40 Best Horror Movies On HBO Max [October 2021]

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 40 Best Horror Movies On HBO Max [October 2021]


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Scanners Michael Ironside vein head eyes

AVCO Embassy Pictures

By /July 20, 2021 3:01 pm EDT/Updated: Sept. 27, 2021 6:42 pm EDT

Video rental stores may have gone the way of the dinosaur, but you can still capture that giddy sense of rifling through garish VHS covers when you flip through your local streaming service. Ah, the agony of choice — the horror fan’s dilemma. Do you settle in for a sin-filled slasher or something more heady and psychological? Do you opt for the cynical self-awareness of the 1990s or the ghostly stuttering of silent cinema? There’s oodles and oodles of horror fare to choose from on HBO Max. And we’re here to make that sometimes stress-inducing decision-making process a little easier.

We’ve combed through HBO Max’s library and identified the best of the spine-tingling best for your viewing pleasure. Below you’ll find 40 excellent horror titles currently streaming on the service, each with the power to titillate and terrify. From heavy Hollywood hitters to international gems, there’s something spooky for everyone. So have a look and see if anything in particular catches your eye. Who knows? Maybe a devious double bill is in order.

Updated on September 27, 2021: HBO Max 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 HBO Max’s streaming availability.

The Brood

The Brood children walk

New World Pictures

Frank is in the throes of a messy divorce from his mentally unwell wife, Nola, a permanent resident of the Somafree Institute. Disturbed to find bruises and scratches on their five-year-old daughter’s body, Frank desperately attempts to gain sole custody. But the institute’s strict visitation policy and the stubborn head psychotherapist prevent Frank from settling the matter quickly. During his attempts to invalidate Somafree’s methods and protect his daughter, Frank uncovers the dark, fleshy truth behind the institute and its effect on his estranged wife — a truth that could only come from the mind of director David Cronenberg.

  • Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle

  • Director: David Cronenberg

  • Year: 1979

  • Runtime: 92 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of souls makeup man

Herts-Lion International Corp.

Mary Henry is the sole survivor of a fatal car accident, though how she survived is something of a mystery. Mary’s attempts to put the accident behind her seem to only invite more and more strangeness. Desperate for a fresh start, she moves to Utah and takes up a job as a church organist. There, she finds herself hounded by visions of a ghoulish, white-faced man, whose presence in the periphery of her life becomes more and more frequent. As the lurking, otherworldly visions consume her, Mary feels drawn towards the dilapidated, deserted carnival on the outskirts of town, which may hold the secret to her dark past.

  • Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger

  • Director: Herk Harvey

  • Year: 1962

  • Runtime: 78 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Conjuring

Conjuring lady with match

Warner Bros. Pictures

The year is 1971. Husband and wife duo Ed and Lorraine Warren are faced with the most dangerous case of their careers as seasoned paranormal investigators. The Perrons and their five daughters recent move to a remote farmhouse has been plagued with supernatural occurrences, that while benign at first, have become increasingly violent. Tasked with discovering the root cause of the terrifying spectral encounter, the Warrens must find a way to lift the curse before its too late, resulting in some of the scariest scenes in modern-day horror.

  • Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor

  • Director: James Wan

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%


Constantine smoking outside suit

Warner Bros. Pictures

“Constantine” got a bad rap back in the day (as it’s middling Rotten Tomatoes rating proves). But Francis Lawrence’s debut feature is in the midst of a well-deserved renaissance. Is the film the most accurate comic adaptation out there? Hell no. But on its own terms, this theological/action-horror/neo-noir has style and spunk in spades. The film follows a hard-boiled freelance exorcist named John Constantine who’s quite literally been to Hell and back. His near-death (well, death-death) experience has left him with the ability to see Earth for what it really is: a war zone of heavenly and demonic forces vying for the hearts and souls of humanity. With serious Satanic shenanigans on the horizon, Constantine and an LAPD detective named Angela team up to get to the bottom of the looming threat.

  • Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf

  • Director: Francis Lawrence

  • Year: 2005

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%


Cronos man with blood device

October Films

A unique spin on the vampire mythos, Guillermo del Toro’s feature film debut is as touching as it is tragic. An elderly antiques dealer happens across a strange golden machine concealed within a statue. Created four centuries ago by an alchemist hoping to crack the code to eternal youth, the “Cronos device” grants its user everlasting life … at a price. When the kindly grandpa begins to use the insect-like machine to turn back the clock, he’s initially overjoyed at his newfound energy and good looks. But finding himself increasingly dependent on a device turning him into a monster, the old man must fight temptation in order to cling to what’s left of his humanity.

  • Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook

  • Director: Guillermo del Toro

  • Year: 1993

  • Runtime: 92 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Dark Water

Dark Water creepy reflection

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Dahlia, a young mother in the throes of an unpleasant divorce, relocates to a rundown apartment building with her young daughter. It’s all she can afford, and it’s near a great school district, and that’s what matters. Unfortunately, from the moment they arrive, it’s clear that something isn’t right. And the mysterious occurrences seem to have something to do with the constant and eerily black drip in Dahlia’s daughter’s bedroom. A hidden gem misunderstood in its time as a cheap J-horror remake, “Dark Water” is a slow-burning atmospheric terror trip carried by a strong central performance. Don’t let the critical response dissuade you.

  • Starring: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth

  • Director: Walter Salles

  • Year: 2005

  • Runtime: 104 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%


Diabolique woman terrified


Based on the spine-tingling novel “She Who Was No More,” this psychological horror staple is the best film Alfred Hitchcock never made. When the cruel and sadistic headmaster of a second-rate boarding school is murdered by an unlikely duo, his killers become increasingly unhinged by the series of strange events that take place after their victim’s corpse disappears. Anxiously paced and brimming with atmosphere, “Diaboliques” is a meticulously crafted and thoroughly unsettling meld of the mystery and horror genres.

  • Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse

  • Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

  • Year: 1955

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Empty Man

The Empty Man skeleton flashlight

20th Century Studios

A local girl is missing. And a retired cop named James is looking into it. But what he finds defies explanation — an apparent plague of teen suicides, a terrifying local legend, and hushed tones of a cult attempting to manifest a sinister entity. Part Lovecraft, park J-horror, part ’70s paranoia thriller, “The Empty Man” was done dirty by its mid-pandemic release, and has mercifully found its audience as a modern cult classic. 


Jack Nance looks confused

Libra Films

From a shrieking, mutated lamb-faced baby to convulsing roast chickens, “Eraserhead” is an absolute must for anyone looking to see what all the fuss is about with this David Lynch fellow. An experimental body horror film that’s dreamlike in both structure and in tone, “Eraserhead” loosely tells of a man named Henry Spencer as he grapples with his unexpected role as a first-time father. While navigating his oppressive industrial environment and the unbearable strains of modern life, Henry crawls his way through the unsettling, violent maze of young adulthood.

  • Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph

  • Director: David Lynch

  • Year: 1977

  • Runtime: 89 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Eve’s Bayou

Eve's bayou Wedding dress scream woman

Trimark Pictures

Blending the humid horrors of the Southern Gothic tradition with voodoo practice, Kasi Lemmons’ directorial debut is an underseen gem that will readily reward the patient viewer. As the summer heat beats down on a well-to-do Louisiana town, the Batiste family does their best to manage the fallout of their once well-kept secrets. Eve, the family’s young daughter, is especially distraught by the revelations surrounding her father and turns to her magic-practicing aunt for solace and resolution. A mesmerizing meld of melodrama and the supernatural, “Eve’s Bayou” offers an eerie and unsettling portrait of the unreliability of memory and the totalizing power of grief. If you’re more drawn to “the gothic” than to “horror,” this one’s for you.

  • Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good, Samuel L. Jackson

  • Director: Kasi Lemmons

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

The Evil Dead

Deadite smiling

New Line Cinema

The cabin in the woods that started it all, “The Evil Dead” was the gore-coated door kick that introduced audiences to the ooey-gooey talents of director Sam Raimi. Far more aligned with a grindhouse sensibility than the campy “Three Stooges” shenanigans that would later color the rest of the franchise, “The Evil Dead” plays its hand devastatingly straight. Brimming with the unmistakable passion of a fresh new genre filmmaker, “The Evil Dead” tells of a gaggle of hapless teens who wanted a remote romantic getaway, but instead, they get possessed by an ancient evil force after goofing around with an ominous book bound in human skin. Let this be a lesson, dear reader, leave the books to the nerds!

  • Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker

  • Director: Sam Raimi

  • Year: 1981

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: NC-17

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

The Evil Dead II

Evil Ash points

Rosebud Releasing Corporation

Released six years after its notorious predecessor, “Evil Dead II” is a unique oddity as far as sequels go — a near beat-for-beat retread of the original’s plot, with a bigger budget, a steadier directorial hand, and more physical comedy than you can shake a rubber chicken at. Yes, where the gritty edge of 1981’s “The Evil Dead” lumped it in with notorious NC-17 bedfellows, “Evil Dead II” swan-dived headfirst into self-parody to the point that self-parody became the backbone of the franchise. As with the original, “The Evil Dead” tells of a gaggle of young, dumb characters who accidentally unleash an evil force when they read from the Book of the Dead. Beset with giggling monstrosities and comical amounts of viscera, it’s up to chainsaw-wielding hero Ash Williams to keep his wits about him and kick some demonic butt. They don’t come much groovier than this, folks. Recopilatorio de partituras para aprender a tocar la flauta dulce de forma progresiva Partyflauta: Partituras para flauta dulce

  • Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks

  • Director: Sam Raimi

  • Year: 1987

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Eyes Without a Face

Girl wearing mask

Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France

The brilliant Dr. Génessier is wracked with guilt after inadvertently causing an accident that disfigures his beloved daughter, Christine. Her once beautiful face now a mangled, raw mess, the good doctor spreads rumors of his daughter’s demise. Meanwhile, with the help of his complicit lab assistant, Génessier kidnaps young women in a desperate bid to right his wrong and restore Christine’s face. If you think a film from the 1960s can’t make you squirm, guess again!

  • Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Édith Scob

  • Director: Georges Franju

  • Year: 1959

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%


Freaks twins smiling

Loew’s Inc.

A charismatic and conniving trapeze artist named Cleopatra seduces Hans, a little person and the leader of the circus’ side show, much to the chagrin of his fiancée, Frieda. However, unbeknownst to Hans, Cleopatra intends to murder him for his sizeable inheritance. At the wedding reception, Cleopatra’s malicious intentions can’t help but bubble up to the top, revealing her mean-spirited attitude towards the tight-knit community of self-styled “freaks.” Humiliated and furious, the denizens of the side show rally together to exact a decidedly gruesome revenge for Cleopatra’s cruelty.

  • Starring: Wallace Ford, Olga Baclanova, Leila Hyams

  • Director: Tod Browning

  • Year: 1932

  • Runtime: 61 minutes

  • Rating: TV-PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Funny Games

Funny Games kid wearing bag

Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner

Two psychotic and deeply disturbed young men hold a mother, father, and their young son hostage in their idillic lakeside vacation cabin. Peppered with horrifying fourth-wall breaks that implicate the audience in the resulting horror show, the two boys force the terrified family to play sadistic and humiliating “games” with one another for their — and our — amusement. 

  • Starring: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Frank Giering

  • Director: Michael Haneke

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%


Gremlins in kitchen

Warner Bros.

Hoping to procure a unique gift for his son, Billy, a gadget salesman purchases an odd, intriguing animal from a shopkeeper in Chinatown. Known as a “mogwai,” the creature comes with a laundry list of mysterious rules — no bright light, no water, and no food after midnight. Despite his best efforts, Billy inadvertently breaks all three rules, unleashing a devious and wildly violent horde of gremlins upon his town on Christmas Eve and giving us an ’80s holiday-horror classic.

  • Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton

  • Director: Joe Dante

  • Year: 1984

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%


Satan glowering

Skandias Filmbyrå

Grave-robbing, possessed nuns, medieval torture, “Häxan” has got it all! Part dramatized documentary, part early entry in the folk horror canon, Benjamin Christensen’s masterpiece sets off to chart the historical roots and modern consequences of witchcraft from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. An arguably forward-thinking (and decidedly creepy) meditation on superstition’s mangled misunderstanding of mental illness, the film fittingly offers a veritable witch’s brew of vignettes, ranging from the grotesque to the darkly humorous.

  • Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan

  • Director: Benjamin Christensen

  • Year: 1922

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Horror of Dracula

Dracula snarling


Re-titled in the States to avoid confusion with 1931’s “Dracula,” this blood-curdling tale sees Jonathan Harker not as some consummate everyman but a covert vampire hunter. After securing an invitation to the titular count’s castle under false pretenses, Harker’s assassination attempt doesn’t quite go as planned. In turn, Dracula seeks revenge on those Harker holds dearest. 

Directed by the great Hammer Films mainstay Terence Fisher (of “The Mummy,” and “The Curse of Frankenstein” fame), “Horror of Dracula” boasts an unprecedented sensuality and gothic eroticism. Chock-full of resplendent technicolor and featuring multiple monolithic genre performances, “Horror of Dracula” is an oldie must-watch for genre fans.

  • Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough

  • Director: Terence Fisher

  • Year: 1958

  • Runtime: 82 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%


House cat attacking


Sure, you’ve heard people call movies “trippy” before. But “House” is in a league of its own. Part arthouse horror-comedy, part bananapants fever dream, “House” tells of Gorgeous, a young girl who takes a trip to the country to visit her aunt at their ancestral home. Joined by six equally ridiculously named friends, Gorgeous soon discovers that the titular house has a mind of its own. An absolutely wild ride from start to finish, “House” is like “Evil Dead II” on acid — a joy-filled and utterly surreal viewing experience with no parallel.

  • Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Ai Matsubara, Miki Jinbo

  • Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

  • Year: 1977

  • Runtime: 87 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Invisible Man

Elisabeth Moss screaming

Universal Pictures

By the skin of her teeth, Cecilia Kass escapes her abusive relationship with wealthy optics engineer Adrian Griffin. Two weeks later, Cecilia learns that Adrian has seemingly committed suicide and left her $5 million. She has no proof, but she suspects her partner is still very much alive. There’s an unseen presence in the house, and strange events seem to suggest that Adrian, while unseen, is lurking in the shadows. “The Invisible Man” is a stupendous addition to the gaslight thriller canon, as well as a deviously fresh take on the H.G. Wells novel that’s spawned so many a monster mash. Featuring a terrific lead performance from Elisabeth Moss and tension you can cut with a knife, “The Invisible Man” is a skillfully crafted and thoroughly terrifying take on a classic horror premise.

  • Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge

  • Director: Leigh Whannell

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 124 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

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Hoichi the Earless ink face


No horror anthology can hold a candle to the masterpiece that is “Kwaidan”. Meaning “ghost story” in archaic Japanese, the film adapts four traditional folk tales, realizing their haunting visions of icy vampiric women, cursed husbands, and undead armies with transfixing ferocity and uncompromising style. Trance-like and visually stunning, “Kwaidan” is truly haunting in every sense of the word.  

  • Starring: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Tetsurô Tamba

  • Director: Masaki Kobayashi

  • Year: 1964

  • Runtime: 183 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Little Shop of Horrors

Audrey II singing

Warner Bros.

Quite possibly the best horror musical ever made, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a toe-tapping hoot about the intertwined fates of a man-eating plant and a meek florist whose new “discovery” promises to turn his life around and win him the girl of his dreams. A darkly comic big-screen adaptation of the hit off-Broadway musical (itself an adaptation of a Roger Corman B-movie), “Little Shop of Horrors” is transportive and bloody, with a fantastic score from future Disney duo Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Watching a giant alien plant massacre humanity is rarely this much fun.

  • Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin

  • Director: Frank Oz

  • Year: 1986

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%


Peter Lorre sees chalk

Vereinigte Star-Film GmbH

A murderer is on the loose — Hans Beckert, a serial killer who preys on children, and his crimes trigger an unprecedented police manhunt. Children stay home from school, and the cries of distraught mothers fill the streets. An atmosphere of fear and anxious vigilance disrupts normal city life not just for normal citizens but for the denizens of the seedy underworld, who find themselves equally horrified by Beckert’s repellent compulsions. Realizing he’s being pursued by cops and outlaws alike, the cornered killer panics. Relying not on buckets of blood but nerve-shattering pacing and a powerhouse performance by Peter Lorre, even at nearly 100 years old, “M” is sure to get under your skin.

  • Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut

  • Director: Fritz Lang

  • Year: 1931

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Man Bites Dog

Man Bites Dog body river

Roxie Releasing

There are very few “funny moments” in the realm of New French Extremity, let alone full-blown dark comedies. And this makes the existence of “Man Bites Dog” all the more miraculous. Viscerally unnerving and undeniably hilarious, the film tails a charismatic serial killer named Ben as he raises hell to the shock and awe of the complicit documentary team. But it’s all fun and games until the crew members start participating.

  • Starring: Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel

  • Directors: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel

  • Year: 1992

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NC-17

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

The Mummy

Brendan Fraser aims guns

Universal Pictures

Plucked from a Cairo prison to assist in the excavation of the lost city of Hamunaptra, swashbuckling legionnaire Rick O’Connell reluctantly leads his fellow explorers to the supposedly cursed city. Indeed, entombed beneath the sand is the disgraced high priest Imhotep, who suffered a fate worse than death for his affair with the Pharaoh’s mistress. Naturally, the party unwittingly resurrect the rightfully pissed-off mummy using the Book of the Dead, and Imhotep sets about his reign of terror as he reconstitutes his withered body, resulting in a movie that’s “Indiana Jones” meets Univer

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