Amazon Video Vs. Netflix: Prime Is Killing It With Horror Movies

Dario Argento's Inferno (1980)
Dario Argento's Inferno (1980) 20th Century Fox

The best deal in streaming horror movies is still Shudder, but when it comes to the three largest subscription streaming services — Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu — Amazon Video is pulling ahead with a splat of great horror movies to stream.

Netflix has the occasional original horror movie worth seeking out, like Gerald’s Game and Hush, but the rest of their repertoire looks more like a VOD and Syfy Original dumping ground. Suck Netflix dry watching Hellraiser, A Dark Song, Creep, Housebound, It Follows, Oculus, Raw, The Babadook, The Eyes of My Mother, The Host, The Invitation, The Wailing, They Look Like People, Troll Hunter and Young Frankenstein, then move up to Amazon Video.

One obvious metric where Amazon stands miles ahead of the competition is in its selection of older movies. Amazon has 40 movies from before 1960 (nearly four times as many as Netflix’s entire 19th century selection), including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Haxan, Diabolique, House on Haunted Hill, The Most Dangerous Game (though it’s a hideous colorized version) and I Bury the Living. 60s selections include Night of the Living Dead and an unfortunately blurry scan of The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism. But if I had to pick just one…

Spider Baby

Like a proto-Pink Flamingos starring the Addams family, 1967’s Spider Baby is soaked in sleaze and the creepy spectacle of adults acting like screeching children. The Spider Baby “children” suffer from a disease named for them, “Merrye Syndrome,” which transforms them into both children and murderers. When distant relatives show up to claim the Merrye children’s house for themselves, the literal knives come out. Director Jack Hill would become an exploitation mainstay in the 70s with movies like The Big Bird Cage, Coffy and Switchblade Sisters, but he never did another horror movie anything like Spider Baby.

From the 1970s through 2017, Amazon Prime’s horror movie range explodes, with an overwhelming selection of mainstream releases, indie oddities and foreign splatterhouse. Here are a couple of highlights.

The Blood on Satan’s Claw

British quad poster for The Blood on Satan's Claw.
British quad poster for The Blood on Satan's Claw. Cannon Films

More rough-hewn and shaggy dog than The Wicker Man, The Blood on Satan’s Claw is nevertheless a must-see folk horror classic. With costumes to rival 1968’s Witchfinder General , Blood on Satan’s Claw combines the costume drama pomposity of British historical horror with the grotesque instincts of more pulpy 70s fare like Raw Meat or Horror Express. That clash of high and low, combined with sinister 60s flower child vibes, makes The Blood on Satan’s Claw one of the more disorienting and eerie movies of the 1970s. If you like that, check out director Piers Haggard’s 1981 movie Venom , also available on Amazon Prime Video (it’s got Klaus Kinski AND Oliver Reed, hell’s bells!).

The Witch Who Came From The Sea

The poster for The Witch Who Came from the Sea isn't very representative, but it is awesome.
The poster for The Witch Who Came from the Sea isn't very representative, but it is awesome. Cinema Epoch

This is about a waitress in a seaside town chopping off dicks (tagline: “Molly really knows how to cut men down to size!"). But what The Witch Who Came From the Sea does best is combine two of the 70s’ most powerful film aesthetics: psychological psychedelia and an embrace of working class seediness. Very nearly the Easy Rider of low-budget horror, Witch Who Came From the Sea is loaded with drug trips, decaying seaside neighborhoods and apple-cheeked barflies. Though it’s nominally an exploitation movie (and Video Nasty), Witch ’s surprisingly complex portrayal of the toll of childhood sex abuse puts it just as much in the tradition of psychological horror like Repulsion as more lurid contemporaries like I Spit on Your Grave.

The Legend of Boggy Creek

Despite the new wave of found-footage horror movies, few have attempted anything like the eccentric blend of fact and fiction found in 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek. A mix of stage-y interviews with locals and horror-flavored reenactments, Boggy Creek purports to investigate real sightings of Arkansas’ Southern-fried Sasquatch, the Fouke Monster. It’s not really all that scary, but the fun is in the format: half-monster attack, half-Errol Morris rural eccentricity. Also check out Noroi: The Curse on Shudder.

