The best horror movies on Stan

Got a hankering for dark, disturbing, flat-out terrifying films? Critic Travis Johnson has combed through Stan‘s archive and picked the 25 best horror movies.

See also
* Best 25 horror movies on Netflix Australia
* Best 25 horror movies on Prime Video
* All new streaming movies & series

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

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American backpacker David Naughton is mauled by a werewolf while holidaying in the UK and subsequently finds himself a) haunted by his best mate Griffin Dunne, who was killed in the same attack, b) hooking up with Jenny Agutter, because it’s an ill wind that blows no-one any good, and c) cursed to transform into a ravening monster on the full moon. In terms of plot there’s not much to John Landis’ monster classic, but it threads the comedy/horror needle perfectly and boasts the single greatest transformation in werewolf movie history.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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This landmark found footage film by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez famously sends three student filmmakers off into the woods in search of a local legend, only for the hapless trio to discover the titular witch is all too real. Made on a shoestring budget at the dawn of the internet, part of the hook at the time of release was ambivalence over the provenance of the footage. The promotional website played it all straight, and the three principal actors stayed in hiding during its release. But even now, the film is an unnerving study in the terror of the unknown.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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“A group of teens go to stay in a spooky old cabin” isn’t just a decent set up for a horror movie—in Drew Goddard’s metatextual mash-up, it’s the set up for every horror movie ever. Our hapless, horny heroes—including a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth—are menaced by a clan of cannibalistic hillbilly zombies, but that’s just the least of their worries. What’s with the mid-level managers observing them from hidden cameras? What else is in the basement? Deft and clever, The Cabin in the Woods attempts to put a bow on big screen horror as a whole—and almost succeeds.

Candyman (2021)

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Nia DaCosta’s legacy sequel to the 1992 classic of the same name follows Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a young, black artist who comes to learn he has a disturbing connection to the titular urban legend, even as he becomes the prime suspect in a series of grisly murders. Smart, urban folk horror with a pitiless satirical streak, this Jordan Peele production is a fitting follow up to one of the best horror films of the 1990s.

Censor (2021)

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Welsh auteur Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut feature takes us back to the height of the UK’s 1980s “video nasty” panic, where Niamh Algar’s state censor discovers a clue to the whereabouts of her long-missing sister in a banned horror film by an underground filmmaker. Her quest for the truth soon takes a turn for the disturbing and surreal, as real life and screen life blur in this assured and unsettling gem.

Eden Lake (2008)

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The bleakest of Britain’s “hoodie horror” sub-genre, this sees a young couple (Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender) pay a high price for ticking off a gang of delinquent yoofs led by a ferocious Jack O’Connell. A genuinely tough watch.

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

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Sam Raimi more or less remakes Evil Dead (1982), upping the comedy and OTT gore and giving Bruce Campbell the performance showcase that defined his career. Campbell is the hapless Ash, trapped in a remote cabin and battling Candarian demons summoned by the Book of the Dead. It’s all fun and games until he lops off his possessed hand and straps a chainsaw to the stump—and then it’s awesome.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

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Bank-robbing brothers George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino and their hostages, including Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis, find themselves trapped in a Mexican bar full of vampires and have to survive *points to title*. A love letter to B-grade monster movies, this combo of writer QT’s dapper tough guy dialogue, director Robert Rodriguez’s visual flair, and the KNB Effects Group’s audacious artistry never fails to please. Also ground zero for the onscreen representation of Tarantino’s foot fetish—you’ll know it when you see it.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

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While we’d normally tap the first instalment, this is one franchise where you’re okay starting in the middle; the iconic hockey mask doesn’t even show up until Part III. The deceptively titled The Final Chapter is Part IV, introducing the notion of Jason Voorhees as an undead monster and pitting him against a young Corey Feldman along with the usual range of soon-to-be-corpses. The body count is impressive and the climax actually quite disturbing, even for this stripe of fright film. And the special effects work by the legendary Tom Savini is next level.

