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The Ultimate Halloween Streaming Guide: 25 Essential Horror Films from Peacock's Massive Scary Movie Drop
Halloween is coming. It's time to get your binge-watch list in order.
This month, in anticipation of the Halloween season, Peacock added a whopping 100-plus new horror films to its lineup, giving you a truly massive range of options as we head toward the spookiest time of the year. Now, if you've got the time, you are certainly welcome to binge every single one of those horror films between now and October 31, but what if you're just trying to get down to the cream of the crop?
Well, your humble horror hosts are here to help. We've sifted through every new horror offering on Peacock this month to bring you this list of the absolute essential films in the streamer's Halloween lineup, from black-and-white Universal classics to modern gems. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock mostly dealt with very human horror, which is why The Birds still stands out so much in his filmography. It's a rare creature feature-style thriller from Hitchcock, and it still works very well, particularly when he's winding up the tension by doing things like piling birds up on a jungle gym until they're primed to strike.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Every Child's Play movie is fun. We know this, but if you're looking for the movie where things started to take a turn into the more fantastical horror-comedy realm of things, Bride of Chucky is definitely a key moment in the franchise's history. Featuring a great performance from Jennifer Tilly as Chucky's great love, Tiffany, it's essential viewing for Chucky fans and for fans of singular works of scary movie camp. Plus keep an eye out for Season 3 of Chucky coming in October to SYFY and USA.
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Frankenstein changed horror filmmaking forever. Then, four years after that film's debut, director James Whale changed the game with The Bride of Frankenstein, a remarkable, darkly funny, beautifully realized film that remains one of the greatest sequels in horror history. It's a film ahead of its time that somehow still manages to deliver the '30s monster movie fun audiences hoped for.
Stream it on Peacock beginning September 15!
Nia DaCosta's wonderful reworking of the Candyman mythos has put the original films starring Tony Todd back in everyone's minds, and that's a very good thing. The 1992 version of the story is still a remarkably creepy, deft exploration of urban legends, American sins, and the figure of vengeance born of it all.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
While it will never compare to George A. Romero's original in the minds of many fans, Zack Snyder and James Gunn's remake of Dawn of the Dead remains one of the most fun and thrilling horror films of its era, a 2000s staple that managed to become something all its own while staying true to the original concept of Romero's film. It's been almost 20 years, and those opening scares still send chills down our spines.
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
It took five years after Bela Lugosi's original turn as Count Dracula, but in 1936 Universal finally delivered a rather unconventional sequel that became a horror classic all its own. Discarding the Count's story in favor of one of his offspring. Gloria Holden is absolutely magnetic in the title role, the film is landmark for queer horror representation, and the spell it casts in just over an hour of screentime has to be seen to be believer.
Stream it on Peacock beginning September 15!
One of the most influential horror films of all time, Frankenstein arrived in the fall of 1931 and, combined with Dracula earlier that same year, changed the genre at the movies forever. Aside from its cultural impact, though, it's still a remarkably spooky affair, anchored by a great performance from Boris Karloff as The Creature.
Stream it on Peacock beginning September 15!
Get Out (2017)
Speaking of horror films that changed the game, we've got Jordan Peele's debut feature about a young Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) who visits his girlfriend's white family and finds a horrifying conspiracy at work behind the scenes. Tense, funny, and full of unforgettable visuals, Get Out is a modern classic you can watch over and over.
David Gordon Green's legacy sequel to John Carpenter's original classic might have divided audiences somewhat, particularly when it came to its two sequels, but there's no denying a certain power to the 2018 Halloween film. It's in Jamie Lee Curtis' powerhouse performance, in the way the film blends horror and humor, and of course, in the reverence that comes with the long-awaited return of Michael Myers.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Long-derided as the sequel no one asked for, the third installment in the Halloween franchise has undergone a re-appraisal in recent years, and with good reason. There's no Michael Myers, of course, but there is an undeniable sense of creepy atmosphere, a great sense of design, and a '50s sci-fi-horror B-movie vibe that's carried forward by a great Tom Atkins performance.
The Mummy (1999)
Less horror film and more delightful adventure romp with monsters thrown in, The Mummy remains both a product of its time and a remarkably timeless piece of spooky fun. You can throw this movie on at any time, anywhere, and you can bet it will start drawing eyes right away. It's perfect Halloween party watch material, as well as action movie comfort food for those of us who like or stunts with a few scares.
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Wes Craven is best known for his slasher movie entries, but the rest of his horror output is also essential in a number of ways. Case in point: The People Under the Stairs, Craven's socially conscious horror film about a group of kids who break into a house and find much more than they bargained for inside. Scary, over-the-top, and full of moments of remarkable insight, it's one of Craven's best, an underseen gem from a horror master.
