There's a universal thrill in being scared - particularly when there's no actual danger involved.
And what better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights, curl up on the couch and watch a horror film? Thankfully, the days of having to venture out to the video shop or cross your fingers that something suitable is on are over - there's a horrifying wealth of scary movies available at your fingertips on streaming services.
Here, you'll find the Stuff team's pick of Amazon Prime's horror movie selection. There's sure to be something in here that'll put the willies up you.
You can sign up here for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime video: so, go fill your boots on scary films.
Interview with the Vampire
This lavish movie made a child star out of Kirsten Dunst and further established Brad Pitt as a true Hollywood A-lister, but it’s Tom Cruise, playing against type as ruthless, decadent vampire Lestat, who steals the show.
Based on the novel by Anne Rice, it’s fair to say that Interview with the Vampire did much to establish the “sexy, angst-ridden vampire” trope that has since become a staple of popular culture – there’d be no Twilight or True Blood without Interview with the Vampire, for better or worse. But this isn't just some romanticised depiction of the conflicted, beautiful children of the night, and it doesn’t shy away from violence and horror at times.
The Torrance family take up residence in an isolated hotel for the winter to cure father Jack of his writer's block. But Jack's son Danny is haunted by disturbing visions, and the hotel's old ghosts worry away at the author's unravelling sanity.
Director Stanley Kubrick trims back Stephen King's haunted-house story into a study in ambiguity. Jack Nicholson's Torrance is a mean drunk with a short temper – but is the hotel exerting a malign influence over him, or is his potential for evil there from the outset?
Kubrick's only foray into the horror genre may feel safe and familiar at first – its iconic scenes blunted by a thousand parodies and college-dorm posters – but its unsettling qualities quickly become apparent. The Shining looks like no other horror film. Kubrick dwarfs the characters with his trademark wide, symmetrical shots of architecture, and tracks them through a maze of corridors with lengthy Steadicam shots. The atmosphere is heightened by flashes of disturbing tableaux – a gore-drenched elevator, a beautiful woman who turns into a hag. The images linger long after the credits roll.
The Silence of the Lambs
The first (and so far only) horror flick to bag Best Picture at the Oscars, this 1991 chiller introduced filmgoers to Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who just so happens to be a cannibalistic serial murderer in his down time. And the best part of all that? The fact that Lecter – played here with delicious creepiness by Anthony Hopkins – isn’t even the film’s antagonist, but rather the only means to stopping him. Like they say, it takes a thief to catch a thief.
While the horror here is more psychological than visceral, there’s more than enough gore to keep slasher aficionados happy. And even non-horror fans will enjoy the craft on show, with fantastic performances and a brilliant script full of memorable lines. You’ll never think of fava beans and a nice Chianti in the same way again.
In this smart post-modern teen slasher pic, Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven riffs on the horror movie tropes that he himself helped define: the masked killer here sticks slavishly to the rules set by older scary films.
What might easily have turned out as a schlocky parody actually works as both a tension-packed movie and an amusing meta-comment on the genre, helped along by a strong cast (the most famous member of which is bumped off in the first few minutes) and a witty, quotable script.
If you like the first instalment, Prime Video also has Scream 2 and Scream 3 at the moment which, while not quite as accomplished as the original, remain superior to your average 90s teen horror yarn.
One notable bullet point in Ben Wheatley’s rise to Brit cinema wunderkind, Kill List is an indie film with real flair and punch; a blend of genres that’s drenched with a jarring atmosphere and mood that’ll keep your eyes locked to the screen until the jaw-dropping final reel.
Like your horror films disconcertingly strange? Put Kill List on your watchlist.
A glossy teen horror tale that has spawned god-knows-how-many sequels, Final Destination comes with a killer (no pun intended) premise: if you somehow cheat death and avoid your predestined fate, it’s just a bump in the road – the grim reaper will always get you in the end.
