The spookiest season of the year is officially underway and it's time to prepare for Halloween.
Along with lining up an award-winning costume (here are a few inspired suggestions to help decide on the best group costume or family theme), you're going to need candy for the trick-or-treaters and, of course, a checklist of Halloween activities to accomplish.
Naturally, a scary movie marathon is among them because there's no better way to help set the mood. If you're struggling to, ahem, conjure up a list of films that include witches, ghosts and good ol' fashioned goosebumps, then we've got exactly what you need with these classic Halloween movies.
From iconic choices like "Halloween," "Hocus Pocus" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," we've rounded up all the greats for kids, adults and pretty much everyone else in your crew.
Better yet, you'll find many of these Halloween favorites on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Max, Apple TV+, Disney+ and others.
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)
The movie that started them all, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" brings J.K. Rowling's best-seller to life and what better film to celebrate the spooky season? Featuring witches, sorcery and fan favorites Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), this spellbinding classic is what Halloween is all about.
'The Craft' (1996)
Four high schoolers delve into witchcraft and in the process discover their dark talents. As their abilities grow, so does their rivalry. In the end, the girls conjure up way more than they bargained for. Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Rachel True star in this witchy thriller.
'Trick 'r Treat' (2007)
Despite the title, these tricks aren't for the kids. But if you're in the market for a few adult-grade scares, then "Trick or Treat" needs to be on your list. Starring Anna Paquin ("True Blood") and "Succession" star, Brian Cox, "Trick 'r Treat" hands out screams instead of candy. What more could you ask for?
What do you get you pair horror writer Stephen King with "Night of the Living Dead" director George Romero? This 1982 movie that features a series of vignettes, each creepier than the next. Whether it's a farmer being taken over by an alien fungus or a grisly Father's Day party (Where's my cake?), "Creepshow" is funny, scary and best for adults since it includes a serious dose of gore.
'The Haunted Mansion' (2003)
Disney's famous spooky ride gets a big-screen makeover in the 2003 movie "The Haunted Mansion." Starring Eddie Murphy, Marsha Thomason and Jennifer Tilly, the story revolves around a self-involved realtor who drags his wife and kids to view a creepy old house instead of taking them on a promised vacation. Once they arrive, they discover the supernatural occupants of the mansion want them to stay on ... forever.
'Addams Family Values' (1993)
The sequel to the 1991 hit movie "The Addams Family," is just as much fun as the original (which you'll find a bit further down the list). Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci reprise their roles as the creepy, kooky and altogether ooky, Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and Uncle Fester and face off against a new nanny (Joan Cusack) who's got sinister plans for the spooky family.
If you're scared to shower after watching this classic movie, we don't blame you. "Psycho," directed by Alfred Hitchcock, epitomizes nostalgic psychological thrillers, making this a perfect movie to get you in the mood for spooky season.
Jordan Peele certainly knows how to get audiences on the edge of their seats — and his 2019 smash movie "Us" is no exception. This horror flick, starring Lupita Nyong'o, poses an intriguing question — what if there was another version of you existing somewhere in the world? In "Us," there is — and the "others" (who call themselves "the tethered" in the movie) are out for blood.
Ari Aster directs "Midsommar" an unexpectedly chilling movie about a Midsommar festival in Sweden. When Dani's (Florence Pugh) family dies, she seeks refuge through her boyfriend and his friends, and they retreat to Sweden for Midsommar, per the invite of a friend. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. Watch this absolutely;y insane flick to find out why.
'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' (2019)
If you grew up enjoying the scary stories your older family members or friends would tell you, you'll definitely enjoy this movie. It compiles a collection of short, yet chilling tales that are sure to send shivers up your spine this Halloween (or any time, really.)
'The Invisible Man' (2020)
Elizabeth Moss stars in this modern horror movie about one of the scariest things of all time: an ex-boyfriend. Just kidding — but actually, this movie really is about her seemingly deceased ex-boyfriend who appears to be terrorizing her from beyond, which is pretty much the scariest thing we've ever heard. This one really is freaky though, so don't take it lightly.
'Ready or Not' (2019)
Sometimes, love is worthy of a rom-com. And sometimes it's worthy of a horror story. A young bride, played by Samara Weaving, learns that her in-laws are of the monster variety when she's invited to play a dangerous game of hide and seek on her wedding night.
And now, for something family-friendly. A young girl (Christina Ricci) befriends the ghost — the friendly ghost — living in her house.
'The Exorcist' (1973)
Maybe Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is having a bad day ... or maybe she's possessed. Two priests are summoned to exorcise the young girl, who had been so normal just days prior, in this acclaimed movie on the border of the divine and the horrifying.
