20 Halloween Movies to Scare and Delight in the Scary Season

Halloween is one of our favourite holidays for a reason. We all like to be scared silly occasionally, and it raises questions about whether there is more to life than can be explained by science and what would happen if we encountered something truly supernatural. The perfect Halloween movie provides good scares, while indulging in some of the kitsch sides of the holiday without taking itself too seriously.

This scary season, try one of these 20 excellent Halloween movies.

The Addams Family (1991)

IMDB Score 6.9/10

Halloween is half scares and half kitsch, and the classic Addams Family movie that introduced us to Christina Ricci as Wednesday walks that line perfectly. This black comedy takes the supernatural family created by cartoonish Charles Addams and shows just how out of place they are in our modern society. Anjelica Huston is perfect as matriarch Morticia who encounters someone claiming to be their long lost relative.

Beetlejuice (1998)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

The first of a few Tim Burton entries to make the list, this movie stars Michael Keaton as an obnoxious ghost named Beetlejuice that haunts a house alongside a prematurely deceased young couple played by Gina Davis and Alec Baldwin. The trio tries to scare away the house’s new inhabitants, but daughter Winona Ryder forms an unlikely connection with the titular ghoul.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

IMDB Score 6.4/10

While found footage style movies are all the rage now, still none approaches the original. When it hit cinemas in 1999, viewers were not 100 percent sure whether what they were seeing was real or fake. Even with the secret revealed, this slow burning horror manages to be unsettling and the source of some serious Halloween nightmares. Don’t go into the woods alone.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

IMDB Score 5.6/10

Before Sarah Michelle Gellar took on the role and cemented it in modern culture, Joss Whedon let his story of the cheerleading vampire slayer to the bog screen, starring Kirsty Swanson and Luke Perry. Whedon went on to make the hugely popular series because he simply wasn’t happy with the big screen portrayal of his heroine, but it is the perfect nostalgic watch for Halloween.

Carrie (1976)

IMDB Score 7.4/10

Although this movie has now been remade a few times, nothing beats the original disturbing movie starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White. Based on Stephen King’s first novel, Spacek plays a 16-year-old girl who is mocked by her school peers and terrorized by her mother, all of whom are unaware that she possesses telekinetic powers. What she will she do when she is pushed too far? Also an early appearance for a young John Travolta.

The Conjuring (2013)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

The first in a series of movies that have captivated fans of the genre, this movie not only tells the story of the now infamous Amityville haunting, but introduces us to Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, paranormal investigators that have made name for themselves by sharing what they have seen. The movie relies on strong story and good acting to draw you in, rather than special effects, and the result is captivating.

The Craft (1996)

IMDB Score 6.3/10

The perfect movie to watch with a group of girlfriends on Halloween. Haven’t we all always wondered what it would be like to have a bit of supernatural assistance in our lives. These girls discover the craft and get more than they bargained for. While clearly designed as a vehicle for actress Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk steals the show with a very scary yet sympathetic performance.

The Exorcist (1973)

IMDB Score 8/10

Another story that has been told many times, but the original is still the best. Based on the 1971 novel, the movie follows the possession of a 12-year-old girl, and her mother’s attempts to rescue her through exorcism. Part of the reason why this movie is still so fascinating is the fact that stars Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair suffered serious mental and physical injuries while movieing. Was the content just a little close to home?

Halloween (1978)

 

IMDB Score 7.8/10

What better movie to watch on Halloween than Halloween itself, and its many sequels. This slasher flick manages to be better than most thanks to a strong leading performance from Jamie Lee Curtis. She is terrorized by Michael Myers, a loony bin patient who killed his own sister on Halloween 15 years earlier, and has now escaped to kill babysitters on Halloween. If nothing else, a lesson on the dangers of babysitting.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

IMDB Score 6.8/10

The perfect family Halloween romp, this movie stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sahar Jessica Parker as three witch sisters from Salem that are inadvertently resurrected by a young boy. Can they reclaim their home and ‘cast a spell on you’? Exactly what you would expect from a Disney Halloween movie, but it does it well.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

IMDB Score 7/10

Who said you can’t have a Halloween musical? This off-Broadway glam rock musical was turned into a movie in the 1980s by director Frank Oz. It stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin and Levi Stubbs along with a slew of guest cameos. The movie immediately became an instant cult classic and is still worth watching today.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

Another movie that is merely the first in what became a very popular series, this Wes Craven movie stars a young Johnny Depp, but not as the villain as we would expect these days. The story follows four teenagers whose dreams are invaded by a demon with a burned face and bladed leather hands, determined to kill them in their dreams, and in reality.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

IMDB Score 8/10

An unexpected but perfect holiday mash-up, in this stop motion animation Tim Burton asks what it would be like if the creatures that lived in the land of Halloween discovered Christmas? How would they interpret it and what would it mean for them? A delightful feast for the eyes with jokes and themes that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

IMDB Score 6.3/10

Probably the most successful found footage movie, and now series, since the Blair Witch Project, it follows a young couple who suspect that their home is haunted by a supernatural presence, and they try to catch it on movie. While the concept of the first worked, the later movies provide a detailed and mysterious backstory that will satisfy the interests of fans of the haunting genre.

The Ring (2002)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

This was the first American remake of delightfully creepy Japanese horror movies to hit our screens, and still holds a special place in the heart of fans. She plays a journalist investigating the death of her sister after watching a cursed movie. Her quest to understand what has happened turns desperate when both her and her young son watch the movie. A good mix of scares and an interesting back story.

Scream (1996)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

Marking the rise in the popularity in slasher flicks in the late 1990s, this is another outing from horror genius Wes Craven, and the first in a now lengthy series. It stars Neve Campbell as the daughter of a serial killer, who then becomes the target of a new serial killer obsessed with the original story. How many bodies will they leave in their wake? It is also famous for being the movie where David Arquette and Courtney Cox met, and made an unlikely couple.

The Shining (1980)

IMDB Score 8.4/10

One of the most famous movies of all time, Jack Nicholson stars in this Stanley Kubrick movie based on the Stephen King novel, which sees Nicholson and his family snowed into a haunted hotel over the winter. Already on the edge, Nicholson’s character deteriorates thanks to the supernatural forces of the house, and he starts to terrorize his family. This is a nostalgia watch for existing fans, and a must see for newbies.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

IMDB Score 7.4/10

The headless horseman is one of the most well-known Halloween figures, and this Tim Burton movie (one more) does an amazing job of bringing the story to life. It stars Johnny Depp as Icabod Crane, Christina Ricci as his love interest, Miranda Richardson as her evil step-mother (obviously) and a delightfully scary Christopher Walken as the headless horseman himself.

Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

This silent movie, originally called Haxan, was presented as a historical documentary in its day when it was shown in Danish and Swedish cinemas. The movie draws on the evidence for real-life 15th century witch trials as recorded in the now infamous Malleus Maleficarium which inquisitors used to find suspected witches. The nightmarish torture sequences are unthinkably extreme for the time, which is why the movie was banned in the United States.

The Witches (1990)

IMDB Score 6.8/10

This family movie based on the Roald Dahl novel gave me nightmares as a child. We are introduced to a group of witches, led perfectly by Anjelica Huston, who mascaraed as normal women during the day, but show their true colours behind closed doors. When a young boy discovers their secret, he and his grandmother must find a way to stop them, in order to save themselves.

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