Every major streaming service—Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu—offers horror, sci-fi, and suspense programming to some degree, but if you’re a lifelong fan of those genres, you’ll be craving for more. If you’re the type of person who watches scary movies not just around Halloween but all year long, the kind who feeds on obscure B movies and revels sin lost classics, you’re going to want to check out Shudder.
What is Shudder?
Shudder is a standalone streaming service that specializes in horror, sci-fi, suspense, and avant-garde cinema. While the major streaming services have great horror selections for new fans of the genre, often lifetime aficionados find their catalogs to be full of things they’ve already seen or, worse, just don’t care about. That’s what makes Shudder so special.
From movies you’ve only heard about in magazines to TV shows and special new releases exclusive to the service, Shudder has everything a fright fan needs to ruin a night’s sleep. Placing famous classics like Hellraiser alongside more obscure but important films like Dario Argento’s Inferno, Shudder functions as sort of a college level-course in horror.
How does Shudder work?
Movies on Shudder are broken up into subgenres, letting you focus on Asian horror, Euro-trash, smart vampire movies, lost classics, demonic possessions, cerebral thrillers, and any other kind of specific thrilling options you might desire. Movies from every era of horror are represented, with a wide range of international options included that other services simply can’t compete with.
Beware, Shudder is not a safe space. While the most extreme movies come with a content warning beforehand, it takes dealing with a topic like necrophilia to trigger it. This is a service that places frights above all else, so make sure you read the synopsis of each movie before you watch. It’s easy to find yourself in over your head, especially if you’re curious about German horror.
How much does Shudder cost?
The best part of Shudder, besides its incredible selection of titles, is its absurdly low cost. A subscription is just $4.99 per month or $47.88 per year if you pay for it all at once. Students are also eligible for a special 20 percent discount if they’re registered with Student Beans. Users can subscribe through Shudder’s website or via Shudder’s Amazon Prime channel. But not: A Prime subscription can’t be used to watch on the Shudder site or app, and vice versa. They count as separate subscriptions.
Shudder offers a wide range of options when it comes to how you can watch. The service has apps for Apple, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One, all of which can be accessed by subscribing on Shudder’s website or through its app. Shudder also offers subscriptions through Amazon Prime Video and the bundled streaming service VRV. These standalone subscriptions cost the same as a standard membership but limit how you can view your content.
Streaming via the Shudder app or a channel subscription both have their own issues. While the Shudder website is a fine resource for finding the content you want, the Shudder apps are often frustrating to use unless you’ve already built your queue on the website. Shudder’s app doesn’t offer a way to browse every title in its library; instead, it forces you to look through subcategories in the menus. While browsing for a movie to watch can be fun, sometimes you just want to look at a master list.
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However, the Shudder app features exclusive streaming of Shudder TV channels, which let you watch never-ending streams of genre movies from different categories all day long. It’s a joy, especially if you like having a movie on as background noise while you work.
The channels have their own selling points, however. While we have not tested the VRV set up, on Amazon Prime’s Shudder channel, the experience is easier to use. Genres are more clearly defined, navigation is easier, and the menus load faster. Also, Amazon is often slower to delete movies from its listings than Shudder proper. You can’t find Bay of Blood right now on the Shudder app, for example, but you can find it on Shudder via Amazon. Amazon subscribers miss out on features like the live streaming channel options, but there’s something to be said for not having to learn another app.
The best movies on Shudder
With so many movies on Shudder to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. No matter what your taste in horror, there’s something on Shudder that fits your needs. Here’s the best movies on Shudder right now. (Note: For this article, we only include movies that can be found on every version of Shudder.)
1) Hell House LLC (2016)
Five years after an unexplained event kills 15 people during a Halloween haunted house, a group of documentarians set out of finally uncover what happened that night. Mixing footage from the haunted house with the documentary crew’s investigation, Hell House LLC manages to prove there’s still fresh blood to be found in the found-footage genre. Director Stephen Cognetti puts his name on the genre map with this haunting chiller.
2) The Stuff (1984)
Cult director Larry Cohen is best known for his killer baby movie It’s Alive, but The Stuff is his masterpiece. This satire of ’80s consumer culture sees a magic new health food product, known only as the Stuff, start to fly off shelves. The problem is no seems to know exactly what’s in the Stuff, and people who eat too much are beginning to have strange reactions. With colorful and imaginative makeup effects and a twist you’ll never see coming, The Stuff is a hysterical and frightening delight.
