Guest Post by Erik Winther
Netflix is an all-time source for home entertainment and a reach treasure chest of amazing surprises
when it comes to famous movies. If you look carefully, you will find colossal titles standing the test of
time and gaining a faithful fan base ready to return to them repeatedly. Are you in for some serious
binging? Today we will go through 10 Netflix horror and thriller cult classics to quench your thirst for
1. The Conjuring
James Wan’s cult classic horror has no violence, gore, blood, or profanity in it, and yet is one of the most intense, scary, and disturbing movies in recent history. Some may not consider it a classic by age, but there are more considering it a cult-following film that changed the game entirely.
It gives you the chills, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it makes you shake in terror – and if these are not the best ingredients of a horror/thriller movie, we do not know what are. Scary and intense, The Conjuring put Wan on the map of brilliant directors whose works promise to keep you awake at night.
Few things are more cult-classic in the scary department than Hellraiser. Clive Barker turned leather wearing and pain-loving into cults of their own. However, it is more than a fetish, nightmares, and sadomasochistic fantasies in this movie. You have mythology and symbolism, effects that still stand their ground even today, bizarre characters, blood-chilling atmosphere and imagery, and a myriad of soul-tormenting ideas to spin endlessly.
By all standards, Hellraiser is a cult-classic mind-tearing movie for the ages. You should not skip it. It would be hard to avoid the film or its following, in truth, as it spread like wildfire and generated a handful of sequels, video games, novels, comic books, and more.
When it comes to Stephen King adaptations, things get a bit murky and shady for many, especially the writer in question. While he usually dislikes most of his book adaptations for the silver screen (as we will see in a few moments), few people can say something unfavorable about 1922. It may be slow paced at times, but overall, the movie is the subtle nightmare full of atmospheric dread that we all love in a Stephen King cult-classic novel.
Moreover, director Zak Hilditch, who worked closely with the author, managed to create a compelling and intense horror/thriller to challenge your mind and soul. A must-see for all King fans and all those in need for a chilling story about male pride went terribly, terribly wrong.
4. The Ritual
The Ritual is not the standard laughable horror movie you have to (unfortunately) see in recent years. While it relies on the usual horror tropes, there is a profound psychological dimension disturbing the soul out of you. An excellent monster movie with a terrific cast, The Ritual shows that some directors – as David Bruckner in this case – are willing to go a step forward and turn the horror genre on its head.
You should not miss it if you want to see a classic horror movie turning some tropes on their heads and telling an actual story full of twists and turns to make your skin crawl.
5. The Shining
Stephen King may have still his doubts and displeasures with Kubrick’s Shining because of the book/movie differences, but this does not chip away the movie’s fame, cult-classic following, and overall freakiness. Still ranking as one of the best horror movies ever made, The Shining is a human study in surreal notes perfectly blended in a schizophrenic atmosphere.
Besides the creepy imagery, the claustrophobic feelings, and the fact that we witness a man’s psyche slowly breaking down to pieces, the movie gained immense praise from viewers and filmmakers alike, becoming a central piece in pop culture works and cinematography worldwide. The only unsatisfied customer here is Stephen King, but then again, Netflix does him justice with adapting some of his best stories in ways even he could like.
You may not consider this a horror movie per se, but it put David Fincher on the map, confirmed Kevin Spacey as an icon, and cemented the director’s relationship with Brad Pitt, which will later turn into another cult-classic called Fight Club.
Se7en tells a chilling story about humanity (or rather inhumanity) through the lens of a heart-pumping thriller. Everybody delivers impressive performances, while the movie is still one of IMDB’s top ranking masterpieces of all times. The murders are gruesome and the final scene – while you do not see what is in the box, you can only imagine what is in the box – is one of the most potent plot twists in recent cinema.
If you are in for a blood curling work of art, Se7en will give you a taste of how cinema should look and feel. Fincher also had a fantastic team by his side, the movie getting a deserved Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. The Gluttony victim will keep you awake at night, together with Spacey’s look and performance.
7. Oldboy (2003)
If Fincher kept the gore mostly off-screen, sparing the audience of cheap tricks but giving enough psychological and visual horror to last for ages, director Chan-wook Park takes the idea of “disturbing,” flip it over, twists it, turns it, and gives us a movie that will haunt us for eternity. It may not be an easily re-watchable movie for the faint of heart, but Oldboy deservedly gained its cult-classic status and following thanks to the psychological turmoil.
One of the three movies making the Vengeance Trilogy, Oldboy is by far the most mind-shattering one. It also contains one of the most intense one-cut action scenes in the history of filmmaking, Greek tragedy elements, outstanding performances, and a final plot twist that curdles your blood and your brain. Oldboy represents the South Korean school of cinema at its best: unique, brilliant, over the top, gruesome, and addictive.
8. Donnie Darko
Now here we have a cult-classic with all the trimmings: creepy atmosphere and imagery, psychological breakdown, surrealism, absurdity, paranoia, and a young Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance promising us an achieved artist. It is one of the creepiest, most intense, mind-blowing movies in history – and for all the right reasons. We mean, if the rabbit did not give you nightmares, you are a stronger person than we are.
Is Donnie going mad and slipping away from reality, or is the freaky rabbit right and reality slips through our fingers as the world closes into its end day? You will be the judge of that. You may also see it as a story of becoming or of coming undone. A horror story, a Sci-Fi story, or a profoundly human one, but one thing is clear: Donnie Darko will leave you shaken.
9. The Host
Another Korean entry on our list, the Host will remind you of the classic fifties horror movies with a touch of brilliant Korean absurdity and bizarre plot. If you can deal with the idea of a giant amphibian (product of toxic waste no less) kidnapping a girl and a father hell-bent to rescue her, you get a refreshing thriller with specific South Korean school-of-making-disturbing-movies that entertain despite all odds.
10. Children of the Corn
Granted, this is not the best Stephen King adaptation for the silver screen on this list, or ever, but to everybody’s surprise, it has become a cult classic, if not for the story, at least for the use of the creepiest children in the last decades.
Some of the scenes are gruesome and bizarre, some are ridiculous, but then again, nobody can say that King’s Children of the Corn is not a classic. On the contrary, it sets the scene for King’s famous disturbing and creepy kids we all came to love so much. Moreover, the movie managed to enter pop culture and remains an excellent example of cultural touchstones – such as Isaac’s eyes and He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
What another horror/thriller cult-classics on Netflix do you intend to see soon? Are there any other titles you would like to suggest?
About the author: Erik Winther is a passionate blogger from Southern California and the creator of Netflixguides.com, a site made to help all TV and movie enthusiasts keep up with the latest shows coming on Netflix.