Halloween is gonna be here before you know it and in my expert opinion, it’s time to bust out the horror films and get the house decorated. I was looking through lists like “The Top 100 Halloween Movies” or “The Best Halloween Movies of All Time” and I feel like there were a lot of my favorites missing. So here is a list of Halloween movies that are considered classics and a must watch for my family and me.
A quick note: If you are interested in watching these movies, I recommend looking for them on your normal subscription services (Hulu, Netflix, OnDemand, etc.), if you can’t find them, you can check your local library or try to rent online (from places like YouTube, iTunes, etc.).
There are films that didn’t make the list that I still love to watch, but I tried to go for films that were maybe lesser well-known and obscure to give you something new to watch (or maybe you forgot about them and need to give them a rewatch). I also put all family-friendly movies at the end. Let’s get to the list!
The List (in no particular order)
Click the title of the movie to go to a YouTube trailer.
1. Trick R Treat (2007, Slasher/Thriller)
This movie explores five interwoven stories that are downright gory and brutal. Great watch for jump scares and lovers of gore alike with good stories. There’s not much to say without giving the whole plot away.
2. Gothika (2003 Mystery/Horror/Thriller)
A psychiatrist (Halle Berry) wakes up one day as a patient in the very same hospital she worked at with no memory of how she got there. Through her confusion, she begins to experience the paranormal as she tries to piece together what happened. As things start to make less and less sense, she sympathizes with her previous patients more and more.
3. Hannibal Movies (2000’s Crime/Drama/Thriller)
This is a great collection to start for a spooky-filled night. Below are the films in chronological order based on events (you could watch them in order of release too). I left out Hannibal Rising, because I’m not the biggest fan, but you do you.
Essentially, the collection is focused on a cannibal, Dr. Lector (Anthony Hopkins), who helps solve crimes with his deep understanding of psychology and serial killers. Each movie is a little gory but they are mostly psychological thrillers. I wouldn’t say these are inherently ‘scary’ but have a great storyline that is addicting.
4. 1408 (2007 Drama/Thriller)
A man (John Cusack) who’s skeptical of ghosts and makes his living off debunking ‘haunted’ locations, may have met his match at the Dolphin Hotel’s room 1408.
This film is a classic horror film with a good mix of gore, psychological horror, and is full of emotion. There are a few alternative endings, but they will all make you question what really happened in room 1408. Just classic scary.
5. Amusement (2008 Thriller/Horror)
A serial killer with a grudge from childhood hunts three women for the ultimate revenge. This movie is standard horror and gore.
6. Van Helsing (2004 Drama/Fantasy)
Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) sets on a quest to Transylvania to stop Dr. Frankenstein’s research from being abused by Count Dracula. It’s a great mix of all the classic Halloween characters and creatures in one dark and action-packed film. If you’re not a huge fan of horror and gore and love Marvel films, this is a great Halloween watch.
7. The Grudge (2004 Mystery/Thriller/Horror)
An American family moves into a new house in Japan and begins experiencing the paranormal, but this story doesn’t stop at ghosts. A catchable curse that takes over its host and eventually kills them is lingering in the house, waiting to take its next victim. This movie is classic horror and full of jump scares.
8. Dawn of the Dead (2004 Thriller/Action)
Standard zombie movie. The movie follows a group of survivors that try to seek shelter in a mall and work together to survive the undead hordes.
9. Shaun of the Dead (2004 Comedy/Horror)
This movie is a parody of the popular Dawn of the Dead. It follows two best friends and roommates who haven’t seemed to grow up yet. After a zombie wake-up call, the boys decide to take on the hordes of undead to protect their loved ones and make it to the pub for a nice cold pint.
10. Drag me to Hell (2009 Thriller/Horror)
In an effort to get the next promotion, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) starts making the ‘tough decisions’ in an effort to impress her boss. After denying the wrong person for a loan extension, Christine finds herself cursed and must break it before it’s too late, but can she really pay the price?
11. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992 Thriller/Drama)
Claire experiences an uncomfortably sexual pelvic exam during a pregnancy checkup and decides to report the doctor. Peyton, the doctor’s wife, goes into a rage and is set on revenge against Claire for what she did. Peyton poses as a nanny and begins assimilating into Claire’s family all for an evil plan. This film has like one jump scare and is mostly a psychological thriller that will make your skin crawl. This film is not ‘scary’, so it’s great for those that hate horror, gore, and the paranormal.
