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55 Best Movies On Shudder [May 2022]

If you're a genre geek you're probably familiar with the disappointing realization that most streaming services are seriously lacking in the horror department. Then again, if you're a genre geek, you probably subscribe to Shudder. So struggling to find obscure giallo classics, pre-code horror comedies, or skin-crawling French Extremity flicks isn't really a problem for you.

That said, you may find that you are now experiencing the opposite problem — the agony of choice. Shudder may not be the first horror-focused streaming subscription service out there, but its righteously well-stocked library and careful curation reigns supreme. Backed by AMC Networks since its beta launch in 2015, Shudder has carved out a space for itself in the streaming landscape as a must-subscribe for casual carnage fans and hardcore horror devotees alike. But flipping through the service's creatively named collections and endlessly entertaining new additions can be something of a daunting task. Do you dive into Ozploitation? Or would it be better to focus on a broader, more accessible genre?

Well, fear not ... or do, actually, because we've got the lowdown on the crème de la crème of what the streaming service has to offer. So sit back, relax, and keep your watchlist at the ready: Here are our picks for the best films Shudder has to offer.

Updated on May 2, 2022: Shudder is constantly updating its selection with new, scary titles that'll have you gasping in fright. So please note that this article is updated monthly to reflect changes to Shudder's streaming availability.

A Field in England

As the violent din of the Civil War rages on in 17th-century England, a handful of deserters sneak off into a nearby field to skirt the surrounding bloodshed. But instead of a clean getaway, they're swiftly captured by a deranged alchemist who forces them to lend a hand in his desperate search for buried treasure. As the foul-mouthed gang ventures deeper and deeper into the field, tensions get higher and higher (mind you, the hallucinogenic mushrooms don't help). As their sanity begins to fray like a rotten rope, mutinies take shape, and reality begins to bend. Delightfully obtuse and patently demented, "A Field in England" is an existentially nightmarish terror trip and one of the more bizarre genre films in recent memory.

  • Starring: Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Ferdinando
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

With corpses and refuse piling up in its parched riverbed, there's very little life left in Bad City. The only constant, it seems, is the ceaseless pounding of the oil wells sucking the pitch-black blood from beneath the earth's surface. A sweetly naive young man named Arash is doing his best to not let Bad City get him down. He has dreams that exceed the boundaries of this deadbeat town. And when he meets an enigmatic young woman (who just so happens to be a skateboarding, pop music-loving vampire), Arash falls hard and fast. 

The feature film debut of Ana Lily Amirpour, "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" is a deeply unconventional vampire tale with a dark wit and a gorgeously self-assured sense of style. An Iranian vampire Western that puts an imaginative spin on a tired mythos, "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" also introduced wider audiences to SpectreVision, who would go on to produce the likes of "Mandy" and "The Greasy Strangler."

  • Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh
  • Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Beyond

Roger Ebert's half-star review of "The Beyond" may not be a glowing endorsement of Lucio Fulci's Lovecraftian masterpiece. But his summary of the film remains undeniably accurate. Quote: "The plot involves ... excuse me for a moment, while I laugh uncontrollably at having written the words the plot involves. I'm back." 

Like much of Fulci's work, the plot, such as it is, of "The Beyond" is as easy to get ahold of as smoke. This isn't a bad thing depending on your affinity for films primarily built on the three v's: vibes, visuals, and vermin. (If you do not like spiders, "The Beyond" is not for you). A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana only to fall prey to a series of supernatural incidents. As she digs deeper into the property's history, she learns that her new home resides over a portal to Hell itself. Dreamy, nightmarish, and aggressively goopy, "The Beyond" is supernatural Italian horror at its finest.

  • Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Al Cliver
  • Director: Lucio Fulci
  • Year: 1981
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Black Christmas

The next time someone tells you that John Carpenter's "Halloween" was the first true-blue North American slasher, do us a favor and correct them. That distinction belongs to "Black Christmas," Bob Clark's genuinely terrifying Canadian masterpiece. Set during the holidays in a colorfully lit sorority house, the only damper on the girls' mood is a crank caller who routinely breathes perverse obscenities and unnerving ramblings into their landline. Then, as the girls begin to go missing one by one, "Black Christmas" lets us in on its blood-curdling secret ... one that's guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine. Weaponizing festive trappings to create a unique and distinctly '70s sense of unease, "Black Christmas" is a chilling, chilly slasher classic that hasn't aged a day.

  • Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea
  • Director: Bob Clark
  • Year: 1974
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Black Sunday

A bewitching and auspicious directorial debut from director Mario Bava (who also served as the film's cinematographer, co-writer, and special effects artist), "Black Sunday" begins with a bang. A suspected witch, Asa, and her paramour are set to be eradicated — branded, burned, and confined within metal prisons for all of eternity. Two centuries later, a slippery fingered academic accidentally revives Asa, who's still a bit upset about the whole "tortured and burned alive" thing. Featuring an incredibly mesmerizing performance from Barbara Steele as the wild-eyed, sensuous Asa, "Black Sunday" is an oldie but a goodie that, like Asa, hasn't lost any of its bite with age.