Motel Hell

Hell yeah, chainsaw fight.
Hell yeah, chainsaw fight. United Artists

Sibling farmers Vincent and Ida ensnare travellers, mock their sexual libertinism or hippy drugs, then bury ‘em alive and grind them up into sausages and jerky. Despite a grindhouse plot, Motel Hell looks surprisingly colorful and mainstream, with an added dose of dad jokes. Fun and light-hearted, as long as you have a high tolerance for meat and murder, Motel Hell pioneered the self-aware and half-slapstick tone of later horror movies like Evil Dead 2 and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Plus, it ends with one hell of a chainsaw battle.


Lauded as a 70s horror classic, complete with the requisite 4K restoration and impending remake, it’s a little surprising the deification of Suspiria hasn’t rubbed off on Inferno, Dario Argento’s 1980 semi-sequel. After defeating Mother Suspiriorum in Germany, Inferno pits a young poet against the second of the “Three Mothers” — ancient and powerful witches — in a New York apartment building. With significantly less narrative than Suspiria, Inferno is nevertheless Argento working at the absolute height of his colorful aesthetic vision and mastery of dream-like horror storytelling. Inferno may be Argento’s most gorgeous movie and deserves a spot alongside his more commonly acknowledged horror classics Suspiria, Tenebre, Opera and Profondo Rosso.

Bad Taste

Peter Jackson missed his calling as an actor.
Peter Jackson missed his calling as an actor. Image Entertainment

Bad Taste is far more than just a dry-run for Peter Jackson’s splatter epic Dead Alive (Braindead outside of North America). Funny, disgusting and astoundingly ambitious for its tiny budget, Bad Taste will make you miss Jackson’s mastery of practical gore effects and even his acting (“I’m a Derek and Dereks don’t run!”).

Blood Rage

"It's not cranberry sauce."
"It's not cranberry sauce." Film Limited

Did they institutionalize the wrong twin all those years ago after that gruesome murder at the drive-in? And is it Terry or Todd behind the ongoing Thanksgiving massacre? Low-budget, but bursting with enthusiasm, Blood Rage is gorey, energetic and one of the most fun slashers of its decade. There are lines from this you’ll be quoting for years.

This entry could just as easily have been about The Mutilator, another underseen, mid-80s slasher movie that’s only recently getting its due. Both are available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

There’s Nothing Out There

The monster.
The monster. Troma Entertainment

Sometimes credited in horror circles with inventing the “self-aware horror movie nerd trapped in a horror movie” character more commonly ascribed to Scream, 1991’s There’s Nothing Out There is a must-see for genre aficionados. A cheeky, low-budget, drive-in style monster movie, There’s Nothing Out There feels like the indie you wish you’d shot as a high schooler.


After producing stone cold horror classics like Re-Animator and From Beyond, Brian Yuzna proved he could make a movie just as good as Stuart Gordon’s best with his directorial debut, Society . Satirical body horror, Society depicts the rich as disgusting predators on the poor, whose predilection for “shunting” shows all you need to know about the grotesque elites. Class warfare has never been so gooey.

We’re just scratching the surface of Amazon Prime Video’s really outstanding and applause-worthy collection of horror movies. Jeff Bezos may be a cartoonish supervillain, currently pitting American cities against each other in the ultimate dystopian reality show, but I just can’t forego the opportunity to finally watch horror deep cuts like Three on a Meathook, Terror Train and The Incubus.

And if you’re looking for even more recommendations, you can’t go wrong with these other Amazon Video options: Alice Sweet Alice, Torso, The Blood Spattered Bride, Don’t Torture a Duckling, God Told Me To, Pet Sematary, An American Werewolf in London, Chopping Mall, The Toxic Avenger, Phenomena, Stagefright, The Witch or the 1972 Amicus horror anthology, Asylum.

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