12. Hard Candy (2005 Crime/Thriller)
This movie is a little controversial, you have been warned. A teenage girl (Ellen Page) takes it upon herself to expose a suspected pedophile.
13. Hell Raiser (1987 Horror/Thriller)
After unleashing demonic creatures while opening a portal to hell, Frank is torn to pieces. His wife accidentally brings the little bit of Frank that remains back and must figure out a way to restore him. Classic horror and gore.
14. Repo! the Genetic Opera (2008 Musical/Horror/Comedy)
This is one of my favorites. This dark but whacky film tells the tale of a destitute world entirely in song (hence the ‘opera’ part). After a surge of organ failures, a company arises promising artificial transplants. However, failure to make a payment ends in immediate organ repossession. In this dark world, a sheltered girl with a debilitating disease finally decides to face the outside world and discovers more about her life than she signed up for. This film is super dark, murderous, gory, and a large splash of sexual.
15. 28 days later (2002 Horror/Science Fiction)
Kind of classic zombie movie again. After waking from a coma, a man finds his city abandoned and zombie-like creatures roaming the streets. He bans together with other survivors as they seek safety.
16. Seven (1995 Drama/Mystery)
When retiring police Detective William (Morgan Freeman) takes on a final case with a new transfer, David Mills (Brad Pitt), they discover their gruesome murders are linked to the seven sins. This film is dark, gruesome, and has a great ending.
17. Misery (1990 Thriller/Drama/Psychological Horror)
Based on the book by Stephen King, a writer gets into a car accident and is saved by his unstable ‘biggest fan’ (Kathy Bates). Things take a turn for the worse when she becomes obsessive and abusive in an attempt to keep him all for herself. This movie is the definition of a psychological thriller. My dad can’t stand Kathy Bates after watching this, still creeps him out to this day!
18. Zodiac (2007 Crime/Drama)
This film details the events of the Zodiac killer in San Fransico. As detectives and reporters become obsessed with finding the killer they realize they may not have any leads at all. Based on true events, this film is a great telling of what happened.
19. Frailty (2001 Crime/Drama/Thriller)
One day a father awakes and believes God spoke to him in a dream. He claims God told him to hunt people down and kill them for they are really ‘demons’. The father gets help from his two sons who begin to have very different opinions on the whole thing. The youngest son immortalizes the father while the eldest son is disgusted and eventually confesses the whole thing to the police (where the film begins). This movie isn’t too gory surprisingly and has an amazing twist ending.
20. Poltergeist (1982 Horror/Thriller)
A family experiences the paranormal and it’s all light-hearted until their daughter goes missing. The family must then find a way to save their little girl while navigating the spirit world. If you’ve seen the newer one, I recommend giving the original classic a try!
21. Interview with the Vampire (1994 Drama/Horror)
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the sexual tension of Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, this is the film for you! A vampire (Tom Cruise) convinces a suicidal human (Brad Pitt) to become a vampire, but he comes to resent his decision. Eventually, a little girl (young Kristen Dunce) is thrown into the mix causing even more conflict between the two. This film is a little gory and disturbing, but a great watch.
22. Silent Hill (2006 Horror)
The movie based on the video game of the same name that is known for its great horror creatures and writing. A little girl keeps drawing creepy pictures of and talking about a place called Silent Hill. In an effort to figure out the root of the problem, the mother decides to take the little girl to Silent Hill to determine her connection to the place. However, things go south as she is split up from her daughter. She now has to desperately try to find her daughter in the creepy town that is riddled with crazed, unwelcoming religious town members in the day and evil demonic creatures at night. This film is very gory, has jump scares, and a bit of a paranormal twist.
23. Thir13en Ghosts (2001 Horror)
After inheriting a house from an eccentric uncle, a family decides to spend the night in the seemingly beautiful house. However, the house seems to have a mind of its own with shifting glass walls and is filled with vengeful and murderous entities. Will the family be able to escape in one piece? This film is straight horror and gore. One of the first horror films I watched as a child and still freaks me out to this day.
24. Candyman (1992 Horror/Thriller)
Classic girl accidentally summons scary thing. Candyman is an evil entity with a hook for a hand that is accidentally summoned into our world and begins his rampage. BEES!!
