Film

The Best Streaming Services For Your Halloween Horror Movie Binge

Scaring the bejesus out of yourself and chill.

Have you started your annual Halloween horror purge? October is the month to indulge your fright bone, and with All Hallows Eve falling on a Saturday this year, you’ve got a big last weekend to prepare full of things that go bump in the night before you’re considered once more to be a weirdo for watching all those horror movies all the time.

You’ve got one less thing to fear though, because we’ve scoured the online streaming services and picked the best scary flicks should you choose to partake. So make some popcorn, turn off the lights, and settle in for a scary movie.

Netflix

Is the granddaddy of streaming services on the Halloween bandwagon? Well, not as much as you might hope. You’d be hard-pressed to recognise about half of the movies on offer on the company’s Australian platform. Not even I had heard of Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred (2011), Playback (2012), Sxtape (2013) or Preservation (2015).

Best of the Best: Obviously some people have kids, so if you’re looking for kid-friendly then Netflix offers Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? You’ll get some wonderful 1990s nostalgia – Ryan Gosling pre-photoshopped sex beefcake! – plus the best parents teach their kids it’s okay to be scared.

For the rest of us (or once the tots have gone to bed) there are goodies like tense meta slasher The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Creep (2015), a disturbing psychological horror with a killer ending, and the Irish ghost tale The Canal (2014) that has plenty of jolts. Two Aussie titles definitely worth a viewing are The Tunnel (2011), about hideous mutants in tunnels under Sydney, and The Loved Ones (2009), about the most sadistically unconventional high school formal imaginable.

Cost: $8.99/month (basic), $11.99/month (standard), or $14.99/month (premium)

Stan

I can never tell whether Stan has a silly name or is in fact a very smart way of disguising the fact that you spent your weekend at home binging on film and television. As in, “I spent the weekend with Stan. Just the two of us.” Luckily Stan has a great selection of big and small, mainstream and indie horror titles. A word of warning, though: you might be tempted to give something like Zombeavers (2014) a try because, you know, zombie beavers! You’d be better off avoiding it like you would a real zombie beaver, though.

Best of the Best: Stan offers both the Twin Peaks series and the prequel feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992). They’re not horror in the same way that the delightfully and imaginatively gruesome Final Destination (2000) or the unsettling and skin-tingling Candyman (1992) are, but with a new series coming in the next two years you should probably take the time to watch them eventually. Twin Peaks definitely has its unsettling, horrifying moments (hi Bob!). Definitely click on Black Water (2007), though, a lo-fi Aussie horror film about a family stranded up a tree with a crocodile snapping at their toes. Effective and all too real.

Cost: $10/month

Presto

Like magic, Presto offers a nice selection of horror tricks and treats. There are far too many dud sequels like Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007) and The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations (2009); prequels like Exorcist: The Beginning (2004); and silly big names like Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing (2004), the absurd I Frankenstein (2013), and Kevin Smith’s aborrent Tusk (2014) that are all easily avoidable, but there’s still a good amount of surprisingly effective smaller movies that will get you shaking in your boots.

Best of the Best: Stephen King’s killer dog flick Cujo (1983) is a hell of a lot better than you might think from the description. Likewise The Entity (1982) is one you may not have heard of, but which Martin Scorsese calls one of the scariest movies ever made. Aussie chiller The Babadook (2014) is a must see, as is You’re Next (2012) a gory, action-packed thrill-ride for those after a modern day Scream (1996).

Cost: $9.99/month for movies, or $14.99/month for the movies and TV package.

Quickflix

The oldest streaming service in the country has been sadly left in the dust created by Netflix, Stan, and Presto, yet is still ticking. Its horror selection is a bit too focused on movies that are direct-to-VOD rip-offs of much better movies and silly Hollywood confections like Poltergeist III (1988), Species 2 (1998), Feardotcom (2002), and Bats (1999). Don’t get sucked in by hype (avoid The Human Centipede 3 [2015] at all costs), because if you dig a little bit you’ll find some gems.

Best of the Best: Thankfully Mary Harron’s sublimely macabre American Psycho has thankfully been critically re-assessed and accepted as a feminist text in spite of its novel origins, so why not settle in for plenty of gruesome laughs while decked out in ‘80s power suits and a soundtrack of Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, and Huey Lewis? If you’re after something more traditional then you can’t go wrong with discovering the under-appreciated The Stuff (1985), which is both scary and satirically relevant to modern society, or the acclaimed social media horror of The Den (2013). Shlock fans should make time for gross-out Slugs (1988) – they slime, they ooze, they kill!

Cost: $9.99/month, extra for premium service

SBS On Demand

Since SBS put their On Demand service up last year it’s been one of the best places for Australians to go to watch movies legally. What they lack in depth of titles they make up for in being completely free. Being SBS there’s a high attention to Australian and foreign language titles, but with a smattering of classics, too. Avoid the Paraguayan cheapie The Silent House (2010) due to having one of the worst and most downright stupid endings you’ll ever see.

Best of the Best: Alongside greats like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1979), and Scream (1996), you can watch the first three of the acclaimed Spanish found footage franchise [rec] and local Ozploitation classics Patrick (1978) and Thirst (1979).

Cost: Free

Crackle

I’ll be honest, my knowledge of Crackle’s existence was limited before researching this. And while the selection on Sony’s smart device streaming format is minimal at best – 15 titles makes them by far the smallest on offer – they do, however, have an advantage of allowing viewers films that aren’t available on any other streaming service.

Best of the Best: If you have Crackle then why not use it to watch Pulse (1988), a greatly underrated techno-thriller about a deadly electrical current moving through a new residential development. Sounds silly, but it’s effective, and might just make you think when you’re not marvelling at all the delightfully tragic ‘80s designs. You can also relive Idol Hands (1999) with Devon Sawa, or the cult comedy B-Movie homage Night of the Creeps (1988).

Cost: Free

Shudder

Okay, we’re being sneaky here, but if you’re gonna skirt the rules to get American Netflix then why not for Shudder? This exceptional service is exclusive to horror movies and is a goldmine for fans of getting scared out of their pants. Divided into literally dozens of sub-categories, Shudder offers viewers everything from eco-terror to alien flicks, Asian horror to romantic horror, diabolical documentaries to zombies, movies set in confined spaces, possession films, evil children, and killer animals. If you can’t find anything on here then you probably shouldn’t even be reading this article.

Best of the Best: There is genuinely too many to choose from. Amongst a lot of obscure films are guaranteed frights like The Innkeepers (2011) from director Ti West, the ice-skating slasher Schizo (1976), the ventriloquist dummy flick Magic (1978) with Anthony Hopkins, terrifying French home invasion nightmare Them (2006), Mario Bava’s black and white witch classic Black Sunday (1960), the disturbing serial killer in Henry (1986), the kitsch thrills of iconic Sleepaway Camp (1983), the Canadian virus thriller Pontypool (2008), or the vampire romance Ganja & Hess, which Spike Lee remade this year.

Cost: $4.99/month

Glenn Dunks is a freelance writer from Melbourne. He also works as an editor and a film festival programmer while tweeting too much @glenndunks.