Oct 8, 2019

Streaming Classic Horror: Top Picks and Links to Great Flicks

I always enjoy watching great horror movies, but it is especially fun to watch spooky flicks this time of year. Here are some of my favorite picks for thrills and chills. I've also included a more lengthy list of links to great classic horror films below, many of which can be viewed for free!

Hour of the Wolf (1968) (Criterion Channel)
Ingmar Bergman's take on horror unsurprisingly goes right for the soul. In this surreal and mysterious film Max von Sydow is a painter who suffers from horrifying visions and Liv Ullmann is his tender-hearted wife. Most of the horror here is derived from the intense fear you feel for Ullmann. She seems so vulnerable in the face of the mysterious forces pressing on her husband. 

Kuroneko (1968) (Criterion Channel)
I'm a big fan of a good Japanese ghost story and this is one of the best. A mother and daughter who are assaulted and killed by soldiers come back from the dead to take revenge on the violent men of the world. This is a beautiful film, with apparitions flying effortlessly through the trees and a magically disorienting mood.

The Last Man on Earth (1964) (Hoopla, Prime)
Before The Omega Man (1971), Vincent Price held off post-apocalyptic zombies in this first adaptation of Richard Matheson's book, I Am Legend. It's a less flashy, more somber take on the tale, with more backstory. It all works because Vincent Price is so appealing as the titular last man.

Dead of Night (1945) (Kanopy)
This pleasantly spooky horror anthology with a cozy framing story turns into sheer terror thanks to a segment featuring Michael Redgrave and an absolutely horrifying ventriloquist's dummy that comes to life.

A Bucket of Blood (1959) (Kanopy, TubiPrime)
Though producer/director Roger Corman's Beatnik take on the Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and House of Wax (1953) is played tongue-in-cheek, there are plenty of chilling moments in this low-budget wonder starring beloved character actor Dick Miller in a rare starring role. If you like the mix of humor and horror in this one, don't miss Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) (Kanopy, Tubi) which shares the same sensibility, in addition to several members of the cast and crew.

Viy (1967) (Shudder)
This Russian production based on a story by Nikoli Gogol plays like a lively folk tale. An immature seminarian murders a young woman, and while he is able to cover up his crime, he is coincidentally ordered to keep watch over her body for three nights. Turns out, the lady is not quite at rest and she is out for revenge. The horrors take a while to unfold, but once the creatures of the underworld  rise up to take vengeance, this film turns into a wild and visually exciting ride. Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960) (Kanopy, Tubi) is also loosely based on the same story.

The Queen of Spades (1949) (Kanopy)
In this unusual tale of a haunting, a greedy Captain kills an old lady for her gambling secrets. She sold her own soul to get them and from beyond the grave she now makes him pay the price as well. A delightfully spooky mood and eerie atmosphere make this an especially pleasing period flick.

Night Tide (1961) (Kanopy, Prime)
Dennis Hopper is uncharacteristically sweet and vulnerable in an early role as a sailor on leave. In this slow burn story he falls in love with a woman who may or may not be a murderous mermaid. Though he knows he may be in danger, the young seaman fears loneliness even more.

The Hands of Orlac (1924) (Kanopy, Prime)
The Peter Lorre film Mad Love (1935) is the most famous version of this story of a pianist whose hands are replaced with those of a murderer after a horrific accident, and while I love its campy energy, I also appreciate this more creepily restrained, silent version of the story. Rather than Lorre's mad doctor character, Conrad Veidt is the center of the action here as the tortured pianist who is horrified by the origin of his new hands.

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019) (Shudder)
To fill our your Halloween viewing list, this fascinating documentary is a must-watch. The best actors, directors, and other creators of black horror are paired up to discuss their favorite films, their own work and what it means to be black and working in the genre. There are some fascinating duos here and as many of these films I have seen, my to-see list was nevertheless much longer after watching this.

Silent Horror
Häxan (1922) (Criterion Channel, Kanopy) 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) (Hoopla, Prime)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) (Hoopla, Kanopy)
Nosferatu (1922) (Hoopla, Kanopy, Prime)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) (Kanopy, Tubi, Prime)

Hauntings and Creepy Houses
The Changeling (1980) (Shudder)
The Old Dark House (1932) (Shudder, Criterion, Kanopy)
Carnival of Souls (1962) (Criterion Channel, Kanopy
House on Haunted Hill (1959) (Kanopy, TubiPrime)
Kill, Baby...Kill! (1966) (Kanopy)

The Blob (1958) (Criterion Channel)
Fiend Without a Face (1958) (Criterion Channel)
Piranha (1978) (Hoopla)
The Tingler (1959) (Hoopla)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943) (Hoopla)

Vampires and Zombies
Ganja and Hess (1973) (Shudder, Prime)
Night of the Living Dead (1968) (Criterion Channel, Prime)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) (Criterion Channel, Prime)
Messiah of Evil (Hoopla, Prime)

All the Colors of the Dark (1976) (Shudder)
Blood and Black Lace (1963) (Shudder, Prime)
Suspiria (1977) (Hoopla)
Five Dolls for an August Moon (1971) (Kanopy)
Black Sabbath (1963) (Kanopy, Prime)

There’s also a great collection of producer Val Lewton’s atmospheric horror films on Criterion Channel right now and, if you have the stomach for it, several of Herschel Gordon Lewis’ groundbreaking and gory splatter movies as well.


  1. You have some of my favourites here: Last Man on Earth, Dead of Night, and Bucket of Blood! And I still maintain that Nosferatu is the best version of Dracula ever made. It's of a more recent vintage, but both Tubi and Vudu have one of my favourites--Motel Hell! Maybe it's sad to say, but when I think of Rory Calhoun it's not all of his Westerns that first comes to mind!

  2. This is so funny Terry. I watched Motel Hell last night! I think it's Rory Calhoun's best performance. Makes you realize he never got a chance to stretch as an actor during the studio days. He's so funny, creepy, and weirdly appealing in that role. I am so impressed by the horror selection on Tubi and Vudu. Agreed about Nosferatu. That character should be just as creepy and ratlike as Max Schreck was, not some matinee idol.