Can y'all believe Halloween is only a week away!? And, with it being my favorite holiday, I couldn't not curate another list of the best Halloween-themed movies to watch for the occasion. So, whether you're into wet-your-pants-type jump scares, mysteries of the supernatural, or just plain silly and spooky fun, I've got you covered. And, if these movies aren't up your alley, be sure to check out last year's list or my list of the best television series to binge-watch in October.
So grab a mug of hot apple cider, your trick-or-treat candy of choice, and turn off the lights (or, leave them on, no judgement from me) for your own spooktacular film fest!
Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Perkins), a young man with an interest in taxidermy and an odd relationship with his mother.
DIRECTOR: Sir Alfred Hitchcock
STARRING: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, and John Gavin
DID YOU KNOW? For the infamous shower scene, director Sir Alfred Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup instead of blood, because it showed up better on camera.
In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Bostwick) and Janet (Sarandon), stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Curry), a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker (Meat Loaf) and a creepy butler (O'Brien). Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named "Rocky."
DIRECTOR: Jim Sharman
STARRING: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams, Peter Hinwood, and Meat Loaf
DID YOU KNOW? When the film first opened, it had a traditional release, with afternoon and early evening screenings. It bombed. Meat Loaf said he attended an opening-week performance with director Jim Sharman in the Midwest, and the theater was empty except for the two of them. In the mid-1970s, midnight screenings became popular, and word of mouth began to spread that the midnight audience might enjoy this film. It began showing at midnight in a few cities, and became so popular that it has been shown continually in movie theaters since 1975, making it the longest theatrical run in history.
The Museum Lichtspiele cinema in Muenchen, Germany has screened the movie every week since June 24, 1977, offering special "RHPS-Kits" to enable celebrations during the show. The kits contain a biscuit (for the toast), rice, a whistle, a candle (for "There's a Light"), and a sheet of paper with instructions for the Time Warp.
Based on Stephen King's 1977 novel, author Jack Torrance (Nicholson) becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Duvall), and his son, Danny (Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack's writing goes nowhere and Danny's visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel's dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
STARRING: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd
DID YOU KNOW? According to Shelley Duvall, the infamous "Here's Johnny!" scene took three days to film and the use of sixty doors. Originally, the props department built a door that could be easily broken. However, Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer fire marshal and tore it apart far too easily. The props department were then forced to build a stronger door.
In this classic Wes Craven slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams—which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends' parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Depp) solve the puzzle before it's too late?
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
STARRING: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, and Jsu Garcia
DID YOU KNOW? Wes Craven wrote the script and presented it in 1981 to try to sell it to a major studio, but no one wanted it. He said that "it just flew around" for three years until New Line Cinema picked it up. New Line Cinema was saved from bankruptcy by the success of the film, and was jokingly nicknamed "The House that Freddy Built."
When a man claiming to be Fester (Lloyd), the missing brother of Gomez Addams (Julia), arrives at the Addams' home, the family is thrilled. However, Morticia (Huston) begins to suspect the man is a fraud, since he cannot recall details of Fester's life. With the help of lawyer Tully Alford (Hedaya), Fester manages to get the Addams clan evicted from their home. Gomez realizes the two men are conspiring to swindle the Addams fortune and that he must challenge Fester.
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
STARRING: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Wilson, Christina Ricci, and Jimmy Workman
DID YOU KNOW? In order to gain Morticia's figure, Anjelica Huston wore a metal corset. She also had to get gauze eye lifts, neck tucks, and fake nails daily. She told Entertainment Weekly, "Come afternoon, I could be prone to a really good headache from my various bondages, and because I couldn't lie down (in the corset) or rest, it was fairly exhausting."
Casper (Pearson) is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When paranormal specialist James Harvey (Pullman) arrives to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat (Ricci). Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, but their budding relationship is complicated not only by his transparent state, but also by his troublemaking apparition uncles and their mischievous antics.
DIRECTOR: Brad Silberling
STARRING: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, and Malachi Pearson
DID YOU KNOW? During filming, Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci had to talk to tennis balls in place of the ghosts, while the ghosts were added later on.