Nia Da Costa directed the sequel to the 1992 film "Candyman," with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing an artist who becomes intrigued by the urban legend of the Candyman, and ends up summoning a force laden with history and violence.
'Practical Magic' (1998)
In this movie based on a novel by Alice Hoffman, two sisters (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) have both perks of being witches (powers!) and the drawbacks (a family curse that destines any man they love to death). Is it possible to have it all?
'Get Out' (2017)
A guy (Daniel Kaluuya) goes to visit his girlfriend's (Alison Williams) parents, nervous, but thinking it'll be a standard visit. What happens next is anything but. Jordan Peele's film has become a modern classic, just as much a meditation on race relations in the U.S. as a movie in conversation with the horror genre.
We're just going to tell you not to watch Annabelle if you're afraid of dolls — even a little bit afraid of dolls. Part of the "Conjuring" movie universe, this film sees paranormal hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren investigating a doll locked in an occult museum, and all its sordid capabilities.
'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
Yes, many of the movies on this list involves supernatural beings, like ghosts — but often humans are the scariest villains of all. A staple in the serial killer movie genre, "The Silence of the Lambs" is the only horror movie to have received the Academy Award for Best Picture.
As the title suggests, much of "Hereditary" is about what we inherit. Some families pass down blue eyes — the family in "Hereditary" may pass down something like bad luck. Brace yourself for a jump scare or two, and a haunting performance from Toni Collette that lingers like grief.
'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' (1966)
If, at any point, you were in an elementary school classroom in late October, you've probably seen this holiday special starring Peanuts characters. The jazz music, combined with the characters' now familiar quirks, is instant nostalgia.
'The Shining' (1980)
If you've seen this classic flick directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Jack Nicholson, you understand why we put this movie on our list. Between the evil twins, the hallway flooded with blood and Jack Nicholson saying, "Here's Johnny!" this is a thriller you won't want to miss. Consider it an essential item on your cinematic bucket list.
'The Ring' (2002)
If you're browsing to find a movie to watch with a group of people and talk out loud at the screen as it unfolds, then you have arrived at a very good option. A remake of a Japanese film, "The Ring" is one of the scarier flicks on this list. In it, characters are condemned to die after watching a cursed videotape. You'll probably never want to be near a VCR player again.
"Scream" is both a satire of the slasher film genre and a terrifying slasher film. High school student Sidney Prescott (Campbell) and her friends are terrorized by a masked killer. Jump scare after jump scare, the movie worked well enough to inspire multiple sequels including one that came out in 2022.
Are you tempted to keep up your Halloween decor year round? If so, this Disney Channel original movie probably speaks to you. Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) discovers she has ties to an enchanted town where Halloween creatures are real — and she's one of them. The movie's co-stars announced their engagement in 2022.
"Halloween" is perhaps the ultimate Halloween movie for more reasons than the title. Yes, the movie is set on the holiday. But more importantly, it sets the mold for the slasher film. Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode is one of cinema's most enduring final girls — she returned to the franchise recently.
'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)
Is "The Nightmare Before Christmas" a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? The debate rages on. But for the sake of this list, we'll classify it as a Halloween movie — it stars a skeleton and a bunch of his Halloween cronies. The Tim Burton stop-motion classic follows what happens when Jack Skellington leaves Halloweentown for the stringed lights of Christmastown.
'Child's Play' (1972)
A list of Halloween movies certainly wouldn't be complete without a mention of our favorite (or least favorite?) scary doll, Chucky. This 1980s horror film definitely has its fair share of gruesome and gory moments — so beware.
Consider watching "Beetlejuice" a rite of passage. Weird and wonderful, the movie is difficult to categorize. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin play a newlywed couple who die in a tragic accident. To make matters worse, they're trapped in their house for eternity. The spirits hire a demon to help them move on. This classic Halloween flick is weird, wonderful and a right of passage Halloween movie to boot. You also will be singing "shake, shake, shake, señora" all day long after viewing. No, we will not elaborate.
'Friday the 13th' (1980)
This is another Halloween film that just oozes nostalgia. If you're looking for a gory slasher film to watch with a group of friends that'll leave you screaming at jump scares (thanks to Mr. Jason Vorhees himself), pick this one.
'The Amityville Horror' (1979)
Ah, yes: The classic trope of "house is haunted by a former tenant who was possessed by the devil and a priest comes in to exorcise the spirit." This 1979 movie and its 2005 remake put a supernatural twist on real crimes that happened in the New York house.
