10 witchy horror movies to watch after Fear Street
If the Netflix horror trilogy has got you in the mood for more pentagrams and 300-year-old curses, add these to your watchlist.
The Witch (2015)
Netflix's horror event of the summer, The Fear Street trilogy, is sadly coming to an end this week. After the first two blood-fest slasher movies, set in 1994 and 1978 respectively, introduced us to the 300-year-old Shadyside curse and the witch resurrecting the spirits of serial-killers past; the final chapter, set in 1666, will show us the mysteries of the town's original sin that's plaguing generations of teens. There's something about a dark witchy movie that adds an extra layer of thrill to the horror genre. Often portrayed as malevolently mystic beings with a centuries-long vendetta after being executed, their dark supernatural powers leave anyone who crosses their path doomed. The witch subgenre of horror has also brought us some ground-breaking movies over the years, from classics like The Blair Witch Project (1999), which revolutionised the found-footage style, to box-office blockbusters like The Conjuring (2013).
This summer is shaping up to be a big one for the horror genre. After Fear Street ends, there's American Horror Story's tenth season and its episodical new spin-off. There's also plenty of horror currently reigning over this year's Cannes Film Festival, from the horny, sapphic blasphemy fest that is Benedetta and the beyond disturbing Titane to the destined hit from A24, creepy mutant-sheep movie Lamb.
But alas, we won't see those hit cinemas outside the festival circuit just yet. If you've finished all of Fear Street and you can't quite wait for the next cinematic season of the witch, then fear not. Stay in the mood for more pentagrams, hexing spells, bloody rituals and 300-year-old curses with this bunch of chillingly witchy horror movies to watch with the lights on.
The Beyond (1981)
This movie opens with a hellscape painted onto the wall of a New Orleans hotel room, which becomes a door to the underworld and all its satanic inhabitants. Strong start. Fifty years later, when New Yorker Liza looks to refurbish and reopen the now derelict cursed hotel, she comes up against flesh-eating spiders, drowned bodies showing up in bathtubs and crucified corpses within its labyrinthine corridors. Becoming something of a cult classic over the years, the Italian gothic supernatural horror from "godfather of gore" Lucio Fulci was considered so graphic at the time, it was added to the UK's list of banned "video nasties".
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
The script for this Toronto International Film Festival gem was found by Norwegian director André Øvredal on the Black List, an annual record of popular unproduced screenplays. It stars revered Shakespearean actor Brian Cox alongside Emile Hirsch (Milk) as father-son coroners who are brought an unidentified body found at the scene of a homicide. Given the night to find the cause of death, the pair get to work sharpish. But when they open up Jane Doe's body, they discover inexplicable mysteries buried deep within, while the corridors of the morgue become inhabited by vindictive spirits out for blood.
Italian director Dario Argento has been dubbed "the master of thrill" in recognition of his work crafting and perfecting the horror genre. One of his most influential films is the 1977 arthouse horror Suspiria. The first in Dario's Three Mothers trilogy follows an American ballerina desperate to enrol at a prestigious Berlin dance school, only to discover it's actually a front for something far more sorcerous. For the Luca Guadagnino stans, there's also a controversial 2018 gore-fest remake starring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton alongside Mia Goth, Chloe Grace Moretz and model Alek Wek. While the remake was labelled "a film of rare and unfettered madness", it's not considered as seminal as the maggot-raining, throat-ripping original.
The Witch in the Window (2018)
When you take your child to the house you're flipping and he gleefully says: "tell me someone got chopped up here!", you know you've got a problem on your hands. As Simon and his estranged 12-year-old son fix up the abandoned house that once belonged to a malicious witch, with each repair, they feel the dark forces inhabiting it getting stronger and invading their minds. If you're more into slow-burning horrors with a lot of mystery and narrative over jump scares and gore, go check this film out ASAP, exclusively on Shudder.
The Witch (2015)
From our favourite production company du jour A24 comes this twisted horror debut from Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse) that also won him the 2015 Sundance directing award. Set in 1603, Anya Taylor-Joy plays Puritan girl Thomasin, whose family has been banished from their colony and forced to live in the woods of New England. When the family begin to notice cursed happenings and possessed livestock, followed by the disappearance of the family baby, they begin to suspect their own daughter is an occultist. But perhaps there are other sinister forces at play lurking within the woods…
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
You may recognise the vampy persona of character actress Cassandra Peterson from her appearances on the judging panel of Drag Race (although apparently, she isn't the same Elvira from the witchy remix of Taylor Swift's "Willow"? Mind blown). But the busty pin-up horror hostess Elvira has been around since the 80s with this her campy feature film debut. With a casserole monster, angry mobs, dressed up pigs and innuendos everywhere, fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show should check this horror-comedy out. Fun fact: The film almost starred Brad Pitt in what would have been one of his first movies, but it was eventually decided he was too distractingly attractive for the small role. Relatable!
The House of the Devil (2009)
Horror director Ti West paid tribute to the iconic horror films of the past, melding together their key narratives and using the filming techniques and technologies of the 80s. The result is this critically-lauded, satanic, slasher, ghost-story epic. Insidious: Chapter 2 actor Jocelin Donahue plays Sam, a college student struggling to pay her rent, who takes on a babysitting job that turns out to be for an elderly woman, one Sam later finds out has a penchant for the occult. With a lot of blood and jumps around every corner, you can watch The House of the Devil exclusively on Shudder.
All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
This queer necromancy zombie story originally entered the world in 2001 as a low-budget horror from recent film school graduates Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson. 12 years later, the duo revisited the film, remaking it into a feature-length movie with a comedy twist. When Maddy and her cheerleader friends are accidentally driven off the side of the road by the ragingly toxic boys of the football squad, they're brought back to life by Maddy's Wiccan ex-girlfriend. Now blood-thirsty zombies, the girls seek out their revenge. Prepare for a lot of sex, violence, gore and chaos.
Coven of Sisters (2020)
Winning five out of nine nominations at the 35th annual iteration of Spain's prestigious Goya Awards, this dark period drama is set during the witch-hunts of 1609 in the Basque Country. It tells the tale of the doomed Judge Rostegui, who was tasked with 'purifying' the region by the King, with inevitably nightmarish consequences. Six teen girls accused of witchcraft and facing execution try to buy themselves time to escape by confessing and promise to show the curious judge the secrets of the satanic witches Sabbath, or Akelarre, during the full moon. Featuring a vivid description of the devil's penis, the movie is currently available to watch on Netflix. Fun!
House of the Witch (2017)
In typical horror fashion, a group of audacious teens decide to celebrate Halloween at a creepy derelict colonial house in their neighbourhood. As they explore the creepy remnants of its previous inhabitants' lives, their party is soon crashed by the resident vengeful spirit of accused witch Annabelle Foster who won't stop until they're all dead. Starring Emily Bader (CW's Charmed), Darren Mann (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Nolan Bateman (Euphoria) amongst its young cast, you can stream the movie now on Netflix.