25. Prisoners (2013 Crime/Drama/Thriller/Mystery)
After two family’s little girls go missing and the police seem to be no help, they take matters into their own hands to get a confession out of the only suspect.
26. The Collector and The Collection (Trilogy Horror/Thriller)
The Collector: A man decides to rob a house, but realizes he made a huge mistake when he stumbles upon a madman holding the family hostage and booby-trapping the house. Super gory and classic horror.
The Collection: A sequel to The Collector. A woman sneaks out of her house to attend a party, but the party is later crashed by the madman known as ‘The Collector’ looking for new victims. Again, super gory and classic horror.
27. Donnie Darko (2001 Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller)
This is not for everyone, but I highly recommend giving it a try if you like weird movies that constantly puzzle you throughout. Donnie Darko is a cult classic that is a must watch for Halloween.
After a bizarre accident, Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) has visions of a man in a large bunny suit who forces him to commit crimes. Donnie’s world is turned upside down as he struggles to distinguish his imagination from reality and begins to think the world is going to end soon. This movie will make you feel uneasy and slightly disturbed all to leave you puzzled about what you actually just watched. But, it is a larger than life film, and after watching the movie I highly recommend reading the explanation to fully wrap your mind around the ending and film as a whole.
28. 13 Sins (2014 Thriller/Horror)
A man is called by an unknown person and offered the deal of a lifetime, 1 million dollars if he enters into a game and wins. The twist? The game becomes increasingly difficult and murderous as he goes on.
29. Would you Rather (2012 Horror)
Similar to the previous one, a girl is propositioned to come to a dinner with the promise of helping her sick brother. The dinner goes south fast as all ‘contestants’ realize the large sum of money promised can only be won through a horrific and deadly game.
30. The People Under the Stairs (1991 Comedy/Horror/Mystery)
This movie is a bit cheesy, but I find it hilarious and still a good story. As legend has it, one creepy house that is known to not be messed with is filled with gold. As his family faces financial difficulties, Fool takes it upon himself to raid the house searching for said gold, but he is met with more horrors than he could have imagined as he becomes victim to the crazy parents that live there.
31. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992 Horror)
After Dracula goes on a bloodsucking rampage turning young girls into vampires, Van Helsing is hired to put an end to it all.
32. Little shop of horrors (1986 Comedy/Horror/Musical)
This musical is a classic and a bit cheesy. A plant gets the taste of blood and begins to turn murderous. How will Seymour, the caretaker of the plant, deal with the plant’s bloodlust as it becomes increasingly large?
33. VHS (2012 Thriller/Horror)
Four thugs are hired for a seemingly simple job, steal a VHS tape. But things don’t go to plan as the four realize they stumbled upon more than a normal suburban house.
Family Recommendations (watch with kids at your discretion)
34. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005 Animation/Adventure/Comedy)
A very cute animated film that stars Wallace and Gromit who run a pest control business. Wallace and Gromit must get to the bottom of a large rabbit infestation for a new client that turns into a rather pesky job.
35. Nightmare before Christmas (1993 Family/Animation/Fantasy)
A classic Halloween movie from everyone’s childhood, why not share it with your children? This well-known Tim Burton film features Jack Skellington who is the king of Halloween but has become a bit tired of the same old thing every year. After stumbling upon the other holidays, Jack decides he loves the Christmas world and tries to take it over, ruining Christmas in the process.
36. The Addams Family (1991 Fantasy/Comedy)
A man pretends to be long lost uncle Fester to swindle the eccentric Addams Family.
37. Gremlins (1984 Comedy/Fantasy/Horror)
After being gifted an interesting and cute new creature for Christmas, things start to go wrong as the creature’s very specific rules are not followed.
38. Beetlejuice (1988 Comedy/Fantasy)
A husband and wife unexpectedly die and hang around their old house in the afterlife. Eventually, their house is sold to an unflattering family that begins to ruin the home full of memories. As silly ghosts, the couple tries to desperately take their home back with the help of Beetlejuice.
39. Halloween Town (1998 Family/Adventure/Comedy)
After realizing that she is a witch, young adult Marney travels to Halloween Town, a place where supernatural creatures can lead ordinary lives. However, she soon realizes her family must defend Halloween Town from an evil man attempting to take over the world.
That’s the end of the list! If I forgot one of your favorite Halloween films, please share them below!
*all images and gifs used in this post do not belong to me*