  • Starring: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Ivo Garrani
  • Director: Mario Bava
  • Year: 1960
  • Runtime: 86 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Blood for Dracula

Released in the U.S. as "Andy Warhol's Dracula," Paul Morrissey's polarizing take on the vampire mythos is a wild ride, to put it lightly. Deathly ill and in search of a virgin's blood, Count Dracula and his greasy underling travel to Italy where they are invited into the decrepit estate of Marchese Di Fiore. Indebted and desperate, Di Fiore is all-too-happy to pawn his daughters off to a seemingly rich suitor. But when the blood-sucking count stars laying on the charm, instead of chaste young women, he encounters debauchery that rivals even his tastes. Scummy, sleazy, and unabashedly atmospheric, "Blood for Dracula" is top-tier campy cheese for those with strong stomachs.

  • Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Arno Juerging
  • Director: Paul Morrissey
  • Year: 1974
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Dubbed "the first true horror film" by critic Roger Ebert, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is hard proof that cinema has been terrifying for well over a hundred years. A young man named Francis recalls a recent traumatic encounter he and his fiancée Jane experienced — a visit to the titular Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which contained, amongst its many horrors, a sleepwalker named Cesare, who moves through life in a death-like sleep. If you've ever wondered what people mean when they say "German Expressionism," you need look no further than the jutting angles and exaggerated lighting of Robert Wiene's masterpiece. A classic of the highest caliber, digging into film history is rarely this trippy, this nightmarish, and this goth.

  • Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover
  • Director: Robert Wiene
  • Year: 1920
  • Runtime: 74 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Candyman

Based on "The Forbidden," a short story by Clive Barker (the goop-loving genius behind "Hellraiser"), "Candyman" transposes its distinctly British source material to the chilly, concrete public housing of Chicago's Cabrini-Green. Grad student Helen Lyle is attempting to piece together the urban legend of the Candyman for her thesis. However, when curiosity gets the better of her and she digs too deep, the legend reveals itself to be all too real. Featuring an all-timer performance from Tony Todd as the titular, hook-handed tragic villain, "Candyman" is a hauntingly beautiful, atmospheric, and evocative watch that highlights the darker side of collective belief. "Candyman" also features one of the only horror scores from the great Philip Glass — and it just so happens to be one of the greatest scores the genre has to offer!

  • Starring: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley
  • Director: Bernard Rose
  • Year: 1992
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Carnival of Souls

After miraculously surviving a drag race accident, a young woman named Mary Henry accepts a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. Though ... how she survived, exactly, remains something of a mystery. While traveling to her new gig, she's repeatedly haunted by a ghoulish, pallid apparition that compels her to take a detour towards a derelict lakeside carnival on the outskirts of town, which may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of her hazy past. A macabre masterpiece that feels like a cross between Jean Cocteau and Ingmar Bergman, "Carnival of Souls" is an understated and thoroughly unsettling B-movie classic.

  • Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger
  • Director: Herk Harvey
  • Year: 1962
  • Runtime: 78 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Changeling

You might not think that a red bouncing ball is scary. But then again, maybe you haven't had the distinct, unnerving pleasure of watching Peter Medak's "The Changeling." Arguably the high watermark of Canadian horror exports, "The Changeling" follows John Russell, a composer who moves to a massive mansion in Seattle where he hopes to recover (or forget) the tragic accident that claimed his wife and child. But old houses tend to keep secrets. And sure enough, as strange and frightening events continue to unfold, Russell's curiosity gets the better of him. A haunted man in a haunted house, "The Changeling" is an exquisite chiller that rewards patient viewers and features one of the most hypnotic final acts in horror history.

  • Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas
  • Director: Peter Medak
  • Year: 1980
  • Runtime: 107 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

City of the Living Dead

Originally released stateside as "The Gates of Hell," Lucio Fulci's 1980 film begins as all great films do, with a séance. During the ritual, a woman named Mary experiences a horrifying vision of a priest, who's hung himself in the village of Dunwich. All the H.P. Lovecraft fans in our readership ought to perk up at the mention of one of literature's most accursed locales. The vision appears to kill Mary, who's buried while her group urges the police that something terrible is about to happen. 

By chance, the journalist sent to investigate Mary's death hears something unnatural coming from her grave plot. After rescuing the inexplicably still-alive Mary from her coffin, the pair dig deeper into the meaning behind Mary's vision, which seems to prophesize an imminent undead invasion. "City of the Living Dead" is, undeniably, one of the gnarliest films ever made. From regurgitated insides to wind machines blasting still-wriggling maggots (no, really), Fulci pulls no punches. And the result is one of the most repulsively dream-like films ever made.