Have you ever had a full vat of pig's blood dropped on you at a school dance? No? Carrie (the main character of this classic movie based on the Stephen King novel, played by Sissy Spacey) has. We promise you don't want to miss this movie during spooky season.
"Coraline" is about the stark divide between the world of children and adults and what happens when adults lose their imagination. It's also about people with buttons for eyes. Bored in her new house, Coraline goes through a secret door and meets her "other mother," who is nurturing, caring and thoughtful — and not quite right.
'Sleepy Hollow' (1999)
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was originally a story by Washington Irving. Then, director Tim Burton reimagined the classic Gothic story for this film, which sees Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as a rational doctor who certainly doesn't believe in legends like the Headless Horseman.
'Rocky Horror Picture Show' (1975)
Do the time warp again and again. While "Rocky Horror" is best enjoyed in a movie theater, this cult classic also makes for fun movie night fare, especially when viewed with other fans. Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) stop by Frank-N-Furter's (Tim Curry) mansion for help after they get a flat tire, and end up drawn into the mysterious man's world of song and strange experiments.
'It' (2017 and 2019)
If you're not already afraid of clowns, get ready to be. This classic Stephen King novel features a millennia-old antagonist who, most commonly, adopts the guise of a clown to scare the children of Derry, Maine every 27 years. The preteen members of the Losers Club do the impossible by beating "It," but then have to return years later to do the same trick.
'A Quiet Place' (2018)
This place may be "quiet," but it sure is scary. The movie and its sequel are set in a world taken over by alien creatures that hunt by sound. Using ASL, the Abbott family manages to survive in silence but their tenuous peace is threatened when Evelyn (Emily Blunt) becomes pregnant. A collaboration between married couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, "A Quiet Place" is really a movie about the lengths we'll go to for love.
'Paranormal Activity' (2007)
If you're looking for a movie marathon, consider this franchise. "Paranormal Activity" and all of its green-tinged movies that follow are great to watch if you crave jump scares and ghost activity. There are lots of both.
If ghost movies are your thing, then add this classic, written by Steven Spielberg, to the list. The Freelings begin to hear messages from the beyond through their television set.
'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
"The Blair Witch Project" is filmed in a way that will make you wonder: Is this real? Three young filmmakers attempt to find a local legend the Blair Witch in the woods.
'The Conjuring' (2013)
Instead of calling the Ghostbusters, try calling Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators. The characters in the extended "Conjuring" universe turn to Ed and Lorraine's abilities to investigate the sounds and spooks in their creaky New England homes.
'Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
The effects may seem a bit dated in this classic Halloween film, released in 1984. But the concept is evergreen in its creepiness. Freddie Krueger preys on people in their dreams.
'Young Frankenstein' (1974)
Exchange scares for silliness with this Mel Brooks movie, which stars Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein looking to create his own monster. Nothing, of course, goes to plan.
'Hocus Pocus' (1993)
"Hocus Pocus" was beloved when it premiered on the Disney Channel in 1993, but only became more popular since then. The Salem-set movie follows three witches awakened from slumber by unwitting children. Now, they're desperate to reclaim their youth. Hocus Pocus 2" is set to release on Disney+ on Sept. 30, 2022 with the original Sanderson sisters in tow.
'Bram Stoker's Dracula' (1992)
You know the drill with this one — "he's come to drink your blood" and all that. Except, this time, he's in love! This movie, starring Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, exudes macabre vibes without being too scary.
'The Haunting' (1999)
In this haunted house movie based on a novel by Shirley Jackson, Liam Neeson plays a professor studying fear — yes, apparently that's a job. He has been conducting research in a mansion called Hill House, and along with three of his students, learns he's not alone in the house. Talk about case work!
Who you gonna call? Your friends — to come over and watch this unmistakable 80s movie, filled with ghost fighting and lots of great music.
'Edward Scissorhands' (1990)
We couldn't possibly compile a list of Halloween movies without mention of our favorite scissor-handed dude, Edward Scissorhands himself. This Tim Burton movie, like many Tim Burton movies, has a bit of a following for the creepy-but-not-scary vibes Johnny Depp brings to the titular role.
'The Witches' (2020)
Like the 1990 movie before it, this 2020 film is a riff on Roald Dahl's children's book (though it's scary enough to spook adults). A boy and his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) are deceived by a clan of cunning witches.
'The Addams Family' (1991)
"The Addams Family" is a macabre yet kid-friendly watch. Once a TV show in the '60s, the ghoulish family was introduced to a new audience in this popular movie. Starring Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, this movie remains a popular classic right along with its enduring theme song, which should already be on your Halloween playlist.