Halloween isn’t just about the elaborate costumes and delicious treats. It’s also about getting into the haunting spirit and invoking your inner ghoul. And what better way to do that than with a classic Halloween movie night? There are tons of classic movies out there to enjoy, and the best Halloween movies run the gamut from candy-filled family favorites to bloody horror flicks that will probably keep you up at night.
Whether you’re hosting a shindig, looking for something to screen in between trick-or-treaters or in search of some flicks to get you in the mood leading up to the big night, there are dozens of options out there. Here we’ve curated some of our own favorite movies to watch on Halloween, keeping in mind that there are plenty of different tastes out there. We’re confident our list of the best Halloween movies includes something for everyone, from movies set around Old Hallow’s Eve to horror flicks that are more fun to watch come October 31.
Have we missed one you think deserves to be included? Drop us a line in the comments below. In the meantime here are some of the best Halloween movies to watch this season, spanning from tame to terrifying. We’ve also included links to where these movies can be rented or streamed online. Some of the top Halloween movies are streaming on HBO Max and Disney+, and all of them are available via Amazon Prime’s video-on-demand library.
Family-Friendly Halloween Movies
1. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Looking for the best family-friendly movies to watch on Halloween? Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy star as the Sanderson sisters, the trio of child-hunting witches, in this campy classic. The flick has grown so much in popularity over the years that a sequel is finally on the way. Why not give it a re-watch now before that actually happens? This is an endlessly rewatchable movie, but it has a special place in the heart of 90s kids and millennials.
Where’s the best place to stream Hocus Pocus? You can stream this movie on Disney+ during the Halloween 2021 season.
Watch Hocus Pocus on Disney Plus
2. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Is it really Halloween if you don’t partake in a viewing of this classic animated film starring the Peanuts gang? Of course not. So settle in and watch again as Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to emerge.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
3. Labyrinth (1986)
This Jim Henson-directed movie had all kinds of magic: David Bowie as the Goblin King, Jennifer Connelly in her first major role and an array of goblins and other creatures created by the Muppet mastermind himself.
4. The Witches (1990)
Sure you could catch the updated Anne Hathaway version on HBO Max, but our hearts will always be with the Anjelica Huston-fronted version of Roald Dahl’s story, in which a boy tries to stop a convention of witches despite being turned into a mouse.
5. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
It’s all about the family in this Eddie Murphy star-vehicle, in which his character moves his family to a mansion that they soon discover is, of course, haunted.
The Haunted Mansion
6. Casper (1995)
Christina Ricci is all grown up now, but back in the day she was a total child star in this big-screen tale of the friendly little ghost. And Bill Pullman is equally watchable as her goofy, ghost-psychiatrist pops.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton melded Christmas and Halloween into cult classic status in this stop-motion animation film, which includes operatic numbers and the voice talents of everyone from Catherine O’Hara to Paul Reubens. You can stream The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney+ with a subscription.
Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney Plus
Best Halloween Comedies
8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
It doesn’t matter how many times you do the Time Warp, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick are never not entertaining in this flick. So grab your best fishnets and leather strap and settle in for another watch, already. While you might not think of this as family-friendly fare — because it most definitely is not — the rights to this classic Halloween movie actually fall under the Disney umbrella after the media giant swallowed 20th Century Fox. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Disney+, and we don’t expect that to change, for obvious reasons.
Rent The Rocky Horror Picture Show
9. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Simon Pegg co-wrote this zombie comedy flick with director Edgar Wright, crafting the story of a man whose uneventful life is completely upended by the zombie apocalypse… not that he seems to really notice.
Shaun of the Dead
10. Ghostbusters (1984)
Odds are in October you probably have this movie’s theme song stuck in your head anyhow, so why not take another turn with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as they originate the blockbuster, ghost-slaying quartet? With a new sequel set to come out in 2021, this classic comedy is one of the best movies to watch on Halloween this year.
11. Beetlejuice (1988)
Michael Keaton was unrecognizably delightful in his role of Betelgeuse, the spirit who “helped” a deceased couple scare an awful new family out of their house. That’s probably why this film won an Oscar for best makeup, but with strong performances from Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder, this one is always worth a Halloween re-watch.
12. Saw (2004)
Sure this franchise has evolved into a gory mess over the past 17 years, but it started out as a psychological thriller worth talking about. Go back to the Jigsaw origins with this franchise-starter, which starred Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung and Michael Emerson, among others.
