Why do we love movies that make us jump off the couch and send our heart rates into overdrive? We may never get to the bottom of that mystery, but we do know that Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without some scary entertainment to set the mood.
So in keeping with the spooky spirit, we’ve gathered 50 films that make the perfect viewing for October 31st (or any time of year for you die-hards). And because we know that there are just as many types of horror fans as there are movies, we’ve broken them into categories to make it easier to choose.
Family Halloween movies like Casper keep the thrills and chills to a minimum so you can share the fun with your kids. But if you can’t get enough of your favorite serial killer, then you’ll want to check out our section on horror franchises. And to round it all off, we’ve also gathered some modern favorites and some horror classics that every self-respecting fan of the genre should see.
In other words, there’s a little something for everyone. So turn down the lights and get ready for some ghosts, vampires and in-the-flesh maniacs. Of course, depending on what you choose, you may want to leave the lights on!
Family-Friendly Halloween Movies
We’re going to ease you into our spooky list with some movies that are appropriate for the whole family. So if you want to keep the thrills and chills to a minimum, check out these Halloween favorites.
1. Hocus Pocus (1993 and 2022)
Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, this Disney movie became an instant classic when it debuted in the 90s. Originally killed during the Salem witch trials, the cackling trio returns from the dead to hunt for their stolen spell book.
And because some legends apparently never die, you can follow it up with the reboot Hocus Pocus 2, which debuted on Disney Plus on September 30th. It’s the perfect Halloween double feature!
2. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without this beloved animated classic. While Linus focuses on creating the sincerest patch for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown gets anxious about a costume party, and Snoopy spends a night stalking the Red Baron.
We guarantee you a happy ending!
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Being that Halloween and Christmas decorations seem to make their way into stores at the same time, why not watch a movie that’s a mash-up of these two mega holidays? Tim Burton’s vaguely sinister stop-motion classic focuses on Jack Skellington’s efforts to bring Christmas Town home to Halloween Town with less-than-stellar results.
4. Beetlejuice (1988)
And while we’re on the subject of Tim Burton…this late 80s comedy starring Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and Michael Keaton pokes fun at death itself. When a married couple dies in a car crash, they’re forced to haunt their own home and manage to scare up a chaos-loving spirit named Beetlejuice. Let the pratfalls and pandemonium begin!
5. Halloweentown (1998)
This Disney Channel Original is set in Halloween town, a place where every day is, yep, Halloween. Debbie Reynolds plays the witchy grandmother to a trio of kids who aren’t allowed to celebrate the spooky holiday at home but finally find a place to unleash their freaky flag! (PS: there are three sequels!)
6. The Addams Family (1991)
Based on the 1960s sitcom, this 90s hit focuses on the altogether spooky Addams family. Both comic and creepy, it will give you a chance to see Christina Ricci in her breakout role as Wednesday Addams. And who can resist Angelic Houston and Raul Julia as the frighteningly passionate rulers of the macabre roost? Not us!
7. Twitches (2005)
It seems as though there’s nobody like Disney to come up with a kid-friendly Halloween movie. In this classic from the early 2000s, Tia and Tamara Mowry play twin witches separated at birth. When they finally meet, they have to protect their town from evil forces on their 21st birthday. Way more productive than getting wasted!
8. Double Double Toil and Trouble (1993)
You won’t exactly be on the edge of your seat with this nostalgic kids movie, but it probably won’t induce any nightmares either! Mini versions of the Olsen twins hunt for a magical gem to free their Aunt Sophia from the clutches of her evil twin Agatha, both played by Cloris Leachman. That’s what ya call double double trouble!
9. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
You’ll recognize your favorite ghouls in this Disney movie based on the iconic Haunted House ride. Eddie Murphy stirs up laughs and some ghosts when he and his family have to spend the night in a truly creepy residence. It’s a realtor’s worst nightmare!
10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
This warmhearted classic from Steven Spielberg has a hilarious Halloween scene and just enough scares to make it perfect for a mildly spooky holiday. Watch again as three siblings, led by little brother Eliot, unite to send an adorable space creature back to his home planet.
11. Harry Potter (2001)
Filled with witches, wizards and magical spells, this iconic franchise is a no-brainer when you’re looking for Halloween entertainment. But as the series does get a little scarier with every movie, you may want to stick with the original if you’re watching with younger children.
Killer Halloween Franchise Movies
Yes, there are some other films with sequels on this list, but this section is reserved for those franchises that made their way into pop culture and our worst nightmares. Here are our favorite films that keep the horror going and going and going!
12. Halloween (1978)
Jamie Lee Curtis launched her career as the scream queen in this horror classic that was the first of 12 films. In the original, psychopath Michael Myers breaks out of a mental hospital 15 years after murdering his older sister. His new obsession? Kill his younger one. Sibling rivalry doesn’t get more serious than this.
13. Scream (1996)
This 90s gem is a send up of horror films and a very scary movie in its own right. Experience some truly killer laughs with a cast that includes Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell. Wes Craven’s original was followed by four sequels and a TV series, but we think the first film may be the best if you want to die laughing.
