Published on October 27, 2023
“Better Watch Out” (2016)
Peacock is the place to be for horror movie lovers, and with Halloween just around the corner, there’s no better time to delve into the chilling depths of the streaming platform’s horror catalog. From classic cult favorites to modern masterpieces, Peacock has something to satisfy every horror aficionado’s craving for fear. Here, we present to you a list of the 20 best horror movies available on Peacock right now, curated by EW’s James Mercadante and Huntley Woods.
“Black Christmas” (1974)
No horror movie marathon is complete without a Christmas-themed fright fest. “Black Christmas,” directed by Bob Clark, is a pioneering slasher film that set the groundwork for John Carpenter’s iconic “Halloween.” With its unique blend of suspense, feminist undertones, and eerie atmosphere, “Black Christmas” is a must-watch for horror enthusiasts.
If you’re in the mood for a mind-bending and visually stunning horror experience, “Braid” is the film for you. This dark and twisty tale follows two women on the run who find themselves trapped in a decaying mansion, playing a deadly game of make-believe to settle a debt. With its disturbingly colorful aesthetics and cerebral storyline, “Braid” pushes the boundaries of the horror genre.
“The Changeling” (1980)
A haunted house classic, “The Changeling” paved the way for many horror films to come. This suspenseful slow burn follows a music professor who moves into a mysterious Seattle mansion, only to discover paranormal entities lurking in the walls. With its chilling atmosphere and acclaimed performances, “The Changeling” is a beloved film among horror buffs and a favorite of renowned directors like Guillermo del Toro and Martin Scorsese.
“Day of the Dead” (1985)
The third installment of George Romero’s iconic “Night of the Living Dead” franchise, “Day of the Dead” takes audiences underground to an underground bunker in Florida, where a group of scientists and military personnel must confront the zombie apocalypse. Despite budget constraints, this ’80s horror classic is packed with cinematic wonders and memorable characters, making it a must-see for horror enthusiasts.
“The Endless” (2017)
What would happen if two brothers returned to a “UFO death cult” they once called home? “The Endless” explores this intriguing premise, blending elements of sci-fi and horror in a thought-provoking and well-executed concept. With its gripping storytelling and emphasis on the relationship between the two brothers, “The Endless” is a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
“The Exorcist III” (1990)
“The Exorcist III” may not have achieved the same level of acclaim as its iconic predecessor, but it stands as a standout entry in the horror genre. As a continuation of the original film, this third installment follows a clever police detective investigating gruesome murders that mirror the signature of a serial killer who died 15 years prior. With its powerhouse performance from George C. Scott and spine-tingling scares, “The Exorcist III” is a campy horror classic that shouldn’t be missed.
“Ginger Snaps” (2000)
Combining lycanthropy with feminist allegory, “Ginger Snaps” is a low-budget creature feature that delves into themes of female rage and puberty. When death-obsessed Ginger undergoes a transformation after a mysterious attack during her first menstrual cycle, her younger sister must find a cure while dealing with the bloody aftermath. With its unique take on the horror genre, “Ginger Snaps” has garnered a cult following among gore aficionados and feminist-minded horror lovers.
“The House of the Devil” (2009)
Director Ti West has long been a standout in the horror genre, and “The House of the Devil” is hailed as his magnum opus. This slow burn haunted house tale follows a college student who unwittingly stumbles upon a babysitting gig from hell on the night of a lunar eclipse. With its gritty 16mm film, ’80s-style aesthetics, and homage to classic thrillers, “The House of the Devil” is a must-watch for fans of atmospheric horror.
“The Hunt” (2020)
“The Hunt” is a Blumhouse production that combines the suspense of “The Hunger Games” with the horror of a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. When a group of working-class individuals becomes the prey of elites who view them as “deplorables,” they must fight back against their pursuers. This film is a cautionary tale that plays upon the American political divide, using horror as a lens to explore society’s anxieties and nightmares.
“The Invitation” (2015)
In this gripping tale of dining peril, a man attends a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new spouse, only to discover a dark and twisted agenda at play. “The Invitation” skillfully weaves together existential horror, grief, and mental health, offering a thought-provoking exploration of the dangers of group manipulation. Directed by Karyn Kusama, this film is a must-see for fans of psychological horror.
