What are the best Halloween movies? As soon as October 31 hits, you’ll find us jumping onto the couch, wrapping ourselves in a blanket with the lights down low, finally reaching for that remote to begin our Halloween horror movie marathon. Or, the Spooktacular, as we like to call it.
But when the list of best horror movies is long enough to give us a fright already, where do you start? Well, unlike the victims of the best slasher movies, or the poor terrified homeowners in the best ghost movies, you don’t have anything to worry about, dear reader. After doing some deep digging into our crypt, The Digital Fix is here to help you plan your night for Hallow’s Eve, giving you the best movies for the season.
15. Scooby-Doo (2002)
OK, we can hear your skepticism, but give us a break while we explain ourselves. The uniquely 2000s charm of Raja Gosnell’s movie, written by none other than James Gunn, makes it perfect Halloween viewing. It has one of the most perfect animation to live-action casts ever, from Matthew Lillard’s pitch-perfect Shaggy to Sarah Michelle Gellar as a more self-aware Daphne.
Its reputation is divisive, to say the least, but those who grew up on the film still hold a lot of affection for it. If it’s been a while, treat yourself to a return to Spooky Island this year. You might just love it. Zoinks!
14. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Richard O’Brien’s transgressive sci-fi stage show made its way to the big screen in the 1970s. It has since become the ultimate definition of a “cult classic,” still playing in cinemas and attracting raucous fan participation at screenings. Many of these screenings happen, fittingly, at Halloween.
Five decades have done little to dent the chaotic appeal of this story about a cross-dressing mad scientist and his homemade muscle man. But that sentence only scratches the surface of the movie’s idiosyncratic and unmatched weirdness. Let’s do the time warp again.
13. Halloween (1978)
When it comes to the finest Halloween flicks, John Carpenter’s classic slasher has to be in the conversation. (I mean, it’s literally in the name!) Halloween follows the murderous antics of the masked killer Michael Myers, who, after escaping a mental institution, goes on a killing spree during the night of the holiday. While we love nearly all the Halloween movies in order, you just can’t beat the original.
The story is straightforward and gripping, and Michael stalking his victims and hiding in shadowy hallways with a knife in hand is just downright terrifying, no matter how many times you rewatch it. Halloween is classic horror, has one of the best movie villains in the genre, and is set on October 31st. In short, it’s the perfect choice for your creepy movie night.
12. Beetlejuice (1988)
If you’re looking for something upbeat, colorful, and a little kooky to watch this Halloween season, there’s always the horror-comedy Beetlejuice! When a couple dies just after buying into their new home, they find themselves in the afterlife, stuck watching a new family move in and completely destroy their beloved property. Thankfully (or regretfully), they encounter Beetlejuice, a mischievous and irritating bio-exorcist who says he can help them.
This is one of Tim Burton’s aesthetic masterpieces, and has a stellar cast to boot. There’s something a little off-beat about this movie, and you’ll find it refreshing. In a way, Beetlejuice almost feels like a kids movie, with the addition of adult jokes and boundary-pushing characters that give it a little edge.
11. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Directed by Michael Dougherty, Trick ‘r Treat isn’t just one of the best Halloween films; it’s also one of the best horror anthology movies ever made. Following four stories, which are all connected through the appearance of the mysterious trick-or-treater Sam, wearing orange pajamas with a burlap sack on his head, the film is a joyous tribute to the season that is easily rewatchable and tons of fun.
Different residents of a small Ohio town experience unique horror scenarios on one Halloween night. All the stories have surprises, great payoffs, and plenty of scares to terrify you. But what makes Trick ‘r Treat so special is that it has something for everyone. It has creature feature elements, is a slasher, and has supernatural antics too. No matter what kind of horror fan you are, Trick ‘r Treat doesn’t disappoint.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
Often considered the best horror of all time and the first genre movie ever to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, The Exorcist had to be on this list. But even without its reputation and accolades to back up our decision, this ’70s film is hair-raising and frightening.
The movie tells the story of a young girl who is possessed by a demon. In order to save her body and soul, her mother calls some catholic priests and, as the film’s title suggests, an exorcism takes place.
When it was first released, there were reports of audiences vomiting and even having heart attacks due to how scary this movie is… so yeah, definitely worth a watch, right? But what really makes it stand out is its incredible tone, atmosphere, and bizarre hidden scares. It’s time to schedule a rewatch of this bona fide masterpiece.
9. Scream (1996)
When it comes to watching the best scary movies on Halloween night, why not pick a watch that is essentially about the best scary movies? Following a pattern of horrific murders that start to pick off the town’s teens, a young woman must go about trying to stay alive and work out who this masked killer is before she and her friends are next.
We don’t need to tell you how iconic Scream is. There have been plenty of satirical movies that’ll do just that. But we will highlight just how much of a mix-up to the scary movie trope this was. At the time, the genre was dominated by sexy teens getting into horrific trouble, but none managed to redefine the form quite as much as the original Scream did.
8. Hocus Pocus (1993)
So far, all of our entries have been horrors, and while the holiday is filled with eerie frights, sometimes you just want to relax and laugh come Halloween night. Hocus Pocus is the perfect Disney Plus pick for all our readers who are looking for a feel-good-themed film instead of nightmare fuel.
Telling the story of three evil witches, the Sanderson sisters, who are resurrected after 300 years, Hocus Pocus is a fun Disney Halloween movie complete with songs, snappy one-liners, and plenty of occult mischief.
