Stream and Scream: The Best Horror Movies Are at the Library!

For some people, October is a time for watching horror movies and celebrating all things spooky. For others, scary movies are a year-long viewing affair. I consider myself in the latter category as a horror movie enthusiast, particularly when it comes to witches, demons, and the undead. My colleague Dan, however, is a horror movie expert specializing in the slasher genre.

As a San Mateo County Libraries cardholder, you can join in on the horror fest! Our online streaming services, Hoopla and Kanopy, have huge collections of horror movies. You can find just about any type of scary movie – from black and white classics to new international movies to 80s favorites. Dan and I have selected our favorite horror movies that you can stream anytime, anywhere!

As with any movie, please use your viewer discretion and review the ratings before watching.


Hereditary, opens a new window
Ginny: This is one of the best recent horror movies I’ve seen. It’s terrifying both visually and psychologically. When the matriarch of a family passes away, her daughter begins to dig into terrifying family secrets. The more she discovers, the more the family finds themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.

The Others, opens a new window
Dan: A Ghost story with an incredible performance by Nicole Kidman. Grace, the mother of two photosensitive children, becomes increasingly aware her house is haunted.

The Witch
Ginny: Witchcraft, black magic, and possession – what could be better? How about a four-legged breakout star with cloven hooves? The Witch is not your typical horror movie, but it is both terrifying and compelling.

Zodiac, opens a new window
Dan: Top-notch David Fincher film about the most famous serial killer to hit the Bay Area. Great casting and even better acting. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book of the same name.


Life After Beth, opens a new window
Ginny: I watched this movie solely because it stars Aubrey Plaza, the actress who plays the monotone and unenthusiastic intern from Parks and Recreation. She delivers as a girlfriend back from the dead who tortures her unassuming boyfriend, Zach. This movie falls under the fun zombie movie sub-genre for fans of Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Fido.

What We Do in the Shadows
Ginny: This hilarious mockumentary recently got turned into a TV show on FX. The show is great, but watch the original first! Housemates Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are three vampires who are trying to live in the modern world. They’re just like anyone else – except for immortality and an appetite for human blood.

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil
Dan: For a change of pace, here’s a great slasher comedy. Who are the bad guys, the hillbillies or the preppy college kids?

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen
Dan: Fun documentary highlights many of the more underappreciated horror films. The cast is funny and knowledgeable.

Behind The Mask, opens a new window
Dan: What if you could see the behind the scenes of all it takes to be a slasher? An instant classic black comedy horror film. Leslie Vernon, an up and coming slasher killer takes a film crew with him to document his deeds.


Black Christmas
Dan: From the director of A Christmas Story. Pretty much the same movie. Kidding 😉 . This is an awesome slasher movie. Scary and very suspenseful. Starring Margot Kidder of Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark fame.

Scream, opens a new window
Ginny: Like many 90s kids, I clearly remember the first time I ever saw Scream. It was such a sensation that it triggered a resurgence of the slasher genre! I still see that iconic Ghostface mask used as a Halloween costume. It also has one of the best opening scenes ever with Drew Barrymore.

A bay of blood
Dan: Early Italian slasher that influenced the slasher craze of the 80s. Mario Bava, the master of Italian horror.

The New York Ripper
Dan: 1982 slasher with a killer who talks like Mickey Mouse and quacks like Donald Duck. Need I say more?

Hatchet, opens a new window
Dan: New age slasher set in New Orleans. Very gory, very funny. A swamp tour isn’t all it turns out to be when the legend of Victor Crowley turns out to be more than just folklore.

The House On Sorority Row, opens a new window
Dan: 1982 cult classic. A prank goes horribly wrong and the sorority sisters of the film start getting stalked by an unidentified figure. Good acting and plot twists make this a fun watch all the way.


Carnival of Souls
Ginny: The sole survivor in a devastating car crash, Mary moves to Utah where she takes on a job as a church organist. She is routinely haunted by a strange man she finds herself drawn to an abandoned carnival on the outskirts of town.

This is one of my top classic horror movies because of how simple yet effectively spooky it is. In fact, it was shot in just under three weeks and had a very low budget for feature-length movies at the time. It flew under the radar when it first came out but later became a cult classic due to its creative camera work and haunting organ score.

Suspiria, opens a new window
Ginny: A young American student comes to a fancy ballet academy in Germany. However, after a series of grisly murders, she discovers that this academy isn’t what it seems. Supernatural and sinister forces lurk within the walls and yes, there are witches. Directed by Dario Argento with a score by prog-rock band Goblin, Suspiria is a terrifying treat for the eyes and ears.

Black Sunday
Ginny: Another incredible Mario Bava-directed movie, Black Sunday is about a witch (did I mention I like witches?) who is sentenced to death by her brother. Before burning at the stake, the witch vows revenge on her brother’s descendants. It’s low budget yet delightfully chilling.

Do you like scary movies? Is there a movie you've found on Hoopla and/or Kanopy that we haven't listed? Add to our list by posting in the comments!