“The Love Witch” (2016)
Directed by Anna Biller, “The Love Witch” is a feminist horror-comedy that pays homage to the Technicolor allure of 1960s horror. The film follows a seductive witch who goes to extreme lengths for love, ensnaring her paramours in her seductive tricks. With its gorgeous visuals and kitschy aesthetic, “The Love Witch” is a feast for the eyes and a refreshing take on the horror genre.
Before Anthony Hopkins became known for his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter, he starred in “Magic,” a psychological horror film about a struggling magician and his malevolent ventriloquist dummy. With its exploration of a man wrestling with his inner demons and his desire for validation, “Magic” is a character study that delves into the dark side of the human psyche.
From the twisted mind of Clive Barker comes “Nightbreed,” a campy fantasy horror film that unfortunately suffered from studio interference upon release. The film follows a man who finds himself drawn to a hidden city of monsters and mutants, inadvertently leading a serial killer to their sanctuary. With its exploration of otherness and intolerance, “Nightbreed” stands as a queer horror classic.
“Phantasm” explores the eerie concept of toys coming to life in this cult classic horror film. The story follows two brothers who face off against the Tall Man, a sadistic killer armed with a chainsaw and a mask made of human skin. With its surreal atmosphere and innovative killings, “Phantasm” is a must-watch for horror enthusiasts.
“Prom Night” (1980)
Starring the acclaimed scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, “Prom Night” takes audiences on a thrill ride as a prom queen is haunted by her sister’s tragic death. As the fateful night approaches, an unmasked killer seeks revenge on those connected to the sister’s demise. Surprisingly, “Prom Night” lacks gratuitous gore and stands proudly among EW’s top 20 slasher films of all time.
“Sleepaway Camp” (1983)
Summer camp settings have always been a staple in the horror genre, and “Sleepaway Camp” offers a unique take on the subgenre. Known for its shocking plot twist finale, this film combines gore, bizarre characters, and a sneakily queer underpinning. With its distinctive style, “Sleepaway Camp” is sure to make any horror lover a happy camper.
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974)
Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is a cult classic that defined the slasher genre. With its iconic villain Leatherface and its chilling portrayal of a group of friends falling victim to a sadistic family, this film revolutionized horror cinema. Despite its initial controversy, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” remains a must-watch for horror enthusiasts who want to witness the birth of a horror icon.
“The Wailing” (2016)
Hailing from South Korea, “The Wailing” is a masterclass in atmospheric horror. The film follows a cop investigating a mysterious infection that turns villagers into murderers. As the investigation delves into the supernatural, viewers are taken on a bloody and terrifying journey. With its captivating storytelling and universal themes, “The Wailing” proves that horror is a genre that transcends cultural boundaries.
“You Won’t Be Alone” (2022)
Set in 19th-century Macedonia, “You Won’t Be Alone” combines poetic prose with a dark and twisted tale. This period piece introduces audiences to a shapeshifting witch known as the “Wolf-Eatress” and the curse that befalls a young girl. With its haunting atmosphere and unclassifiable nature, “You Won’t Be Alone” is a film that will linger in your thoughts long after the credits roll.
Philosophical Discussion: The Appeal of Horror Movies
As Halloween approaches and horror movies take center stage, it begs the question: why do we subject ourselves to fear? What is the appeal of a genre that deliberately sets out to terrify and disturb? These questions have puzzled philosophers, psychologists, and film scholars for decades, and there are no easy answers.
One prevailing theory is that horror movies provide a safe space to confront our deepest fears and anxieties. By immersing ourselves in a fictional world filled with monsters, ghosts, and psychotic killers, we can experience the thrill of fear without any real danger. This cathartic release of fear can be exhilarating and even empowering, as it allows us to confront our own mortality and the darkness that resides within us.
Another theory suggests that horror movies serve as a cultural mirror, reflecting our societal anxieties and fears. From supernatural entities embodying our collective fear of the unknown to slashers representing our fear of violence and death, horror movies tap into our shared experiences and provide a vessel for exploring and processing these emotions.
