Whether you prefer a good scare or celebrate Halloween in a lighthearted fashion, there are a few essential Halloween movies everyone should watch. Some are classics, some are recent releases, but all of them are a little bit spooky. From thrillers to supernatural stories to horror comedies, pick one or more of these movies when you want to get in the Halloween spirit.
1. Psycho (1960)
One of the first and best slasher movies of all time! It tells the story of a deranged man who runs the Bates Motel and his unsuspecting customer. You’ll never think of showers the same way again.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
This quintessential supernatural horror movie features literal head-turning moments. A young girl is possessed by the devil, spawned many demon-centric movies to come.
3. Halloween (1978)
This was a movie made to be watched on October 31st (hence the name), all about a masked serial killer named Michael Myers who returns fresh from the insane asylum to terrorize his hometown in Illinois. You can make it a movie marathon by watching the whole franchise, 10 movies in total if you can stomach it.
4. The Shining (1980)
The famous Stanley Kubrick psychological horror movie features the iconic new performances of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duval. Nicholson plays a writer who moves his family into an isolated hotel. However, only to unravel mentally over the course of the movie he is overtaken by the dark forces who frequent the hotel.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s horror icon Freddy Krueger is one of the freakiest villains out there. A burned serial killer targets children with a glove full of knives that would put Edward Scissorhands to shame. The worst part of the slasher series is that Krueger has the power to kill people in a dream world where he’s virtually invincible. A true nightmare.
6. Ghostbusters (1984)
When it comes to Halloween comedies, Ghostbusters is a classic – feel free to throw in Ghostbusters 2 and the 2016 all-female reboot for a full-on marathon. The ghosts are actually frightening at times, but mostly there are lots of laughs, so there is something for the scary movie lovers and scaredy cats.
7. The Addams Family (1991)
The first theatrical movie to chronicle the lives of Charles Addams’ “creepy, kooky” family gifted the world a cast of unforgettably morbid characters, from Christina Ricci’s dark schoolgirl Wednesday to Anjelica Huston’s glamorous Morticia.
8. Hocus Pocus (1993)
The family-friendly fright-fest came out in 1993 and has been a Halloween staple for millennials ever since. The Sanderson Sisters are the perfect balance of genuinely scary and laugh-out-loud hilarious.
9. Scream (1996)
This ’90s slasher, which follows a group of high schoolers who fall victim to a masked murderer, inspired one of today’s most popular Halloween costumes.
10. The Ring (2002)
You may not be able to sleep after watching this movie about a cursed videotape. A journalist played by Naomi Watts investigates the death of four teenagers who all die after watching the said tape. She must unravel the mystery behind the vengeful well-dwelling girl whose death causes all the trouble.
11. The Babadook (2014)
Named by critics as one of the most intelligent horror movies in recent years, The Babadook uses mounting suspense rather than cheap thrills to scare the viewer, as a supernatural force terrorizes a mother and her child.
12. It Follows (2014)
One of the most inventive modern scary movies, It Follows puts a spin on the horror genre with a sexual twist. The film is about a girl who, following a sexual encounter, contracts, er, conjures a terrorizing force. A shape-shifting monster that can assume the form of others and can only be gotten rid of bypassing it on to someone else through sex.
13. Happy Death Day (2017)
The movie that answers the question, “What if Groundhog Day were a horror film?” Happy Death Day is one of the best scary movies in recent years and a perfect addition to your Halloween watchlist.