Read below for a list of the best Halloween films that will terrorize and charm you on this special spooky holiday. Featuring family films, cartoons, slashers and psychological horrors, this list has everything.
For the whole family
The Addams Family
When a man claiming to be the long lost brother of Gomez Addams appears, the Addams family are thrilled and welcome him with open arms. However, something is afoot with this new arrival – is he the real Fester they love, or a con artist? The Addams Family are the most healthy family in all film and TV, you can really tell their love for each other, which makes it a heart-warming but spooky treat for all. There is a second film about this family called Addams Family Values as well.
The Adventures of Ichabod
This is a relatively short entry on this list coming in at roughly 30 minutes, but it is the perfect cartoon for Halloween. Following Ichabod Crane who is the new school teacher in a tiny New England town, he falls for the town’s beauty. However, the town’s bully has other plans, wanting Katrina for himself, and tells a chilling story about the Headless Horseman. This is a perfect animation for kids and adults who don’t want to be scared too much.
Another film featuring Anjelica Huston, but this time as the evil head witch of a coven. Unfortunately for the young boy who is our protagonist, he stumbles into the convention they are having, in which wicked plans for all the children in England are revealed. It is a classic 90s film about the struggle between good and evil.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Now I am talking about the 1992 film rather than the TV series, both of which were written by Joss Whedon. But unlike the series, this film is more of a comedy. It follows Buffy, who is the cheerleader and all-around popular girl, whose life is turned upside down by a mysterious man who tells her of her destiny. Trying to balance her life along with her destiny, she must fight the evil that is to come.
Death Becomes Her
Featuring Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, this is a silly comedy horror. Death Becomes Her is about a love triangle featuring two actresses who are each other’s rivals. This makes them go to extreme lengths to outdo each other. When Madeline sees her former rival at her successful book launch looking trim and young, she is tempted by the offer of eternal youth, not realizing it is more than she bargained for.
Probably features the cutest pet in all film history, Gizmo. As we all know pets and kids do not mix well together. Billy inadvertently breaks one of the three important rules for his new special pet and unleashes a horde of mischievous monsters who terrorize the citizens of this small town.
Resident Evil: Degeneration
I know there are live-action films, but apart from the first one, none of them come close to the Resident Evil atmosphere you get from the games. So this is where the animated films are worthwhile, as they follow the characters we all know and love – Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield.
This is such a cute feel-good story about a ghost. A daughter is furious that her late father only left her a crumbling house in his will, but she soon discovers that there is treasure in this house. However, a bunch of ghosts has taken residence, so she hires an after-life therapist to rid the supernatural presence. Soon after, the therapist’s young daughter meets a friendly ghost.
Spinning the ghost haunting on its head, this charming horror-comedy follows a deceased couple, who are being tormented by an unbearable family who has just moved in. In desperation, they hire a malicious spirit to drive out the new homeowners.
The story of Dracula, with a heart. Dracula operates a high-end resort in Transylvania, where monsters go on holiday. One day, a human boy stumbles into the party Dracula is hosting, and finds he feels the “zing” for Dracula’s daughter. However, Dracula does not trust humans and does everything he can to get rid of the human boy.
Classic Halloween movies
This was perhaps one of the scariest films for me as a child and it still holds up today. A young boy is given the most sought after doll as a present for his birthday. However, this doll is special and not in the good way – it possesses the soul of a serial killer. And he will do anything to be back in a human body again.
Halloween – 1978
Halloween has to be a given on this most spooky night. Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again.
Everything about this film is creepy and it does not let up throughout its duration. A young family are visited by ghosts, at first, they seem friendly, causing high jinks. But soon they realize there is a malevolent force amongst them. When the youngest child vanishes, they turn to experts in the paranormal to get their lives back.
Well, you can’t have a Halloween film marathon without a creepy kid in the works. After Robert Thorn’s wife delivers a stillborn, they end up adopting a baby whose mother died in childbirth. A few years go by, and mysterious deaths start happening. A priest Brennan warns the father that their new child is evil, but he is escorted away by security. Can their son really be evil incarnate and what is Robert prepared to do to save his family?
This is technically not a film, but it is such a great mini-series that I had to include it. And frankly, I prefer this to the adaptation released in 2017. They made It scary for sure in the new release, but I like the story development better in the mini-series. It’s such a slow burn that pays off so well. If you don’t know the story, it follows seven pre-teen outcasts who are tormented by an evil clown.
Probably my favourite classic horror film that I never get sick of watching and perfect viewing to hold you out until Scream 5 is released. It follows Sidney Prescott, who is haunted by the murder of her mother, her grief is interrupted when she starts being stalked by a serial killer wearing a Halloween mask. This film franchise was inspired by other classics such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. It has also been credited with revitalizing the horror genre which was on the wane during the 90s.
A brilliant and eccentric scientist tries to woo a journalist by giving her the scoop on his latest research into matter transportation. Certain he has finally ironed out the kinks, he tests the machine on himself, unfortunately, a fly gets into the machine and has unfortunate consequences for the scientist.