13. Scream (1996)
What’s your favorite scary movie to watch on Halloween? Ours is this 90s classic. Remember tuning into this flick, believing that Drew Barrymore was going to be the star? Oh how things have changed. Revisit the original film and refresh yourself on Ghostface’s rules before the latest edition (complete with returning players Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette) hits theatres next year.
14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Revisit all your worst nightmares with a trip to this Freddy Krueger origins story, in which the famed spirit haunts teenagers in their sleep, delivering murderous dreams and revenge on the parents who lynched him. Part of the fun in going back is looking for familiar faces among the cast, which in this case includes a very young Johnny Depp.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
15. Friday the 13th (1980)
The film that had us all rethinking summer camp is always worth a Halloween re-watch, especially since the name Jason Voorhees has pretty much become synonymous with the holiday. Plus, you’ll get to see a super young Kevin Bacon do his thing, as the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake fight to stay alive.
Friday the 13th
16. Halloween (1978)
If you ever needed to remind yourself that Jamie Lee Curtis is still the original Scream Queen, this movie is your chance. The John Carpenter-directed offering first introduced us to the damaged killer known as Michael Myers, and horror lovers have been talking about him ever since.
17. Child’s Play (1988)
If you ever sensed that a doll was looking at you with a murderous gleam in those glass eyes, then this franchise is definitely in your wheelhouse. This 80s movie scared the heck out of plenty of kids when it premiered, introducing generations of viewers to Chucky: the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer.
18. The Purge (2013)
The idea of everyone being pardoned for any and all crimes for one night of the year was so tantalizing that The Purge has since welcomed several other big screen follow-ups as well as a TV show. This film is where it all started though, with Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey in surprising but captivating turns as the head of a family being held hostage during the annual killing spree.
Zombies, Vampires & Monster Movies
19. Dracula (1992)
The eerie story of Count Dracula comes to life in this Francis Ford Coppola-directed take, which attracted star power like Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves. Based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 tome, this is easily a classic horror story that still holds up years later.
20. The Fly (1986)
There are many who still consider this Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis starring flick to be director David Cronenberg’s crowning achievement. One part sci-fi, one-part body horror and filled with analogies about disease, it’s right up there with other classic horror canon.
21. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George A. Romero’s story about a group of people who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a group of zombies is classic horror at its finest. Since it debuted many other filmmakers have turned to this movie for inspiration and influence, and that alone makes it worth another viewing this Halloween.
Night of the Living Dead
22. The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi was equally revered when he unleashed this tale on audiences, in which a group of five friends travel to a cabin in the woods and unknowingly release flesh-eating zombies out into the world. More importantly it gave us Bruce Campbell in the memorable role of Ash, who as you can probably surmise from subsequent franchise titles, is still alive and kicking.
The Evil Dead
23. 28 Days Later (2003)
Director Danny Boyle reinvigorated the zombie genre with this early aughts’ offering, in which Cillian Murphy starred as a man who wakes up four weeks after a mysterious and incurable virus has spread across the U.K. It was shot almost entirely in sequence, which is an impressive feat, but the eerie shots of abandoned London landmarks also packs a pretty big punch.
28 Days Later
24. Get Out (2017)
This movie not only put Daniel Kaluuya on the map as a bona fide star, but the film launched the second career of director and writer Jordan Peele, who was previously better known as one half of the comedy duo Key and Peele. Get Out landed Peele an Oscar for best screenplay, and the movie itself also received rare horror nominations for best picture of the year, best performance (for Kaluuya), and best achievement in directing at that year’s show.
25. The Invisible Man (2020)
Elisabeth Moss is used to dominating TV screens thanks to notable gigs on shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men. But in this psychological horror the actor proves why she’s in such hot demand, with a memorable turn that reinvigorated the entire Universal Monsters franchise.
The Invisible Man
26. Us (2019)
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out was just as buzzed-about when it hit theatres, unravelling the story of a family whose serene beach vacation turns to horror when their creepy doppelgangers pop up to terrorize them. The movie attracted Lupita Nyong’o in a leading role, and it earned buzz at plenty of critical awards shows that year.
27. A Quiet Place (2018)
Who knew the guy from The Office who was always panning for the camera was actually learning a thing or two about how to work it? John Krasinski directed, co-wrote and starred in this eerily silent flick, which also happens to star his real-life wife Emily Blunt. The movie was so well received it spawned a sequel, making this gem another notable watch.
