If you’re planning a horror-movie marathon this Halloween weekend, and have exhausted or purged your DVD collection, it might be time to take advantage of the many streaming-video services that offer free, introductory trial periods. Niche platforms like Shudder and Screambox cater to horror buffs, while decent scary movie selections are available on sites like Netflix and Hulu.
You have to pony up a debit or credit card to access the free trial on most of these services. So if you plan to cancel, be sure to do so before the trial period ends.
Let’s start with the niche sites that you might not know:
Shudder, a horror-streaming site backed by AMC, has a wide breadth of classic and contemporary horror cinema that would please almost any horror buff. With classics like the 1922 silent thriller Nosferatu, Tobe Hooper’s 1970s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, George A. Romero’s 1960s Living Dead series, and the campy An American Werewolf in London, the one-and-a-year-old platform is one of the places to go for horror streaming. It has just about any sub-genre you can think of, including slashers, violent thrillers like Hobo with a Shotgun, cult comedies like Re-Animator, documentaries, serial-killer movies, paranormal films, foreign titles including Them, and indies such as Kill List. Its horror collection outranks Netflix and other subscription services in scope and quality.
It also has a decent library of modern movies, such as the 2008 vampire flick Let the Right One In. But you’ll need to go elsewhere for newer blockbusters like Saw, The Ring, or Paranormal Activity (see Starz and Amazon Prime Video below).
Paste Magazine put together this impressive list of the 80 best horror movies currently available on Shudder, if you’re looking for recommendations.
The service costs $4.99 a month in the US, but comes with a 7-day free trial period that can get you through Halloween weekend. It’s available in the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada.
Screambox is another niche, horror-streaming site that caters to die-hard horror fans. It has classics like Scream 2, The Hills Have Eyes, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, as well as lots of lesser-known titles that fall into an array of sub-genres like monster movies, psychological thrillers, cult classics, suspense, and supernatural films.
At $2.99 a month, it’s one of the cheapest options for horror streaming. Like Shudder, you can try it out for free this Halloween when you sign up for a trial.
If you don’t mind commercials, Fright Pix also has hundreds of horror titles available to stream for free, including Night of the Living Dead and The Little Shop of Horrors. But buffering may interrupt your viewing, per some user complaints and this writer’s experience.
Now, let’s talk about the streaming services that you’re probably already familiar with:
For the casual horror fan, Netflix’s selection of scary movies will probably get you through the weekend. Wicker Man, From Dusk to Dawn, Jaws, Scream 2, and the spoof series Scary Movie, are among the best-known titles in the collection. But there are tons of others in Netflix’s library worth checking out, including the 1970s classic The Legend of Hell House, quirky indie films like John Dies at the End and We Are Still Here, and the intensely creepy The Babadook.
Pop culture site Complex painstakingly combed through the thousands of horror titles available on the platform and culled the top 25, for your consideration.
Netflix also has a collection of horror-related shows like American Horror Story, Bates Motel, The Walking Dead, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if that’s more your speed this Halloween.
The films can all be found in Netflix’s horror section, which is broken down into nine sub-genres: B-horror, creature features, cult horror, horror comedy, monster movies, slashers and serial killers, supernatural horror, teen screams, and, of course, zombies. And the TV shows can be found here.
If you’re not already a Netflix subscriber, you can sign up for month-long free trial. A standard streaming subscription in the US is $9.99 a month.
Hulu has a decent selection of horror classics available as well, including Carrie, Child’s Play, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Silence of the Lambs, and The Blob, as well as newer thrillers like Cloverfield.
Like the others, Hulu offers a free trial week. And it’s running a promotion today; the ad-supported tier is $5.99 a month for one year, as opposed to the usual $7.99.
Premium networks like HBO, Showtime, and Starz also have limited horror-movie libraries that are accessible through free trials on the streaming services. Their selections are pretty random, but if you’re on the hunt for a specific movie, they’re worth checking out.
HBO Now offers a free one-month trial for its streaming service, HBO Now, which normally costs $14.99 per month. It has Poltergeist, 28 Days Later, Jeepers Creepers, Joy Ride, Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000, and a dozen or so others, including Snakes on a Plane.
Showtime similarly has a 30-day free trial for its web platform, which is slightly cheaper than HBO Now at $10.99 per month. Its horror catalog contains Saw, Saw II, the original, restored Texas Chain Saw Massacre and other titles like Hannibal and The Descent.
Starz’s $8.99-a-month standalone streaming platform, which comes with a 7-day free trial, has a mix of classic and modern horror cinema like Dracula, The Evil Dead, Silent Hill, 30 Days of Night, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Teeth, Child’s Play, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, as well as the original series Ash vs Evil Dead.
Amazon Prime Video
Last, but not least, we have Amazon Prime Video. Okay, so, it’s not technically free. But it has 1,700 horror movies—nearly 90% of which are free to stream with Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime membership, including Saw, Halloween, Scream, Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby, Night of the Living Dead, and Interview with a Vampire.
Non-Prime members can also attempt to get their horror fixes from the 50 or so films that are available on Prime Video for free, with ads, including something called Stripperland (I guess that’s a horror movie?) and All God’s Creatures, which was one of the highest-rated of the bunch, with four stars.
If you have your heart set on a classic like The Exorcist, or more modern horror blockbusters like Nightmare on Elm Street, The Ring, Paranormal Activity, or Cabin in the Woods, you can rent or buy the digital copies for a few bucks each on Amazon or Google Play.