Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Underrated Horror Movies You Can Watch On HBO Max

Warner Bros' recent decision to launch all their 2021 releases directly onto HBO Max was a huge moment for those who love to curl up on their own couch with a good movie. Those who subscribe to HBO Max know that the streamer already has an incredible collection of movies in its library.

That is very true for fans of horror. HBO Max's library of scary movies is a unique collection that ranges from early silent film spookiness to wonderfully schlocky creature features from the '80s and '90s. There's a lot of stuff that you likely already have on your "To Watch" list, but you'll also find quite a few hidden gems that have slipped through the cracks.

Whether critics didn't give them their due upon release, or their initial theatrical run flopped, or they've just been overshadowed by other movies over the years, here are some of the best underrated horror films available now on HBO Max.

Relive the heyday of found footage horror with The Bay

By the time 2012's The Bay was released, there were already approximately 400,000 found footage horror movies out in the world, with most of them being low-quality fare trying to chase the success of Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity. Perhaps that's why, despite being helmed by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson and getting good reviews from critics, The Bay failed to break through at the box office.

But don't take the poor theatrical showing as an indictment of the film's quality. This skin-crawling creature feature is about a small town in Maryland overrun by parasitic isopods that have been mutated by a toxic chemical spill in the Chesapeake Bay and begun burrowing into humans. The entire film being made up of stitched together footage from various sources across the town, all of which was initially confiscated by the government, but then leaked to the press. Thanks to the fractured perspective, the movie is able to build some exceptional tension as we see a series of what first appear to be isolated incidents during the town's 4th of July celebration boil over into full blown catastrophe.

At just 85 minutes long, it's a lean and mean horror flick with a chilling environmental message at its core.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is an overshadowed Lynchian masterwork

Part small town comedy, part nighttime soap opera, and part surrealist nightmare hellscape, David Lynch's seminal TV series Twin Peaks was an unique horror offering that hooked viewers with its one-of-a-kind style. The series was brought back for a third season in 2017, dubbed Twin Peaks: The Return, which was lauded by critics. Between the show's original run and its revival, there was also a prequel film: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Twin Peaks, the TV series, begins with the discovery of the body of high schooler Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and Fire Walk with Me is set during the week leading up to her death. Where the show gave viewers peeks into the profoundly dark life Laura hid with her big smile and sunny disposition, Fire Walk With Me is a full-tilt-boogie descent into the violent and disturbing world she lived in.

The movie was known for receiving a wildly mixed critical reception when it released in 1992. For example, Jay Boyar of The Orlando Sentinel wrote, "for those who are willing to go the distance with Lynch, the return trip to Twin Peaks is well worth the trouble," while Geoff Andrew of Time Out New York proclaimed, "Self-parody would seem too generous an assessment of Lynch's aims and achievement."

But in recent years critics have been giving it a second look. In a 2017 article for The Guardian, Martyn Conterio wrote, "A quarter of a century on, the film is being rightly rediscovered by fans and critics as Lynch's unsung masterwork." It might not have the near-universal acclaim of Mulholland Drive or Blue Velvet, but those looking for an unfiltered shot of uncanny terror should give it a shot.

Humor meets arachnophobia in Eight Legged Freaks

When unabashed B-movie throwback Eight Legged Freaks came out in 2002, it fared about as well with critics as you would imagine a movie featuring David Arquette fighting giant mutated spiders would be. A sequel was originally in the works (via Moviehole), but considering one never materialized, it appears that the film failed to garner enough attention and was left for dead. That being said, anybody who has affection for good-old-fashioned creature features will find a lot to love in this effective action-comedy-horror.

Set in a small town in Arizona, the film's simple premise — a chemical spill causes a collection of exotic spiders to grow to monstrous size — is heightened thanks to effectively spine tingling set pieces and committed performances from Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, and a young Scarlett Johansson. The titular eight legged freaks are brought to life with some better-than-average early 2000s CGI, and while the effects aren't going to blow you away, the spiders themselves are still remarkably unnerving. You don't need to be an arachnophobe to feel a tingle on your spine when you see the giant, prodding legs of one push its way through an unsuspecting victim's bedroom window or when a hoard of them comes flooding into a shopping mall where the residents of the besieged town have gathered to make a final stand against the creatures.

So, before you press play on Annabelle Comes Home or Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, consider giving one of these underrated horror gems a shot.