  • Starring: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Janet Agren
  • Director: Lucio Fulci
  • Year: 1980
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%

Day of the Dead

Even for an apocalypse, things aren't looking so hot. Zombies outnumber human beings 400,000 to 1. And what's left of humanity is trapped (or is that barricaded?) in secure underground bunkers. One group of survivors has found safety in a missile silo, where a group of scientists and soldiers work around the clock to find a remedy for the pandemic. Luckily for the zombies, tensions are mounting within the base ... and as quibbles escalate into serious mental breaks, the undead just have to kick back and wait for the right moment to strike. A visceral and darkly funny tragedy about the human tendency to self-destruct, the third entry in George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" series is as delightfully gory as it is existentially depressing.

  • Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato
  • Director: George A. Romero
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Deep Red

Leather gloves, killer POV shots, crimson gore, and more red herrings than a fish market — this is the land of giallo, baby. And no film exemplifies the mysterious twists and devilish style of the genre better than Dario Argento's "Deep Red." 

One night, a musician named Marcus witnesses the brutal ax murder of a famous psychic in her apartment. Compelled by the case, Marcus assumes the role of an amateur detective with the help of a feisty reporter. As the pair dig deeper and deeper into the mystery, they find themselves the targets of an unseen killer hell-bent on keeping a dark, festering secret buried at all costs. Accentuated by a throbbing score by the prog-rock group Goblin, "Deep Red" is a series of one astonishing set piece after another. Whether you're an old hat at the genre or a beginner looking to see what giallo has to offer, you cannot go wrong with Argento's masterwork.

  • Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia
  • Director: Dario Argento
  • Year: 1975
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

The Devils

Wildly censored, infamously controversial, and until recently, very hard to find on streaming, Ken Russell's masterpiece adapts the historical events of the Loudun possessions in which a convent of Ursuline nuns slipped into mass hysteria that resulted in the execution of a local priest. "The Devils" underlines the horrific political machinations that spawned the debauchery that has since become the stuff of legend. A nightmare of scapegoating and "yes-and-ing" far more terrifying than anything deemed "salacious" by the censorious powers that be, "The Devils" boasts sedition in spades and exquisite central performances that highlight the power plays throbbing in the background of all those fleshy possessed nun scenes.

  • Starring: Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, Dudley Sutton
  • Director: Ken Russell
  • Year: 1971
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Dogs Don't Wear Pants

Years after the death of his wife, Juha is still sleepwalking through life — dazed, detached, and unable to connect with other people. Then, one evening, while his pre-teen daughter patronizes a local tattoo parlor, he quite literally stumbles into a sex dungeon. There, under the pointy heel of Mona's boot, Juha finds self-discovery in self-destruction. Sure, he loses a couple of bits and pieces along the way, but in the painful process, Juha finds a new kind of wholeness. Grounded by two exceptional performances by Pekka Strang and Krista Kosonen, "Dogs Don't Wear Pants" is both unflinchingly brutal and supremely sweet. Very few films with anesthesia-free tooth pullings are this wholesome.

  • Starring: Krista Kosonen, Pekka Strang, Jani Volanen
  • Director: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Exorcist III

Set 15 years after poor little Regan MacNeil fell prey to the demon Pazuzu, Lieutenant William F. Kinderman battles his own demons as he investigates a baffling series of murders that carry the hallmarks of a deceased serial killer. When a formerly catatonic patient in a psychiatric ward claims to be the killer, Kinderman is shocked to find the man bears a striking resemblance to his old deceased friend, Father Damien Karras. Directed by William Peter Blatty (the writer of the novel "The Exorcist"), the film more than holds its own against William Friedkin's 1973 original. "The Exorcist III" also features a legendary, weepy-eyed performance by Brad Dourif, as well as one of the most shocking jump scares in horror history!

  • Starring: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif
  • Director: William Peter Blatty
  • Year: 1990
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%

The Fog

John Carpenter's first horror follow-up after kicking the genre door down with "Halloween," "The Fog" takes place in a sleepy Californian coastal town on the evening of its centenary. Then, late one night, a thick fog begins rolling towards the shore, bringing with it a dark long-forgotten secret in the form of vengeful, leprous ghost pirates. A visually stunning ghost story that's a picture-perfect example of how to make a supremely moody supernatural chiller on a dime, "The Fog" is like a campfire story that just so happened to be captured on celluloid. While not necessarily "scary," Carpenter's early effort has atmosphere (and beautiful frames courtesy of cinematographer Dean Cundey) to spare.

  • Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh
  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Year: 1980
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Ginger Snaps

Hey look, the tagline says it all: They don't call it "the curse" for nothing. When goth teen Ginger Fitzgerald gets her period for the first time, her younger sister, Brigette, feels left behind. However, after a freak run-in with a very large and very angry wolf creature, Ginger's hormonal appetites start to include an undeniable urge to kill. One of the all-time great coming-of-age flicks the horror genre has produced, "Ginger Snaps" is positively dripping with Y2K suburban malaise as well as ... other fluids. Grounded by two stellar lead performances and an incisive metaphor for the unpredictable horrorshow that is young womanhood, "Ginger Snaps" is a certified werewolf classic that will give you something to howl about.

  • Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche
  • Director: John Fawcett
  • Year: 2000
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Halloween

Exactly 15 years after butchering his sister on Halloween night in 1963, the hulking shape known as Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown with the intent to kill again. While his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, is hot on his trail, Michael has already honed in on his target — a group of teenage girls who have the misfortune of reminding the killer of his sister. Iconic and basically preternatural within horror circles, "Halloween" is just about as classic as they come. Economically paced with a predatory camera, director John Carpenter cemented his name in horror history with what would prove to be the first of 12 films and counting.

  • Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis
  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Year: 1974
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Heathers

Veronica can't pick a lane. On the one hand, being a part of the "in crowd" (a group of girls who are all named Heather) would give her the high school equivalent of unlimited power. On the other, the misanthropic rebel with a devious smile and even more devious ideas about what popular kids "deserve" is pretty cute. What begins as morbid Bonnie and Clyde escapades soon escalates into all-out murder, forcing Veronica to take a stand about what it is she wants. Dark as sin, "Heathers" is what you get when you let the a serial killer direct a John Hughes movie. Cynical to its very core, the film is a cult classic in the purest sense (which is to say that it has since been adapted into a wildly popular musical).

  • Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty
  • Director: Michael Lehmann
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

Originally conceived as a standalone film but ultimately re-packaged as a follow up to "Prom Night" because the 1980s had sequelitis, "Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II" is an absolute gem that deserves far more recognition than it currently enjoys. The film tells of a morally bankrupt prom queen who returns from beyond the grave with supernatural abilities to wreak havoc on contemporary students. Featuring some genuinely gnarly kills (and some wild set pieces, one of which may or may not feature a possessed rocking horse), "Hello Mary Lou" is a rip-roarin' pastiche of high school horror shows like "Carrie" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" that also brings a distinct Canadian je ne sais quoi to the table.

  • Starring: Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis
  • Director: Bruce Pittman
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%

Hellraiser

The directorial debut of Renaissance man Clive Barker (who wrote the short story on which the film was based), "Hellraiser" tells a tale of sadomasochism, teenage perseverance, and inter-dimensional torturers from beyond the pale. While Pinhead (played chillingly by Doug Bradley) may have emerged as the series' figurehead and Ashley Laurence's intrepid Kristy may be our heroine, the real protagonist (and villain) of "Hellraiser" is Clare Higgins' Julia.

After snagging his hand on a nail while moving a mattress, Julia's boring husband, Larry, bleeds all over the floorboards of their new home, inadvertently awakening a pile of goo that used to be his debaucherous brother, Frank. Frank (well, a pile of sinew and bone that claims to be Frank) implores Julia, his former lover, to help him pull himself together, as it were. While Julia lures men into Frank's clutches, her stepdaughter, Kristy, stumbles into their plot, one that eventually involves four leather-clad demons. Nightmarish, bloody, and unapologetically kinky, "Hellraiser" is an exquisite example of late-1980s, practical effects-riddled horror.

  • Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence
  • Director: Clive Barker
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

After his mother's murder, Henry is released from prison. While he pays the bills killing roaches and rats, he attends to his violent urges with violent murders on the sly. But Henry's slashing days begin to spiral out of control when his relationship with his accomplice's sister begins to cause problems. Based on the confessions of real-life murderer Henry Lee Lucas, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is an unabashedly creepy, disturbingly bleak, and meticulously well-composed autopsy on wickedness itself.

  • Starring: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles
  • Director: John McNaughton
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 82 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Horror Noire

Addressing the systemic erasure and historically racist framing of Black voices in the horror genre, "Horror Noire" takes a look back at the history of Black horror films and the instrumental Black artists who've played in the genre since its inception. Featuring interviews with culture critics as well as prominent artists like Jordan Peele, Ken Foree, and Tony Todd, "Horror Noire" is an incredibly well-made tapestry of historical context, oral storytelling, and longstanding trends in horror cinema.

Hounds of Love

Criminally underseen and thoroughly unsettling, this nightmare from down under is technically a Christmas movie. Only, instead of tinsel and holiday cheer, this terror trip will make you scared to leave your house. "Hounds of Love" follows a teen named Vicki who's kidnapped by a married couple with perversion and torture on the brain. With unrelenting brutality that never feels exploitative, "Hounds of Love" highlights Vicki's desire to survive and her persistence in the face of a truly harrowing situation. While some horror films deal in monsters and otherworldly beasties, the bogeymen of "Hounds of Love" are fiendishly feasible. This is one of those films that you can only really stomach once, with arguably one of the most emotional gut-punch endings in recent genre film memory. So buckle up, lock your doors, and steel yourselves for an intense watch.

