Why shell out for candy and costumes this Halloween when you (likely) have access to no-cost entertainment right in the comfort of your own home? Assuming you’ve already shelled out for a subscription, you can save your wallet and a trip to the dentist by streaming these frightening films and spooky shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus.
The three primary streaming services all have different options—though there are a few overlaps—so there’s something for everyone.
Movie Winner: Netflix has the scariest movies and the widest assortment, which it means there’s also the highest probability of watching something truly terrible. Best for impressing/scaring a date.
TV Winner: Hulu Plus unsurprisingly offers the most shows, while Amazon Prime has the heaviest hitters (seriously, watch Hannibal). Best for all-day binge sessions.
Added Cost Winner: If you don’t mind spending a few more bucks on a night’s entertainment, Amazon Video has a lot more options, including The Shining, Psycho (the original, c’mon), and Ghostbusters. Most rentals are $3.99 for 24 hours, but this year’s cult horror hit It Follows is streaming for just 99 cents. Best for people who have a particular movie in mind.
These are our picks for the best titles to stream at no extra cost:
Netflix: Rosemary's Baby
One of the most critically acclaimed horror movies of all time, Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic is a must-watch not just for horror aficionados, but for film snobs as well. It’s #9 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Thrills” list and remains a cultural touchstone almost 50 years after its premiere.
Netflix: Let the Right One In
The original version of Let the Right One In was described by MONEY editor Pat Regnier as “that creepy [redacted] Swedish movie,” which is high praise from the resident horror movie buff. It’s also highly regarded by critics, with a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which notes “Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.”
Netflix: The Sixth Sense
Another box office (and critical) smash, The Sixth Sense appears on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Thrills” list, and the 10th anniversary edition of its “100 Years…100 Movies” list. If you want to see dead people this Halloween, see this.
Other Movies on Netflix: The Omen, Silence of the Lambs, Scream (which leaves Netflix Nov. 1), Saw, The Babadook
Hulu Plus: American Psycho
Long before The Machinist and Batman Begins, Christian Bale proved his commitment to method acting with a dramatic workout (and tanning) regimen for American Psycho, in which he plays a deeply narcissistic and materialistic serial killer in ’80s-era Manhattan. The film itself, based off of the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, is disturbing, made palatable by Bale’s darkly wonderful performance. As Roger Ebert wrote when the film was released, “When Bateman kills, it is not with the zeal of a villain from a slasher movie. It is with the thoroughness of a hobbyist.” And is there anything scarier than that?
Hulu Plus: I Married A Witch
Because you don’t want to spook the kids too much, play this supernatural classic if you have little ones to look after on Halloween. Veronica Lake stars in this charming screwball comedy that was nominated for the American Film Institute’s ‘100 Years…100 Laughs’ list.
Other Movies on Hulu Plus: House of the Devil, Dairo Argento’s Inferno
Hulu Plus: The X-Files
Nothing scared me more as a child than hearing The X-Files creepy theme music playing from my parents’ television while I tried to fall asleep. Fast-forward 13 years, and I still can’t bring myself to watch the science fiction classic when I’m alone. You can catch up on all nine seasons (with a friend or two) on Hulu before the miniseries launches next year.
Hulu Plus: Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Voted one of the top 100 television shows of all time by TIME, Alfred Hitchcock Presents is also one of the many wonderful classic television shows now available to younger audiences on Hulu Plus. As TIME noted, “Hitch’s arch sensibility and feel for popcorn entertainment made, in the words of his droll introductions, for a go-o-o-o-d e-e-e-e-vening indeed.”
Other TV Shows on Hulu Plus: Scream Queens, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, The Twilight Zone, Scream
Amazon Prime: The Blair Witch Project
One of the most successful independent movies ever created, The Blair Witch Project is almost as famous for its minuscule budget as it is for the polarizing opinions it elicits in viewers. Remember when it came out and no one knew if it was a true story or not? Simpler times, then. Whether you love it or love to hate it, put it in your rotation this Halloween.
Amazon Prime: Gremlins
There’s only three rules if you want to watch Gremlins this Halloween: Do not expose your screen to bright light, don’t get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. Remember those, and you’re good to go. But really, if straight horror isn’t your thing, mix up your Halloween viewing with some black comedy.
Other Movies on Amazon Prime: Ju-On (the much better Japanese version of the film remade as The Grudge), Night of the Living Dead
Amazon Prime: True Blood
Blood, sex, and vampires — need I say more? Ok, later seasons were terrible (I admit, I stopped watching when it was revealed Sookie was part fairy), but the early seasons of True Blood are about as good of a guilty pleasure as you can get. Plus, you’ll make your monster quota for the night, with appearances from vampires, witches, werewolves, and more. And who wouldn’t want to spend Halloween with Pam?
Amazon Prime: The Walking Dead
At least in the early seasons, The Walking Dead managed to terrify audiences week after week (and keep bringing them back; it’s the most-watched show on cable) with its depiction of a zombie apocalypse — no small feat in such a saturated market. And while there’s the occasional jump-scare, it’s the buildup of tension and suspense that are the truly frightening parts of this show: six seasons later, I still find myself covering my eyes when a character inevitably gets separated from the group (the gore doesn’t help).
Other Television Shows on Amazon Prime: Hannibal