The Evil Dead
Featuring the legend Bruce Campbell in his breakout role, The Evil Dead is a classic that has spawned multiple films and even a TV series. After five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, they find a mysterious book and audiotape. As they read the incantations out loud, they mistakenly release flesh-possessing demons.
This film is terrifying and dark and perhaps the best adaptation of a Stephen King book. After a famous romance novelist suffers a car crash, one of his fans comes to his aid. Grateful at first, the author soon realizes that he is a prisoner and a nightmare of captivity and abuse begins.
There is a remake of this film coming out, but the original is a classic. A young graduate student is writing a thesis about urban local legends and myths. She visits a part of town where the residents fear the legend of the Candyman, but she is a sceptic. Ignoring their warnings, she accidentally summons the Candyman and a series of horrible murders begin.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
This film is such a good surprise and probably going to be hailed as a classic in the future. After an accident at the lake – where hillbillies rescue a college student from drowning, Tucker and Dale are mistaken for psycho killers by the college students’ friends. It really leans into the sustained misunderstanding trope but in a new way that won’t irritate viewers.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It
This is an oldie but a goody. It is worth the walk just for the bloody spectacular staking scene. Parodying the story of Count Dracula, a solicitor Renfield visits the infamous vampire, but he is soon made a slave by Dracula. Dracula becomes transfixed with an English lady, Lucy. Soon she starts to turn, and her father brings in the help of Dr Van Helsing to save his daughter.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Featuring in my 20 Compelling Horror Films list is a horror slasher film for those who like it with a helping of comedy. It is done in the style of a documentary where they follow Leslie Vernon, who gives them intimate access to his life, methods and plans. The dark humour is great in this, offering twists and turns you would not expect, giving it a great payoff.
The Cabin in the Woods
This is a parody of horror films and it works. I initially did not enjoy it the first time around, but the second viewing was so much better. Though it has a familiar storyline, it spins it on its head and makes a fun horror in the process. Following five friends on holiday in a remote cabin, they find some strange artefacts in the cellar and find they get a lot more than they bargained for.
This is a film for anyone who has had to suffer the horrors of team-building. But for our unfortunate characters, rather than being slain by boredom, they find out a group of crazed killers are hunting them down one by one.
This is a lovely horror-comedy, with a lot of deaths to boot. Cole is crushing on his babysitter, and one night he stays up past his bedtime, but what he sees leads him to a very dangerous night where he must evade a band of killers.
Mom and Dad
I love Nicholas Cage even though the past couple of decades, his films have been of sub-par quality. But this is one of those films where Cage is back doing what we love best. A teenage girl and her younger brother must survive their parents’ wrath after a mysterious pandemic turns all the parents into homicidal maniacs who are intent on killing their own kids.
This is another fun horror film to watch, with a twisted sense of humour and lots of gruesome and brilliant deaths. Derek (Steven Yeun) is having a bad day, he’s just been fired unjustly and then finds out the corporate law office is now locked down under quarantine, due to a mysterious infection. But this infection makes people act out their worst impulses, and in this ruthless corporate law office, there is much rage that needs to be indulged.
Happy Death Day
Have you ever wanted to watch Groundhog Day meets Scream, then this film is for you. Being stuck in a time loop is bad enough, but for Tree, she has to relive her death over and over. But each death makes her weaker and weaker and the only thing that can save her and stop this time loop is finding out the identity of her killer.
Though this is a horror-comedy, if you are afraid of spiders like me, this is truly terrifying. I can’t imagine anything worse than being overrun by spiders. After a large spider from the jungles of South America catches a ride in a coffin, the residents of the small Californian town soon start dying. It is up to a couple of doctors, with the help of an exterminator, to rid themselves of this deadly spider species.
For the horror fans
This is a stylish and fun horror film set in the week leading up to Halloween, with decorations filling almost every scene. It follows David (Dan Stevens) who turns up on the doorstep of the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action overseas. Soon after, accidental deaths start happening, and their daughter Anna has her suspicions about this new “friend”.
Some people don’t like this because it does not live up to their expectations due to their love of the Silent Hill video game franchise. However, I still think it’s a decent film by itself. Following Rose, whose adoptive daughter, Sharon, is having dangerous sleep-walking episodes, she visits Silent Hill, hoping to find a solution to help her child. However, a car accident happens, and when Rose wakes, Sharon is missing. Rose must search for her in this twisted deserted town.
3 friends are testing a new underground video game, called Stay Alive, but die soon after. After attending the funeral of their friends, the rest of the group find the game and decide to play in remembrance of their late friends. Soon after, the rest of the group starts dying in the exact same manner as in the game. Determined to stop whatever is happening, they go on a hunt to find out the truth behind the game.
This isn’t going to blow your mind with originality, as the haunted house movie has been done so many times. But what it gives you is a fun, tense and scary ride through a haunted house experience. What they soon realize, is that what they are witnessing may be more real than they could have imagined. Keeping its focus on the suspense and atmosphere with minor scenes of gore, this film is different from the others in its sub-genre.
