What are the best horror movies you can watch on Amazon Prime? Streaming services are often a case of finding a needle of quality cinema lurking within a haystack of utter nonsense. There are almost 1,000 horror movies available to Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the UK, and many of them have titles like House Shark and Rise of the Chupacabras. They might be fine for a night of giggles with equally masochistic friends, but they’re hardly the best the genre has to offer.
However, for those willing to sift through the dozens of strange movies about marauding Latin American folklore creatures and sharks in unusual places, there’s plenty of scares worth finding amid the Amazon Prime catalogue. Some are classics from horror’s past, but many showcase the most exciting voices in the world of the macabre – whether they’re trying to scare you silly or merging the genre with elements of comedy movies or even musicals.
Here’s the best horror that Amazon Prime Video UK has to offer, including a house share made up of Kiwi vampires and a journey right back to the earliest days of scary cinema.
What are the best Amazon Prime horror movies?
- The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
- Dawn of the Dead
- Cannibal Holocaust
- What We Do In The Shadows
- The Babadook
- The Wailing
- Anna and the Apocalypse
- Escape Room
- Saint Maud
THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI (1920)
Perhaps the inaugural genuine classic of the horror genre, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, has lost none of its impact in the century since it first terrified audiences more than a hundred years ago. A textbook example of German Expressionism at its strangest and most angular, the movie tells the story of a hypnotist who appears to use a mute somnambulist – played by Conrad Veidt, whose role in The Man Who Laughs inspired the creation of the Joker – to carry out murders.
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It’s a terrific chiller that has stood the test of time better than almost any other film from the silent era and is a crucial part of film history. It also features one of the first-ever examples of a twist ending – and it’s a doozy.
The recent remake of Suspiria by director Luca Guadagnino concluded with a bravura sequence akin to a descent into hell, but it was otherwise overlong and bathed in pretension. Dario Argento’s 70s original couldn’t be more different – an elegant, thrilling supernatural tale with neon colours illuminated by flashes of crimson arterial splatter.
Argento’s tale focuses on a newcomer to a ballet academy who, while exploring murders connected to the school, realises it serves as a front for a coven of witches. The tale is absorbing, the violence is enjoyably grotesque, and the oddball score by prog-rock group Goblin is rightly considered iconic.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
The late horror legend George A Romero more or less single-handedly turned the idea of zombies into a bona fide cinematic subgenre. Night of the Living Dead was his first foray into that world, but Dawn of the Dead established many of the credentials and ideas he would work from as his Living Dead movies continued.
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With the help of make-up and prosthetics ace Tom Savini, Romero’s masterpiece tells the story of a group of survivors who hole up in a shopping mall during the zombie apocalypse. Naturally, this is the jumping-off point for plenty of cleverly calibrated commentary about consumerism, as well as more than a liberal serving of blood-soaked undead action.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)
Banned in the UK during the video nasties panic of the 1980s, Ruggero Deodato’s pioneering found footage horror Cannibal Holocaust is almost certainly the most controversial movie currently hiding within the Amazon Prime catalogue. It depicts the supposedly discovered reels of film shot by an American documentary crew who disappeared into the Amazon rainforest while they were making a movie about cannibal tribes. Naturally, the central theme revolves around the supposedly “civilised” white folk acting in ways considerably more horrible than the supposed “savages”.
The movie’s notorious reputation is unavoidable, with violence so horrifying that Deodato faced allegations he had actually made a snuff movie. Though those allegations were false, there’s no getting past the very real cruelty against animals depicted in the film. For those with strong stomachs, though, this is a grotesque and potent horror movie that broke the mould in terms of storytelling techniques almost two decades before The Blair Witch Project turned found footage into a money-spinner.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)
Flat-shares are awkward environments at the best of times, let alone when your housemates are all ravenous vampires. That’s the scenario in this horror-themed mockumentary from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, who also star as blood-suckers Viago and Vladislav. It’s a riotously funny take on the bizarre world of the vampires, not to mention a clan of expletive-averse werewolves – not swearwolves, of course – led by Rhys Darby.
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Along with the quirky adventure-comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople a few years later, What We Do in the Shadows played a big part in bringing Waititi to mainstream attention. Now, of course, he’s unavoidable in Hollywood and What We Do in the Shadows is a bona fide franchise with two TV series spin-offs. A lot can happen in seven years.
THE BABADOOK (2014)
Jennifer Kent announced herself as a major voice in Aussie cinema with this perfectly-pitched ghost story, which has grief embedded deeply into its bones. Essie Davis stars as the mother tormented by a literal embodiment of the shadowy villain in her son’s children’s book – a deeply creepy picture book that seemed to appear at her home out of nowhere.
The movie is a complex allegorical study of grief, which brings nuance to a topic that is often dealt with in an obvious and unsubtle way. As annoying as the term “elevated horror” is, there’s a reason its popular use started with this movie. On top of that, it’s just plain terrifying. And also, the monster is a gay icon. The Babadook contains multitudes.
THE WAILING (2016)
Some of the scariest movies on planet Earth emanate from Asia, and this South Korean tale of demons certainly leaves an impact behind. An epic horror from Na Hong-jin, this combines the worlds of The Exorcist and Se7en to construct something endlessly fascinating and capable of completely wrong-footing the audience right up until the credits roll.
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On the face of it, it’s a simple tale. A village is terrified by a strange infection that drives locals to murder, and it all seemed to start with the arrival of a mysterious Japanese man who may or may not be some kind of ghost or spirit. But from there, it only deepens and becomes a more complex, inscrutable beast. Naturally, an English-language remake has been threatened. No one wants to see that.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2017)
There aren’t many scares to be found in director John McPhail’s movie, but you aren’t likely to have seen a Scottish Christmas zombie musical before. The film follows a group of sixth form students on the verge of parting ways for university, gap years and various other pursuits. Before that, though, their small Scottish town is overrun by the marauding undead as the festive period approaches. Even Justin Bieber is a zombie, we learn.
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McPhail’s movie delivers killer songs and hugely satisfying, gory set-pieces. But it’s also a thoughtful and engaging take on social media, connection and the generation gap. It’s quite literally a movie that has everything, so it needs to be a regular rotation on your festive film calendar from this point forward.
ESCAPE ROOM (2019)
It might be the case that there has never been an environment that lends itself as well to horror cinema as an escape room. The notion of allowing a stranger to lock you and some friends in a room full of devilish puzzles is ripe for twisted ingenuity, and that’s certainly the order of the day in Adam Robitel’s movie. An evil company ensnares a group of strangers within some life-or-death traps, forcing them to work out how to get out and why they are there in the first place.
There’s no denying that it’s a paint-by-numbers horror premise, but Robitel brings real invention to the table and constructs a series of terrific set-pieces. It helps that there’s more to the characters than the usual horror cannon fodder. A ludicrously-titled sequel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, landed in cinemas this year.
SAINT MAUD (2019)
There’s a danger that some of the movies released in cinemas during last year’s chaos could get a little lost in the shuffle. And that shouldn’t happen, because it could obscure movies like Saint Maud. In Rose Glass’s fantastic directorial debut, Morfydd Clark plays a former nurse who takes on a private-sector job caring for Jennifer Ehle’s terminally ill dancer. Recently converted to religion, Maud is devout and determined to save her new boss’s soul.
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A plot summary cannot do justice to the dark twists and turns of Saint Maud, including perhaps the most memorable and chilling final shot of the last few years. It announced both Glass and Clark as rising stars well worth keeping an eye on, as well as delivering a short, sharp blast of gripping psychological horror.