80s ExpertBy Gareth Bellamy
The Best Horror Films To Stream on Amazon Prime This Halloween
Got Amazon Prime? Check out our guide to the best films to watch on Amazon Prime this Halloween.
We've taken a look at what's available on Amazon Prime to stream this year and chosen our favourites. We've got broad tastes so you should find something to give you just the right level of shocks this Halloween.
The Shining (1980)
The scariest film set in a hotel, with the exception of the Lenny Henry Premiere Inn adverts.
On the face of it, The Shining is a haunted house story. A family are stuck in a remote, snowed in hotel over winter after the father takes a job there as a caretaker. That's the set-up, here come the scary goings on! But, The Shining has a reputation as one of the scariest horror films around with reason. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, a director whose attention to detail was legendary, The Shining is a disturbing, tense, dread-filled film that follows a child seemingly haunted by visions, and his father's descent into madness.
It doesn't really matter why the hotel is haunted, or how, or what it all means. The film is so well made, it feels like you're in the hotel with them, cut off by the snow. There are some truly terrifying jump scares, but it is the overall atmosphere of the film which will stay with you. At times, it can be gut-wrenchingly tense!
One of those films, like The Exorcist, that all true fans of horror have to watch.
Final Destination (2000)
Not to be confused with Ryan Air.
Final Destination is a bit of a mixed bag. The basic plot is how, through a premonition, a group of students survive a plane crash which kills everyone else on board. But then those survivors are hunted down by fate, who feels short-changed by a few human souls we assume? This sets up a series of deaths which would make the incidents You've Been Framed look run of the mill leading up to a fantastic plane crash sequence near the end. Yes, it's a bit cheesy, but you'll end up jumping in the right places even if you know what's coming.
Let The Right One In (2008)
Vampires have feelings too!
This is a retelling of the vampire myth set in 1980s Sweden. Featuring many of the elements you would expect in a vampire film, blood-sucking, fangs and flesh, boarded windows, horror is very low on the agenda here.
The film tells the story of a lonely 12-year-old boy, Oskar, who one night encounters a mysterious girl, Eli, outside his block of flats. She turns out to be a vampire, forever aged 12, and soon enough she becomes the object of young Oskar's affections.
A beautifully directed love film, showing great restraint in the 'horror' elements, which will have you enthralled.
I don't know what you did last summer.
Scream, from horror maestro Wes 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Craven is renowned for single-handedly reanimating the dying corpse of the horror genre in the late 90s. Scores of copycat films followed, but Scream should still be on your essential watchlist for good reason.
Taking a standard slasher film as its foundation, with an attractive, famous young cast (including Courtney Cox, Drew Barrymore and Neve Campbell), the icing on the cake with Scream is that the cast are constantly referencing other, actual horror films. Going so far as watching Halloween on video, and discussing the 'rules' of horror films. Scream, whilst ostensibly a horror (yes, you will get scared and jump!) is actually pretty funny too, mocking the conventions of horror films at the same time as playing them out. It takes a director as knowledgeable and skilled in the horror genre as Craven to be able to mock his chosen genre, at the same time as deliver the shocks.
Kill List (2011)
He's making a list, he's checking it twice, he's going to find out who's going to watch a genuinely nightmarish film and not be able to sleep afterwards.
If you want something dark, bleak, and genuinely disturbing, a proper 'horror', this is the film for you!
The film starts innocently enough with domestic scenes of a young couple, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (MyAnna Buring). We see them bickering, and that builds up to full on screaming fight later on when old friends Gal (Michael Smiley) and Fiona (Emma Fryer) are round for dinner. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but where's the horror?
It turns out Jay and Gal are ex-soldiers, who now make a living as hitmen. Gal convinces Jay to take on another job. This one involves a kill-list of three targets. And this is where things start taking a turn for the worst.
Strange things start happening as they progress through the job. Occult symbols, oaths, the victims smiling and expressing their thanks shortly before they're killed.
Jay and Gal get freaked out and try to abandon the mission, but the client won't let them. This leads the hitmen to their final encounter, which will leave you genuinely shocked, and perhaps upset too.
