From vintage B-movies to modern elevated horror, beloved classics to original productions, Amazon Prime Video has spooky, scary content for everyone this season. Here are the best Halloween movies to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
A swarm of deadly exotic spiders invades a small California town in the horror-comedy Arachnophobia. Jeff Daniels plays the new town doctor, who must overcome his paralyzing fear of spiders in order to rid the town of the hostile species. But John Goodman steals the show as a renegade exterminator with unconventional methods, alongside Julian Sands as a snooty entomologist.
Director Frank Marshall gives the movie the feel of an old-fashioned creature feature, filling the screen with enough arachnids to make audiences squirm.
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A pair of students at an elite Paris ballet school lose themselves in each other’s identities in Sarah Adina Smith’s Birds of Paradise. Kristine Froseth and Diana Silvers play the young women who are friends, rivals, and possibly lovers in this ethereal psychodrama. They explore their own inner feelings while competing for placement in a prestigious ballet company. It’s an examination of adolescent evolution and longing, with surreal interludes.
Roger Corman’s low-budget ingenuity often led to creative approaches to genre material, as in his 1959 beatnik satire A Bucket of Blood. Corman favorite Dick Miller stars as a clueless busboy at a hip café who inadvertently becomes an art-world star when he creates a sculpture by plastering over a dead cat. Soon he’s piling up dead bodies to turn into art, desperate for the validation he can only get by murdering people.
Corman takes down snobby art lovers while also providing the requisite body count for his exploitation audience.
Renowned horror villain Pinhead—always a popular Halloween costume—makes his debut in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, although he’s more of a subdued presence in the series’ first film. The focus here is primarily on the human characters, led by a depraved couple who summon Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his fellow demons known as Cenobites. Barker combines gruesome body horror with an exploration of sexual fetishes, for a unique film that spawned numerous, often inferior sequels.
Spending a night in a haunted house is a popular Halloween activity, and that’s exactly what the main characters do in William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill. Vincent Price brings sinister charm to the eccentric, rich Frederick Loren, who offers a $10,000 prize to anyone who can survive a night in an allegedly haunted mansion. Castle is known for his promotional gimmickry, and House on Haunted Hill can be schlocky at times. But it’s all in good fun, with someone genuine scares and a sly sense of humor.
Jack Finney’s classic novel has been adapted into film numerous times, but the original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers is still the best. It’s one of the finest examples of 1950s sci-fi capturing the political paranoia of the time, and it’s also an expertly crafted suspense story. Kevin McCarthy plays a small-town California doctor who discovers that his friends and neighbors are being replaced by alien doppelgangers. He has to avoid being replaced himself, while warning the outside world of the insidious danger.
The ominous festival in Ari Aster’s Midsommar takes place in the brightness of summer, of course, but its pagan rituals recall the origins of Halloween. A group of American grad students head to a remote Swedish commune for the traditional celebration, finding way more than they expected when they arrive.
Florence Pugh is fantastic as a traumatized young woman who’s embraced by the insular community. Their customs may be terrifying, but they can also be empowering, as she discovers.
Director Luca Guadagnino offers a sumptuous, hallucinatory take on Dario Argento’s horror classic Suspiria. Dakota Johnson stars as a young American woman who comes to a mysterious Berlin dance academy in 1977. There’s a lot more going on there than dance, though, and Johnson’s Susie is drawn into the clandestine coven that runs the school and has big plans for her.
Guadagnino’s film is impressionistic and unsettling, with a constant feeling of otherworldly dread, led by excellent performances from Johnson and Tilda Swinton.
John Carpenter’s version is a classic, but the 2011 take on The Thing is worth watching, too. It’s a combination of remake and stealth prequel, also set on a remote Antarctic outpost. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a paleontologist called in to investigate a strange discovery under the ice, which turns out to be a dangerous shape-shifting alien creature. Like Carpenter’s film, this version is tense and claustrophobic, and Winstead is great as the most capable person on the base, who steps up when things fall apart.
Mel Brooks doesn’t just create a parody of a horror icon in Young Frankenstein. He’s clearly studied Universal’s classic monster movies closely, so his film is an impeccable recreation of their style and tone. It’s also a hilarious take on the familiar story of a mad scientist (Gene Wilder) who creates a creature (Peter Boyle) from a reanimated corpse.
The brilliant supporting cast includes Madeline Khan as the scientist’s lusty fiancée, Marty Feldman as hunchbacked, bug-eyed assistant Igor, and Cloris Leachman as the formidable caretaker of the Frankenstein estate.
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