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HBO Max: The 10 Best Horror Movies to Watch in October

From classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street to newer offerings like The Night House, HBO Max has what you need for spooky season.

October is here, so you may be looking to scare yourself with some great horror flicks. And if you're an HBO Max subscriber, you have access to an incredible selection of creepy, spooky, grisly and grimy movies you can watch whenever. The best horror movies on HBO Max range from certified classics like The Shining and A Nightmare on Elm Street to more recent entries like The Night House and The Witch. 

Here are the tales you should make time for on HBO Max. All these films received generally favorable reviews or better, according to Metacritic.

Brooke Palmer

It (2017)

When this adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel hit theaters in 2017, it had moviegoers like me looking twice at storm drains and dreading red balloons. With a cast of intrepid kids and a lot of heart, it makes a compelling case for more supernatural coming-of-age stories. And a strong case against clowns. 

Libra Films

Eraserhead (1977)

David Lynch's first feature-length film will make you feel like you're in a bizzare nightmare. The 90-minute black-and-white horror flick is packed with odd sounds and imagery, and the result is incredibly eerie. Don't even get me started on the main character's freakish, otherworldly-looking "baby" (that is oddly still kind of cute?). There are messages about men and parenthood here, but setting aside the bigger picture, Eraserhead's surreal world is absolutely worth a visit. 

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

The Exorcist (1973)

Now that Universal is working on not one, but three brand new Exorcist movies, it's time to jog your memory about the terrifying events of the original. Ellen Burstyn stars as a mother to a possessed 12-year-old daughter who enlists the help of a priest. The thoroughly scary flick also won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Shining (1980)

If you're still on the hunt for a horror movie, you can't go wrong with The Shining, the excellent Stanley Kubrick-directed movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. In this adaptation of a Stephen King novel, a writer (Nicholson) staying in a remote hotel with his family exhibits some troubling changes in behavior. This one will absolutely satisfy your horror cravings.

Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

The Night House (2020)

Love psychological horror movies? Wait till this flick comes knocking. The Night House homes in on a woman (Rebecca Hall) who's grieving after the death of her husband. As she uncovers a dark mystery, she begins to question what she thought she knew about her marriage. This haunting movie is a standout in HBO Max's horror portfolio.

Screenshot by CNET

The Witch (2015)

This historical horror movie pretty much guarantees nightmares. The disturbing film centers on a family in 1630s New England and marks Anya Taylor-Joy's film debut. Over the 90-minute flick, strange and shocking things happen to a farmer, his wife and their five children who've relocated to a remote area on the edge of a forest. 

Lionsgate

American Psycho (2000)

In case you haven't yet been introduced to well-groomed investment banker Patrick Bateman, it's time to pull out your business card and get acquainted. Elements of dark comedy, thriller and horror are on display in this film, a satire of late '80s excess that stars Christian Bale as a wealthy young professional with murderous hobbies. Tune in for blood-splattered scenes and a committed performance from Bale.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

28 Days Later (2002)

In 28 Days Later, protagonist Jim (a pre-Peaky Blinders Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find the world has gone through a horrifying shake-up. It's similar to the beginning of another postapocalyptic tale, The Walking Dead, except instead of a reality that involves slow-moving zombies, this flick features virus-infected humans that are fast and filled with rage. Yeah, Rick Grimes had it easy. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), this tense horror film is essential viewing.

Warner Bros.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Iconic slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street is streaming on HBO Max along with most of its sequels, so a marathon may be in order. The first film follows teenager Nancy Thompson and her friends who begin to dream about the same man -- a disfigured, sweater-wearing villain who wields blades on one hand. Get your binge on, and good luck trying to sleep tonight. 

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero's first horror film is an easy recommendation. A group of survivors take refuge in a house while members of the undead swarm outside. The influential flick is often regarded as the first modern zombie movie, and while it may not offer Freddy Krueger-level frights, you'll be drawn in by the characters at the center of its story. You're going to want to leave the door open for this one (but in the case of an actual apocalypse, keep it very, very shut).