14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Before he made Scream, Wes Craven launched another horror villain that was destined to haunt us seemingly forever. Armed with a knife-laden glove and a truly ugly sweater, Freddy Krueger stalks and kills teenagers while they’re dreaming. And he’s kept doing it for a total of nine films. Be prepared to lose a little sleep over this classic.
15. Friday the 13th (1980)
A standard in the horror genre, camp counselors are picked off one by one by a serial killer in the first installment of this mega-franchise that launched 12 films. But if you want to see its leading psycho Jason in a hockey mask, you’ll have to keep with it until part III. It may not have won any critical praise, but this scary series of films did invent one of the most classic Halloween costumes ever!
16. Child’s Play (1988)
Who among us was never freaked out by one of their childhood toys once all the lights were out? The series of films that unleashed the notorious, red-headed Chucky plays on our worst fears by creating a serial killer out of a possessed doll. It’s classically creepy and not to be missed!
17. Paranormal Activity (2007)
In the original movie of this mega popular franchise, “found footage” is used to tell the story of a couple being haunted in their own home. Though the approach was actually invented in The Blair Witch Project, the Paranormal Activity series took the found footage approach to a whole new level and is still making it pay after seven films.
18. The Conjuring (2013)
Including three films, this truly terrifying franchise is based on the real-life but controversial experiences of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Can’t get enough of supernatural thrills? Watch the rest of The Conjuring Universe, which includes the films Annabelle and The Nun, among others.
19. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
This slasher film about a group of friends terrorized by a hook wielding killer after covering up an accidental killing was followed by two more installments: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.
Though the series of titles may sound ridiculous, there’s no denying the box office success and cultural impact this franchise has had.
20. The Ring (2002)
This remake of a 1998 Japanese film stars Naomi Watts as a journalist investigating a videotape that’s killing teens a week after they see it. The chills, thrills and Watt’s performance won over the critics and inspired two more sequels. Watch at your own risk.
21. Twilight (2008)
That’s right—we put Twilight on this list. Though this romantic franchise has its share of haters, the abundance of vampires, werewolves and die-hard fans make it undeniably appropriate fare for Halloween. Whether you watch it ironically or sincerely, we think this vampire series sucks in a good way.
Modern Halloween Terror
In the mood for something a little more current? These films from the last decade prove that the horror genre is alive and well.
22. Hereditary (2018)
Toni Collete gives a tour de force performance in this psychologically unsettling and truly frightening film about a family being destroyed by its own secrets. You won’t want to sleep alone after you see this one!
23. Get Out (2017)
An African American man is finally going to meet the family of his white girlfriend, and it turns out to be even scarier than he imagines. Jordan Peel’s directorial debut received high praise for both its screams and sociopolitical commentary. Don’t miss this modern classic.
24. US (2019)
We all have a dark side. But in this inventive follow-up film from Jordan Peele, in the flesh doppelgangers are bent on hunting down and killing their other selves. Like they always say, we’re our own worst enemies.
25. A Quiet Place (2018)
A family fights to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world where the slightest noise can make you prey for terrifying creatures that hunt by sound. To make it even more challenging, they have a baby on the way! Emily Blunt and John Krasinski star in this modern thriller and its prequel.
26. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Both a satire of horror movies and a scary film in its own right, this clever sendup uses classic devices like zombies, werewolves and students trapped in a cabin to both amuse and scare you. It may be funny, but you’ll still want someone to hold onto through the abundant twists and turns!
27. Midsommar (2019)
A vacationing couple decides to attend a pagan festival in Sweden, never suspecting its dark intent. Don’t let the summer season and the idyllic surroundings fool you. This movie is all kinds of scary!
28. It (2017)
This modern adaption of the Stephen King novel of the same name proves that there is nothing scarier than a clown. Just ask the kids he preys on.
29. It Follows (2014)
In this indie thriller, an evil supernatural force is transmitted by sex. Your only hope of staying alive? Give it to someone else before it kills you. Talk about a killer STD!
30. The Babadook (2014)
This Australian horror film centers on a little boy with a monster under his bed. Only this time it turns out to be terrifying real.
31. Freaky (2020)
This body swapping horror comedy stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton and has been described as “freaky fun.” When a teenage girl accidentally takes over the body of a male serial killer, everyone is in for some gender bending and hair raising surprises.
32. Ready or Not (2019)
This darkly funny horror film stars Samara Weaver as a newlywed bride that’s being hunted down by her Satan-worshiping in laws as a part of their demented family tradition. Expect plenty of laughs and a fairly high body count on this wedding night from hell.
33. X (2022)
As we all know, sex often gets you killed in horror movies. In this modern slasher, a film crew getting ready to shoot a porno in the farmhouse of an elderly couple is terrorized by a rabid killer who doesn’t approve of their morals. This one is good, bloody fun!
34. Fresh (2022)
The dating world may be scary, but in this film, it turns deadly. Whisked away to a secluded cabin in the woods by her new boyfriend, a young woman is forced to fight for her life in this black comedy. Hellooooo, when will horror characters learn to stay away from secluded cabins in the woods?
