Can y'all believe Halloween is only a few days 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 my first list of 13 Spooktacular Flicks or my list of the best television series to binge-watch in October.
And don't forget to use the Scare'o'Meter to determine how spoopy or spooky you'd like your Halloween binge-fest to be!
🎃 Minimal spook factor (great for kiddos!)
🎃 🎃 Watch out for a few jump scares (suitable for teens and up!)
🎃 🎃 🎃 Are you sure you want to keep the lights off? (demon-level)
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 judgment from me) for your own spooktacular film fest!
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam & John Gavin
On the lam, Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Leigh), after stealing $40,000 from her employer to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. She travels on the back roads to avoid the police and stops at the ramshackle Bates Motel for the night. She 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.
DYK? For the infamous shower scene, director Sir Alfred Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup instead of prop blood because it showed up better on camera.
Director: Jim Sharman
Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams, Peter Hinwood & Meat Loaf
In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Bostwick) and Janet (Sarandon), while 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 crazy characters, including a rocking biker and the creepy butler and maid. Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation through elaborate dances and rock songs: a muscular man named "Rocky."
DYK? 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; the theater was empty except for the two of them. In the mid-1970s, midnight screenings became popular, and word of mouth spread so that the midnight audience might enjoy this film. It began showing at midnight in a few cities. It became so popular that it has been screened 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" so the audience can participate. Kits include 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.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃 🎃
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall & Danny Lloyd
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 with his wife, Wendy (Duvall), and his son, Danny (Lloyd), plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack's writing goes nowhere and Danny's visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel's dark secrets. The hotel consumes Jack, and he begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
DYK? According to Shelley Duvall, the infamous "Here's Johnny!" scene took three days to film and used sixty doors. Initially, 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 quickly. The props department was then forced to build a more substantial door.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp & Robert Englund
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. If the teens die in their dreams, it causes their real-life deaths. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Langenkamp) suspects 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?
DYK? Wes Craven wrote the script and pitched it in 1981 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 film's success and was jokingly nicknamed "The House that Freddy Built."
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Wilson, Christina Ricci & Jimmy Workman
When a man claiming to be Fester (Lloyd), Gomez Addams' (Julia) long-lost brother, 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.
DYK? To replicate Morticia's iconic 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."
Director: Brad Silberling
Starring: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle & Malachi Pearson
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 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 by his troublemaking uncles and their mischievous antics.
DYK? During filming, Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci had to talk to tennis balls in place of the ghosts, while the ghost characters were added later on with CGI.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃 🎃
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich & Drew Barrymore
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.
DYK? The high school scenes were supposed to be shot at Santa Rosa High School in California. However, close to the shooting date, the school board read the script and denied the film's request due to its violent nature. They had been under the impression the film was a comedy, and the 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."
Director: Duwayne Dunham
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, Robin Thomas & Phillip Van Dyke
On her thirteenth Halloween, 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 everyday 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.
DYK? The original Halloweentown was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon. The town has 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.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths & Christopher Walken
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 his colleagues. He is sent to the remote town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of bizarre murders. Several 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), the sweetheart of the burly Brom Bones (Van Dien). Ichabod is determined to capture the murderer to prove his bravery and win Katrina's heart.
DYK? 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.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃 🎃
Director: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams & Joshua Leonard
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 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.
DYK? 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."
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃
Director: Guillermo del Torro
Starring: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi & Fernando Tielve
Where to Watch: Prime Video
After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters the Republican militia and politicians' orphans. He 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.
DYK? The design of the ghost was inspired by the white-faced spirits of Japanese horror films like Ringu (1998) and Ju-on (2000).
Director: Henry Selick
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David & John Hodgman
Based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name, this film is a spooky twist on the classic "be careful what you wish for." While exploring her new home, Coraline (Fanning) discovers a secret door that leads to an alternate world; this world closely mirrors her own reality, but in many ways, is much 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.
DYK? There were 24 different Coraline puppets used in the making of the movie; each puppet took ten artists three to four months to construct.
Scare'O'meter 🎃 🎃 🎃
Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy & Kyla Deaver
In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Farmiga) and Ed (Wilson) Warren were 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 horrifyingly, especially after the Warrens discover the house's macabre history.
DYK? When The Conjuring was shown in the Philippines, some theaters 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.