October is the perfect time to embrace the horror genre and spend a night in binging iconic horror films. Though scary movies are fun all year long, there’s something about the longer nights and impending chill that makes them special around Halloween.
Although horror is a seasonal go-to, Halloween movies exist across genres, and most scary movies aren’t explicitly related to the holiday. Our list includes traditional horror classics for a night of terror and films celebrating Halloween’s spirit.
Grab your popcorn and blanket for a delightful night with these fabulous feature films.
The Most Popular Halloween Movies of All Time
Vudu, the online video streaming service, conducted a survey of the most popular Halloween movies in 2020. The service also recorded the most frequently streamed films during the season.
Here are the top 5 most popular Halloween movies, according to Vudu.
1. Hocus Pocus
The 1993 cult classic featuring the Sanderson Sisters is delightful Halloween fun for the whole family. The film’s popularity on streaming platforms spawned a sequel after nearly thirty years, and though not as good as the original, it’s also worth a watch.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
A perfect blend of Halloween horror and Christmas fun, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been delighting fans for decades. Watch our hero Jack Skellington discover the magic of Christmas and remember the importance of his own holiday.
Beetlejuice, the comedic tale showcasing the trials and tribulations of an afterlife, offers laughs, scares, and a ridiculous cast of characters. If you’re looking for a fun movie suitable for most audiences, Beetlejuice is just the ticket.
Casper features everything you’d expect from the young adult genre – high school bullies, evil heiresses, and a teenage protagonist who thwarts them all with the help of a friendly ghost. The heartwarming tale takes viewers on a roller coaster of emotions and is the perfect feel-good story for Halloween.
Poltergeist takes home hauntings to the next level. The iconic film follows a suburban family living in a haunted house and seemingly playful spirits escalating into full-blown evil. The thrilling climax reminds us of the top rule when dealing with ghosts “Don’t go into the light!”
*Note: The 2018 psychological thriller A Quiet Place was #5 on the survey. However, it makes sense that many people watched it in the five years leading up to 2020 because it was so new. A movie’s popularity when it comes out doesn’t always lead to popularity down the line, and the remaining movies on this list have stood the test of time. If you’re looking for a modern horror movie, check it out!
The Most Iconic Horror Classics for a Halloween Binge-Fest
Want to fill your October nights with classic horror movies? These iconic films helped make the genre what it is today.
1. The Halloween Franchise
The epitome of Halloween movies shares its name with the holiday. Watch the crazed lunatic Michael Myers stalk his family with a giant kitchen knife.
2. Friday the 13th Franchise
You’ll never view summer camp the same after watching a deranged killer stalk the unsuspecting teenage camp counselors.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Even our dreams aren’t safe. Ghostly villain Freddy Krueger haunts the dreams of those who wronged him in life.
4. Night of the Living Dead
George Romero’s first feature film created the zombie genre as we know it. Countless hordes of living dead attack survivors, feasting on their flesh and turning them into fellow zombies.
The original vampire flick, Nosferatu, may not be scary to modern audiences, but the cinematography and suggestion of horror present throughout the film can’t be beat. Anyone interested in the history of cinema needs to watch this horror classic.
6. The Shining
Stanly Kubrick’s spin on Stephen King’s haunted hotel mesmerized fans for generations and spawned numerous parodies. The film owes much of its acclaim to the stellar performances by stars Jack Nicholas and Shelly Duvall.
7. The Amityville Horror
A tale of horror and ghostly possession based on a true story, the Amityville Horror has intrigued fans for generations. The somewhat true accounts leading to the book and subsequent movie add an aura of mysticism to the film’s legacy, forcing fans to consider what, if any, parts may be true.
8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre featuring iconic villain Leatherface is a top choice for horror fans interested in gratuitous blood, gore, and violence.
9. Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby is a horrifying tale featuring satanic rituals and the occult. The psychological thriller features themes of sexual assault and may not be suitable for all audiences.
Welcome to the Bates, where deranged proprietor Norman Bates stalks unsuspected guests under his mother’s watchful eye. The shocking reveal and scandalous violence for the time catapulted the film to fame, earning its position as Alfred Hitchcock’s best work.
The Scariest Movies to Watch on Halloween
Halloween is the perfect time to seek out true horror. These five terrifying films aren’t for the faint of heart.
