During the holidays, I go nuts with the Christmas music and movies on massive playlists. My husband is like that for Halloween. You should see the way he gets pumped to watch “Halloween Wars” every year.
(As a side note: Halloween Wars is a competition where people carve pumpkins into crazy designs and make these little Halloween setups, it’s really cool and I think they do it every year at the beginning of October. You can catch it this year on October 1st at 9pm EST on the Food Network.)
So, my husband loves to break out the Halloween movies around this time and we sat down and made a list of some of the ones we prefer to really get you in a Halloweenie mood. They’re listed in no particular order, although we certainly have our top favorites!
Kiefer Sutherland plays an ex-cop who takes a job as a security guard in a clearly haunted place. This movie is clearly underrated because my husband and I both think that it’s terrifying. The plot is a little common, haunted house and all, but the scares are pretty original.
This is one of our favorites of all time. John Cusack’s character doesn’t believe in ghosts so he’s made a living of going to “haunted” places and writing stories debunking them. As someone who doesn’t really believe in ghosts but loves hearing ghost stories, I think it sounds like a pretty awesome job! Until he goes to stay in a haunted hotel room, number 1408, and it turns out to actually be haunted. There are a bunch of moments that make you jump, the way that we believe scary movies should! It’s not gory at all, it relies completely on creepy ideas to freak you out. It successfully freaks me out and I can’t hear The Carpenters without getting mildly perturbed. Haha!
3. The Ring
The Ring is one of those classic Japanese scare films that makes you want to sleep underneath your covers but then you’ll spend that entire time thinking about how things can still get you under the covers. I’m partial to the version with Naomi Watts but that was a remake of the Japanese “Ringu” and there’s been another remake since that wasn’t terrible. It’s the concept that a crazy lady can climb out of your electronic devices and kill you, I think.
4. Insidious series
This entire series scares me in a real way. My husband explained astral projection and the belief behind it and it’s really very petrifying. People believe that your soul, basically, can come up out of your body and travel to another plane of existence. It’s basically a mirrored world of our own, without all the people. In the Insidious series, this happens when a boy is in a coma and bad things are blocking his spirit from getting back to his body. Also, I had a really good prank idea inspired by this movie… two little red lights the size of large eyes in the top corner of a dark room. I would never sleep again.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas
I bet you’re relieved that I included at least one that you won’t lose sleep over! The Nightmare Before Christmas is a creepy kind of adorable, you know how Tim Burton does. It was scary to me as a kid but as I get older, I enjoy the music and Jack Skellington’s heart. He lives in Halloween Town and wants a piece of Christmas, because who doesn’t?! Except it goes terribly wrong because all Jack knows is Halloween!
6. Pet Sematary
When pets die, you can bury them in the Pet Sematary. It’s spelled that way because, of course, children put it together for their lost pets. Behind the children’s pet cemetery, there is an ancient Indian burial ground that is meant to bring things back from the dead. Those things start out as the family pet but then, well, you have to watch it.
7. The Exorcist
It’s a classic so I feel like it has to make the list, right? There have been tons of possession movies since but this is the one that started it all, little Regan.
I love Michael Keaton and the characters he gets into! Beetlejuice is one that you can watch with the kids, it’s only mildly freaky and mostly it’s funny and weird! Beetlejuice is one of the family classics!
9. The Skeleton Key
I feel like nobody ever talks about how creepy this movie is but maybe it freaks me out more because I used to be a caretaker for the elderly and well, what is there was a much deeper reason as to why someone was nonverbal…like they aren’t really who you think they are?! Eerie!
10. The Babadook
I swore I’d mentioned this one in one of my Fortnight Flicks before because I think it’s an awesome classic-type of scary movie that doesn’t rely on gore, just good old-fashioned spookiness! It’ll have you freaked out by dark corners and jumping a bunch! I’ve read that it’s got a really deep meaning, like it’s an analogy for sadness, but on the whole, it’s just a creepy film!
Psycho is disturbing on its own level. Norman’s relationship with his mom is weird and leaves him mentally unstable, which results in him behaving in crazy ways. Every version of this movie scares me and I also really enjoyed the TV series.
12. Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus is a classic loved by many. The Sanderson sisters are funny, freaky, and ancient witches who are up to no good. I’m seeing costumes and merchandise all over for this popular flick so it’s definitely one of the necessities. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m wondering if you’ve also been under a spell for 300 years.