Prince of Darkness (1987)
The second film in John Carpenter's thematically-linked "Apocalypse Trilogy" (the first of which we'll get to shortly), Prince of Darkness follows a group of physics students as they head to an old church to study some strange phenomena. What they find inside is concentrated evil the likes of which none of them ever expected, and they might not make it out alive. Rich with some of Carpenter's most unforgettable imagery, Prince of Darkness is an essential from the creator of Halloween and Escape from New York.
Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel of the same name remains a vital piece of horror history, and not just for its standing as one of the progenitors of the slasher genre. Shot on few sets with a small crew, Hitchcock stripped down much of his glamour and pomp for this project, and it shows in the finished product. This is bare bones, beautifully efficient terror as only Hitchcock could deliver.
Like a lot of films on this list, Saw remains a landmark, a major shift in the genre on the big screen in a lot of ways. It marked the breakthrough of James Wan, the breakthrough of Leigh Whannell, and the dawn of a gritty new era in horror storytelling that birthed a host of imitators, none of them quite as well-realized as this original film. As an added bonus, you can binge all of the Saw sequels on Peacock this Halloween as well, but they don't pack the same magic as this stripped-down gem.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
If you're looking for a horror film you can watch with certain younger viewers (though not too young, mind you), Andre Ovredal's adaptation of the beloved series of children's scary stories is one of the best options out there. With a wonderful teen cast, a great sense of fun, and some genuinely frightening imagery, it's an essential for family horror movie night.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
One of the less-often-watched entries in Wes Craven's filmography, The Serpent and the Rainbow still stands up as one of the director's best, and features some of the most memorable imagery in his long career. The story of a scientist (Bill Pullman) who journeys to Haiti to investigate strange claims of actual "zombies" being created, it's both a surprisingly sensitive look at another culture and a dose of pure nightmare fuel when Craven really gets down to the horror of it all.
Before he was a superhero mastermind, James Gunn was a guy working in the realm of fun, campy, all-out bonkers horror cinema, and for proof, we have Slither. The story of a small town set upon by alien beasties and the madness that ensues, it's funny, it's gross, and it's proof that Gunn has always been a guy adept at playing with genre conventions.
Tales from the Hood (1995)
An essential film for anyone looking at the history of horror anthology cinema as well as Black horror cinema, Tales from the Hood delivers four horror stories (plus a memorable framing narrative) through the lens of the Black experience in America. It's a film that just keeps taking on more esteem the older it gets, which means if you still haven't seen it, you're missing out.
They Live (1988)
John Carpenter has always been good at blending science fiction with his horror, and They Live is a wonderful example of letting the dystopian sci-fi vibes take the lead. The story of a drifter (Roddy Piper) who uncovers a vast alien conspiracy to rule humanity, it's a film that lays on Carpenter's love of 1950s sci-fi cinema quite thick, while still working as an incisive commentary on 1980s America.
The Thing (1982)
Arguably John Carpenter's most frightening achievement, The Thing stands today as not just one of the best horror movies of its era, but of all time. Featuring a great ensemble cast and jaw-dropping visual effects by Rob Bottin, it's Carpenter's update of a classic sci-fi concept for the 1980s and beyond, and it still works as an exercise in sheer overwhelming paranoia and gruesome fear.
Oldboy director Park Chan-wook took on vampire lore for this film about a priest (Song Kang-ho) descending into bloodthirst and strange lust, and the result is one of the most unforgettable entries in bloodsucker lore ever made. Shocking, thrilling, and visually sumptuous, it's one of Park's best films, and one of the best vampire movies of all time.
Jordan Peele's second horror feature might not have achieved the same Oscar-winning cultural impact as his first, but that doesn't make Us any less essential to the modern horror landscape. A dark tale of doppelgangers, secrets, and the vicious underbelly of America, it's an ambitious entry in Peele's filmography, and a must-see for fans hoping to catch the best of 2010s horror filmmaking.
David Cronenberg merges body horror with proto-found footage horror in this absolute classic, which follows a TV station president as he descends into a world of madness, shapeshifting, and violence that goes far beyond his usual tastes for something dark to put on the airwaves. Even 40 years later, it's one of the most unsettling things Cronenberg has ever given us, which is really saying something.
The Visit (2015)
M. Night Shyamalan never really went away, but The Visit can still be viewed as a kind of comeback for the director, a return to the small-scale genre offerings that made him an icon that packs the intimate terrors of his best work. A found footage story about two kids who visit their grandparents and find something very strange going on in their house, The Visit is both undeniably creepy and a reminder of how good Shyamalan can be when he digs his claw into character-driven terror.