  • Starring: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry
  • Director: Ben Young
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

The House of the Devil

When college student Samantha Hughes sees an ad for a babysitting job, all she's thinking about is paying her rent. What she's not thinking about is the possibility that her employers might be part of a devil-worshiping cult hellbent on bringing something unnatural into this world. Remind us to never accept random gigs on nights where there's a full lunar eclipse. Balancing its homage to early slasher classics and a thorough understanding of the "satanic panic," Ti West delivers a slow-burning throwback with atmosphere and chilling visuals to spare.

  • Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Greta Gerwig
  • Director: Ti West
  • Year: 2009
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Ichi the Killer

When Japanese powerhouse Takashi Miike is in the driver's seat, you'd do best to gird your loins and bolt your doors. And 2001's "Ichi the Killer" is no exception. The film follows Kakihara, a sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer looking into the disappearance of his boss. Along the way, he crosses paths with Ichi, a psychotic killer whose capacity for inflicting pain makes Kakihara weak in the knees (and fingers and guts and ... well let's be honest, everywhere). You know when people warn you that some films aren't for the faint of heart? Well, this is one of those cases. But then again, as is generally the case with Miike, for all its bloodshed, "Ichi the Killer" still hurts so good.

  • Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto
  • Director: Takashi Miike
  • Year: 2001
  • Runtime: 129 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

The Invitation

Bereaved father Will and his new girlfriend, Kira, are invited to a dinner party with old pals, hosted by Will's ex, Eden, and her new partner. While things begin tense and awkward in the way that's typical of forced reunions, Will can't shake the feeling that something far more sinister is lurking under the surface of their evening ... and that Eden's new boyfriend, David, has something to do with it. A brilliantly terrifying thriller from director Karyn Kusama, "The Invitation" is a taut and genuinely shocking rollercoaster of grief, third-act reveals, and tension you can cut with a knife.

  • Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman
  • Director: Karyn Kusama
  • Year: 2015
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Kill List

First things first — if you haven't heard of "Kill List" or its gut-wrenching finale, do not under any circumstances look it up. Few genre film twists can compare. So why spoil it for yourself? 

Muddying the waters between the British folk horror tradition and mercenary thrillers, "Kill List" follows two former soldiers turned hitmen who are desperate for work since they botched a job in Kyiv a year prior. When they're approached by a mysterious client, the duo is offered a suspiciously lucrative assignment: three scant killings for an inordinate sum. Soon enough, the pair are submerged into a labyrinthian nightmare of conspiracies and coincidences that will keep you guessing until it's too late.

  • Starring: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Year: 2011
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's 'Island of Dr. Moreau'

An insider account of one of the most famously troubled productions of all time, "Lost Soul" offers an oral history of the deeply bizarre shenanigans that plagued the making of 1996's "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (you know, the one where Marlon Brando looks like a marshmallow?). From the production's original director Richard Stanley losing control of his passion project to haughty actors to acts of God, "Lost Soul" offers a wildly entertaining coroner's report on a doomed and fragmented train wreck.

  • Starring: Richard Stanley, Kier-La Janisse, Michael Gingold
  • Director: David Gregory
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Mandy

Let's be honest, access to "Mandy" is easily worth the price of a Shudder subscription. Panos Cosmatos' sophomore feature follows Red Miller, a logger who's abandoned his mysterious violent past to live in domestic bliss in the isolation of the Shadow Mountains. Then, one day, Red's titular girlfriend has the misfortune of catching the eye of a local cult leader, who visits hellfire and chaos upon the couple when Mandy rejects his advances. Featuring a career-best performance from Nic Cage and a psychedelic disregard for naturalism, "Mandy" is a revenge rock opera flanked by tenderness, loss, and violence-courting ego.

  • Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
  • Director: Panos Cosmatos
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Martyrs

Okay, listen up and listen good: "Martyrs" is one of those films that comes with a "you must be this tall to ride" barrier to entry. If you are squeamish, keep scrolling. This pillar of French Extremity does not pull punches. And by punches, we mean "a very, very loose relation to the sanctity of human skin staying on the body." This isn't just a film full of pain ... it's a film about pain. 

A young woman named Lucie sets out to exact revenge on the people who tortured and traumatized her as a child. Joined by her best friend Anna, also a victim of abuse, Lucie's vengeance is tampered by the discovery that they've only scratched the surface of a far more depraved conspiracy. Devastating, draining, and one of those films that's certifiably unforgettable, "Martyrs" is intense, to put it mildly. But if you have the stomach for this kind of stuff, you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

  • Starring: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Begin
  • Director: Pascal Laugier
  • Year: 2008
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%

Next of Kin

Sure, you may have heard of "Canadian giallo" (thanks, Bob Clark's "Black Christmas"), but what about the other colonies? Enter: "Next of Kin," the Outback's response to the likes of Fulci and Argento. In the wake of inheriting a nursing home from her estranged mother, a young woman finds herself swept up in a series of strange occurrences ... and even stranger deaths. A dreamy gothic slow burn with a toe-tapping, crunchy electronic score from Klaus Schulze, "Next of Kin" is a weird wonderful surprise that deserves more eyes on it.

