Whether you’re a fan of supernatural scares, psychological thrillers, or suspenseful mysteries, this list has a little something for everyone for a bone-chilling cinematic experience this Halloween!
Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s time to SCREAM! 😱From classic cult horrors to heart-pounding modern gems, I’ve curated the ultimate list to keep you on the edge of your seat if you’re ready to embrace the scare. Each film includes streaming platform links and a genre guide to help you find the perfect fit for your spooky mood so you can start your Halloween horror marathon in no time.
💡 TIP 💡 If these films are too frightful for you and you would prefer a milder marathon to watch with the lights on, check out all of the Halloween-related blog posts here, including the most recent family-friendly Halloween movie guide (with bonus Halloween bingo game) because Spooky Season™️ is for everyone!
Psycho (1960) 😱 🔍 😰
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenwriter: Joseph Stefano
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam &John McIntire Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
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 a difficult relationship with his mother.
Did You Know? To prevent spoilers, Alfred Hitchcock bought as many copies of Robert Bloch’s novel as he could find.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) 🎭 😱
Director & Screenwriter: Roman Polanski
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans & Ralph Bellamy
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
A young wife comes to believe that her offspring is not of this world. Waifish Rosemary Woodhouse (Farrow) and her struggling actor husband Guy (Cassavetes) move to a New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and odd neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castavet (Blackmer & Gordon). When Rosemary becomes pregnant, she becomes increasingly isolated, and the diabolical truth is revealed only after Rosemary gives birth.
Did You Know? According to Mia Farrow, the scenes where Rosemary walks in front of traffic were spontaneous and genuine. Roman Polanski is reported to have told her that "nobody will hit a pregnant woman." The scene was successfully shot with Farrow walking into real traffic and Polanski following, operating the hand-held camera since he was the only one willing to do it.
The Exorcist (1973) 😱 👻
Director: William Friedkin
Screenwriter: William Peter Blatty
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller & Linda Blair
One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Blair) starts acting odd—levitating, speaking in tongues—her worried mother (Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
Did You Know? When Regan infamously projectile vomits on Father Karras, the "vomit" is actually Pea Soup Andersen's split pea soup. The production crew tried Campbell's pea soup, but it didn't have the same consistency and effect.
Halloween (1978) 😱 😰
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, Nick Castle, P. J. Soles & Nancy Loomis
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith's Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.
Did You Know? John Carpenter considered the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis as the ultimate tribute to Sir Alfred Hitchcock, who had given her mother, Janet Leigh, legendary status in Psycho (1960) (for the same reason, Dr. Sam Loomis was named after Sam Loomis from Psycho). During the same period, Universal studio producers and director Richard Franklin were trying to enroll Jamie Lee in the new production of Psycho II (1983).
The Shining (1980) 🎭 😱 👻
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriters: Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers & Danny Lloyd
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Jack Torrance (Nicholson) becomes 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.
Did You Know? Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall have expressed open resentment against the reception of this film, feeling that critics and audiences credited Stanley Kubrick solely for the film's success without considering the efforts of the actors, crew, or the strength of Stephen King's underlying material. Nicholson and Duvall have said that the film was one of the hardest of their careers. In fact, Nicholson considers Duvall's performance the most difficult role he's ever seen an actress take on. Duvall also considers her performance the hardest of her life.
Poltergeist (1982) 😱 😰 👻
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriters: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais & Mark Victor
Starring: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O'Rourke & Beatrice Straight
Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings—Steve (Nelson), Diane (Williams), teenaged Dana (Dunne), eight-year-old Robbie (Robins), and five-year-old Carol Ann (O'Rourke)—when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help.
Did You Know? The skeletons used in the swimming pool scene were real, as it was cheaper to use them instead of plastic replicas.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 😱 🔮
Director & Screenwriter: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss & Nick Corri
Where to Watch: HBO Max
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?
Did You Know? A Nightmare on Elm Street was actor Johnny Depp’s film debut.
The Sixth Sense (1999) 😱 😰 👻
Director & Screenwriter: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette & Olivia Williams
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
Young Cole Sear (Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. Cole is frightened by visitations from those with unresolved problems who appear from the shadows. He is too afraid to tell anyone about his anguish except child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Willis). As Dr. Crowe tries to uncover the truth about Cole's supernatural abilities, the consequences for the client and therapist are a jolt that awakens them both to something unexplainable.
Did You Know? David Vogel, then-president of production of Walt Disney Studios, read M. Night Shyamalan's spec script and instantly loved it. Without obtaining corporate approval, Vogel bought the rights to the script, despite the high price of $3 million and the stipulation that Shyamalan could direct the film.
Insidious (2010) 😱 🔍 😰
Director: James Wan
Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell & Angus Sampson
A gripping story of parents (Wilson & Byrne) in a desperate search of help for their son, Dalton, who, after a mysterious incident in the attic of their new home, falls into a coma and is seemingly possessed by a malevolent entity from a realm called “The Further.”
Did You Know? The first in a franchise, Insidious was shot in just three weeks on a budget of $1.5 million.
Sinister (2012) 😱 🔍 😰
Director: Scott Derrickson
Screenwriters: Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Clare Foley & Michael Hall D'Addario
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Hawke) is in a slump; he hasn't had a best seller in more than 10 years and is becoming increasingly desperate for a hit. So, when he discovers the existence of a snuff film showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims' home and gets to work. However, when old film footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, Ellison learns that living in the house may be fatal.
Did You Know? The film’s eerie soundtrack was composed by Christopher Young, who also worked on other horror films like Hellraiser (1987), Clive Barker: The Art of Horror (1992), The Glass House (2001), The Grudge (2004), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and Pet Sematary (2019).
The Witch (2015) 🎭 🔮 😱
Director & Screenwriter: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger & Lucas Dawson
In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelop a farmer, his wife, and their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin, the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy and Jonas suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan's faith, loyalty, and love for one another.
Did You Know? The dialogue in The Witch is taken from actual historical records from the Puritan era.
Get Out (2017) 😱 🔍 😰
Director & Screenwriter: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Catherine Keener, LaKeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, Erika Alexander, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel & Richard Herd
Now that Chris (Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with her parents, Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries leads him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Did You Know? Jordan Peele made history by becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Hereditary (2018) 🎭 😱 🔍
Director & Screenwriter: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolf, Gabriel Byrne, Anne Dowd & Mallory Bechtel
When her mentally ill mother passes away, Annie (Collette), her husband (Byrne), son (Wolff), and daughter (Shapiro) all mourn her loss. The family turns to different means to handle their grief, including Annie and her daughter both flirting with the supernatural. They each begin to have disturbing, otherworldly experiences linked to the sinister secrets and emotional trauma that have been passed through the generations of their family.
Did You Know? Toni Collette had told her agent that she didn't want to do any more heavy, dark films and only wanted to do comedies, but she loved the Hereditary script so much she couldn't turn it down. However, her performance was so intense at times that she couldn’t speak for a day after filming the most emotional scenes.
Whether you find yourself on the edge of your seat in the Bates Motel, wandering the halls of the Overlook Hotel, or falling into the Sunken Place, I hope this list fills your Halloween quota with spine-tingling excitement and hair-raising thrills. So grab your snacks, turn off the lights, and get ready to scream! 😱
Happy Halloween, and may your dreams be as haunting as the movies that brought you here. 😈