The Best Horror Movies On HBO Max Right Now

HBO Max logo
(Image credit: HBO Max)

One would hope that a streaming service with the name HBO Max would have some of the best movies you can find from any kind of genre and, luckily, this is a platform that does not disappoint. I would even say that the scariest selections for HBO Max subscribers are genuinely some of the best horror movies of all time, ranging from creepy classics to modern masterpieces of the macabre.

You do not necessarily have to take it from me, but I still would check out the vast collection on the streaming service and see if it satisfies the horror fan in you. To help narrow down your search, we have compiled our choices for the best horror movies on HBO Max. Viewer beware.

Christian Bale in American Psycho

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

American Psycho (2000)

While Batman will likely remain Christian Bale’s most iconic role forever, I would argue that he gives his most definitive and versatile performance as the unhinged, barbaric modern horror villain, Patrick Bateman, in American Psycho. Director Mary Harron’s outrageously disturbing adaptation of author Bret Easton Ellis’ novel chronicling a 1980s-era yuppie’s lethal descent paints a picture of masculinity so toxic, it is truly deadly. 

Stream American Psycho on HBO Max.

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Beetlejuice (1989)

Out of all of Tim Burton’s movies, if there is one that best represents his unparalleled visionary dazzle and morbid sense of humor, it has to be the dizzying amusement park ride through the afterlife that is Beetlejuice. Michael Keaton gives a fervently hilarious and (ironically) lively performance as the titular “bio-exorcist” whom Alec Baldwn and Geena Davis’ lingering spirits regrettably turn to for help to get rid of the annoying family that moves into their house, in one of the greatest horror-comedy movies ever.

Stream Beetlejuice on HBO Max.

Heather Donahue in The Blair Witch Project

(Image credit: Artisan Entertainment)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

In 1994, three amateur filmmakers ventured into a Maryland forest to make a documentary about a local legend and disappeared, only leaving behind the footage of their experience as evidence… or so the revolutionary marketing campaign of this indie sleeper hit would have you believe. While not quite the first of its kind, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s The Blair Witch Project is considered to be one of the best found footage thrillers – if not the scariest – for its cast’s remarkably convincing performances and unrelentingly paranoid tone.

Stream The Blair Witch Project on HBO Max.

Devon Sawa lying on the floor in a panic in Final Destination.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Final Destination (2000)

In slasher movies, death is merely the end result of the carnage that takes place while the true obstacle is the murderous maniac on the loose, but what if the villain was actually death itself? That idea is explored in the first of the conceptually intriguing and graphically inventive Final Destination movies, in which a premonition allows a group of teens to escape a tragic fate, only for death to catch up with them with a vengeance.

Stream Final Destination on HBO Max.

Jeff Goldblum in The Fly

(Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox)

The Fly (1986)

There are two types of horror movies that only a few brave souls have the stomach to endure: body horror and remakes – both of which are terms that describe this, otherwise, highly regarded and stunningly grotesque masterpiece. Jeff Goldblum is electrifying as a brilliant scientist who begins to slowly evolve into a half-man, half-insect hybrid due to an accident in director David Cronenberg’s tragically romantic, Oscar-winning remake of The Fly.

Stream The Fly on HBO Max.

Donald Sutherland in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

(Image credit: United Artists)

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

A film considered to be one of the greatest horror movie remakes of all time is director Phillip Kaufman’s update of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which might even be the best of the many films Jack Finney’s novel inspired. Donald Sutherland leads the cast of this unnerving and devastating portrait of paranoia about an otherworldly plot to replace the human race with virtually perfect duplicates.

Stream Invasion of the Body Snatchers on HBO Max.

Damien in The Omen.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Omen (1976)

There are some children who are such menaces, you would swear that they were the spawn of Satan. Well, what if they really were? Such is the case for Damien Thorn in The Omendirector Richard Donner’s unforgettably grim tale of an American ambassador (Gregory Peck) and his wife (Lee Remick) who discover, through a series of disturbing events, that their young son is really the Antichrist.

Stream The Omen on HBO Max.

Rebecca Hall in The Night House

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The Night House (2021)

The selection of cinema’s greatest Scream Queens is a list that grows longer all the time, such as when Rebecca Hall delivered an astonishing performance in one of the best horror movies of 2021, The Night House. David Bruckner – director of Hulu’s Hellraiser reboot – helms this beautifully crafted and shocking ghost story about a high school teacher who begins to uncover long buried secrets about her husband as she struggles to get over his recent death.

Stream The Night House on HBO Max.

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch

(Image credit: A24)

The Witch (2016)

One of the horror genre’s greatest living visionaries only broke into the scene a little over a handful of years ago with this deliciously creepy masterpiece of slow-burn horror deeply rooted in Puritan-era folklore. Indeed, The Witch does take place in the Puritan era and follows a devoutly religious family (including Anya Taylor-Joy) torn apart by an evil force lurking right under their noses in their isolated New England home.

Stream The Witch on HBO Max.

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Conjuring (2013)

In the early 2010s, haunted house movies had seen better days and director James Wan showed he agreed by literally returning to those days with a film set in the subgenre’s prime: the 1970s. Inspired by the alleged case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), The Conjuring was scary enough on its own to earn an R rating and still become a big enough hit to kick-off an ongoing “true horror” shared universe of period thrillers.

Stream The Conjuring on HBO Max.

Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist

(Image credit: MGM)

Poltergeist (1982)

The early 1980s was a sweet spot for the haunted house subgenre and Poltergeist is widely considered to be the crown jewel of the era. This infamous classic, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, stars Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as parents trying to rescue their young daughter (Heather O’Rourke) from a metaphysical evil that has physically kidnapped her into a spiritual realm. Outside of its relentlessly creepy atmosphere and special effects that hold up quite well, what truly makes Poltergeist such a timelessly horrifying experience is how earnestly it depicts the trauma of losing your child.

Stream Poltergeist on HBO Max.

Pennywise leaping from screen in IT

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It (2017)

The traumatic disillusionment of growing up affects many children, but often goes unseen. Stephen King brought that feeling to life in his 1986 novel It in the form of a creature that specializes in traumatic illusion when not disguising itself as a symbol of innocence. Of course, with the unnerving design(s) of Pennywise and Bill Skarsgard’s bloodcurdling performance, there is no question this clown means trouble for our young protagonists. Also be sure to complete director Andy Muschietti’s terrifying adaptation by streaming It: Chapter Two, or if you are too squeamish, streaming the 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry - both also available on HBO Max.

Stream It on HBO Max.
Stream It: Chapter Two on HBO Max.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shining (1980)

Fans of Stephen King go back and forth over what is truly the most terrifying adaptation of his work. Most choose this story of a recovering alcoholic writer (Jack Nicholson) driven insane by the manipulative presence haunting the empty hotel his wife (Shelly Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) are looking after during a lonely winter. While King himself would disagree, writer and director Stanley Kubrick’s take on The Shining is a masterful exercise in chilling suspense that curdles into unfiltered, paralyzing fear. You will almost wish you had the psychic “shine” of Danny Torrence – whom Ewan McGregor plays in the 2019 sequel, Doctor Sleep – to better prepare yourself for the film’s biggest scares as they literally come bursting through.

Stream The Shining on HBO Max.
Stream Doctor Sleep on HBO Max.

Kathy Bates in Misery

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Misery (1990)

The theme of isolation is common in much of Stephen King’s work, as is a protagonist who writes for a living – case in point, the book that inspired this acclaimed thriller from director Rob Reiner. James Caan plays a best-selling author taken in after a near-fatal car wreck by a nurse claiming to be his Number One fan who soon makes his life a living hell when she does not like the ending to his latest novel. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her unhinged performance in Misery as Annie Wilkes, who is easily the most horrifying representation of toxic fan obsession ever. 

Stream Misery on HBO Max.

Robert Englund in New Nightmare

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

New Nightmare (1994) 

Arguably, the film that really put Wes Craven on the map is 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, which introduced Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger into our worst dreams before he became a purveyor of grisly puns. Wanting to revive his more menacing vision for the burned, clawed boogeyman, Craven brought him into “the real world” in New Nightmare, in which the series’ original final girl, Heather Langenkamp, finds herself haunted by her horror movie legacy in a horrifyingly genuine sense. Everyone has a favorite Nightmare, and this brilliantly meta and inventively creepy installment is easily mine.

Stream New Nightmare on HBO Max.

Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Exorcist (1973)

Everyone has a different choice for what is the scariest movie of them all, and I would not discredit anyone who, after nearly 50 years, still considers this devilish adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel as the supreme owner of that title. What is really fascinating about The Exorcist, aside from being a horror movie based on a true story, is that director William Friedkin wasn’t trying to make a horror movie, but a commentary on faith through the eyes of a priest (Jason Miller) questioning his beliefs as a desperate mother (Ellen Burstyn) enlists his help in ridding the evil possessing her daughter (Linda Blair). Then 14-year-old Blair received an Oscar nomination for her unforgettable performance as the possessed child in this unforgettable and (literally) chilling masterpiece.

Stream The Exorcist on HBO Max.

Bette Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

Whatever happened to character-driven movies that rely purely on atmosphere and expert pacing to frighten its audience? Well, those still very much exist, yet are harder to find these days, but a trip back to yesteryear will point you in the direction of one of the most essential examples, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? This Oscar-winning story of an immobilized former child star put in the care of her envious sister is a tour de force of psychological thrills perfected by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, whose classic Hollywood rivalry would fuel this infamous example of art imitating life.

Stream Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? on HBO Max.

Jack Nance in Eraserhead

(Image credit: Libra Films)

Eraserhead (1977)

The beautiful thing about horror is how it applies to a wide variety of unique styles, and no style of filmmaking is more unique than that of David Lynch. Arguably, no film defines his experimental vision more than his black and white feature-length directorial debut that boldly defies traditional horror... and storytelling. Future Twin Peaks cast member Jack Nance plays Harry Spencer, a factory worker who becomes the guardian of his ex-girlfriend's mutant child, which is merely the basis for all the surreal and disturbing phenomena that Eraserhead challenges you to bear witness to.

Stream Eraserhead on HBO Max.

The zombies in Night of the Living Dead.

(Image credit: Continental Distributing)

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

No horror movie list is complete without a George A. Romero selection. Night of the Living Dead stars Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea and is about seven people who find themselves trapped in a rural farmhouse, in a deadly battle against zombies. Night of the Living Dead helped redefine the horror movie genre and ushered in a new wave of horror movie making. Romero really helped make the zombie movie genre what it is today.

 Stream Night Of The Living Dead on HBO Max.

Alida Valli in Eyes Without a Face

(Image credit: Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France )

Eyes Without A Face (1959)

Eyes Without a Face is a French horror movie that stars Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli. It’s about a man who is determined to have a face transplant surgery on his daughter. Her face became disfigured during a car crash. Eyes Without a Face influenced many films with similar themes and plotlines, including Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In.

Stream Eyes Without A Face on HBO Max.

No matter what time of the year, this leading streaming service always has movies that are scary to the max.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.