This is a dark, at times brutal, nightmare of a film. You'll be left trying to work out the meaning of clues seeded earlier in the film and how they gave rise to the finale. In our opinion, that doesn't happen often enough when watching films. Just don't say we didn't warn you if watching Kill List gives you genuine nightmares!
Halloween H20 (1998)
H2-Oh no, not another Halloween film!
Halloween is one of those horror franchises which, ironically enough, will never die. The original was a teen, slasher film directed by John Carpenter and released in 1978. It old the story of a serial killer called Michael Myers, who was killing babysitters on Halloween. It was a simple premise, but very effective. The clock has been reset this year with the release of Halloween (2018) starring the original lead Jamie Lee Curtis, who once again plays Laurie Strode.
Halloween H20 was released twenty years after the original, hence the title, and tells the story, once again, of Laurie Strode, who is now a headmistress of a school in California, and remains haunted by visions of Michael Myers. This Halloween, those visions come true, and Michael is back a-hacking and a-slashing his way through the cast.
H20 manages to combine enough elements of the original film with a flavour of the then-current teen horror films such as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer to give you a shock-filled, well-acted film which has a character seeking revenge, and some kind of stability in their life. This is what propels it along, and it's a great ride.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
It never brains but it pours.
The original, and many say the best, zombie film. This ground-breaking 1968 horror classic from director George A. Romero tells the story of an America under attack by the dead coming back to life. Although they're never referred to as zombies in this film, they use the term ghoul, the living dead of the film's title are the first ever screen appearance of what we'd all recognise now as zombies. Lolloping gait, hunger for human flesh, previously dead, yes, zombies!
The film sets out its own agenda from the get-go. The male character who you think would be the lead is offed in the first few minutes. Survivors take shelter in an isolated farmhouse, but the zombie hoards are relentless. The terror and tension builds as hopes of escape are frequently dashed and met with more death. If film has a theme, it's loss.
What will keep you watching is the fact this film often feels like a nightmare. The acting is played at the right level, the sense of suffocation of our heroes trapped. If you're looking for deeper meaning in a horror then this is the film for you. Is it a metaphor for the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the holocaust? It will leave you haunted.
The Conjuring (2013)
More scary than Paul Daniels Magic Show.
Based on a true story, (really??), The Conjuring tells the story of a family who move into a house, only to find the dark history of their new home is giving rise to all kinds strange, dark phenomena. The family then call upon the services of a pair of paranormal investigators to help regain their lives. Sounds familiar? It should do, the basic plot set-up has been used many times before.
The film is stuffed with a check-list of 'spooky' happenings; pets who won't enter the house, a scary doll, possession, scary things under the bed. Ordinarily you might choose to give the film a swerve, but that would be a mistake. A terrible… terrible… mistake my friends!
Saw director, James Wan, takes those 'predictable' elements, and with the able assistance of a great cast, delivers a truly scary ride. There are no over-the-top special effects, but that gives ample space for the supernatural chills to build.
If you enjoy the Conjuring, you'll find more of the same on Amazon Prime in the form of the sequel, the surprisingly titled Conjuring 2 (Electric Boogaloo).
Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Better red than dead.
Our pick for the perfect fun Halloween film.
Seemingly unavoidable in the UK as ITV2 has, at times, had it on every night of the week at 9pm. This is a comedy horror that spoofs zombie films with a great script and warm, engaging performances. If it's possible to make a charming film about zombies, this is it.
The Shaun of the title is played by Simon Pegg, a likeable loser who works in an electronics shop who has recently been dumped by his girlfriend. Outside of work he spends his time sinking pints with best mate Ed, played by Nick Frost.
The setup to the zombie onslaught starts very gently, with news reports in the background and the odd shambling figure in the street. Shaun just puts this down to typical London life to great comedic effect.
Once we're up to speed with the rise of the zombies, Edgar Wright's characteristic 'hyper-quick' editing style helps carry the story through a number of set-pieces with fresh and inventive direction, leaving you little space to draw breath.
It's usually challenging to combine horror and humour in the same film and do service to both, but Shaun is one of the notable exceptions to the rule. Billed a 'rom zom com' – romantic zombie comedy, this film eats the brains of all three genres and even goes back for seconds.
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