If you have watched the film ‘The Body‘, this is another film featuring Belén Rueda, where she returns to her sister’s house after her apparent suicide, but Julia suspects foul play. Like her sister, she has a degenerative disease that is taking her eyesight but can have surgery but is required to wear bandages for a fortnight. With the help of a nursing aide, she rehabilitates but suspects that someone is lurking in her house.
I found this to be a unique horror film, due to its storytelling. Told in three parts from three different perspectives, a mysterious transmission that has infected every phone, radio or television, is turning normal people into killers. As with most good horror films, it has a message or idea explored, The Signal is a low budget affair that attempts to dissect society with thrilling slasher deaths in the mix.
Definitely not the typical horror affair, nevertheless this is a very disturbing and shocking horror film that is worth a watch. A chef called Mei has famous dumplings that promise to give age-defying gifts to all those who eat them. An ageing actress, who finds out her husband is having an affair with his younger and attractive masseuse, is desperate to have these dumplings. But the secret ingredient might be more than she bargained for.
This is a very chilling horror film. Following a reporter, Reiko, who is investigating a cursed videotape, that is rumoured to kill anyone who watches it 7 days later. But is it true, or just a horrible coincidence? Where this film holds up, is in its slow-burn creepiness that you just cannot look away from. I would also recommend reading the book that this was based on, sharing the same name as the film.
In one of Guillermo del Toro’s earlier works, back in the days of the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious device that provides the owner with eternal life. In the 1990s, an antique dealer stumbled upon it, accidentally activating the device. But there is a high price to pay for this eternal life. And a dying millionaire, who will stop at nothing to obtain the device for himself, sends his nephew to secure the device at any cost.
I love a good isolation film, but I was sceptical about how someone could make a film surrounding a lift. However, with the great performers in this, it is elevated above a standard horror flick. When someone jumps to their death from a skyscraper, Detective Bowden is sent to investigate. Meanwhile, 5 strangers get trapped in a lift in the same skyscraper. Tensions run high, as time wears on, but soon they realize something darker is lurking in the lift amongst them, as one by one they start dying.
This horror film is like the parallel universe story of Superman. Following a couple that is struggling to have kids, their dreams become true, when a spaceship crash lands in the woods, containing a newborn. Growing up, the child is everything they have ever wanted, smart and helpful, but has never bled. As he nears puberty, things start to change, which disturb and frighten the parents.
The Barrett family live a peaceful life, and even with the husband’s unemployment straining the family, they love and support one another. But soon disturbing events start to happen. They lose time, furniture moves around in the night, and the security alarms keep being set off. Trying to find answers to these events, they search for answers everywhere, believing they may be haunted by an extraterrestrial force.
A meteor shower hits, that starts turning people into zombies. When the mechanic, Barry, ends up losing his family to the zombie virus, he searches for his sister, battling his way through the hordes of flesh-eating monsters.
This is quite a simple premise, that it is a wonder how engaging the film ends up being. After a couple tries to spice up their marriage at a remote lake house, the husband unexpectedly dies leaving his wife handcuffed to the bed frame. With few options left to her, she must do all she can to survive and break free. I must warn you, this has one of the most gruesome injuries I’ve seen in a long time – something you won’t soon forget.
Hush is a great refreshing take of the home isolation sub-genre, you can read my review of Hush for more details. Following a deaf writer who is located in the woods to focus on her writing, one night her life is thrust into danger when a masked killer appears at her window.
Can you tell I’m a fan of Mike Flanagan? This is the third film of his that is included on the list. But he is such a talented creator of horror – how could I not? Oculus focuses on a woman who is trying to exonerate her convicted brother of murder. But how can she prove that a supernatural force is responsible for the crime? With no one believing her, she must do anything to stop this supernatural evil from destroying her and others.
What is it that makes the other side of the world so good at horror, whatever it is, I am glad we have access to it. Following three backpackers who are stranded in the Australian outback after their car won’t start. They feel their luck has turned when a local hillbilly offers to repair their car and tows them to his camp. But unfortunately for them, he has a nightmare in store for them.
A simple premise for a film that is expertly executed. A year before, a woman lost her husband and kid in a car accident. One year later, this woman and her friends go on vacation hiking, and they descend in a large cave. But soon they realize they are not alone, a strange breed of predators is after them and their survival is at stake.
This is low-budget horror with a 1980s vibe with disturbing monsters and an unpredictable plot. Think H.P Lovecraft meets John Carpenter, a perfect mix of body horror if you can handle it. Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.
I’m not usually a fan of the found footage genre, but there are a few films that elevate that subgenre to greatness. With [REC], we have the most shocking and unnerving found footage film. A television reporter and cameraman follow firefighters to an apartment building in Barcelona. Soon they become trapped within the building, starting the beginning of a seemingly endless nightmare.