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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Make sure you lock your doors for these movies 

As we move into the month of October, a time usually adorned with pumpkin spice and apple picking, something incredibly important can easily be overlooked: spooky season. As the perfect lead up to a fantastic holiday, nothing says Halloween quite like a good horror movie marathon. With this in mind, this genre is truly hit or miss. So, to make sure you can avoid any scary movie fails, here is my tried and true list of gut-wrenching, spine-tingling horror movies.

Halloween

Without a doubt this will always be my number one horror movie recommendation. It is my all-time favorite, an opinion I know many share. First off, it is an 80s classic which promises stereotypical characters, slasher deaths, and a fight for survival. The opening scene alone is masterful with its point of view shots. To top it off, this movie contains the most powerful and independent final girls, played by the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis.

Saw

I feel that it is a fair assumption that most people have heard of the Saw movies. Known for the intense deadly traps, this series has become a classic go-to for gore and guts. This is not my particular category of horror which is why I think it is important to acknowledge the first film in the series which focused less on physical mutilation and more on psychological warfare. This is not to say it is a gore-free movie, I don’t think that’s possible with horror, but the deadly escape room feel makes for a nerve-wracking watch. Plus, it has one of the best twist endings that you will never see coming. 

Psycho

Everyone should have to watch this movie at some point in their lives. It is the OG horror movie, and you aren’t a true fan of the genre if you haven’t seen it. The classic black and white feel and sense of impending doom make it an anxiety invoking film. It contains one of the most well-known death scenes of all time, that was filmed at over 50 different angles and an ending that will leave you wondering what you just watched.

Hush

This film places a unique twist on the classic home break-in movie. Following a writer living remotely in the woods, a plethora of opportunities arise when the main character is introduced as death. At multiple points in the movie, you are plugged into her silent world, sending shivers down your spine. Along with plenty of good scares there are also strong themes of disability and feminist empowerment, making it a thought-provoking watch. 

Host

I have watched this movie two or three times and I am met with the same feeling of fear in anticipation of what is coming every time. Over the years I have watched more scary movies that I can count, and this is one of the few that truly terrified me. What makes it even more impressive is that it was completely filmed over zoom with cast members performing their own stunts, makeup etc. A simple premise of a zoom seance gone wrong, this movie will leave you ready to sleep with all the lights on. 

Sinister

I recently watched this movie for the first time after coming across multiple accounts deeming it “the scariest movie of the 21st century”. It is fair to say that it definitely lived up to its name. The premise alone is enough to make you question if you have the guts to see the film through to the end. It follows a true crime author who moves his unknowing family into the house of the victims (and the crime scene) of his newest true murder story. Upon moving in he finds a box of tapes containing videos of the murder and other horrifying events. The further into the mystery he gets, the more twisted and ominous the movie becomes. Moreover, it contains one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever seen. 

Pet Cemetery (1989)

This list just wouldn’t be complete without a story from Steven King. There is no such thing as a wrong choice when it comes to any of his creations, but there is something extra haunting about this film. It calls into question what one would do in the midst of grief and the deadly consequences our choices could have. There’s something immensely eerie about the fact that the main character brings all of the events of this movie on himself and never seems to learn his lesson. But above all, Gage Creed will plague your nightmares for years to come.

Bonus: Shaun of the Dead

In the event that you are new to the horror movie experience or hoping to avoid some of the jump scares, this is the perfect option for you. A humorous parody on a zombie apocalypse film this movie is guaranteed to make you crack a smile. Plus, unlike most horror movies which leave you scarred by a gruesome ending, this movie actually contains a wholesome conclusion. 

With the conclusion of this list, I encourage you to plan a movie night in the near future. There is nothing like the nerve and excitement of testing your limits and a good old adrenaline rush. Of course, there are a few key items you will need for your night: a delicious snack, a blanket to hide your eyes and maybe even some friends to laugh/scream with. But, no matter what you do, don’t forget to lock your door.

Kendall Callery

Wisconsin '26

Kendall is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Writing is a way for her to share her bold takes and unique personality. Not only is she a perfectionist at heart but she is also a coffee, baked goods, and horror movies addict.