This was one of the first of the ghosty classics and I haven’t seen many decent ghost movies since. A family’s home is overtaken by ghosts and a bunch of scary things happen, like you can imagine.
If you’re afraid of clowns, this movie is terrifying. If you’re not afraid of clowns, this movie is terrifying. I haven’t seen the newer version (and I think it looks like overkill!) but Tim Curry made for a fantastic Pennywise. He’s almost sweet looking at times, enticing people to do what he wants. At other times, you fear for your own life. The old version touches on many different fears so I feel like it’s terror for everyone!
15. The Others
This is a difficult one for me to describe without giving away really decent parts of the movie. There is something extremely off about this family and you can’t pinpoint exactly why..
16. Thir13en Ghosts
It amazes me that I don’t hear more about this movie! Haunted houses are taken to a new level when thirteen ghosts are trapped behind glass like some kind of insane zoo…until the ghosts are no longer trapped.
17. Sixth Sense
You’ve heard the quote, “I see dead people,” and that’s exactly what the movie is about. A little boy and his shrink try to work through his struggles and ultimately it helps them both.
A ghostly but fun film to share with the kids around Halloween is the original Ghostbusters! Follow this team of ghost-busting guys on their extermination adventures and there’s plenty of witty banter in there too. Also, catchy theme song…
Denzel Washington is an actor extraordinaire and he does a really amazing job trying to get to the bottom of a particular demon who can possess different people just by touch. It’s not scary so much as it’s creepy and a good thriller, wondering what’s around every corner. I loved the premise for this and it makes for a great one around Halloween too!
Se7en is another one that’s not exactly Halloween-themed but it’s scary. Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt star in this movie about the seven deadly sins and a serial killer who is using these sins to end people’s lives.
21. Dead Silence
My husband asks me to watch this all the time because I can’t help but cringe. I feel like all I need to say about this movie is ventriloquist horror. There are a bunch of jumpy scenes and moments with such memorable imagery that good luck not having nightmares!
22. I Am Legend
Will Smith’s character is experiencing an apocalypse, at least on the island in which he lives. It seems as though everyone has turned into odd and horrifying zombies (although my uncle informed me that in the book, they’re actually vampires!) and they aren’t typical as they can run and are conniving. Look up the alternate ending, which aligns more with the book! Another option is to watch the original film for the book, The Last Man on Earth from 1964.
One of the better vampire movies where vampires have completely taken over the world but some of them don’t want to harm the humans. It’s a pretty cool one!
24. Death Note
Brand spankin’ new Netflix original movie, Death Note, is a great movie to ring in the Halloween season! Now, I’ve heard debates from lovers of the original anime but we can separate the two. Got see, Death Note is about a boy who finds a notebook in which you write names and those result in real life deaths. The demon who presides over the book is huge, scary, and has a mind of his own that may not very well align with the current author of the notebook.
25. Pitch Black
I made it part way through Pitch Black having absolutely no idea what it was supposed to be about but I knew one thing– that I was on edge. What could happen to this group of people who crash-landed on a foreign planet with their suddenly no longer handcuffed prisoner? Well, you’ll see.
26. The Mummy
I know there are several versions out there but I think the Brendan Frasier one has lot of great action and that mummy is freaky! You can’t have Halloween without mummies, after all!
27. 28 Days Later
This is one of the coolest zombie movies of all because the zombies can run, which is automatically more frightening to me! The plot is better than the average zombie movie and before Walking Dead, this was my zombie entertainment of choice.
Demons are trying to break out of Hell and open a door to the world. Constantine fights them. My husband thinks the concept is really interesting and that’s why he put it on the list.
29. Children of the Corn
I really can’t watch this one because it scares me so much but it’s really an insane concept to think that all of your kids could be conspiring against you to kill you.
The very first Saw was the just before unnecessary gore became a thing so I thought that it was done very well with being terrifying without being too gross. Jigsaw was a new type of serial killer who technically didn’t kill his victims but instead put you into impossible situations.
Oh, I’m so excited to add this one to the list! I grew up enjoying some Brendan Frasier remake of this movie but recently, we caught the original version from 1967 and it’s so funny! The devil offers a man wishes in exchange for his soul and like an “evil genie”, he ruins every single wish in some hilarious way.
Many of these movies are frightening, some are just interesting or funny, and others are classics that you just have to watch around Halloween. Hopefully this list gives you a few new things to watch and a bunch of films you can enjoy!