Halloween is still months away, but do you really need a seasonal excuse to give yourself a new round of goosebumps? If you’re looking for some spine tingles, we recommend stopping by Peacock.
There’s enough horror stuff on the streaming service to make Michael Myers blush through his William Shatner mask. Peacock spans the cinematic gamut of everything moviegoers have come to anticipate from the horror genre, from demons to haunted homes to psycho murderers and (yes) werewolves. What’s the best part? All of these movies are completely free to view (with a few commercials thrown in for good measure)!
SEARCHING FOR SOME CHILLS? CHECK OUT THE SCARIEST HORROR CLASSICS
While the slasher genre didn’t exist in the early 1960s (more on that later), we wouldn’t object if you said that Psycho helped to establish the sub-genre of deranged killers who use kitchen knives. The picture was pioneering for its day, despite being nearly bloodless (save for the chocolate syrup thrown down the drain during the classic shower scene).
For one thing, it misled viewers into believing Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was the central character before murdering her over an hour into the film. Another interesting fact: Psycho was the first major Hollywood film to depict a toilet flushing on the big screen. In comparison to what filmmakers can get away with nowadays, this is rather mild. Nevertheless, the swirling toilet water was such a scandal in 1960.
2. The Birds
It’s up to Alfred Hitchcock to make us fear birds to death. Of all things, birds! Who’d have suspected it? Some directors can only dream of understanding the horror genre as he did. Why do our feathered companions start attacking? That doesn’t matter; just get some shelter before you’re mobbed and pecked to death.
In an interview after the film’s release, Hitchcock stated that he was “quite indifferent to birds,” adding that they serve their purpose occasionally.
3. Prom Night
Jamie Lee Curtis (daughter of Psycho movie actress Janet Leigh) has earned the moniker “Scream Queen” for a cause. Her roles in early slashers such as John Carpenter’s Halloween and Paul Lynch’s Prom Night established her reputation as a film legend — the quintessential “Final Girl,” if you will. Curtis was unimpressed with the latter effort, which she believed was a Halloween rip-off (everyone was trying to capitalize on the crazed killer, er, craze at the time). Despite this, Prom Night has become an indelible part of the slasher canon, including a remake in 2008.
4. Body Bags
Body Bags is a 1993 film by John Carpenter that is broken into short tales. Horror heavyweights such as Sam Raimi and Wes Craven make cameo appearances, and even John Carpenter portrays The Coronor, a troubled coroner.
The first section, “The Gas Station,” is about a crazy serial murderer named Bill (Robert Carradine), while the second segment, “Hair,” is about a guy named Richard Coberts (Stacy Keach) who not only gets a hair transplant but also gets infected with aliens. Mark Hamill plays a baseball player who loses an eye in a car accident in the third and final segment, “Eye.” When he goes in for an eye transplant, he discovers that the previous owner has taken over his character, who happens to be a serial killer.
5. Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp is a B-horror film that deserves to be on our list and should also be regarded as a classic. Why? The slasher film from 1983 has spawned a series like American Horror Story: 1984 and a slew of sequels.
Angela Baker (Felissa Rose) is a distraught young girl who has recently lost her parents, She sends her son Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela to summer camp after moving in with her aunt, which seems like a fine plan at first until strange incidents occur. The campers begin vanishing one by one, and it’s a shock when the killer’s identity is revealed, to say the least. A movie from the 1980s called Sleepaway Camp is so bad, it’s good.
6. Black Christmas
We’ve returned to the discussion about which film started the slasher craze that would define the late 1970s and early 1980s. Black Christmas, which was released four years before Michael Myers’ legendary murdering spree in Haddonfield, may have a legitimate claim to being the first contemporary slasher film.
Before his death in 2007, filmmaker Bob Clark knocked off claims that Halloween was a rip-off of his film, saying, “[John] enjoyed Black Christmas and may have been affected by it, but John Carpenter in no way copied the idea.” In any case, Black Christmas (a basic story about sorority sisters being pursued and murdered in a terrible manner) seems like a good watch any day of the year.
7. An American Werewolf In London
Director John Landis has previously achieved box office success with comedies such as Animal House and The Blues Brothers. An American Werewolf in London demonstrated the filmmaker’s flair for frightening and visceral horror, even if it did contain some dark comedy. Rick Baker, the famed makeup artist whose revolutionary visual and cosmetic effects truly made the movie, deserves a lot of the credit (or should we say wolf’s?) Even after all these years, David’s metamorphosis into the iconic lupine monster holds up.
Baker remarked in 2011 that “we both adored witnessing Fredric March transform into Mr. Hyde and Lon Chaney Jr. transform into the Wolf man.” “However, it makes no sense for them to sit there and change a little bit, then change and change, and then get up and walk.” [John] expected the shift to be difficult, and he wanted to demonstrate the discomfort. He insisted on not using scary lighting from the beginning.”
8. The Stepfather
If you like Terry O’Quinn’s performance as the Alien Tracker on SYFY’s Resident Alien, you should see him in this 1989 cult classic as a violent step-parent.
In 2014, he told The A.V. Club, “[It] was the first time I sort of carried a film, or lead in a picture, and doing it was great, and I felt really unique.” “However, I was afraid thereafter.” ‘Wow, this is basically going to be about me,’ I thought. A large part of the success or failure of this picture is due to me!’ They only released the picture on occasion, and while it received positive reviews, it was never a big office triumph. After the film was released, it received some attention. It’s sort of a cult thing. I still have people mention that to me from time to time.
Sinister takes harmless, family-made home videos and turns them into weapons of mass horror, once rated the scariest movie ever created by the very rules of science (it has since been dethroned).
Scott Derrickson’s fourth directorial effort stars Ethan Hawke as a poor novelist who unintentionally releases an ancient creature known for seducing youngsters to murder their families. Derrickson argues that “Sinister is undoubtedly a progression of the genre, but I wouldn’t call it a found footage movie — rather, it’s a movie with motion picture footage in it,” given the film’s heavy usage of Super 8 video to terrifying effect.
10. You Should Have Left
You Should Have Left, based on Daniel Kehlmann’s novel of the same name, is a haunted house film with a lot more on its mind than just handing the spectator the keys to a creepy home.
David Koepp (screenwriter of Jurassic Park and Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man picture) wrote and directed the adaptation. Left stars Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried as a couple who relocate to a remote cottage in Wales with their young daughter. Everything seems to be going swimmingly until unforeseen events occur, forcing the characters to confront dark past truths.