As Halloween approaches, the time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating may not be everyone's cup of witch's brew. For those who prefer spine-tingling chills over sugary thrills, we've curated a list of 25 bone-chilling movies that will keep you on the edge of your seat and provide the perfect alternative to venturing into the dark streets on All Hallows' Eve. From classic horror to modern frights, these films will surely give you a hauntingly good time this Halloween season, whether you're a young'un, a teen, or an adult.
1. The Others (2001)
The Others is the embodiment of a Halloween night's eerie atmosphere. Set in a dimly lit, isolated mansion, this film follows a mother and her light-sensitive children who believe their house is haunted. Its suspenseful pacing and chilling revelations make it a perfect choice to set the mood for Halloween night.
2. It (2017)
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a nightmare brought to life, making It a Halloween must-watch. The town of Derry is plagued by a shape-shifting ancient evil that preys on children's fears. With a fresh, terrifying take on Stephen King's iconic novel, this film brings a new level of horror to the holiday.
3. The Ring (2002)
Halloween is the ideal time to dive into the supernatural, and The Ring delivers with its cursed videotape that brings death seven days after viewing. This eerie tale combines elements of urban legends with modern technology, making it a spine-tingling choice for your Halloween movie marathon.
4. Poltergeist (1982)
Tapping into the fear of the unknown lurking in the suburbs, Poltergeist is a quintessential film for spooky season. When a family's home is invaded by malevolent spirits, it's a rollercoaster of paranormal activity, spectral encounters, and iconic scenes that will haunt your Halloween night. If you really want to spook your kids, you can tell them about the lore surrounding the filming of the movie, which is just as, if not creepier, than the movie itself.
5. The Monster Squad (1987)
A group of kids battling classic movie monsters like Dracula and the Wolfman? It doesn't get more Halloween than this! The Monster Squad combines nostalgic 80s charm with a spooky adventure that's perfect for both kids and adults on Halloween. They'll get their iconic Halloween villain fix without ever having to leave the house.
6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George A. Romero's zombie masterpiece is a Halloween staple. As the dead rise to feast on the living, a group of survivors must barricade themselves in a farmhouse. This film set the undead apocalypse in motion and remains a classic choice for Halloween night thrills.
7. The Gate (1987)
The Gate offers a perfect blend of childhood fears and supernatural horror. When two young boys open a mysterious portal in their backyard, they release ancient evil forces. With its blend of practical effects and eerie atmosphere, it's a nostalgic Halloween gem.
8. Gremlins (1984)
Mixing humor with horror, Gremlins is a unique Halloween choice. A seemingly adorable creature spawns a horde of mischievous gremlins when its care instructions are ignored. This film combines creepy creatures with dark comedy, making it an ideal pick for a Halloween movie night that isn't all about scares.
9. Coraline (2009)
Coraline offers a visually stunning and hauntingly imaginative journey into a parallel world that takes a dark turn. This stop-motion masterpiece is a perfect night-in choice for those who appreciate eerie beauty and a tale of courage against supernatural odds. If you have younger kids, Coraline strikes the perfect balance between mystical wonder and creepy vibes without going too far on the scares.
10. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell is a wild ride of supernatural terror. A curse leads to a nightmarish series of events for a loan officer. Filled with grotesque encounters and wicked humor, this film is a Halloween treat for those who like their scares with a side of dark comedy.
11. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is the perfect blend of horror and humor for a Halloween night with friends. A group of slackers must fend off a zombie apocalypse in their local pub. It's a witty and bloody homage to the zombie genre. Have a back-to-back zombie movie marathon with Night of the Living Dead followed by a more tongue-in-cheek Shaun of the Dead.
12. Monster House (2006)
For a family-friendly Halloween option, Monster House offers a spooky animated adventure. Three kids discover that their neighbor's house is a living, breathing monster. With its imaginative premise and Halloween spirit, it's a fun choice for all ages.