A Quiet Place
28. It (2017)
Nothing against Tim Curry and the original 1990 movie based on Stephen King’s tome, but this updated take with Bill Skarsgärd playing Pennywise has way more scares. Of course having Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard at the center of the action didn’t hurt, and the whole thing was so successful that no one was surprised when a sequel hit theatres two years later.
Watch It on HBO Max
29. Candyman (1992)
Nope, we’re not talking about the more recent sequel of the same name. Back in the early 1990s people were terrified of bees after this tale of a one-handed soul gripped viewers. When Candyman, the murderer in question, is accidentally summoned to reality by a grad student, things turn all kinds of bloody. Needless to say, audiences were hooked.
30. The Craft (1996)
When this Andrew Fleming flick dropped, it became a sleepover movie staple that also happened to invoke a major interest in witchcraft. How could it not, with its hot young cast and themes of outcasts fighting back? Although some of the effects don’t exactly hold up, as a whole the movie has definitely become a contemporary Halloween classic.
31. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Was this the scariest movie to hit theatres during its time? Not by a long shot. However the marketing strategy surrounding the film’s release, which had many people believing it was a documentary instead of a work of fiction, make it one of the most memorable horror films of recent times.
The Blair Witch Project
32. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
This romp from director Drew Goddard could have been a downright mess, yet a star-studded cast (Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Bradley Whitford) along with the way the film fully embraced classic horror tropes, made it work. While the movie itself isn’t retro, it’s a brilliant satire that calls to mind some of the best Halloween movies of all time including Evil Dead and Friday the 13th.
The Cabin in the Woods
33. The Conjuring (2013)
Most horror fans are quite aware of The Warrens and the real-life paranormal investigators’ contributions to the horror scene. That’s in large part thanks to this James Wan-directed film, in which Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga first fictionalized them as they investigated a farmhouse with a dark force within.
Watch The Conjuring on HBO Max
34. Paranormal Activity (2007)
It was all about the camera work with this Oren Peli-offering, which used low-budget effects and took a page from The Blair Witch Project by offering up a mockumentary style to viewers. The result was a critical- and audience-approved film that went on to spawn several not-as-great sequels.
Can’t-Miss Classic Halloween Movies
35. The Omen (1976)
Director Richard Donner’s tale of a child with devious tendencies was less about gore and all about suspense. Add in a strong performance by Gregory Peck and the movie catapulted to the top of genre-lovers’ lists back in the 1970s. These days you can’t even really call yourself a horror fan if you haven’t added it to your watchlist, so now is as good a time as any to take a watch.
36. The Shining (1980)
The Shining isn’t just one of the all-time best movies to watch on Halloween; it’s one of the best movies ever. Stanley Kubrick’s take on this Stephen King novel has been quoted and referenced more times in pop culture history than we can even count. And of course it also put Jack Nicholson on the map as a star to watch, not to mention giving us eerie, everlasting images of Red Rum and twins on tricycles. *Shudder.*
Watch The Shining on HBO Max
37. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
No list of the best Halloween movies would be complete without this classic thriller. Mia Farrow definitely generated headlines as the title mother in this Roman Polanski-directed film, in which a young couple trying to have a baby move into a fancy but strange new apartment with creepy neighbors. It was nominated for two Oscars at the time, with Ruth Gordon nabbing the trophy for best supporting actress.
38. Carrie (1976)
Proms would never be the same again after this eerie take on Stephen King’s novel with the shocking final scene (that’s right, another movie based on a King horror novel). The Brian De Palma film revolves around a friendless teen (Sissy Spacek) who finally snaps after taking enough abuse from her religious mother and her classmates. It all culminates in a bloody prom… with even bloodier results.
39. The Exorcist (1973)
Kids getting possessed by evil spirits is always creepy as heck, but in this film it was positively frightening. Director William Friedkin definitely went for the head-spinning scares here, to the point where the makeup and some of the more jarring scenes have been recreated and parodied in pop culture ever since. Sure, some of the physical effects may seem a little cheesy and dated by modern standards, but we don’t care. This is still one of the best Halloween movies ever.
40. Psycho (1960)
You can’t talk about classic Halloween flicks without covering one of the most genre-bending takes around. This Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins rewrote the script by killing the protagonist halfway through the film, reinventing everything that horror could be. Also, showers haven’t been the same ever since.