A Beginner’s Guide to Horror: 11 Essential American Horror Movies

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YouTube has been through so many evolutions since its creation. This company went from hosting funny meme videos to being the second most visited site on the internet. Not to say that it doesn’t still host meme videos, just that now it’s so much more than that.

Not only can you use YouTube for your news coverage and music database. It also has its own free with ads video section. Now that there are fifty different streaming services all hosting their own line-up of horror films, it can get difficult to sort through all of them. Luckily, I have done that task for you.

Below is a list of the best films currently available for free on YouTube:

In The Mouth of Madness 

In The Mouth of Madness Movie Poster

I have mentioned in the past my love for both cosmic and meta-horror films. So of course, I had to feature a film that combines both of those elements into one glorious experience.

This film has everything, Lovecraftian monsters, time loops, an axe murderer, and most terrifying of all, copyright law. In The Mouth of Madness is a horror film made for horror readers.

This film features everyone’s favorite 90s spooky daddy Sam Neill (Event Horizon). If you were ever curious what the world would be like if Lovecraft wasn’t writing fiction, go watch In The Mouth of Madness.

Leprechaun In The Hood 

Leprechaun In The Hood Movie Poster

Who doesn’t want a little Blaxploitation mixed with their Irish folklore? This film definitely falls into the so bad it’s good category, which is where the YouTube horror section really shines.

The fifth entry into the Leprechaun series has been criticized for being more about exploitation than horror or comedy. That being said, it still has a cult following and is regarded as one of the best Leprechaun sequels.

After traveling through space, and also the past for some reason, this was the obvious next step in the franchise. If you want to see Ice-T battle a magical trickster from the fae realm, then go watch Leprechaun In The Hood.


Frozen Movie Poster

Adam Green (Hatchet) is known primarily for his goofy approach to the horror genre. In an attempt to show his range, he created one of the most stress-inducing horror films I have ever seen.

Part of what makes Frozen so great is that the plot is incredibly bare-bones. The idea is so simple that it works perfectly. Three friends are stuck on a ski lift for a weekend with no one coming to save them.

There is no grand metaphor in this one, just a bleak atmosphere and the rationalization of one’s own mortality. If you are looking for something with a bit more realism, spend some time with Frozen.

Wish Upon 

Wish Upon Movie Poster

Ok, I know that this movie is just the monkey’s paw and that this premise has been done to death. But I don’t care, I will never tire of watching people play with ancient, cursed objects and immediately getting their comeuppance.

At least this iteration shakes it up a bit by making it about angsty teenagers. Although this just ends up feeling like The Craft, it even has the same new house montage before things turn sour.

The YouTube horror section is mainly filled with classics and indies. But luckily modern high budget films like this one sometimes get added to the roster. If you just want a popcorn horror flick with good special effects, go watch Wish Upon.

Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn Movie Poster

The work of Stephen King is so prevalent in the horror community that it is hard to make these lists without mentioning him. With even more of his adaptations being made, it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon.

This classic tale of wayfaring children and their corn god remains a classic in horror circles, despite its less than stellar special effects. This is because Children of the Corn exposes a timeless truth. Children are all just small monsters that would murder us all, given the chance.

Stephen King has made his career about making not scary things terrifying. Anything from trucks to grass, and even hotel rooms are not safe from Stephen King’s imagination. If you are interested in what that kind of mind can do with corn, enjoy Children of the Corn.

Dracula Dead and Loving It 

Dracula Dead and Loving It Movie Poster

I really miss this slapstick style of horror comedies. Sometimes you just want something so cheesy you can’t stop smiling. That is what Films like Dracula Dead and Loving It can bring to the table.

How could you not love this film? It was written by the marvelous Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein) and Leslie Nielsen (Scary Movie) plays a caricature of Dracula that is unrivaled to this day.

One thing that YouTube movies has in spades is classic horror films. If you are wanting to brush up on some of the old guard, go watch Dracula Dead and Loving It.

Train to Busan

Train to Busan Movie Poster

South Korea has been knocking it out of the park for the past decade. Films like Parasite, The Wailing, and Train to Busan have all been massive hits. Even people that don’t love subtitles tend to enjoy these films.

Coming out with a fresh take on a zombie virus in 2016 is no small feat. Yet writers Joo-Suk Park (Hwayi: A Monster Boy) and Sang-ho Yeon (Hellbound) take it in a new direction. A common theme in the newer forms of South Korean horror films is the impacts of capitalism and class division.

This is one of the many reasons that Parasite was the first non-English film to win best picture at the Academy Awards. If you want some politics thrown into your horror films, enjoy watching Train to Busan.

Dead Snow 2 Red vs Dead

Dead Snow 2 Movie Poster

Nazisploitation films are always a strange subject for me. On the one hand, nazis are bad and shouldn’t see a rise in popularity. On the other hand, watching nazis get murdered is super fun.

Ultimately, Dead Snow 2 is just fun all the way around. Mixing both Norwegian and American humor creates some of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in this sub-genre. For those of you unaware, around 2010 everything had Nazi zombies in it for one reason or another. Thankfully, this fad eventually went the way of the Beanie Baby.

This isn’t to say that it was all bad. We received some great movies on this subject, but many more were made as a cheap cash grab. If you think seeing some Nazis die in gruesome ways sounds like a good way to spend an evening, go watch Dead Snow: 2 Red vs Dead.

Troll Hunter 

Troll Hunter Movie Poster

The found footage sub-genre is a great way to find hidden gems. The premises often sound horrible, and there is often no way to discern from the trailer if it will be any good. The only option we are left with is to dive right in.

Troll Hunter is no exception to these rules. The title comes off as silly, and the trailer looks like a terrible b-movie. But if you venture into the weirdness that is Troll Hunter you will not leave disappointed.

This film is dominated by Norwegian comedians including Otto Jespersen (Borning), Knut Nærum (House of Norway), Robert Stoltenberg (Panorama), and Hans Morten Hansen (Framing Mom). So, if you want to see what Norwegian horror comedy is all about, check out Troll Hunter.


Marrowbone Movie Poster

If you enjoy a tragic story that makes you feel like a little part of your spirit died while watching it, then Marrowbone is for you. This film is fantastic in many ways, but it really excels in making you feel for the characters displayed in it.

It also hosts an amazing lineup of horror stars that really drive the family dynamic home. Marrowbone stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), and Mia Goth (Pearl).

It is unfortunate that this film didn’t get the recognition it deserved, but we can always hope that it will earn its cult classic status someday. If you enjoy seeing stars before they were famous, enjoy watching Marrowbone.

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