Madison Curry plays young Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele’s “Us,” released in 2019. Universal Pictures | courtesy
With Halloween only a month away, October is the perfect time to chill to a scary movie. While there are so many bad horror movies out there, this list collects 13 of the genre’s most promising picks. There is at least something for everybody in this diverse set of films.
13. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” | 1974
Known as one of the greatest and most important horror films of all time, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is perfect for both casual and analytical viewings. While gore and violence happen mostly off screen, Tobe Hooper’s “proto-slasher” interestingly imprints a false memory of extreme graphic violence on much of its audience.
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” finds Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her young friends investigating her uncle’s robbed grave in the middle-of-nowhere Texas until their mystery solving is cut short as they are hunted down by a family of hungry cannibals, including a huge chainsaw wielding, human skin wearing butcher.
Stream: Tubi, Hulu, Prime
12. “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” | 2010
For anybody looking for a horror film that incites genuine laughter, “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is the perfect lighthearted twist to the traditional slasher. It’s successfully meta in a way that few horror movies can get away with, combining gore and silly action to craft an unforgettable movie watching experience.
Trouble finds Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), a pair of kind yet unaware country folk, when they attempt to save a young female college student from drowning by their new vacation home but are mistaken as crazy hillbilly kidnappers by her friends.
Stream: Sling, Prime
11. “Us” | 2019
Jordan Peele’s “Us” exemplifies the potential of success for modern horror movies in a way that few films rival. From script to cinematography to acting, “Us” is a technical masterpiece that expertly utilizes suspense and plot twist to create a deep and heartfelt story.
While it’s best viewed with as little known as possible, the basic story is simple: A mother’s traumatic past is unraveled as she and her family in the present must survive an attack from what can only be explained as mirror versions of themselves.
Stream: YouTube, Prime
10. “Willy’s Wonderland” | 2021
As a good movie list is always incomplete without Nicolas Cage, “Willy’s Wonderland” is next up. While this may not be his best horror film, it’s a fun and unique experience. This movie finally brings a nightmare at Chuck E. Cheese and the popular 2014 survival horror video game “Five Nights At Freddy’s” to the big screen.
“Willy’s Wonderland” follows a mute drifter version of Nicolas Cage as he gets his damaged sports car fixed in exchange for working a single energy drink-fueled night shift at a deadly family entertainment center filled with demonic animatronics.
9. “Scream” | 1996
The king of meta horror movies, “Scream” is a must watch piece of popular culture. Every character and scene is intentional and the movie is full of horror references. “Scream” finds perfect balance as both a love letter to a decades-dying subgenre and as an original story that deserves praise as one of horror’s best.
“Scream” follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a persevering high school girl, and her friends as they cross paths with a local deputy sheriff and television reporter in efforts to uncover and survive a series of gruesome murders on the one year anniversary of her mother’s murder.
Stream: Paramount+, Hulu, Prime
8. “Ringu” | 1998 // “The Ring” | 2002
“Ringu” and “The Ring” are very similar movies as the latter is a mostly faithful remake of the former. “Ringu” popularized Japanese horror for American audiences in a time where Hollywood was not delivering in the scary department. “The Ring” takes place in America and changes things up a bit. Both are great and worth watching, especially to make comparisons.
Both “Ringu” and “Ring” follow a mother as she tries to save her child from seemingly certain death after watching a cursed video tape of a girl crawling out of a well, uncovering a dark and tragic story along the way.
Stream: Tubi, Prime, YouTube TV// Paramount+, Prime
7. “The Blair Witch Project” | 1999
If you’re looking for a movie that actually happened, watch the found footage movie “The Blair Witch Project.” Well, maybe not, but this supernatural movie was marketed as a true story. “The Blair Witch Project” was one of the first internet marketed movies, with fake websites and even a companion mockumentary to convince audiences the footage was actually real.
Following three film students working on a documentary about a local legend, “The Blair Witch Trial” progressively gets more tense as the students discover mysterious artifacts and get lost in the woods, slowly turning on each other after days of wandering.
Stream: Hulu, HBO Max, Prime , Paramount+, Peacock
6. “Alien” | 1979
A classic in both horror and science-fiction, “Alien” is a must see for anyone interested in thrilling sci-fi scares. This movie contains a heavily science-fiction setting and as the name suggests, antagonist, while also leaning heavily into the survival horror subgenre.
Similar to the hit 2018 online multiplayer video game “Among Us”, “Alien” follows a crew of unsuspecting shipmates as they are individually hunted on their isolated deep space ship. However, in “Alien” they are not being hunted by a look-alike imposter, but instead a towering pitch black beast that has highly corrosive acid for blood and lays its babies in people’s chests.
Stream: Hulu, Prime, YouTube TV, Sling
5. “Slumber Party Massacre” | 1982
“Slumber Party Massacre” interestingly finds itself in the company of other notable feminist slasher films as “Black Christmas” (1974) and “Halloween” (1978). In what is a rarity in the horror genre, this movie was both written and directed by women, Rita Mae Brown and Amy Holden Jones, respectively. While it does not fall into many of the stereotypical sexist slasher tropes, it was somewhat limited by studio requirements.
“Slumber Party Massacre” follows a group of teenagers as they struggle to survive what should have been a fun high school slumber party after it’s crashed by an escaped serial killer wielding a purposefully symbolic power drill (just look at the poster).
Stream: Pluto TV, Tubi, Prime
4. “House of 1000 Corpses” | 2003
Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” basically fits into a subgenre of its own. From a crazily edited music video scene to the general over-the-top absurdity, this unmistakably Rob Zombie-style film brings more taboo and less familiar elements of the horror genre to a larger mainstream audience.
“House of 1000 Corpses” follows a couple of up-and-coming authors (including Rain Wilson of “The Office”) and their girlfriends as they find themselves as the unfortunate houseguests of a serial killer family while on an investigative cross-country road trip. While this movie is not for everyone, it remains a popular cult classic amongst those willing to give it a watch.
3. “The Evil Dead” | 1981
An instant cult classic, Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” takes the audience on the campiest cinematic adventure possible. While some scenes are uncomfortably dated, the rest of the movie delivers on being a cheaply put together iconic piece of dumb fun. In other words, it’s old and stupid but still definitely worth a watch for anyone willing to get past the deserved trigger warning.
“The Evil Dead” follows a group of unfortunate college students as they vacation to a small cabin in the woods, which contains research that accidentally unleashes ancient demons on the secluded forested area.
2. “The Shining” | 1980
“The Shining” may be one of the most relatable “quarantine movies” ever made. Based on the Stephen King novel, Stanley Kubrik takes a dark and twisted look at the consequences of long term isolation. This movie sadly became all the more relevant after living through the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“The Shining” follows a man’s slow descent into madness when he takes his wife and son to caretake a fancy hotel during the winter months in order to find some solitude to finally write his novel.
Stream: HBO Max
1. “Halloween” | 1978
If you are going to watch one movie on Halloween, it might as well be this one. Putting the name aside, “Halloween” is the perfect movie for the season because it’s simply one of the most entertaining of its genre. Although it wasn’t the first slasher film, John Carpenter’s iconic 1978 horror film defined the characteristics of the subgenre and is often credited with setting off the slasher craze of the late 1970s and 1980s.
“Halloween” follows the ultimate “final girl,” Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), as she attempts to survive Halloween night by evading the deadly pursuit of her near unstoppable killer brother Michael Myers, as he hacks and slashes his way through town in his psychotic quest to kill her.