1. The Exorcism
The Exorcism has long been hailed as one of the scariest movies of all time. Experience the most profound evil imaginable as it possesses a young girl, destroying her family and body. The film’s majesty is in what it doesn’t show. Fantastic cinematography and the power of suggestion haunt audiences long after the film ends.
Alien is the perfect marriage of science fiction and horror. The iconic chest-bursting scene is one of the most memorable in movie history, and the suspense that follows has terrified audiences for decades.
3. The Thing
John Carpenter’s thriller helped spawn the hidden monster trope, where the monster could be anyone. How can you trust your crew if the monster can take over anyone?
4. The Conjuring
The terrifying Annabelle doll makes its first appearance in this modern film featuring haunted homes, evil spirits, and a family with entities attached to them. The film’s imagery and suspense are sure to terrify.
5. The Ring
Would you watch a movie if you knew you’d die seven days later? The creepy imagery and numerous twists keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the horrifying ride.
Funny Halloween Movies
Halloween movies don’t have to be scary. We all need a good laugh, and these top horror comedies poke fun at the genre while adding much-needed levity to the frightening holiday.
1. The Scary Movie Franchise
The Scary Movie franchise perfected parody. These hilarious spoofs of iconic horror films offer side-splitting laughs bursting with adult humor.
2. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Tucker and Dale find themselves in ridiculous yet hilarious situations during a weekend trip to the woods. College kids think they’re creepy serial killers with deadly yet horrifying results.
3. Shaun of the Dead
Zombie flicks meet British humor in this fantastic spoof of the classic genre. The dry wit and absurdity make Shaun of the Dead a must-see for fans of funny horror.
4. Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods won’t have you howling with laughter, but the film purposely subverts familiar horror tropes in remarkable and often amusing ways.
Don’t feed them after midnight! Though the original Gremlins film takes place around Christmas, the delightful two-film franchise featuring whacky monsters is perfect for a Halloween movie night. Although the first film sometimes tries to take itself seriously, the sequel embraces the silly premise and offers far more laughs.
Independent Films You Should Consider for a Halloween Horror-a-thon
In Ari Aster’s terrifying directorial debut, demonic spirits seek to possess a family. The film, released in 2018, was critically acclaimed as one of the best horror films of all time.
2. Paranormal Activity
More creepy and uncomfortable than scary, Paranormal Activity follows the home-video style of video production, causing debate about whether the events were real or not.
3. The Babadook
The Babadook is a chilling tale with themes of parenthood, grief, and overcoming mental illness.
4. The Evil Dead
Known for its gratuitous gore, the original Evil Dead created the horror icon, Ash Williams.
5. It Follows
An entity attaches itself to unsuspecting victims but can be passed on through sexual activity.
Family-Friendly Halloween Movies
1. It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
The Charlie Brown Halloween special is sure to delight viewers of all ages.
2. ET (The Extra-Terrestrial)
Though not typically considered a Halloween movie, the Halloween scenes are the most memorable in the film. From ET trying to fix the saw wound on Michael’s head to ET’s excitement when he sees a Yoda, the heartwarming movie is sure to please on Halloween.
3. Hotel Transylvania
Vampires, werewolves, and mummies aren’t bad guys. They’re just normal monsters trying to care for their friends and family while avoiding terrifying humans.
4. The Muppets Haunted Mansion
Enjoy the Muppet’s ghostly antics while Gonzo and Pepe attempt to spend a night in a haunted house.
Paying homage to Frankenstein, the gothic novel creating the horror genre, Frankenweenie brings beloved pets back to life. Unfortunately, most of the experiments go wrong, resulting in monsters that wreak havoc on the town.
6. The Witches
Evil witches plot to transform all the world’s children into mice in this epic story of transformation based on a book by Roald Dahl.
7. The Haunted Mansion
The Disney classic starring Eddie Murphy features a realtor and his family who get trapped inside a haunted mansion. The film is loosely based on the Disney ride.
8. Monster House
The house is alive! Hijinks ensue when a living house terrorizes its human neighbors.
RL Stine’s monsters come to life to seek revenge on the author who created then imprisoned them.
10. The Addams Family
The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values follow the gothic and macabre family’s antics as they navigate life, trying not to fit into the normal world.
Halloween Movies for Every Interest
Whether looking for a fright, a gore-fest, or a family-friendly tale, there’s a Halloween movie to suit your needs. Most streaming services even created their own Halloween features to give viewers even more options for celebrating the iconic holiday.
Enjoy a fantastic Halloween!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.