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31 Nights of Frights: The Ultimate Halloween Movie List

You can put up as many decorations as you want, but nothing will put you in a spooky mood better than binge watching Halloween movies. However, if your friends are like mine, none of you can ever decide on the right movie to pick. I love the classics. Maybe you rather watch something funny. And we all have that friend who has Coraline on Blu-ray and won't make any of you popcorn until you put it on (and if that's you reading this: you're a monster).

Luckily for you, I have comprised the perfect Halloween movie list. For the ultimate viewing experience, I recommend you watch them in order for a perfect mix of creepy crawlies, old fashioned scares and childhood nostalgia.

1. Halloween (1978)

"Death has come to your little town, Sheriff."

Don't say you love the anime if you haven't read the manga. It should be required by law that you can't celebrate Halloween until you've watched this classic. Follow notorious serial killer Michael Myers as he slashes his way through the babysitters of Haddonfield and wears a bleached Captain Kirk mask (I'm not kidding). It's not Halloween until you've seen the night he came home

2. Hocus Pocus (1993)

"Why was I cursed with such idiot sisters?"

After seeing the most classic horror movie, make sure to watch the most classic family-friendly piece of art. Remind yourself that Halloween can be a treat with Bette Midler doing what she does best: being an absolute icon.

3. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

"Take car, go to Mum's, kill Phil, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over."

The only thing better than a zombie movie is watching six losers trying to wait out the apocalypse inside a pub. This is also the movie that sparked the laziest Halloween costume of mankind.

4. Beetlejuice (1988)

"I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that."

Keep the good vibes rolling with everyone's favorite funny demon, Beetlejuice! Plus Winona Ryder absolutely slays (as always).

 5. The Shining (1980)

"Some places are like people: some shine and some don't."

Now that you're into the wholesome Halloween spirit, let's mix it up with a Stephen King classic. There are so many parts of The Shining that make it terrifying, even though it's not set in October. Ghost twins in the hallway. A haunted hotel. Shelley Duvall's iconic screaming (she had the OG Eleven scream). The Shining is a perfect transition movie to start watching the true originals.

6. Psycho (1960)

"We all go a little mad sometimes."

Psycho has a twist ending that still terrifies audiences today. It's hard to imagine the horror people felt watching this in 1960. Our movie list is about to explore the beginnings of monster cinema, and no villain is more renowned for his callous than Norman Bates.

7. Anything with Boris Karloff

"The monster was the best friend I ever had."

Boris Karloff has played all the original monsters. He is in Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and The Body Snatcher (1945), to name a few selections you might want to watch. Another fun fact is he voices the Grinch in the original animated television special, which I only found out by Googling his movies to write this article. And they say browsing IMDb instead doing homework isn't educational!

8. Ghostbusters (1984)

"Don't cross the streams."

If you didn't play the theme song during a Halloween party in elementary school, did you even have a childhood?

9. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

"Strange things are afoot at the Circle K."

As a Floridian and avid Halloween Horror Nights fan, I feel that Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure has earned its spot as an honorary Halloween movie. 

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

"Forgive me, Mr. Claus. I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday."

Is it a Christmas or a Halloween movie? Who cares! Relive your Hot Topic aesthetic and put on the most angsty movie of the 90's.

11. The Exorcist (1973)

"What an excellent day for an exorcism."

Did you really think you could watch two lighthearted movies in a row? Jump back in to the spooky groove and out of your seats with The Exorcist. An iconic cast and soundtrack that closely rivals Halloween, you'll be feeling the spirit in no time! And no, that wasn't supposed to be an exorcism pun.

12. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

"They're coming to get you, Barbara!" 

Night of the Living Dead may not have aged well compared to most horror movies, but it's much deeper than people remember it. Not only is it one of the first movies to cast a black actor as the lead, but it tackles the issue of racism as a group of young people hide in a house during the start of the zombie apocalypse. 

13. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

"The guy is dead, and he’s trying to get with my wife. And the house isn’t really for sale."

Unpopular opinion: The Haunted Mansion is the best Halloween movie of all time. It is my favorite Halloween movie. Period. I could have made an entire article on why it's the funniest, most creative film in the entire world. I'm not sure if it's because I love the Disney ride, or I laugh at all the ridiculous one-liners every time. It was a masterpiece when I saw it in first grade, and it's still art now.

14. Poltergeist (1982)

"You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones!"

A perfect blend of old school horror and terrible 80's graphics. Poltergeist gives you Halloween nostalgia you didn't even know you had. And of course there is the "Poltergeist curse" that people talk about every year surrounding four of the cast members' deaths shortly after filming the movie.

15. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

"One, two, Freddy's coming for you..."

Freddy is one of the most iconic Halloween villains, and the most basic Halloween costume.

16. Scream (1994)

"Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!"