These horror classics have stood the test of time for a reason. You’ll find this section full of psychological suspense films, outrights slashers and true cinematic masterpieces. And to break up all the terror, there’s also a smattering of comedies and kooky, campy classics.
35. Psycho (1960)
No list would be complete without this classic from the true master of psychological terror, Alfred Hitchcock. It inspired generations of filmmakers and made us all afraid of taking a shower.
36. The Exorcist (1973)
Often touted as one of the scariest horror films of all time, this Oscar winner features Linda Blair in a literally head spinning performance as a possessed girl. As her mother and the family priest try to exorcize her demons, things get pretty damn freaky. You may want to leave the lights on for this one.
37. The Shining (1980)
Jack Nicholson stars in Stanley Kubrick’s truly cinematic tale of terror. When a writer and his family become the caretakers of a haunted hotel, the father suffers a truly scary case of writer’s block as he descends into madness and becomes a threat to his very loved ones.
This is definitely one of those classics that supersedes its genre to become just brilliant film making. Even the trailer is super scary!
38. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Pregnancy is never easy, especially when you’re about to deliver the devil’s spawn. This academy award winner from Roman Polanski stars Mia Farrow as a young newlywed who suspects her creepy neighbors are after her baby.
39. The Omen (1976)
A little bit of the devil can get into all kids. But it’s a whole other story when your child actually IS the devil. If you’re a true horror fan, you won’t want to miss this 70s classic that came to be known as one of the most cursed films of all time. Spine chilling!
40. Young Frankenstein (1974)
Want a break up all the terror with a little comic relief? How about a LOT of comic relief? This hilarious comedy classic from Mel Brooks stars Gene Wilder as a scientist who discovers his true roots and creates his own unique monster.
41. Carrie (1976)
A young Sissy Spacek brings her excellent acting chops to this tale of high school bullying and telekinetic powers. As far as teen flicks go, it may be one of the scariest!
42. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
An FBI agent played by Jody Foster seeks advice on how to catch a serial killer from Hannibal Lector, a man that’s been jailed for his horrendous crimes for decades.
In the process, she finds herself in danger from a killer on the loose and in a psychological game of chess with the psycho behind bars. You won’t want to miss Anthony Hopkins in one of his best roles!
43. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
This campy classic is full of song, sexual innuendo and a few scares. When Brad and Janet stumble upon a castle on a dark and stormy night, they’re welcomed by Dr. Frank-n-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transylvania” who works hard at stripping them of their clothes and their inhibitions.
If you want an excuse to dress up and sing along with a B movie, this is it!
A little girl is spirited away by angry ghosts in this 80s classic that immortalized the phrase, “They’re heeeere!” Watch as a terrified family tries to reclaim their daughter and their home from forces on the other side of the threshold.
45. Ghostbusters (1984)
Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver lead the cast of this comic thriller about a group of parapsychologists who are trying to save New York City from the evil Gozer and the end of days. Hunting ghosts has never been more fun.
Who ya gonna call when you’ve just been slimed? Ghostbusters!
46. The Sixth Sense (1999)
“I see dead people,” may be one of the most iconic lines of the horror movie genre. In this 90s hit, Bruce Willis stars as a therapist who’s trying to help a boy with visions from the other side of the threshold. Like really disturbing, freaky deaky visions. This is a goody!
47. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
It may be a comedy, but this early 80s fright fest has one of the most graphic werewolf transformation scenes ever. This one is definitely worth a revisit!
48. The Amityville Horror (1979)
Loosely based on a true and controversial story, this 70s horror classic tells the tale of some new homeowners who are in for some very unpleasant surprises. You’ll be aghast when a dream home turns into a living nightmare.
49. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This 90s sleeper put the “found footage” approach on the cinematic map of Hollywood and inspired countless other movies, such as Paranormal Activity. You’ll definitely be intrigued as you follow a group of teenage witch hunters who record their chilling experiences in the woods. Because it’s always in the woods!
50. Gremlins (1984)
This comedy and lightweight horror film may be set at Christmas time, but its spirit is totally Halloween. When deceptively cute but destructive furry creatures begin to take over a small town, total havoc and hilarity ensue.
51. The Craft (1996)
Is this cinema at its finest? Perhaps not. But we had to include this cult classic about a group of teenage girls who misuse their magical powers. Beware or these mean girls will have you under their spell.
Pass The Popcorn
The colder weather means it’s a great time to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie. Whether you have Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix or Hulu, there are plenty of great movie choices to choose from this spooky season.
You might also be interested in: 13 Movies That Make You Think [And Where you Can Stream Them]
The 51 Best Halloween Movies:
- Hocus Pocus
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- The Addams Family
- Double Double Toil and Trouble
- The Haunted Mansion
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- Harry Potter
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Friday the 13th
- Child’s Play
- Paranormal Activity
- The Conjuring
- I Know What You Did Last Summer
- The Ring
- Get Out
- A Quiet Place
- The Cabin in the Woods
- It Follows
- The Babadook
- Ready or Not
- The Exorcist
- The Shining
- Rosemary’s Baby
- The Omen
- Young Frankenstein
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- The Sixth Sense
- An American Werewolf in London
- The Amityville Horror
- The Blair Witch Project
- The Craft