Wes Craven re-invented and revitalized the slasher-horror genre with this modern horror classic, which manages to be funny, clever and scary, as a fright-masked knife maniac stalks high-school students in middle-class suburbia. Craven is happy to provide both tension and self-parody as the body count mounts—but the victims aren't always the ones you'd expect.
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
STARRING: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, and Drew Barrymore
DID YOU KNOW? The high school scenes were to be shot at Santa Rosa High School in California. However, very close to the shooting date, the school board read the script and denied the film to be shot there due to its violent nature, as they had been under the impression the film was a comedy, and production was moved to Healdsburg, California. As payback, director Wes Craven put in the end credits under the "Special Thanks" section, "NO THANKS WHATSOEVER TO THE SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD."
On her 13th birthday, Marnie (Brown) learns that she comes from a family of witches and that she too is a witch. Soon she and her younger siblings return with their estranged grandmother, the good witch Aggie Cromwell (Reynolds), to her home in Halloweentown, where witches, goblins, and vampires lead normal lives. Marnie soon discovers that an evil force is plotting to take over Halloweentown, and she must help her mother and grandmother to save the day.
DIRECTOR: Duwayne Dunham
STARRING: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, Robin Thomas, and Phillip Van Dyke
DID YOU KNOW? St. Helens, Oregon, is where the original Halloweentown was filmed, and have since embraced tourists with a month-long "Spirit of Halloweentown" event to celebrate and allow fans of the movie to explore the town. They even try to recreate parts of the set, like the giant jack-o-lantern in the town square.
Set in 1799, Sleepy Hollow is based on Washington Irving's classic tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In this version, Ichabod Crane (Depp) is a New York City detective whose unorthodox techniques and penchant for gadgets make him unpopular with is colleagues. He is sent to the remote town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of bizarre murders, in which a number of people have been found dead in the woods, with their heads cut off. Local legend has it that a Hessian ghost rides through the woods on horseback, lopping off the heads of the unsuspecting and unbelieving. Ichabod refuses to believe in this legend, convinced that there must be a logical explanation for the murders. In time, Ichabod becomes smitten with Katrina Van Tassel (Ricci), who is the sweetheart of the burly Brom Bones (Van Dien), and he becomes determined to capture the murderer to prove his bravery and win her heart.
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, and Christopher Walken
DID YOU KNOW? Washington Irving claimed that Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel were real people. Ichabod Crane is based on Colonel Ichabod Bennet Crane, who was born in 1787 and fought in the war of 1812. Washington Irving and Colonel Ichabod Crane had met in 1814 at Fort Pike located on Lake Ontario in Sackets Harbor, New York.
Found video footage tells the tale of three film students who've traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale's veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.
DIRECTOR: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
STARRING: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard
DID YOU KNOW? To maintain the film's fear factor, the three main actors agreed to stay in character for the entire eight days of filming. Periodically, if an actor had to break from character, then the remaining two actors also had to break from character, but only after collectively reciting their safety word "taco."
After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen (Paredes), and the kindly professor, Casares (Luppi). Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Noriega). Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds.
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Torro
STARRING: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, and Fernando Tielve
DID YOU KNOW? The design of the ghost was inspired by the white-faced spirits of Japanese horror films like Ju-on (2000) and Ringu (1998).
Based on Neil Gaiman's novel, while exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate world that closely mirrors her own but, in many ways, is better. She rejoices in her discovery, until Other Mother (Hatcher) and the rest of her parallel family try to keep her there forever. Coraline must use all her resources and bravery to make it back to her own family and life.
DIRECTOR: Henry Selick
STARRING: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, and John Hodgman
DID YOU KNOW? There were 24 different Coraline puppets used in the making of the movie; each puppet took ten artists three to four months to construct.
WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix
In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Farmiga) and Ed (Wilson) Warren are summoned to the home of Carolyn (Taylor) and Roger (Livingston) Perron. The Perrons and their five daughters have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, where a supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively benign at first, events soon escalate in horrifying fashion, especially after the Warrens discover the house's macabre history.
DIRECTOR: James Wan
STARRING: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, and Kyla Deaver
DID YOU KNOW? When The Conjuring was shown in the Philippines, some cinemas hired Catholic priests to bless the viewers before showing it. This was due to some viewers reported feeling a "negative presence" after watching the film. The priests also provided spiritual and psychological help to the viewers.