedonist Frank Cotton comes across a mysterious puzzle box, he sets forth a chain of events that leads to a monstrous tale of sex, gore, and grotesque cenobites: interdimensional monsters that intermingle pain with pleasure. The most iconic cenobite, Pinhead, would become a staple role for veteran actor Doug Bradley.

Clive Barker’s Horror Debut Is a Must-See

Ashley Laurence is legitimately dynamite as Kirsty Cotton, and as a performer, she really wasn’t given the thickest rope to walk. Cotton is put through the paces in this movie, especially once she realizes her murderous uncle has not only done his thing on her own father, but adopted his sibling’s skin, as well. Toss in perversely gorgeous imagery and a note-perfect villainous performance from Clare Higgins (who’s still around, she even had a few lines in Ready Player One) and Hellraiser is A-list horror.


Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley Would Suit Up as Pinhead Again Under the Right Conditions

The original Pinhead can envision himself portraying a different version of the character.

4 Puppet Master (1989)

Charles Band, like Roger Corman, has a fair claim to the title of Cinematic Schlockmaster. And, of all the shoddily-made works his Full Moon Pictures released, Puppet Master was bar none the most successful. The narrative follows the creations of Andre Toulon, the titular puppet master, as they pick off a group of psychics.

An A-List B-Level Horror Property

Paul Le Mat should have had a much more prolific and noteworthy career in Hollywood after the release of George Lucas’ American Graffiti. But, that didn’t happen. Yet, he continuously elevated all the projects he took part in that were unworthy of his talent, like Puppet Master. But, in fairness to Band’s franchise-creator, it does manage to be suitably creepy sometimes, and the design of the dolls is quite solid. If Child’s Play was a little too much, the eerie movements and iconic visuals of Puppet Master may give the right balance of thrills and chills.

3 The Crazies (1973)

The Crazies is a boots-on-the-ground look at how people deal with a crisis. When the U.S. military attempts to contain a manmade pathogen in a single small town, all hell breaks loose. From poor planning to even worse execution of orders, those supposedly fighting for the safety of civilians are as bad as the virus itself. A remake would be released in 2010, with Romero serving as an executive producer during its production.

What Makes The Crazies a Great Bit of Romero?

For the most part, George A. Romero’s career is synonymous with the term zombie. But, as The Crazies showed, his talent for storytelling was diverse. And, even better, politically incisive (The Crazies is outright damning of government reactions to crises). So, in that way, it makes for a terrific companion piece to Day of the Dead. Its box office performance would pale in comparison to Romero’s other successful films, but its unique position in his filmography would eventually net it a cult following.

2 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Much has been written about Tobe Hooper’s trendsettingThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and deservedly so. Alongside The Exorcist, it has a fair claim to being the most frightening motion picture ever produced. And just look at the film’s own sequels to see just how difficult it was to craft the exact experience of Hooper’s original. The 1974 classic stands as a singular, visceral viewing.

An All-Timer

There are aspects to the film that, on the surface level, aren’t at a professional level. For instance, some of the acting leaves a bit to be desired. And, yet, here, even the detriments are assets. This movie makes you feel like you’re right there with Leatherface and his victims. Its atmosphere is unparalleled, and its influence can be felt decades later. Even without oodles of overt gore, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is unparalleled in making your skin crawl.


20 Best Horror Movie Posters of All Time, Ranked

Capturing your attention with shocking or ominous imagery, along with a memorable tagline – these are the greatest horror movie posters of all time.

1 Werewolves Within (2021)

Read Our Review

A lovely genre-blender with a dynamite cast, Werewolves Within is an utter treat. On one hand, it’s not hard to see why it didn’t receive a wide theatrical release. But, on the other hand, those who can access its goofy wavelength will be in absolute heaven. The narrative follows the residents of a small town who, apparently, aren’t all just human. There’s an outlier, and it’s the last one you expect.

What Makes Werewolves Within So Special?

The film is notable for putting the endearing Sam Richardson in the lead role and, even better, giving Milana Vayntrub (from the AT&T commercials) some much needed screentime as a well-written and three-dimensional character in a film. It’s a rare example of a horror movie basing itself on a video game instead of the other way around, even more so when you consider just how good it is. Humor and scares are blended and balanced well in this terrifying trip through small-town America, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to the scariest movies on Shudder.


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