This setup leads to some of the most imaginative death scenes in the teen horror genre. With the killer being the universe itself rather than some cleaver-wielding masked maniac, there are countless interesting ways for these kids to die – and discovering how these fresh-faced ingenues will come to their sticky ends is this film’s real hook.
This blood-splatterd space shocker could easily be titled Dead Space: The Movie – if not for the fact that it came out 10 years before the horror gaming classic. The plot's much the same, with Sam Neill's motley crew of space jockeys investigating an apparently deserted spacecraft on the outer reaches of the solar system and unearthing all manner of hellspawn aboard it.
So, another unoriginal B-movie clinging on to Alien's coat-tails? Not exactly. The things aboard the starship Event Horizon are grotesque enough to lift it above inferior rivals, and make it more of a horror film set in space than a sci-fi with a horror theme. So don't watch it on your own. Or just before boarding a deserted starship.
Train to Busan
A South Korean zombie flick with almost no guns, set almost entirely on a high-speed train? Where do we sign up?
While Train to Busan doesn’t really do anything to break the zombie movie mould, it’s an enjoyably fraught tale of a father and daughter (and a small group of other survivors) trapped in a confined space with a bunch of fast-moving, vicious and utterly relentless infected. If you’re sick of Western horror movies and fancy something a little different, it’s well two hours of your time.
Night of the Living Dead
George Romero’s recent death has reminded the world of the director’s pioneering genius. This man almost single-handedly invented both the zombie movie genre (heck, he essentially invented the pop culture zombie full-stop) and the horror-film-as-allegory, and he did so with this 1968 movie – which was also one of the first films to feature a black actor in the leading role. Without Night of the Living Dead, there’d be no Walking Dead, no World War Z, no Resident Evil… you get the idea.
The film’s plot is deceptively simple: as the dead begin to return to life as mindless, flesh-hungry ghouls, a disparate group of survivors barricade themselves inside a house in an attempt to make it through the night. But, as is often the case with zombie apocalypse tales, it quickly transpires that the biggest danger to their lives may not be the shambling hordes of undead, but human nature itself…
This Austrian indie movie’s chills come more from its relentlessly creepy atmosphere than gore or jump scares, as twin boys in a remote house react to the return of their mother – apparently from some kind of reconstructive surgery. But is it really her under those bandages?
If you prefer your scares served cold, with a side order of existential dread, Goodnight Mommy deserves a spot on your Amazon Watchlist.
Proof that Aussie cinema is about more than Mick Dundee, Wolf Creek introduces a character who’s easily as memorable and far nastier than the knife-wielding, globe-trotting bushman.
John Jarratt plays another Mick, who offers to help a trio of teens after car trouble causes them to become stranded in the national park that gives the film its name. Sounds like a predictable, clichéd horror movie, right? It would be if Mick Taylor wasn’t so terrifyingly deranged and it hadn’t been shot with such rare beauty for a film that descends into such horrific depravity. Not for the faint hearted.
The movie that made an entire generation afraid to get in the water, Jaws remains one of the most important and one of the most beloved films of all time.
Even if you haven’t experienced its dread-filled joys before, you surely know the simple premise: when a small New Jersey seaside resort is terrorised by a giant killer Great White shark, the local police chief decides to hunt it down. It's not complicated stuff, but it’s the film’s presentation, script, direction and, yes, its iconic John Williams score, that make it such a belter.
Director Steven Spielberg cranks up the tension through clever use of perspective and sound, leaving the audience constantly on edge, but Jaws isn’t afraid to season its scares with moments of levity and comedy. It’s still a fantastic watch, 42 years after its release (but trust us: you're better off skipping the sequels).
I Saw the Devil
Asian cinema revitalised horror in the 1990s and 2000s with a slew of shocking, grotesque and insanely creepy movies such as Ringu, Audition, and Ichi the Killer – and the Far East is still churning out stomach-churning films for those that like having their sensibilities messed with. Korean movie I Saw the Devil is one such picture, the story of a serial killer and a cop and their entrance into a kind of symbiotic cycle of violence. Is the price of revenge against evil worth becoming a monster yourself?