Halloween (1978)

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Years after he carved up his sister, remorseless killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) returns to the sleepy town of Haddonfield to kill again, terrorising teens on Halloween night. Director John Carpenter’s epochal masterpiece changed the genre completely, ushering in the age of the slasher and making a star of Jamie Lee Curtis. A number of the sequels and Rob Zombie’s remakes are also available, but the original has never been bettered.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

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Shock rocker Rob Zombie made his directorial debut with this cheerfully nihilistic gorefest, in which a passel of unwitting young folks run afoul of monstrous backwoods family The Firefly Clan, played by genre stars Sid Haig, Karen Black, Bill Moseley, and Zombie’s wife, Sherrie Moon. Starts as a knowing riff on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre before drifting into much weirder territory. The key here is understanding Zombie made this for himself, and your own enjoyment is a distant secondary concern.

Killing Ground (2016)

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Mystery Road star Aaron Pederson has never been scarier than in this Australian survival horror, in which he plays one of two killers (the other is Aaron Glenane) who terrorise a young couple (Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows) on a camping trip. Bleak and brutal, this is a particularly grim example of home grown horror from debut director Damien Power.

Let the Right One In (2009)

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A lonely young Swedish boy makes friends with the new girl in his apartment complex. Thing is, she’s a vampire, and looking for a new assistant now her previous henchman has aged out of the role. Is it love or something more predatory? That’s only one of the provocative questions raised in this chilly, oblique tale of blood and snow. The American remake, Let Me In, is also worth a look, but pales next to the original.

Midsommar (2019)

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Grieving after the death of her family, Florence Pugh follows her boyfriend and his mates on a getaway to idyllic rural Sweden, where they find themselves at the mercy of a pagan cult. The thing is, submitting to the cult’s strange ways may be a better option than the emotional trauma of life in the modern world. A kind of daylight take on The Wicker Man, the second film by Ari Aster sees him flexing the already impressive chops displayed in Hereditary, giving us a visually striking, queasily disturbing and shockingly violent slice of folk horror.

Relic (2020)

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Mum and daughter Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote decamp to the family seat to care for dementia-addled matriarch Robyn Nevin, only to confront a horrifying hereditary curse. With this homegrown horror debuting feature writer and director Natalie Erika James crafts a genuinely unsettling parable for ageing and infirmity that forces us to ponder the fate that awaits all of us.

The Ring (2002)

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The American remake of the cult J-horror classic puts investigative journalist Naomi Watts on the trail of a cursed video cassette that kills anyone who views it. Before he went on to make pirates (briefly) cool again, Gore Verbinski managed the impressive feat of a remount that can stand proudly beside its source material, and even includes a few extra shocks for good measure, such as the infamous “horse on a boat” scene.

Saw (2004)

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We’re about to get the 10th Saw film, but it all started here, with Leigh Whannell (who also wrote the screenplay) and Cary Elwes at the mercy of twisted serial killer Jigsaw, who likes to “test” his victims moral fibre and pain tolerance with a series of sadistic games before the almost-inevitable coup de grace. Launched the careers of Whannel and director James Wan, reinvigorated the entire genre, and still worth a spin almost 20 years on.

Scream (1996)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven revitalised the slasher subgenre with this smart entry, which sees a mixed bag of photogenic teens (Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Drew Barrymore, et al) stalked by a masked killer. The fresh wrinkle is that they’ve all seen Halloween and everything after, and so know how this whole thing is supposed to play out. Tongue in cheek but still effective, it changed the genre forever. The sequels? Not so much.

Splice (2009)

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Eschewing such things as “oversight” and “ethics”, rock star geneticists Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody create a human/animal hybrid lifeform (French model Delphine Chanéac), only for things to go awry when the creature hits puberty. Director Vincenzo Natali gives us a surprisingly wry take on body horror, resulting in a sci-fi/horror that amuses and repels in equal measure.

Wolf Creek (2005)

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The key Australian horror film of the 21st century sees three outback tourists (Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi) run afoul of iconic serial killer Mick Taylor (John Jarratt, a long way from Better Homes and Gardens), with stomach-churning results. It launched a multimedia franchise, completely revitalised Jarratt’s career, launched director Greg McLean’s, and made a new generation nervy about ocker blokes in utes.

You’re Next (2011)

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A bickering family find themselves under siege in their holiday home as masked killers pick them off one by one. Luckily, the Australian girlfriend of one of their sons (Sharni Vinson) grew up in a survivalist compound and when she turns the tables, the gore quotient goes through the roof. Adam Wingard (The Guest, Blair Witch) delivers a surprisingly fun take on the home invasion subgenre.

This guide is regularly updated to reflect changes in Stan’s catalogue. For a list of capsule reviews that have been removed from this page because they are no longer available on the platform, visit here.