Shudder is a streaming service that is specifically dedicated to the horror genre, so it’s only fitting that we here on Arrow in the Head should compile a list of the Best Horror Movies on Shudder Right Now. As with all streamers, Shudder has movies that come and go on a regular basis, but if you head over there today here are some of the best movies you can find on the service:
THE PIT (1981)
We recently gave director Lew Lehman’s 1981 film The Pit some much deserved attention with an episode of our video series The Best Horror Movie You Never Saw, and if you’re interested in seeing the movie for yourself after watching that video, Shudder has you covered. You can log in right now and witness the glory of this incredibly strange story about a young boy who finds a pit in the woods that serves as home to a bunch of flesh-hungry, prehistoric creatures. Feeling that he needs to take care of these creatures, and following the advice of his best friend / teddy bear, he starts dropping people who have wronged him into the pit, feeding them to the “tra-la-logs”.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
Yes, George A. Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead seems to be available on nearly every streaming service there is, and that’s because the movie is in the public domain due to the copyright notice accidentally being left off the film print. When you’re a streaming service that deals specifically with the horror genre, it would be insane if you didn’t have Night of the Living Dead in your library – and Shudder passes the test. They have the film that gave us the modern concept of zombies, walking corpses that exist only to consume the flesh of living people. Nearing its 55th anniversary, this is technically an old movie, but it’s also a movie that never gets old.
THE STEPFATHER (1987)
Long before playing John Locke on Lost, Terry O’Quinn starred in the 1987 film The Stepfather, playing a character that was loosely based on a real-life murderer. (Look up John List if you’re interested.) In the film, O’Quinn’s character is in search of the perfect family life, and when the families he marries into disappoint him he murders them and moves on with a new identity. When he marries Susan (Shelley Hack), single mother of teenage Stephanie (Jill Schoelen), we know it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be trying to kill them, too. Directed by Joseph Ruben, The Stepfather is a captivating horror-thriller, and O’Quinn does an incredible job in the title role.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)
John Carpenter’s classic original Halloween is on Shudder as well, but today we’re going to give some love to one of the best and most entertaining sequels in the franchise Carpenter’s film spawned. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Sure, this one doesn’t have Jamie Lee Curtis, but we do get a great performance from Danielle Harris as Laurie Strode’s young daughter Jamie Lloyd, the focus of iconic slasher Michael Myers’ latest killing spree. Donald Pleasence is back and still incredible in the role of Doctor Loomis, and director Dwight H. Little did an awesome job of capturing the look and atmosphere of a Midwestern Halloween. All that, plus it has that wonderful feeling of the 1980s. Shudder has the lesser follow-up Halloween 5 as well. Joe Bob Briggs hosted all three of the Halloween movies the streamer has on one of his specials.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
Stephen King‘s story Children of the Corn was only about twenty pages long, but what was on those pages has spawned a franchise of eleven – so far – feature films. The sequels and reboots have tarnished the reputation of the original film somewhat, but while director Fritz Kiersch’s Children of the Corn is a bit cheesy, it still holds up as an unnerving movie with memorable performances from Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton as a couple who find themselves in a Nebraska town where the children have massacred all of the adults, and John Franklin and Courtney Gains as the leaders of the cult that believes in a god called He Who Walks Behind the Rows. A god that requires the sacrifice of anyone over the age of 19.
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)
If you’re like me, you’ll occasionally have to take a moment to remember which story is The Haunting of Hill House and which is House on Haunted Hill. Shudder gives you the chance to watch both. Directed by famous showman William Castle and starring genre icon Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill is about a wealthy couple that invites a group of people to spend the night in their haunted mansion, offering a prize of up to $50,000 if they can survive until morning. All sorts of spooky shenanigans ensue, and this is another haunted house story that had an obvious influence on Sam Raimi. Price and Carol Ohmart play the couple that would really like to kill each other, and they’re a delight to watch. Bonus: Elvira hosted House on Haunted Hill for her recent Shudder special and you can watch that version of the film on there, too.
CHOPPING MALL (1986)
Hired by Julie Corman, wife of the legendary producer Roger Corman, to combine two major elements of 1980s pop culture – shopping malls and “dead teenager” movies – director Jim Wynorski came up with the cheesy classic Chopping Mall. The characters: a bunch of youths (including Kelli Maroney and Barbara Crampton) who decide to stay overnight in a mall. The threat: security robots whose circuits have fried, turning them into “Killbots”, lazer-blasting, electricity-zapping enforcers who execute anyone they cross paths with. Chopping Mall is quick, action-packed, and has the perfect running time for its story: it’s only 76 minutes. It’s a lot of fun to watch the Killbots rampage through the Sherman Oaks Galleria. The only thing this movie is lacking is a sequel.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)
Wes Craven’s 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes gets overshadowed by his bigger movies (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, etc.) and even by its own 2006 remake, but it’s still one of the best entries in Craven’s filmography. When a family has car trouble in the middle of the desert, they find that they’re being stalked by another family, a clan of cannibals that live in the hills. To survive, the civilized family will have to become just as savage as their attackers. The Hills Have Eyes features some unforgettable characters and performances, with Dee Wallace among the potential victims and Lance Gordon and Michael Berryman as villains Mars and Pluto. Berryman’s role in this film, and his image on the poster, rightfully made him a genre icon. (Putting a video about the sequel here because we don’t have a video on the original.)
EATEN ALIVE (1976)
A couple years after making The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper and his Chainsaw collaborator Kim Henkel made the delightfully off-kilter horror movie Eaten Alive, about a man named Judd (Neville Brand) who runs the Starlight Hotel – a place with fenced-in pond right off the porch that’s inhabited by a crocodile. A crocodile that eats the corpses of the people Judd murders. Brand delivers an awesome performance at Judd, a guy who would seem right at home with the Chainsaw family. The supporting cast includes Marilyn Burns, Carolyn Jones, Robert Englund, William Finley, and Kyle Richards. If you love the Chainsaw movies, you should definitely check out Eaten Alive. (Note: The script of the Eaten Alive video above was mistakenly credited to Cody Hamman. It was actually written by Eric Walkuski.)
HELL NIGHT (1981)
One of the many fun slasher movies to be released in 1981, director Tom DeSimone’s Hell Night stars The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair as college student Marti, one of four pledges from the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and their sister sorority who have to spend the night in a mansion where a man snapped and murdered his family twelve years earlier. Of course, the mansion isn’t as empty as the college kids thought it was. Soon enough someone is stalking around, killing everyone they come across. In addition to Blair’s Marti, one of the other characters who finds himself in danger is Peter Barton, who would encounter Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter a few years later. Hell Night has a cult following, but deserves to be even more popular than it is.