In these uncertain times, more than ever we all need a little escapism. Something to take our minds of the real-life horror show that is unfolding. As everyone is forced to find out there is an almost endless sea of movies. Some of them aren’t worth watching but others are destined to become classics that have been waiting in obscurity for someone to find them. Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, and the wealth of other streamers offer lots of content for a fee. In these times of being stuck in the house and worried about money, you can still watch plenty of good horror and sci-fi movies for FREE if you know where to look and have a public library or university library card. That’s all you need to stream movies from Kanopy. Here are The Best Horror And Sci-fi Movies On Kanopy.
Editors Note: April 2020 Bookmark this page as it will be updated each month.
During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. Is Donnie living in a parallel universe, is he suffering from mental illness – or will the world really end?
Darko has a cult following for good reason. Very young Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone are incredible. Is Donnie mentally ill? Is there time travel involved? Who knows but this surreal trip can not be missed.
Funny Games is a 2007 internationally co-produced psychological thriller film written and directed by Michael Haneke, an Austrian, and a remake of his own 1997 film of the same name. Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, and Brady Corbet star in the main roles.
There is no more anti-audience movie than Funny Games. It is easily number one on my Most Anti-Audience Movies Ever. It is Nietzsche level dark and more than sucks the soul out of all who watch.
Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a private detective contracted by Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to track down the iconic singer Johnny Favorite. However, everybody that Angel questions about Favorite seem to meet a tragic demise. Eventually, the trail leads Angel to New Orleans where he learns that Favorite had dabbled in the black arts. As Favorite’s whereabouts and true identity become clear, Angel learns that being hired by Cyphre was not a random choice.
One of the most iconic films of the ’80s this film is as good as it gets. It’s part sexy noir and part horror but all enjoyment. De Niro and Rourke give masterclass performances. You will never eat another hard-boiled egg again.
After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and people around him morph and twist into disturbing images. His girlfriend, Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), and ex-wife, Sarah (Patricia Kalember), try to help, but to little avail. Even Singer’s chiropractor friend, Louis (Danny Aiello), fails to reach him as he descends into madness.
This has some of the most disturbing imagery of any horror movies I have ever seen including the Extreme French films. The hospital scenes pack a punch and will stay with you.
It Comes At Night
After a mysterious apocalypse leaves the world with few survivors, two families are forced to share a home in an uneasy alliance to keep the outside evil at bay — only to learn that the true horror may come from within.
This film couldn’t be any more timely with what is happening in the world today. It Comes At Night is terrifying and paranoid which makes for some great if uncomfortable movie watching right now.
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Residents of California’s San Fernando Valley are under attack by flying saucers from outer space. The aliens, led by Eros (Dudley Manlove) and his assistant, Tanna (Joanna Lee), intend to conquer the planet by resurrecting corpses in a Hollywood cemetery. The living dead — a cape-wearing ghoul (Bela Lugosi), a vampire (Vampira) and a slow-footed cop (Tor Johnson) who was killed for his nosiness — stalk curious humans who wander into the cemetery looking for evidence of the UFOs.
This Ed Wood classic is everything cinephiles would expect from a ’50s era alien movie. There is comedy, over-acting, and ridiculous extraterrestrial drama.
As winter break begins, a group of sorority sisters, including Jess (Olivia Hussey) and the often inebriated Barb (Margot Kidder), begin to receive anonymous, lascivious phone calls. Initially, Barb eggs the caller on, but stops when he responds threateningly. Soon, Barb’s friend Claire (Lynne Griffin) goes missing from the sorority house, and a local adolescent girl is murdered, leading the girls to suspect a serial killer is on the loose. But no one realizes just how near the culprit is.
The original ’70s slasher is fun to watch. Sure it is exploitive and silly but that’s what is great about it.
Summer of ’84
Teenager Davey Armstrong is a conspiracy theorist who begins to suspect that a neighboring police officer is a serial killer. With help from three friends, Davey launches a daring investigation that soon turns dangerous.
Everything wonderful about cheesy ’80s horror can be found in this 2018 film. A love letter to kids on bikes classics like Goonies it is wonderful nostalgia. It is perfect for a family horror night if your kids are a little older and you are open-minded.
Ghosts and Paranormal
In post-World War I England a writer and sometime-ghost hunter (Rebecca Hall) investigates a reported haunting at a boys boarding school.
This period ghost story has one of the creepiest settings since The Others. There is one particular dollhouse scene that easily lands it on the Best Horror Movies With Dollhouses list.
A Tale of Two Sisters
After being institutionalized in a mental hospital, Korean teen Su-mi (Yeom Jeong-ah) reunites with her beloved sister, Su-yeon (Su-jeong Lim), and they return to live at their country home. The girls’ widower father (Mun Geun-yeong) has remarried, and the siblings are immediately resentful of his new wife, Eun-joo (Kap-su Kim). As Su-mi and Su-yeon try to resume their regular lives, strange events plague the house, leading to surprising revelations and a shocking conclusion.
