As Halloween night comes closer, you might find yourself wondering what movie to watch. While Netflix has some admirable selections, the truth is that there are lots of great horror movies to watch on HBO Max this Halloween! HBO Max has full access to the Warner Brothers library, as well as many TCM classic movies. Therefore, no matter if you’re a modern horror fan, or want to throw on something more classic, great choices will be abundant.
This list will cover some of the most iconic horror movies of all time. However, there will also be some underlooked gems. No matter what you pick, you can be sure to find the perfect scary movie to turn your Halloween from good to great!
10) Trick r’ Treat
Trick r’ Treat is one of those seminal movies that’s a yearly tradition for many horror fans. The movie is an anthology film containing four stories. The stories are connected by Sam, a mysterious young child wearing a burlap sack over his head. The premise of the film is that Sam appears whenever someone breaks one of the “rules of Halloween.”
Trick r’ Treat initially struggled to gain exposure, mainly because the film never got a theatrical release. However, over time, it has developed a cult following and many view it as the quintessential Halloween film. Each story individually is very entertaining, but what makes the movie worthwhile is the consistent and reverent atmosphere maintained throughout it. The movie truly embraces the Halloween spirit, making it perfect for a spooky October viewing.
9) The Shining
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the most popular Stephen King adaptations of all time. Of all the horror movies on HBO Max, The Shining is truly essential for any horror fan. Featuring a career-defining performance from both Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duval, this horrific tale is a masterclass in psychological horror.
The film went on to influence several filmmakers with its over-the-top set pieces, heavy use of subliminal messaging, and visually striking steady-cam shots. Though the movie was hated by King himself, audiences view it as one of the greatest films of all time.
For those who are tired of the same ‘80s slashers and 2010s ghost films, Diabolique offers something different, but no less exciting. The film is in black and white and is a French movie. While the initial inaccessibility may put off less adventurous viewers, the sheer amount of tension in this makes for a perfect HBO Max Halloween movie night.
The film follows a statistic boy’s school headmaster, who is killed by his wife and his mistress. However, after the body goes missing, the women start to notice strange occurrences that escalate. The film is a masterclass in suspense and could go toe-to-toe with any of the Hitchcock classics. Despite being from ’55, Diabolique has excellent pacing and features a spine-tingling 10-minute finale. Indeed, the ending feels like the blueprint for modern horror.
With tons of twists and turns, a cacophony of memorable characters, and a plot that’s engrossing and disturbing, this gem of a film is one of the best horror movies on HBO Max.
Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg’s classic ghost story is a classic tale of science vs. religion, good vs. evil, and children vs. the occult. Flooring audiences in the ’80s, and becoming one of the main reasons the MPAA added PG-13 to the rating system, Poltergeist is the foundation for many of the modern Blumhouse films that captivated audiences in the 2010s.
One of the things that make the film so compelling is that the movie isn’t a series of jump scares. There’s a genuinely gripping story here about family, suburbia, and the unrelenting terror that lies beyond the grave.
For those feeling adventurous, Eraserhead is an experimental body horror film by visionary director David Lynch. This film was Lynch’s first feature, introducing the world to his idiosyncratic filmmaking style. With evocative imagery, a non-linear plot, and a hefty dose of surrealism, Eraserhead is perfect for those who want something a little different.
The movie doesn’t follow a traditional horror outline. Instead, it places the hapless protagonist into a series of bizarre encounters and stressful scenarios. The film eventually crescendos into one of the most disturbing finales in film history. The atmosphere and vague plot points evoke an experience akin to having a nightmare. With amazing practical effects and one of the most iconic feats of sound design in film history, Eraserhead is more than a film, it’s an experience.
5) The Blob
For viewers looking for something less intense, The Blob is a highly entertaining ’50s sci-fi horror that stands as one of the greatest B-movies of all time. This retro classic gets by with some dated effects by providing a great spooky atmosphere and entertaining characters. Despite the slow pacing, there’s a lot to find charming here. Fans of old movies will delight in the pure cheesiness and great Halloween vibes this movie puts out.
4) Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
One of the best franchises on HBO Max is Nightmare on Elm Street, a Halloween classic that is known by nearly everyone. However, while the impulse may be to start with the first one, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is easily the best of the franchise.
Though the series is a staple in the horror genre, this film is a bit of a genre blender. It perfectly synthesizes the 80’s fantasy aesthetic with the grit of an 80’s slasher. This outing does a perfect job of combining comedy, inventive dream physics, and endearing characters that make the film more than just a series of horror set-pieces. However, the movie is not short on inventive death scenes. Dream Warriors is the creative high point of the series. The film is jam-packed with clever writing and compelling visuals. These elements work to create a story on how those with mental health issues are victimized.
3) Night of the Living Dead
If you’re looking for great zombie horror movies on HBO Max, it’s hard to go wrong with Night of the Living Dead. Romero’s masterpiece kicked off the Italian Zombie film genre and set the stage for decades of zombie movies to come. The film features gritty and evocative black and white cinematography and biting political commentary in a post-Vietnam America. But more importantly, it’s one of the greatest zombie films of all time.
The immaculate pacing and claustrophobic setting create an impending sense of doom that’s as unyielding as it is effective.
It is one of the most popular modern horror movies available on HBO Max. Though many opt to watch the original television series with Tim Curry, the modern It nearly surpasses the original in every way. No actor will ever be able to bring Pennywise to life quite like Tim Curry. However, the 2018 version does the story justice with gusto.
Taking cues from the massively popular Stranger Things, the film unabashedly wallows in nostalgia. However, this nostalgia is weaponized against the audience to create an unnerving story about childhood and trauma. With a fun cast of misfits that evokes something akin to an ’80s adventure movie, It embodies everything fun about horror, while delivering satisfying scares and gruesome kills.
It’s hard to overstate just how severely Scream changed the horror game. The film came out during the ’90s when audiences started to become jaded to horror movies. But then Scream came along, and with one film, Wes Craven created a space for horror fans to openly poke fun at horror genre conventions. Despite its comedic tone, however, Scream remains an effective horror movie in its own right.
Unlike genre parody films like Scary Movie, the comedy elements do not take overshadow the tightly crafted horror that’s on display. If you’re looking for something to watch on HBO Max this Halloween, Scream delivers on every level.