13. The Frighteners (1996)
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Frighteners combines humor and horror perfectly. Michael J. Fox plays a psychic investigator who can communicate with ghosts. When a malevolent spirit begins causing death in his town, he must confront the supernatural in a thrilling and darkly comedic adventure.
14. The Grudge (2004)
The Grudge is a spine-chilling tale of a curse that lingers in a haunted house, passing from victim to victim. With its eerie atmosphere and relentless malevolence, this Japanese horror remake is perfect for a Halloween night of ghostly frights, but The Grudge‘s signature sound might keep you up all night.
15. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Shot in a found-footage style, The Blair Witch Project is a pioneer of the genre. It follows a group of documentary filmmakers who venture into the woods to investigate a local legend. The film's suspense and uncertainty make it a Halloween classic that leaves viewers questioning what's lurking in the darkness. The shooting style also lends to the coziness of a spooky night spent on the couch, funneling popcorn into your mouth.
16. The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring brings a dose of classic horror to modern audiences. Based on the real-life investigations of paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren, this film explores a family's terrifying experiences in their new home. With its suspenseful storytelling and jump scares, it's a perfect choice for those looking for a great modern scare-fest.
17. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter's The Thing is a masterclass in suspense and paranoia. Set in an Antarctic research station, a shape-shifting alien terrorizes the crew, leading to a tense battle for survival. The film's isolation and distrust among characters make it a chilling pick for Halloween night.
18. Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night combines the horror of discovering your neighbor is a vampire with the charm of 80s cinema. A teenager suspects his new neighbor is a bloodsucker and enlists the help of a TV horror host to stop him. Its blend of humor and scares makes it a fun choice for kids who want to opt out of trick-or-treating.
19. The Sixth Sense (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense is a psychological thriller with a supernatural twist. A troubled young boy claims to see and communicate with the dead, leading him to a child psychologist who's grappling with his own demons. This film's iconic twist ending and eerie atmosphere make it a perfect fit for Halloween.
20. The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys is a classic 80s vampire movie with a rock ‘n' roll edge. Two brothers move to a California town plagued by a gang of young, charismatic vampires. With its blend of horror, humor, and a killer soundtrack, it's an excellent choice for any night, but the fact it's both cool and creepy makes it a perfect Halloween night contender.
21. The Skeleton Key (2005)
Set in the eerie bayous of Louisiana, The Skeleton Key follows a hospice nurse who uncovers dark secrets in a mansion filled with hoodoo and evil spirits. Its Southern Gothic atmosphere and voodoo lore make it an underrated atmospheric choice for this ghoulish holiday.
22. Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter's Halloween is a quintessential Halloween classic. Michael Myers, the masked killer, escapes from a mental institution and returns to his hometown to terrorize babysitters. The film's suspenseful score and iconic imagery make it a timeless classic that everyone needs to watch at some point in their life. Fun idea: binge-watch as many Halloween movies in the franchise as you can on Halloween night.
23. Scream (1996)
Wes Craven‘s Scream is a meta-horror masterpiece that deconstructs the genre while delivering genuine scares. A masked killer known as Ghostface begins a murder spree in a small town, leading to a group of teens trying to survive the night. Its self-aware humor and suspenseful moments make it a stand-out of the genre. Play a guessing game to determine who the killer is, and whoever guesses right can win a fun Halloween-themed prize.
24. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddy Krueger, the dream-stalking killer with a glove of razor-sharp blades, haunts the dreams of a group of teenagers in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Its surreal and nightmarish atmosphere makes it an iconic choice for a Halloween night filled with terrifying dreams. See if they can recognize Johnny Depp without you saying anything.
25. Friday the 13th (1980)
Camp Crystal Lake becomes a deadly setting in Friday the 13th as a group of counselors are stalked by a vengeful killer. This slasher classic set the standard for the genre and is a perfect way to cap off a night of holiday scares.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.