With Halloween fast approaching, we are all starting to embrace ‘spooky season’ in its full glory. With so many streaming platforms to choose from and lots of new movie releases, I’ve put together 24 amazing horror (and comedy horror) picks that are sure to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Some options are definitely more ‘classic horror’ whilst others have made the list just for being atmospheric or favourites of mine that I think you’ll also enjoy. In no particular order let’s begin….
1 – Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s 1978 original Halloween movie became a cult classic for all the right reasons and has since spawned a series of successful (and not so successful) sequels. Simple yet effective scares, calculated camera angles and an ominous soundtrack made this an instant classic. Michael Myers (aka: The Boogeyman or The Shape) is one of the only horror movie villains to really give me chills. Jamie Lee Curtis follows in her Mothers footsteps (Janet Leigh – ‘Psycho’ 1960) and delivers a punchy performance as the long standing horror heroine Laurie Strode. You can ignore most of the other sequels in my humble opinion, other than the below…
2 – Halloween H20
Halloween H20 is set 20 years later in the Halloween universe. Laurie Strode is struggling with her mental health following a long line of encounters with Michael Myers. Determined to protect her son (Josh Hartnett) she must face-off against Michael one more time in order to survive another Halloween. This movie was an excellent example of a movie sequel that not only delivered some fantastic scares but that was also released at the perfect time. In the same vein as ‘Scream’ Halloween H20 is one of my all time favourite chapters of the franchise and a truly fantastic modern horror/thriller.
3 – Halloween Kills
The most recent Halloween reboot is a Blumhouse productions release and I really feel like the team has done everything to ensure that they deliver an experience tailored to hardcore Halloween fans. Set in a universe where only the 1978 Movie and the 2018 Blumhouse reboot exist, means that this particular Halloween series is able to reinvent our most familiar characters and take them on a completely different journey. Halloween Ends releases next year and Jamie Lee Curtis has had plenty to say about it. With an expected ‘time jump’ to present day (including COVID-19) and an alleged big twist, I can’t wait to see how the final part plays out!
I also feel the need to give a special honourable mention to one particular part of the Rob Zombie Halloween II movie. I’m not a fan of the Rob Zombie Halloween films at all, but the hospital scene (above) is one of the most chilling horror movie scenes I think I’ve ever experienced. Michaels slow, menacing walk and his brutal kills are suited perfectly to the eerie and isolated hospital corridors where this tense chapter begins. To take the whole chase out into the pouring rain adds another dimension to an already incredibly tense scenario and I’m absolutely obsessed with it!
4 – Sinister
True-Crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) hasn’t written a best-selling hit in 10 years and is desperate to make his big comeback. Upon moving his family into a new house and finding a terrifying snuff movie featuring the previous family, he sets about investigating. Sinister is packed full of genuinely unnerving moments and an underlying sense of dread throughout. Hawke delivers a fantastic performance and holds the audience attention well. If you like horror movies that rely more on psychological scares than blood and guts, this is for you!
5 – The Exorcist
The Exorcist isn’t a movie that I would re-watch time and time again but it deserves a mention in any horror movie article due to its cult classic status. The Exorcist resonated so intensely with viewers upon its release that people had to be taken from movie theatres after fainting or vomiting during their screening. With some truly memorable and scary scenes, it has managed to stand the test of time even with today’s toughest horror fanatics. A welcome addition to any true classic horror movie night.
6 – IT (1990 Mini-series)
The original miniseries of IT (based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name) has forever been one of my favourite horror experiences. There have of course been high-profile remakes since IT first aired in the 90’s but in my opinion these rely too heavily on CGI and special effects rather than the original ominous scares that we knew and loved. 1990’s ‘IT’ sees Pennywise the clown played by the legendary Tim Curry and the movie has an old school ‘Stand by Me’ feel. This focuses on childhood friendships just as much as the terrifying scares. Nostalgic and heartfelt, do yourself a favour and watch this before you watch the new movie versions!
7 – The Babadook
From director Jennifer Kent, The Babadook is a heavily psychological horror movie that will play on your worst fears and stick with you long after the credits roll. This movie doesn’t rely on cheap jump-scares to keep audiences hooked, it is all-encompassing and at times heart-racingly scary. The story is centred around a single mother navigating life after her husbands violent death. When her son develops troubled thoughts about a demon lurking inside their home, we explore a strange and heightened mother and son relationship that relies just as much on human emotions as it does the underlying terror of the Babadook.
