Back in February of 2012 I made a list of the scariest films on Netflix instant. Now here we are only half a year later and a good chunk of that list is no longer applicable. After several requests, I’ve decided to readdress the availability of films on Netflix instant and create a list for summer of 2012. It would appear that Netflix changes the line-up of movies quite frequently, so this list may only be entirely valid for another few months. But if the demand continues, I will get in the habit of creating a new list twice a year. So make sure to subscribe to the Blood Sucking Geek to keep up with the latest lists and reviews!
Now as I have said before and will always point out: fear is a very personal response, so feel free to disagree, suggest, comment, or recommend. Your recommendations could easily help other readers if my ten suggestions don’t hit the sweet spot! And please understand this is not a list of ‘scariest films ever’. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out my scariest films list.
Please keep in mind that these are sorted by ‘scariness’, not by which are better films (Black Sabbath and Carnival of Souls would be much higher on the list if it were ranked by film quality or importance). Without further delay, here is what I believe to be the scariest films on Netflix instant available right now. So sign up and watch them!
Top 10 Scariest Films on Netflix Instant – Summer 2012
Like most good horror fans, I love the first two Creepshow films. Yeah they aren’t the scariest movies in the world, and are certainly filled with intentional cheese, but there are certainly creepy moments. They are campy, comic style anthologies that are a must for fans of Tales From the Crypt and 80’s horror. Even if you don’t find any element that is in the least bit ‘scary’, you will certainly still enjoy them.
The Bloody Mary legend always frightened me as a kid, and Candyman plays on that myth that we all know. In fact, the very premise of the film plays on the element that myths may become reality if there is enough belief. The childhood fear of the ‘what if?’ is exploited, so for anyone who stood in front of the mirror and dared to ‘summon’ Bloody Mary, Candyman should resonate with you.
John Carpenter displays what finding the Devil might actually mean in Prince of Darkness. Alice Cooper makes an appearance as one of many people who come under the influence of Satan himself, and wander in an eerie gathering. That and many dream sequences give this film an effectively creepy feel. It also takes a look at one outcome if science were to ever actually find, and attempt to trap, the Devil. This all makes for an excellent atmosphere and I believe can certainly be considered ‘scary’.
The cult classic Carnival of Souls earns every bit of recognition that it has received. It was filmed on a slim $30,000 (which was apparently all invested by local businesses where it was shot). Overall it plays like an episode of The Twilight Zone, but creates an undeniable feeling of discomfort. In fact, the first half very closely resembles the 1959 episode ‘The Hitch-hiker’. It isn’t filled with special effects or cheap scares. Instead, it develops an uneasy atmosphere in which something is just off. If you have the ability to appreciate classic atmosphere, Carnival of Souls has it by the truckload. Take my advice and watch this late at night with all the lights off, and appreciate the use of silence.
Mario Bava’s horror anthology, Black Sabbath, is one of the best horror films currently available on Netflix instant. Bava’s legendary directing creates a brilliantly creepy atmosphere. Boris Karloff stars as both a segment narrator and a character in one of the stories. It has a bit of camp (as does any horror film from the 1960’s), but Bava’s knack for horror cinema is ageless, and it shines through in Black Sabbath. If you don’t find the first story eerie enough, then just wait until the child comes calling for his mother in the third story (you’ll know it when it happens).
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star in the atmospheric thriller, Don’t Look Now. This is one of those timeless films that has the ability to stick with the viewer long after watching it (if you let it sink in). It focuses on psychological fear of the unknown. As the trailer says several times, ‘things are not what they seem’. If you want shallow thrills or cheap scares, this isn’t the right film to do that. Instead, approach this movie with the intent to let yourself be lost in it. Personally, it took several viewings before I began to comprehend the full effect (but I’m not as ‘deep’ as so many cinema elitists). If you’re looking for subtle psychological scares, look no further.
Scarecrows is a lesser known, but very effective, late 80’s horror film. A group of criminals hold a pilot and his daughter hostage after a heist and force them to fly to Mexico. One of the group double-crosses the rest and they are forced to search for him in a remote location filled with scarecrows. The atmosphere it builds is top-notch. All events occur in the dead of night with very little ambient lighting, in an undisclosed location. If scarecrows are inherently scary to you, this film will certainly creep you out.
Ti West masterfully mimics 70’s and early 80’s horror films with The House of the Devil. Now it’s important to realize that this isn’t your typical 21st century horror film (after all I did just point out that he mimics the golden age of horror). It won’t scare young fans of fast-paced, in-your-face films (though most of the suggestions on this list aren’t directed to that type of moviegoer). Rather than cheap scares, The House of the Devil builds an immense amount of tension and atmosphere. So ignore the bad reviews you may have read for this film, as usually they just aren’t patient enough to enjoy it for what it is. I, for one, am thankful for directors like Ti West that know good horror. So if you appreciate classic atmospheric horror, give this one a watch, your patience will be rewarded.
One of Roger Corman’s greatest films, House of Usher, is a faithful adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s story. In fact, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is, in my opinion, one of Poe’s scariest stories. A blonde and clean-shaven Vincent Price stars as Roderick Usher, and portrays the role masterfully. The looming and suspenseful atmosphere never lets up, and makes the film eerie and intense. As with most of this list, House of Usher isn’t about cheap scares and gimmicks, but rather focuses on a menacing atmosphere and a troubled cast of characters. The last 20 minutes is just plain haunting. Watch it on a dark night with a bowl of hot gruel.
Hellraiser is likely the goriest and most ‘in-your-face’ film on this list, and still it is laced with atmosphere. Clive Barker writes and directs this legendary film that began a franchise. The onslaught of slashers that were coming out in the 80’s weren’t really ‘scary’ (they were fun as hell though). Hellraiser broke that mold and created a highly original and terrifying film. Is anyone not horrified at the very site of the cenobites? On top of that, there is Frank’s slow regeneration and the creatures that come with the Box. Clive Barker’s genius comes screaming into view with his first, and one of only a few, film as director. It will ‘tear your soul apart’.