A group of kids must work together to stop the witches’ schemes and save the children of their town before it’s too late. Seeing the witches try to navigate the modern world is downright hilarious, and our heroes’ tight race against the clock keeps us on our toes.
7. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Are you after a “groovy” time this Halloween? Well, look no further because Evil Dead 2 is here to scratch your itch. While The Digital Fix is fond of the entire franchise, 1987’s Evil Dead 2 holds a special place in our hearts thanks to how dang enjoyable it is.
Ash Williams and his girlfriend decide to embark on a romantic getaway; however, it turns out that choosing to vacation in an abandoned cabin in the woods wasn’t the best idea. Cue some demonic foes, ancient scriptures, noisy chainsaws, and some incredible practical effects, too!
When it comes to black comedy and horror cross-overs, Evil Dead 2 always hits the sweet spot. It’s violent, sometimes delightfully unhinged, and has plenty of self-aware cheesy lines and kills to keep you smiling throughout its runtime. Here’s the perfect mood-setter for any Halloween celebration.
6. The Fly (1986)
And now for something a little more…traumatic. Directed by the master of the weird and off-putting, David Cronenberg, The Fly is a remake of the ’50s classic, and stars Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. When a journalist falls for a scientist on the cusp of humanity’s most important invention — a transportation device that teleports matter — she finds herself in a living nightmare when he accidentally transports himself while there’s a fly in the pod.
As his body begins to morph into the insect, he starts to loose any human resemblance and sanity. Honestly, it’s quite hard to explain just how incredible the practical effects are — you’ll just have to see it to believe it. Frankly, this is one to watch with friends for an ultimate shock-response experience.
5. ParaNorman (2012)
Halloween fun isn’t limited to live-action. Plenty of the best animated movies are terrifying, too – our seasonal favorite being the stop-motion zombie-infused ParaNorman. Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, ParaNorman is genuinely funny, well-written, and is complete with some ghouls and zombies.
Norman has a gift: he can talk to ghosts. While this often means he’s shunned by those around him, his powers come in handy as he sets out to save his town from the curse of a 300-year-old witch looking to avenge her death. Ultimately, there’s a twist, and the film is about empathy and understanding our fear. ParaNorman is one of the best scary movies for kids, but it’s also suitable for all ages and has lots to offer older viewers.
4. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is a classic and, let’s be frank, a perfect film no matter the occasion. However, it’s particularly a banging choice come any film fan’s Halloween movie night. Not only is it masterfully performed, written, and shot, but it’s also deeply psychological and intimidating.
Jack Torrance takes ‘stir crazy’ to a whole new level once he and his family find themselves stranded in the ominous Overlook Hotel. A supernatural force begins to target their minds, and ghostly visions and nightmares haunt the hotel’s halls.
Directed by legendary auteur Stanley Kubrick, every time you watch The Shining, you discover some new detail. There’s a reason why so many horror fans cite this film as their favorite and why, even decades since its release, people are still posting conspiracies and analyzing every frame in it. It’s just that good.
3. Ghostbusters (1984)
When it comes to horror comedies, who are you gonna call? The ’80s classic Ghostbusters is another stellar pick for those looking for laughs over blood-curdling screams.
The film follows a bunch of university professors whose fascination with the occult leads them to start their own ghost-catching business in New York City. However, soon, the fate of the world rests on their ghost vacuum-packed shoulders once the gateway of “Gozer the Gozerian,” the god of destruction, is unleashed.
With a stacked cast featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters is a masterclass in comedy and has enough big stunts, lighthearted humor, and action to keep us endlessly entertained. It’s also a great choice for those who aren’t the biggest fans of horror movies, since you won’t be getting any nightmares after enjoying this.
2. Psycho (1960)
One of the earliest slasher films to ever hit the big screen, Psycho is one of horror’s most important milestones and is still a pop culture phenomenon. Directed by the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, it tells the story of a serial killer residing in the Bates Motel.
After a woman on the run checks into said motel one rainy night, she is murdered while taking a shower by a mysterious figure. It turns out that the charming and seemingly harmless Norman Bates is not what he seems, and his traumatizing relationship with his mother led to some pretty wild developments.
When it was first released, Psycho’s twists and killer reveal shocked the world, with the character Norman Bates the subject of long-running fascination. The thriller is still anxiety-inducing and unnerving, making it an ideal choice to scare yourself silly from the comfort of your couch.
1. Addams Family Values (1993)
They’re kooky, they’re spooky, and they’re the perfect family to celebrate Halloween with. One of the best ’90s movies ever made, Addams Family Values is the sequel to the hit 1991 comedy The Addams Family, which is based on the characters from the cartoon of the same name.
Despite being a sequel, don’t panic, friends; you don’t need to watch the first movie to enjoy this stellar follow-up. Addams Family Values presents a new problem that the charming yet macabre family must overcome: Uncle Fester marries a suspicious nanny with a taste for murder.
The film is hilarious, has some of the most quotable one-liners in existence, and demonstrates that gothic aesthetics aren’t always serious. In fact, goths can be self-aware and silly sometimes, too.
For more, here’s our guide to the best horror series of all time. Or, to stick with Halloween, take a look at the best monster movies and best zombie movies of all time. And if you’re more interested in new movies and TV shows, seek out more macabre with the Wednesday season 2 release date.
If you want recommendations from a big name, find out which “overlooked” movie Stephen King likes way more than The Shining. We also have fan-written features on why Halloween (2018) retonining the timeline was a good idea and why Scream 4 had the best Ghostface.