8 – The Shining
The Shining is one of my all time favourite movies and I know that so many of you will also say the same. I don’t feel as though I need to explain the premise of this one as most people know the storyline by now, along with the classic scenes. However, what really makes this film is the perfect combination of Jack Nicolson’s acting and the terrifying secluded setting of ‘The Overlook Hotel’ the perfect film to watch with the lights down low on a cold Halloween night.
I know that the ‘Here’s Johnny!’ moment has always been a firm favourite with movie lovers but the above scene on the staircase is equally as fantastic and I’ll never get tired of watching it! Jack Nicholson delivers a wildly unhinged performance as he begins to turn against his wife. Every movement, every facial expression we see here makes this scene an absolute joy to behold as Nicholson’s character enters the mouth of madness in this dark and almost comedic performance.
9 – Red Eye
Another Wes Craven movie to add to the list. Red Eye stars Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams and manages to deliver a thrilling escapade from start to finish. With a somewhat limited setting (a lot of the movie takes place on a plane) this film keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. If you are looking for less ‘slasher horror’ and more thriller type content then this would make an excellent choice of viewing. Great fun and one that I can happily watch over and over again.
10 – The Skeleton Key
Now I know that this isn’t really a horror movie but it deserves a mention in this feature for its atmospheric style and beautiful setting. I am unashamedly a big Kate Hudson fan (how to lose a guy in 10 days is one of my favourite rom-coms but we’ll save that list for another day!) and her performance in The Skeleton Key is fantastic. Alongside some fantastic talent including John Hurt, Gena Rowlands and Peter Sarsgaard, Hudson plays a young live-in nurse to a couple at their New Orleans plantation. Exploring the elements of voodoo, magic and tricks of the mind, this movie is another that I often find myself return to view. Don’t expect full-blown horror and enjoy the storyline!
11 – Wrong Turn
Wrong Turn isn’t exactly scary (especially these days) but it does remain a fun-filled movie that has spawned several quite atrocious sequels. The original (and best) stars Eliza Dushku of Buffy/Angel fame as one of a group of teens who find themselves at the mercy of a family of violent backwoods cannibals. I loved how this movie managed to keep audiences entertained despite being a little cheesy. It’s one of those films that you can play in the background without having to focus too much on the plotline! Great for a relaxed Halloween movie night.
12 – The Thing (1982)
Set in remote Antarctica this classic John Carpenter movie is a horror fan favourite and for very good reason. The Thing uses paranoia and claustrophobia to create a setting that puts viewers instantly on edge. With a great soundtrack and a killer cast it’s easily one of the best horror movies of our generation and an all time classic example of expert movie making.
13 – The Scream Franchise
If this list was in any kind of order then Scream would definitely be placed firmly at the top. From Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, this is the movie that changed and shaped modern horror movies. With a fantastic cast and plenty of twists, turns and red-herrings it’s the perfect film franchise to sit and watch with friends. Each of the Scream movies has its own unique charm but the original will always be the best. With Scream 5 details coming in fast, I can’t wait to see what they are going to do with this new instalment.
14 – Orphan
This underrated horror movie quickly became a favourite of mine thanks to its fast pace and shocking ending. Two of my favourite actors play the roles of Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) perfectly. One element of this movie that I really loved was how well it portrayed a family with a deaf child. The scenes with Max were filmed using ASL (American sign language) and when Max (played by hard of hearing actress Aryana Engineer) has her integral parts of the storyline we feel fully connected to her experience. Orphan’s main character Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) constantly seems ‘off’ from the first scene and as her true colours are revealed the actress does a jaw-dropping job of keeping tension heightened. A fantastic film that deserves way more credit!
15 – Road Kill / Joy Ride
I have a real appreciation and fondness for this movie! The UK title ‘Road Kill’ will always be how I’ll refer to it but its American ‘Joyride’ title is more widely used. This was such a fantastic concept for a horror film and one that worked effectively to build tension with a limited set. Paul Walker and Steve Zahn steal the show with their utterly believable brotherly chemistry and ensure that we can’t help but root for them as the movie escalates. If you are looking for a serious and terrifying horror then this isn’t the movie for you. It has a slight ‘B movie’ feel but this just adds to its charm.
Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs) voices ‘Rusty Nail’ in the most chilling way and we’re still quoting his menacing “Caaaandy Cane” to this day. Worth a watch if you want a Halloween film that will keep you on the edge of your seat without taking itself too seriously.