  • Starring: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Gerda Nicolson
  • Director: Tony Williams
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 89 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Night of the Living Dead

The flesh-munching nightmare that started it all, George A. Romero's genre-defining tale is as unsettling now as it was half a century ago. A violent sickness grips the nation — a plague with the power to rouse the dead, who clamor, slack-jawed to feast on the flesh of the living. A group of anxious survivors takes refuge in an isolated farmhouse where their nerves and desire to see another sunrise force them to work together. Featuring one of the most devastating endings in not just horror history but the history of film itself, "Night of the Living Dead" is a prescient and discouraging statement on how human beings, and human institutions, act when all accepted systems break down.

  • Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
  • Director: George A. Romero
  • Year: 1968
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Noroi: The Curse

Framed in the guise of a pseudo-documentary, "Noroi: The Curse" focuses on a paranormal researcher named Masafumi Kobayashi. In the process of making a documentary called "The Curse," Kobayashi disappears after his house burns down, killing his wife, Keiko. We're then treated to the documentary in question, an investigation into a string of incidents that all seem to be connected to an ancient legend about a demonic entity. The result is a movie filled with unadulterated, smothering dread, atmospheric VHS found footage, and a mounting mystery that will make you want to turn every light on before you go to sleep.

Nosferatu

The year is 1838, and Thomas Hutter has been sent to Transylvania at the behest of his employer to visit a new client named Count Orlok. Ignoring all the ominous portents and hushed murmurs from the terrified locals, Hutter meets with the rat-faced count who seems a little too excited when Hutter accidentally cuts himself at dinner and definitely too excited when he says that Hutter's wife looks like she "has a lovely neck." Undeniably powerful nearly a century later, F.W. Murnau's unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is an eerie, phantasmagoric terror trip that continues to age like a fine wine. At least ... we're pretty sure that's wine.

  • Starring: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim
  • Director: F. W. Murnau
  • Year: 1922
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Nosferatu, the Vampyre

While it may bear the name of F.W. Murnau's unofficial adaptation, this 1979 vampire flick offers a pretty by-the-book adaptation of Bram Stoker's text. German real estate agent Jonathan Harker travels to the distant (and it must be said, sinister) property of Transylvanian nobleman Count Dracula. Willfully ignoring the local superstitions/facts about Dracula's vampirism, Harker meets with the count, who immediately becomes enamored with a portrait of Harker's young wife, Lucy. A visually stunning adaptation/remake with the kind of arthouse perspective only Werner Herzog can provide, "Nosferatu, the Vampyre" is an enchanting and melancholic take on an old tale.

  • Starring: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz
  • Director: Werner Herzog
  • Year: 1979
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

One Cut of the Dead

A no-budget zombie film within a low-budget zombie film, "One Cut of the Dead" follows a hack director and his ragtag crew as they attempt to make a zombie film inside an abandoned warehouse. To say more would be to undercut the film's scrappy charm — namely, its Russian nesting doll-like construction, which hilariously blurs the line between scrappy filmmaking shenanigans and genuine attempts at survival. This is a film that opens with a 37-minute single-take shot. It contains big creative swings, and it's a miracle that it all works as well as it does. Treat yourself to this very special, rewarding, and hilarious magic trick of a film.

  • Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama
  • Director: Shin'ichirō Ueda
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Possum

If you do not like spiders, this is not the film for you. For everyone else, guess what? Congratulations, you're about to develop arachnophobia. "Possum" follows a children's puppeteer named Philip who returns to his childhood home after losing his job for a mysterious, unspecified reason. While he attempts to destroy his grotesque marionette "Possum," Philip must face his abusive stepfather and the traumatic secrets that have haunted him his entire life. Featuring a heartbreaking and creepy performance by the marvelous Sean Harris, "Possum" is an expressionistic nightmare that will get under your skin and then some.

  • Starring: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb
  • Director: Matthew Holness
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 85 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Primal Screen

Now look, we're bending the rules a little bit here. But we promise that it's for a very good reason. Let's think of "Primal Screen" as a short film or a mini-documentary rather than "the only episode of a show that didn't get any more episodes." Directed by Rodney Ascher (perhaps known to readers for his 2012 documentary "Room 237"), "Primal Screen," as it currently exists, unravels the subconscious rumblings behind one of humanity's more common phobias: ventriloquist dummies. From its proposed syllabus of dummy films to the uncomfortably true-sounding suggestion that the line between ventriloquism and social media personas is a straight one, "Primal Screen" is unnerving and unforgettable.