The American remake The Uninvited is good but the original is better. Go into it blind, it’s better that way. Full of twist and turns it is chilling.
Demons, Witches, and Monsters
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
During the dead of winter, a troubled young woman (Emma Roberts) embarks on a mysterious journey to an isolated prep school where two stranded students (Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton) face a sinister threat from an unseen evil force.
Director Oz Perkins is a personal favorite and this is a perfect example of his brand of cinema. Moody and atmospheric it is the best of Perkin’s work to date.
Let The Right One In
When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.
Everything claustrophobic and depressing about horror is put on display in this slow-burn with one killer twist at the end. Leandersson is spectacular as Eli is both sympathetic and very deadly.
When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter and grandchildren begin to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry, trying to outrun the sinister fate they have inherited.
In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelop a farmer, his wife, and their children when the youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin, the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy and Jonas suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty, and love to one another.
Another period piece that utilizes tension so well The Witch isn’t so much about witches and devil worship as it is about just how horrendous humans can be to one another.
A Beverly Hills teen (Billy Warlock) discovers his parents are part of a gruesome orgy cult for the social elite.
The grossest example of kids realizing your parents have sex ever, Society is a nightmare for any kid. Brian Yuzna’s body horror classic is recommended viewing for anyone who enjoys ’80s trash, horror-comedies, and extremely offputting sex scenes.
Blue My Mind
Mia, a 15-year-old, is facing an overwhelming transformation. Her body is changing radically, and despite desperate attempts to halt the process, she is soon forced to accept that nature is far more powerful than her.
This is a little known coming of age movie that is an incredible example of body horror. It is subtle until it is not and profoundly disturbing.
A U.S. podcaster (Justin Long) ventures into the Canadian wilderness to interview an old man (Michael Parks) who has an extraordinary past, and the American learns the man has a dark secret involving a walrus.
This is the Most Disturbing Horror Movie Based On A True Story. Watch it with caution it is that memorable. You will never think about Justin Long or Haley Joel Osment the same again.
Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing comet.
One of my favorite movies of all time this time-bending thinker has a great ensemble cast. That successful cast ad-libbed large portions of the film lending the air of realism and believability it has.
Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. They must now rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.
Robert Pattinson continues to distance himself from his days of sparkly vampires with a walk on the dark side of space. The journey is oddly emotional but worth taking.
Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a week at the private estate of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), his firm’s brilliant CEO. When he arrives, Caleb learns that he has been chosen to be the human component in a Turing test to determine the capabilities and consciousness of Ava (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot. However, it soon becomes evident that Ava is far more self-aware and deceptive than either man imagined.
Fans of Alex Garland should not miss this film. It is from a similar universe as the FX/Hulu joint series Devs which is out right now. Both are smart and hyper-focused.
Based on the classic science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem, “Solaris” centers on a psychologist (George Clooney) sent to investigate the unexplained behavior of key scientists on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. Once aboard he, too, falls victim to this unique world’s mysteries — as well as to an erotic obsession with someone he thought he had left behind.
This 2002 remake of the’70s classic is one of the most oddly hopeful films I have ever seen. Director Steven Soderbergh has a unique ability to make every shot seem dreamy and allow the viewer to pull what they want from the story.
In a small, unnamed country there is an area called the Zone. It is apparently inhabited by aliens and contains the Room, wherein it is believed wishes are granted. The government has declared The Zone a no-go area and have sealed off the area with barbed wire and border guards. However, this has not stopped people from attempting to enter the Zone. We follow one such party, made up of a writer, who wants to use the experience as inspiration for his writing, and a professor, who wants to research the Zone for scientific purposes. Their guide is a man to whom the Zone is everything, the Stalker.
Anyone that is a film buff must see this movie at least once. It is indulgent for sure but that is part of the charm. Deeply allegorical and socially relevant it is a masterpiece.
Things That Can Not Be Explained
A woman becomes lost on the roads of Oregon and suffers through grotesque experiences.
It’s surreal and confusing in the best way possible. The entire film is one big mind f$#k so buckle up. The highly symbolic experimental film by Calvin Reeder is a must-see for those who like to inventive things that make their heads hurt.
In a Medieval Estonian village, a group of peasants use magic and folk remedies to survive the winter, and a young woman tries to get a young man to love her.
There is not a lovelier film on this list. It is a visually stunning fairy tale with a bizarre Lynchian sensibility. The very best of artsy movie-making, November is flat out gorgeous, strange, and amazing.
The Greasy Strangler
Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) runs a disco walking tour along with his browbeaten son, Brayden (Sky Elobar). When a sexy, alluring woman named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) comes to take the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her attentions. It also brings about the appearance of an oily, slimy, inhuman maniac who stalks the streets at night and strangles the innocent-soon dubbed the Greasy Strangler.
This is one of the grossest films you will ever see. From 2016, everything about this movie will make your skin crawl. It’s weird, it’s wild, it’s The Greasy Strangler.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.
This is truly like nothing you have ever seen. It is a black and white Iranian vampire western. Wrap your head around that!
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As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.