Ps, if anyone finds a better YouTube trailer for this one let me know as the quality is shocking!
16 – A nightmare on Elm Street
I don’t think I need to explain this one to anyone as it is a classic that we’ve probably all watched before. Wes Craven’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was one of the stand out 80’s horror movies that scared a generation! Since then Freddy Krueger has gone on to become a cult horror villain and many sequels have been spawned. While some fans have a real love for the rest of the franchise my only other favourite from the series is below. A Nightmare on Elm Street is still a true must-see and makes the perfect film to watch when you’re having a classic 80’s horror night!
17 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
As a Wes Craven fanatic this movie has to be one of my all time favourites. Wes Cravens New Nightmare is a decidedly different spin on the Nightmare on Elm street series that sees the ‘Movie within a movie’ concept used effectively by Wes. With some of the original cast returning to play themselves and Wes Craven playing a version of himself too, it pushed the boundaries of horror as we knew it. Sure, the graphics towards the end look a little dated now but if you are willing to overlook this, it’s one hell of a ride!
18 – Vacancy
This movie is the reason that I’m always a little anxious when we stay in hotels! Playing on real paranoia that all of us have is a clever use of horror film fuel! Starring Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale and Frank Whaley, Vacancy is a movie that will linger at the back of your mind for a while after watching. The trailer tells you pretty much all you need to know, but watch this one if you want a genuinely chilling thriller that doesn’t miss a beat.
19 – The Ring (2002 remake)
This horror film really did a number on me when I first watched it. The Ring is a remake of the Japanese film of the same name. The story focuses on a videotape filled with strange and terrifying images that is revealed to cause viewers to die mysteriously exactly one week after watching it. If you are easily spooked this might not be one for you, as the image of Samara will always leave me a little creeped out to this day! If psychological, eerie horror is your bag then you need this on your movie list.
20 – Dead Silence
This is a bit of a wild card as it is SUPER cheesy but I can’t help loving it! Dead Silence stars Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Jamie Ashen, who returns to his home town after the death of his wife. Once there he is drawn into investigating the legend of Mary Shaw, a murdered ventriloquist believed to be haunting the town. The movie is silly, unbelievable in every way and very over the top…. but I still love it. A few of the Mary Shaw scenes are actually pretty scary, especially the one in the funeral home with dead Mary Shaw. All in all, don’t expect anything serious but watch if you’re in the mood for something fun with a questionable plotline!
21 – Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers has only made my list for the first half an hour of its run time alone. Every time I watch this film I wish that they had kept the vibe from the first half and continued it throughout the rest of the movie. It begins with Trish (Gina Philips) and her brother Darry (Justin Long) on their routine road trip home from college. This soon turns into a race for their lives as they fall prey to an unknown and seemingly unstoppable force. The tension built within the beginning of the movie is all too quickly lost as we begin to see too much of the villain. Still worth a watch for some fun scenes, a little gore and an epic opening act.
22 – Wolf Creek
Wolf Creek is a relentless and at times intensely brutal movie, set in the Australian outback. A group of stranded teens (Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath) are approached by a murderous bushman (John Jarratt) who offers to fix their vehicle, then takes them captive. John Jarratt plays ‘Mick’ who has fast become a cult horror movie character. His thick Aussie accent and unpredictable personality instantly elevatete this film into something unique and terrifying.
Wolf Creek takes a while to get going but once it does, you’d better buckle up. Hunting and torturing his victims with no remorse, our villain Mick doesn’t rely on horror tropes to make him scary. The unnerving thing about his character is that he is human …. and completely unhinged! A must-watch classic.
23 – The Visit
Last but not least is The Visit. A comedy horror movie that has fast become one of my all time favourites. Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) visit Pennsylvania farm country to meet their grandparents for the first time. There to greet them are Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). The children set about getting to know their grandparents whilst helping their Mother set to rest her childhood traumas. Director M. Night Shyamalan manages to combine some genuinely creepy moments (most of which revolve around Nana) with some laugh-out-loud funny scenes.
Whilst I do understand that some people expected more from a high profile director such as M. Night Shyamalan, I am genuinely impressed by The Visit. Its fast paced and quirky plot have made it an instant cult classic in our household. Don’t take it too seriously and you’ll have a blast!
Hopefully you’ve been reminded of some old favourites to re-watch this spooky season and perhaps found some inspiration for a new viewing. Head on over to my Instagram @lifestylelinked where I’ll be posting IG stories, reels and videos in the run up to Halloween!