  • Starring: Gregory S. Burkart, Ryan Alessi, Julian Brandon Bereny
  • Director: Rodney Ascher
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 27 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A

PG: Psycho Goreman

When sibling duo Mimi and Luke go digging in their backyard, instead of a dead pet, they find something ancient, unexpected, and angry — a violent alien warlord who wants nothing more than to destroy the universe. In the beginning, it's all fun and games and "using the magic pink amulet to force the alien to submit to the whims of children." But once the creature's resurrection triggers a conglomerate of even more violent aliens who want to terminate the kids' new pal, their small, suburban home becomes a blood-soaked, intergalactic battlefield. Hilarious and bloody in equal measure, "PG: Psycho Goreman" is high-energy silliness with a side of carnage. Joyfully devious and sure to put a grin on your face, this gore-tastic extravaganza is a hoot you don't want to miss.

  • Starring: Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brooks
  • Director: Steven Kostanski
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Re-Animator

After being cast out from the University of Zurich for "bringing his dead professor back to life with horrific side-effects," the brilliant and deranged Herbert West relocates to Miskatonic University. There, he forces his friendship on a young medical student named Dan Cain, who gets sucked in to West's obsessive desire to create a serum that can (say it with us) reanimate the dead. Hilarious and disgusting, "Re-Animator" is what you get when you dunk a "Three Stooges" short in a pile of 1980s practical gore effects. Frenetic and witty, "Re-Animator" is an incredible introduction to an impressive roster of genre film greats — from its director, Stuart Gordon, to charismatic co-leads Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

  • Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton
  • Director: Stuart Gordon
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 85 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Revenge

A visceral and whip-smart rebuttal to the plethora of dude-helmed rape-revenge films, "Revenge" effortlessly brings a modern sensibility to a genuinely disturbing grindhouse framework. After being assaulted by one of her boyfriend's posse on a remote hunting trip, Jen is left for dead to bake in the desert sun. But those jerks underestimated her. Jen is more than willing and capable of fending for herself, blurring the distinction between survival and vengeance as she fights tooth and nail to stay alive. A lucid bloodbath with an uncompromising feminist bent, "Revenge" delivers a genuinely gnarly exploitation film-feel that never feels like its exploiting our heroine.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

  • Starring: Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe
  • Director: Coralie Fargeat
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Ringu

A pillar of the Japanese psychological supernatural horror craze that gripped the new millennium, "Ringu" follows Reiko Asakawa, a reporter who's sent to investigate the mysterious death of her niece and her three friends. Dismissive of the rumor that the girls died after watching a cursed videotape, Reiko watches the VHS for herself only to receive a phone call informing her that she has seven days to live. Downright creepy and patiently paced, "Ringu" boats a bleak, dread-filled atmosphere that will make you glad that VHS tapes are a thing of the past. Ghosts can't possess streaming services, right?

  • Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Miki Nakatani
  • Director: Hideo Nakata
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Sleepaway Camp

After losing her family in a boating accident as a child, Angela hasn't been able to connect well with other kids. When she's sent off to summer camp with her cousin, Ricky, there's a glimmer of hope that she may be able to make some friends under the pretense of outdoor sports and mess hall meals. But when a killer starts ripping through campers and adults alike, the dark secrets of Angela's past begin to bubble up to the surface. With a campy je ne sais quoi that only an '80s slasher can provide, "Sleepaway Camp" has much more to offer than its infamous final twist. (Namely, some genuinely creative kills and some of slasher cinema's most memorable side characters).

  • Starring: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tierston, Karen Fields
  • Director: Robert Hiltzik
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 84 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

The Slumber Party Massacre

Despite pivoting from a parody to more of a straight-up slasher, "The Slumber Party Massacre" has a tongue firmly planted in its cheek. The plot is delightfully simple — a drill-wielding killer has decided that a group of local high school girls need to die. Lucky for him, the gals are having a slumber party, so they're all in one place. Name another film where a group of would-be slasher victims eat pizza off the delivery boy's corpse, we dare you. Funny, quotable, and gory as all sin, "The Slumber Party Massacre" brilliantly walks the line between supreme darkness and silliness.

  • Starring: Michele Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella
  • Director: Amy Holden Jones
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 77 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%

Society

Most moody teenagers feel like they have nothing in common with their families. But for Bill, the truth is far stranger, disturbing, and ... goopy. There are plenty of films out there about how the 1% are a bunch of lecherous freaks, but few have the, uh, impact, of Brian Yuzna's 1989 film. If you are reading this list and are somehow unaware of the film's climax (for lack of a better word), first, don't look it up. Second, all you need to know is that it's one of the most bananapants practical effects showcases ever put to film, and it was conceived by a genius called Screaming Mad George.

  • Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards
  • Director: Brian Yuzna
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

Spring

Running away from personal problems, Evan does what all despondent, purpose-seeking young adults do and goes traveling overseas. In Italy, Evan meets a charming woman with a dark centuries-old secret, one that we won't be spoiling here. Masquerading in its opening minutes as a road trip drama, "Spring" boasts top-shelf body horror and genuinely touching romantic beats in equal measure. Surreal, slow-burning, and delightfully heartfelt, "Spring" is one of the best offerings from dual directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the dynamic duo behind 2017's "The Endless" and 2012's "Resolution."

  • Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vinny Curran
  • Director: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

The Stuff

Why let "The Blob" or "The Thing" get all the credit when it comes to 1980s horror flicks about pernicious, hungry goop? Directed by the low-budget genius Larry Cohen, "The Stuff" follows a former FBI agent named Mo who's tasked himself with figuring out what the deal is with "The Stuff," the highly addictive, trendy dessert that's won over the hearts and stomachs of Americans. As Mo's digs deeper, the true purpose behind "The Stuff" comes into focus. This is the goofy anti-capitalist horror film about evil yogurt that you've been waiting for. Campy, incisive, and carried by a truly off-the-wall performance by Michael Moriarty, "The Stuff" is simply ... delicious.

  • Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Paul Sorvino
  • Director: Larry Cohen
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 86 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Considered by many to be the scariest film ever made, Tobe Hooper's seminal classic tells of a group of pals who head off into the country with a macabre task. The grave of Sally's grandfather may have been vandalized, so she and her friends are off to investigate. During a detour to their family's old farmhouse, the group stumbles across the neighboring estate, which just so happens to be home to a family of cannibalistic outcasts. Visceral, sweaty, and nightmarish in the proper sense of the word, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a dizzying descent into the darkest recesses of human depravity. You'll love every second of it.

  • Starring: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Year: 1974
  • Runtime: 83 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Them

Arguably one of the best home invasion horror films out there, "Them" (not to be confused with 1954's "Them!" which is about giant killer ants) tells of Lucas and Clementine. The pair is already off to a bad start in the "home invasion faux pas" department, living alone, as they do, in an isolated house in the country. One night, they wake up to a strange, and sinister, noise. Someone ... no ... multiple someones are in their house — hooded assailants with unknown motivations other than a desire to inflict violence on the terrified couple. Bleak, creepy, and the proud purveyor of "one of the most depressing endings in genre film," David Moreau and Xavier Palud's film is a good reminder to lock your windows, bolt your doors, and move to the big city.

  • Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen, Adriana Mocca
  • Director: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 74 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

Train to Busan

Finally, an answer to the question "what if a neglectful father became a better person while zombies invaded a train?" Inarguably one of the best horror films of the 21st century, "Train to Busan" boasts a rare blend of action, melodrama, and horror that delivers on high-octane sequences and bloodshed in equal measure. If slow-moving zombies bore you to tears, you're in luck. These undead monsters move unnervingly fast, transfer their viruses at lightning speed, and don't let a little thing like "broken bones" get 'em down. As if you needed another reason to seek this gem out, Ma Dong-seok gives an incredibly charming supporting performance as a passenger with a rock-solid conscience and biceps to match.

  • Starring: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Choi Woo-sik
  • Director: Yeon Sang-ho
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Viy

Adapting a Ukrainian horror novella of the same name, "Viy" tells the story of a young priest named Khoma who's tasked with watching over the corpse of a witch for three consecutive nights. During his vigil, Khoma must contend with all manner of ghosts, demons, and witchy trickery as the dead woman does her darnedest to escape her tomb. Surreal, darkly humorous, and brimming with Slavic folklore motifs, "Viy" blends its ghost story-like chills with a unique sense of humor that makes for a truly singular viewing experience.

  • Starring: Natalya Varley, Vadim Zakharchenko, G. Sochevko
  • Director: Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov
  • Year: 1967
  • Runtime: 77 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Wailing

Don't let that inordinately long runtime scare you off. "The Wailing" is one of the most unsetting, accomplished genre films of the 21st century. It is well worth your time. A mysterious sickness has afflicted a small, rural village in South Korea. Those unlucky enough to fall sick break out in a violent skin rash that worsens into murderous outbursts and, ultimately, death. A gutless local cop, Jong-goo, is on the case, with his schlubby family man persona a stark contrast to the hellish scenario he's ostensibly qualified to solve. Sure enough, as Jong-goo's investigation festers, things get personal. And before you know it, there's nothing he won't do to get to the bottom of the bloodbath. Dense, horrifying, and unnerving to its core, "The Wailing" lives up to its name and then some.

  • Starring: Kwak Do-won, Jun Kunimura, Hwang Jung-min
  • Director: Na Hong-jin
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 157 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Wake in Fright

An essential pillar of Ozploitation, "Wake in Fright" is the story of John Grant, a teacher who's just passing through a rural mining town on his way to catch a plane in Sydney. But as one night stretches into several nights, John soon finds himself sucked into a dingy, sweaty vortex of chaos and barbarism. A genuine nightmare captured on film, "Wake in Fright" is a descent to hell and back ... Outback style.

  • Starring: Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty
  • Director: Ted Kotcheff
  • Year: 1971
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%