Furthermore, horror movies are known for their ability to challenge societal norms and push boundaries. Through their depiction of violence, gore, and disturbing imagery, horror movies can act as a commentary on the human condition and the darker aspects of our existence. They force us to confront the uncomfortable and shine a light on the hidden recesses of our psyche.
Lastly, horror movies can simply be an adrenaline-fueled form of entertainment. For those seeking an intense and thrilling experience, horror movies offer a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The suspense, jump scares, and gruesome visuals provide a sensory overload that can be both terrifying and exhilarating.
Ultimately, the appeal of horror movies is deeply personal and varies from person to person. Some may be drawn to the psychological complexity and deeper themes explored in the genre, while others may simply enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared. Whatever the reason, horror movies continue to captivate and terrify audiences worldwide.
Editorial: The Evolution of Horror Movies
The horror genre has come a long way since its humble beginnings. From the early days of silent films to the modern era of advanced special effects and psychological thrillers, horror movies have evolved and expanded, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is considered scary.
In the early 20th century, horror movies relied heavily on Gothic imagery and supernatural elements. Films like “Nosferatu” (1922) and “Frankenstein” (1931) brought iconic monsters to the silver screen, capturing audiences’ imaginations and setting the stage for the horror genre’s enduring popularity.
As the decades progressed, horror movies began to explore more complex and psychological themes. Films like “Psycho” (1960) and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) delved into the inner workings of the human mind, tapping into our fears of madness and the unknown. These films marked a shift towards more nuanced storytelling and character-driven narratives.
In the 1970s and ’80s, the horror genre saw an explosion of creativity and innovation. Filmmakers like Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in mainstream cinema, introducing audiences to shocking gore, intense violence, and visceral thrills. Films like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) became cultural touchstones and solidified the horror genre’s lasting impact on popular culture.
In recent years, horror movies have continued to evolve, embracing more diverse narratives and exploring new subgenres. Films like “Get Out” (2017) and “Hereditary” (2018) have elevated the genre to new heights, receiving critical acclaim and garnering mainstream recognition. These films tackle social issues and psychological themes, offering audiences a deeper and more thought-provoking horror experience.
With the advent of streaming platforms like Peacock, horror fans now have access to a vast catalog of films, from classic cult favorites to contemporary masterpieces. This ever-expanding library of horror movies reflects the ongoing evolution of the genre and the diversification of its audiences.
As horror movies continue to captivate and terrify audiences, it is clear that the genre’s evolution is far from over. With emerging filmmakers pushing boundaries and challenging conventions, the future of horror movies promises to be filled with even more thrilling and thought-provoking experiences.
Advice: Embracing the Horror
If you’re someone who shies away from horror movies, it might be time to reconsider. While the genre can be intense and terrifying, there are many benefits to embracing the fear and exploring the dark depths of horror cinema.
First and foremost, horror movies offer a unique form of entertainment. They provide a thrilling and immersive experience that can transport you to another world. The adrenaline rush and heightened emotions can be exhilarating, offering a break from the monotony of everyday life.
Additionally, horror movies can be an opportunity for personal growth and self-reflection. By confronting our fears in a controlled environment, we can learn to cope with and overcome them. Horror movies can challenge our assumptions, push us out of our comfort zones, and spark discussions about deeper themes and societal issues.
Furthermore, horror movies can be a source of catharsis. They can provide an outlet for releasing pent-up emotions and anxieties, allowing us to confront our own fears in a safe and controlled manner. By experiencing fear in a fictional context, we can gain a sense of empowerment and resilience in the face of adversity.
Finally, horror movies can be a gateway to exploring other genres and forms of storytelling. The horror genre has influenced and intersected with various other genres, from comedy to sci-fi to psychological drama. By expanding your horizons and exploring different types of horror movies, you may discover new favorites and develop a deeper appreciation for the art of filmmaking.
So, the next time you have the opportunity to watch a horror movie, consider giving it a chance. Embrace the fear, open yourself up to new experiences, and you may just find yourself immersed in a thrilling and thought-provoking cinematic journey.
<< photo by Peter Forster >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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