If you’re working on your October scary movie list, I have 25 films for you to add to it. This list is by no means comprehensive, but these 25 movies are a spooky and terrifying place to start if you want to enjoy some of the best and most classic horror movies of all time, and by enjoy, I mean cower in terror behind a blanket.
From the 1930s to the 2020s, these are must-watch horror films for anyone who likes to be scared to the bone.
1. Alien (1979)
Starting with one of the best classics of all time, I urge you to watch Alien if you never have. Even if you have, it’s probably time to watch it again. Ellen Ripley is an iconic and fierce character that you’ll love immediately. And the scene where an alien rips through someone’s chest will scar you forever.
2. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is easily Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous movie. It’s about a young woman who has to pause her road trip because of bad weather. She pulls into a strange motel and soon falls into a terrifying scenario that will chill you.
3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
If you love creepy cults as much as I do, you’ll love this eerie and disturbing movie. Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, a young pregnant woman who begins experiencing strange things. I think this film has one of the best horror endings of all time.
4. Halloween (1978)
Another quintessential horror movie that every scary movie fan should watch at least once is Halloween. Michael Myers will make his way into your nightmares, and you’ll never be able to escape him. It’s one of John Carpenter’s best works and will have you hiding behind a pillow.
5. The Thing (1982)
The Thing is an underrated horror film that deserves a seat beside Psycho and Halloween. It’s about a strange creature that appears in Antarctica and terrorizes a group of scientists. The movie is disturbing and gripping, so you’ll be enthralled from the very beginning.
6. The Birds (1963)
I love Psycho, but I’ve always thought The Birds didn’t get enough credit. It’s another Hitchcock movie that follows a young woman in California as birds turn against humanity. Can you imagine every bird in the world attacking you? It’s a terrifying movie that’s even scarier because it feels like it could happen.
7. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is easily one of the best horror films ever made, and Stanley Kubrick offers a rare and unique sense of terror. Jack Nicholson is so good in this that you’ll never be able to look at him the same. If you’re a Stephen King fan, this is a quintessential watch that you have to put on your list.
8. The Exorcist (1973)
I recommend all of The Exorcist movies, but you have to start with the original one because it’s electrifying. The creepiest part is that it’s mostly based on real events, and the events that took place during filming are just as scary.
9. Poltergeist (1982)
Another classic is Poltergeist, the story of a young family who begins to experience very strange things in their new home. Everything comes to a head when their little girl disappears, seemingly into her own closet. It’s a gripping and awfully scary movie that you’ll never forget.
10. Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978)
This 70s horror film is one of my favorites, starring Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams. Slowly, the people in this typical town begin acting out of character, and it turns out their bodies have been taken over. Well, technically, cloned. But the concept is just as scary, and the ending gets me every time.
11. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
If you like gore and blood, this might be the best movie for you. Every moment of this film is imprinted on my brain, from the way the villain walks to the screams of the victims; it’s all violent and horrifying. Do not watch this if you have a weak stomach.
12. The Others (2001)
The Others is a fantastic thriller and horror movie starring the lovely Nicole Kidman. The movie is eerie and scary in a subtle way that makes your heart pound. If you love a good twist, the plot of this movie will wow you and make you want to watch it again and again.
13. The Vanishing (1988)
The Vanishing is another underrated horror movie that you should watch if you love a terrifying mystery. It’s about a young couple on a road trip when the girl goes missing suddenly and without explanation. He searches for her for years in a heartbreaking effort, but he finds himself in a terrifying situation.
14. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is an excellent horror film if you love found-footage movies and unexplained mysteries. While some people love to have all their questions answered at the end of a flick, I love movies like this that leave you with complex questions and unsettled feelings.
15. Suspiria (1977)
I listed the 1977 movie here, but the 2018 remake is also a great watch if you don’t love older horror movies. Suspiria has a creepy but beautiful aesthetic that makes it all the more captivating. It’s about a talented ballet dancer who goes abroad and finds herself in a twisted and horrifying world.
16. The Invisible Man (2020)
If you never want to feel safe in your house again, this movie is great! The film stars Elisabeth Moss and follows her as she tries to evade her ex-boyfriend, who has crafted an invisibility suit. The movie has a subtly terrifying vibe throughout, creating a terrible feeling of never knowing whether you’re truly alone or not.
17. Jaws (1975)
Jaws is the perfect movie if you’re already afraid of the ocean and want to lean into that phobia. Steven Spielberg does an excellent job of creating an ominous and spooky tone throughout. It’s different than many horror movies because, in most scenes, the sun is shining, and the environments are happy and colorful.
18. The Witch (2015)
The Witch, sometimes called The VVitch, is a chilling tale of a New England family in the 1600s who are banished to a remote area. They slowly begin to suspect one another of evil acts and turn on each other. The film has an eerie and devilish feeling throughout.
19. The Descent (2005)
The Descent is one of the scariest horror movies I’ve seen, but maybe that’s because the idea of spelunking freaks me out. It’s about a group of friends who go diving into caves for fun, but things quickly become sinister and deathly.
20. Hereditary (2018)
Some movies are instant classics, and Hereditary is one of them. The movie is about a family tragedy that turns everyone against each other, but the situation is even worse than it appears. Toni Collette is sensational as always, and you’ll never look at her the same after this.
21. 28 Days Later (2002)
This horror science fiction movie has become even scarier since COVID-19 because it seems frighteningly possible. A deadly virus wreaks havoc on humanity in this captivating film that will leave you with an immense feeling of terror that takes days to shake.
22. The Changeling (1980)
Changelings are part of Irish folklore, which says that fairies will kidnap children or adults when they venture near the woods and replace them with a changeling who looks the exact same. This movie warps that legend with paranormal elements and tragic events that will tug at your heartstrings while terrifying you.
23. Freaks (1932)
Freaks is a disturbing movie, but also one of my favorites because of the element of revenge. A woman marries a circus freak to steal his money and then runs off with another man. When the other circus folk find out, they enact a twisted revenge plan that you’ll never forget.
24. Scream (1996)
Scream is one of the best 90s horror movies, from the opening scene with Drew Barrymore to the horrifying conclusion. Everyone in the movie is fantastic, and it has become the blueprint for many horror movies that came after it.
25. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street poses the terrifying question: how can you escape from a monster that lives in your dreams? This movie always gives me anxiety in the best way, as the idea of having to stay awake or be terrorized in your own mind is unsettling and frightening beyond belief.