3) Cooties (2015)
Teaching is a brutal job: long hours, disrespect from the parents and political figures, and worst of all, murderous zombie children. Thanks to a tainted batch of chicken nuggets, a group of teachers, and one unassuming substitute, must fight for their lives through a sea of the most innocent flesh eaters you’ll ever see on film. Horror comedies are often hit or miss, but thanks to sharp writing and an incredible cast—including Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Rainn Wilson (The Office) and Alison Pill (The Newsroom)—Cooties manages as many thrills as it does belly laughs.
4) Black Death (2010)
To people witnessing the plague in 14th-century England, the only possible explanation for many was the witches, or the devil, must be involved. Black Death tells the story of a group of knights and a priest sent to investigate a village where the plague has managed to avoid, fearing they might be protected by a witch. This gothic horror masterpiece is anchored by Sean Bean and Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, two incredible actors who give weight to a premise that could quickly become a silly mess. Instead, they elevate Black Death into a grime tale of tested faith and violence.
5) Road Games (1981)
Part of the fun of Shudder is discovering hidden gems that never see the light of day on cable or Netflix. 1981’s Road Games is a lost Jamie Lee Curtis thriller set in the beautiful deserts of Australia, full of tense car chases and biting suspense. Curtis plays a hitchhiker who grabs a ride with a trucker, only to discover the trucker is on the hunt for a serial killer who has been stalking the roads. Only the trucker isn’t the only one on the hunt, and soon the duo finds themselves running from death and the law.
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6) Let the Right One In (2007)
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Let The Right One In hit theaters, but this coming-of-age tale of love and unspeakable evil hasn’t lost a beat since its debut. Oskar, a bullied boy in need of a friend, finds one in the form of Eli, a strange girl who isn’t allowed to play until after dark. While Twilight mined vampire lore for a Tiger Beat-ready love story, Let The Right One In explores a darker love—one where murder is a means to an end for survival, whether it’s extending the life of the undead or simply protecting a friendship. Somber, gorgeous, and subtle, Let The Right One In is one of the finest vampire stories ever told.
7) Found Footage 3D (2D Version) (2017)
Sick of found footage? So are the makers of Found Footage 3D, a satirical (until it’s not) send-up of the genre and all of its problems. Unlike the outright horror onslaught of Hell House LLC, Found Footage 3D is a deeply funny movie about independent filmmaking and issues that have caused the found footage genre to grow stagnant over the years. By the time a third act twist arrives with actual frights in tow, the movie will already have won you over, and then it’ll leave you with a terrifying finale you won’t forget.
8) Splinter (2008)
Following a carjacking, four people get trapped in a gas station, fighting for their lives against a crazed monster with a lust for blood and the ability to absorb the corpses of its kills. As a kidnapping movie, Splinter is creepy enough on its own, but when a parasitic monster joins the fun, things ramp up considerably. Shot largely in one location on a micro-budget, Splinter utilizes what little special effects it has to create a creeping sense of dread and the unknown. This smart and scary monster movie is worth every second of your time it takes.
9) Night of the Creeps (1986)
When you’re in the mood for a kick-ass popcorn flick, Night of the Creeps is sure to scratch your itch. A loving throwback to ’50s sci-fi horror, with modern gore and humor, Night of the Creeps is the best space-slugs-who-turn-people-into-zombies movie you’ll ever see. Peppered with heartwarming John Hughes-style romantic comedy among the flame-throwing and shotgun-blasting zombie action, Night of the Creeps is a ridiculously good time for horror fans who just want a little fun.
10) I Saw the Devil (2011)
There are movies on this list that will scare the hell out of you, and there are movies on this list that very well might hurt your heart. I Saw The Devil is the latter, a mean little piece of work from Korea that features some cruel acts of violence. Beware: This is pure horror without a moment of relief. There’s nothing special about the premise, but the execution is unlike anything you’ve seen before. When a serial murder case becomes deadly personal, a police detective decides to start hunting the killer on his terms. If you fear man above monsters, you can’t pass this chiller up.
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Rec 3 is also streaming on Shudder, but the first two parts are the true essential selections. Shudder excels with it comes to finding only the best in found footage movies, and this zombie nightmare is no exception. Using the premise of a TV news crew doing a ride along with firefighters to a late-night call at an apartment building, Rec reveals its mysteries with care and subtlety before exploding into horror. The first movie contains arguaby the scariest ending in the genre’s history. The second one picks up exactly 15 minutes later. Turn off the lights and have a double feature.
12) The Beyond (1983)
This splatter classic from director Lucio Fulci was brutally censored when it was originally released, but thanks to helping from Quentin Tarantino, the uncut version is finally available. The plot is largely nonsensical, but the imagery is unforgettable, with gore set pieces that will have you howling or gagging depending on your tastes. During renovations on a house she just inherited, a woman accidentally opens a portal to hell, summoning ghosts, monstrous spiders, zombies, and other horrors from its depths. Time has helped soften the blow of the violence, but this is still a film where a zombie child gets its head blown in half. Don’t eat spaghetti while you’re watching.
13) Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Happy Birthday to Me’s movie poster boasted that the film features “six of the most bizarre murders you’ll ever see, ” and for once, the marketing isn’t lying. Someone is killing the most popular kids in school, and high school senior Virginia Wainwright is worried her recent spell of blackouts might have something to do with. Is she in danger or is the killer living inside her head? You’ll have to watch until the final reel to find out. Part Agatha Christie mystery, part slasher, this ’80s classic sets itself above the pack thanks to clever stalking sequences that make its gruesome violence feel earned instead of gratuitous.
14) Berberian Sound Studio (2013)
Sound design is an incredibly important part of any film, but in horror, it’s essential. In Berberian Sound Studio, artist Peter Strickland, played by the incredible Toby Jones, is working on a modern homage to ‘70s Italian slasher films. At first, his work just requires stabbing a few vegetables, but as the film becomes more complex, Strickland is forced to ask himself how far he’ll go in the name of art. Berberian Sound Studio has no real violence to speak of, despite its premise, but trust me: It doesn’t need blood to give you the creeps.
15) White of the Eye (1987)
White of the Eye is yet another lost classic that you’ll only find on Shudder and is easily worth the cost of signing up for a month just to catch it. As a series of murders rock a small wealthy desert community, a husband and wife find themselves torn apart as he tries to prove he’s not behind the killings and she uncovers questions he can’t answer. Originally given an X-rating for violence until Marlon Brando stepped in to talk to the MPAA on behalf of director Donald Cammell, White of the Eye isn’t exactly horror or suspense. It’s simply terrifying.
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16) Deadtime Stories (1986)
The ’80s were a magical time for practical effects, with puppets and stop-motion monstrosities causing chaos for unsuspecting teens everywhere. Deadtime Stories is a treat for makeup-obsessed horror hounds. The three-story spine-tingling anthology mines fairy tales for spooky delights. Killer witches, Red Riding Hood, and “Goldi Lox” all come out to play, and the fun starts with the very first frame, a deliciously campy title sequence.
17) Nekromantik (1987)
Probably 99 percent of the people reading this list should not watch this movie, as it is truly one of the most disturbing and vile films of all time. However, if you possess a stomach that’s strong enough or a mind depraved enough to enjoy its pleasures, Nekromantik is a truly unforgettable experience. This is a movie about necrophilia that features scenes of necrophilia in all their graphic horror, but at its root, this is a movie about relationships. A street sweeper brings home a corpse from an accident one day, but when it turns out his distressed wife prefers their new friend to him, the situation becomes more complicated. There is no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Nekromantik, but if you consider yourself a horror junkie able to endure anything, this nihilistic slice of German terror will test your limits. If you can handle this, its equally horrific sequel is also streaming on Shudder.
18) Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Quentin Tarantino called Big Bad Wolves the best movie of 2013, which serves as both praise and a warning, as the infamous director is well known for his love of violent horrors. Israel isn’t known for producing horror yet, but Big Bad Wolves marks the country’s first bonafide classic. Three fathers are searching for a killer who has been kidnapping little girls in their community and just nabbed their girls. When a police blunder causes the suspected killer to go free, they take matters into their own hands, but revenge is rarely simple.
19) Inferno (1980)
Dario Argento’s surreal classic Inferno deals with witchcraft and the end of the world, but it’s mostly remembered for the terrifying atmosphere created by its stunning cinematography. Following the disappearance of his sister, a young student named Mark travels to New York only to discover a supernatural conspiracy involving three witches who seek to take over the world. As bodies pile up, the mystery deepens, and Mark must uncover the enemies in his midst while fighting supernatural powers beyond his imagination. Argento injects the film with a dreamy quality that makes its graphic violence more palatable, allowing its magic elements to shine through. You’ll have to forgive a few plot holes, but this classic of supernatural horror more than earns your understanding.
20) Ghostwatch (1992)
Here is a true undiscovered treat for horror fiends. This 1992 made-for-TV movie from the BBC caused a major controversy when it first aired, resulting in lawsuits from viewers who didn’t initially realize it wasn’t a real news broadcast. Ghostwatch is framed like a live BBC broadcast, jumping back and forth between a group of reporters investigating a poltergeist and experts in the studio talking about the occult. The BBC went so far as to cast real-life TV personality Sarah Greene in the production, leading to an extra layer of reality for viewers.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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