Scream is still a horror movie while simultaneously making fun of them. It lays out the three major rules you can never break within a horror movie to survive... then immediately shows you those three forbidden rules. Its dark humor makes it a unique satire movie that'll still cause you to jump.

17. The Others (2001)

"Sometimes the world of the living gets mixed up with the world of the dead."

A constant mystery from beginning to end, The Others follows a desperate mother trying to keep her children alive despite their rare diseases. When she wakes up to all of her help gone and a knock at the door from three strangers, she has no choice but to hire them. And each time you watch it, the more terrifying it becomes.

18. Friday the 13th (1980)

"It's not bad enough to have Friday the 13th, we've gotta have a full moon too."

Now that you've seen Jason, the original Halloween trio (Michael, Freddy and Jason) has been complete.

19. Clue (1985)

"I did. In the hall. With the revolver."

You did it! You've seen enough actually scary movies to deserve a break. Clue is exactly what you think it is. Join the famous board game characters as they solve the very murder you grew up playing. Ridiculous one-liners. Slapstick comedy. You're going to be so mad I made you watch this.

20. Casper Meets Wendy (1998)

"If my aunts find out I'm friends with a ghost, they'll throw a witchy fit and I won't get to see you any more."

Casper Meets Wendy is better than the original Casper the Friendly Ghost. There, I said it. Hilary Duff is adorable and all the supporting characters made this one of my favorite VHS tapes. However, the swirling hell vortex villain was absolutely terrifying to watch as a kid and I can't believe they put that in the movie.

21. Halloweentown (1998)

"You can't tell what's in a monster's heart just by looking at 'em. I mean, sometimes, some of the slimiest, raunchiest, ugliest little monsters turn out to be the nicest."

I learned more life lessons from Halloweentown than I did anywhere else. Remember rushing to the television at 8 p.m. to catch it on Disney Channel?

22. Monster House (2005)

"Okay, normally I don't spend time with guys like you, but a house just tried to eat me, so... you've got one hour."

Monster House is full of those not-so-PG jokes that went right over your head as a kid.

23. It (1990 or 2017)

"We all float down here."

I personally enjoyed the newer version of It, but if you're a sucker for classics you can watch the TV mini-series. I just feel like after watching kids kick butt in Monster House you should watch kids absolutely get their butts kicked by a clown.

24. Gremlins (1984)

"So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, 'cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house."

I personally am not a fan of Gremlins. I thought it was too kooky to be scary. However, it is a classic and therefore I must regretfully put these weird Furbies on the list.

25. Young Frankenstein (1974)

"Wait Master, it might be dangerous... you go first."

My house has banned my mom from watching this because she laughs so hard. Similar to humor from Clue, this will be the dumbest, funniest movie you watch all Halloween. Dr. Frankenstein has brought the Monster to life, and he's a tap-dancing fool. It's the same as the classic novel... if everyone was an idiot.

26. The Addams Family (1991)

"This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else."

Everyone knows Morticia and Gomez are absolute couple goals. Make your significant other watch this with you as you prepare your couple's costume.

27. The Sixth Sense (1999)

"I see dead people."

It's known for having the best twist ending for a reason.

28. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

"No redneck is this creative."

I originally thought The Blair Witch Project was famous for being good. It's actually just one of the first found footage films. But it's a classic, and should be watched close to Halloween day.

29. ParaNorman (2012)

"If I were a poltergeist I'd throw something at his head!"

Paranorman is completely underrated and often overshadowed by Monster House. It's got The Sixth Sense vibes with a hilarious, child animation twist. And a gay icon we don't deserve (but I can't spoil it for you).

30. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

"There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."

It is physically impossible to be sad when watching this movie. It's a family tradition to watch it on "Halloween Eve" and I wish everyone did that. You'll instantly feel like a kid again. Also, my family completely celebrates The Great Pumpkin. We got to open Halloween baskets on Halloween morning usually filled with candy and a scary movie. And while I may be too old for Halloween baskets, I'll never be too old to believe in the adorableness of this movie.

31. Halloween (2018)

"I always knew he'd come back. In this town, Michael Myers is a myth. He's the Boogeyman. A ghost story to scare kids. But this Boogeyman is real."

Go full-circle with Halloween (2018) and see how big our knife boi has grown. As Michael Myers slashes his way through every babysitter in Haddonfield to get to Laurie Strode, you'll conclude Halloween with a modern twist to the best holiday ever.

Images: All pictures were taken from Giphy.

Rachel is currently a senior studying journalism with a double-minor in political science and cinema studies at the University of Central Florida. She writes for several news outlets and aspires to be an investigative journalist/published author. Most of Rachel's writing focuses on breaking news, politics and entertainment. In her spare time she enjoys watching movies, talking about movies and wishing she was in a movie. Follow her aesthetic adventures on Instagram and misadventures on Twitter.
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