Everyone has their own Halloween-themed watch traditions. Whether you watch one horror film every night, you have a complicated, but serious spreadsheet to get through, or hit “play” on OG Candyman on October 28th and then you’re done. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re a marathon type of person, don’t think you end the season without reliving these classics. While some might not be considered “scary” anymore, they definitely have made their mark as genre-defining films.
1. Halloween (1978)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, The Roku Channel
On a cold Halloween night in 1963, 6-year-old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.
2. Hellraiser (2022)
Where to watch: Hulu
A reboot of the 1987 original by the same name, Hellraiser is about a young woman who must confront the sadistic, supernatural forces behind an enigmatic puzzle box responsible for her brother’s disappearance.
3. Trick’r’Treat (2007)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video ($2.99), Apple TV ($2.99), YouTube ($2.99)
Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of a small town face real ghosts and goblins on Halloween. Tales of terror reveal the consequences of extinguishing a Jack-o-Lantern before midnight and a grumpy hermit’s encounter with a sinister trick-or-treater.
4. The Evil Dead (1983)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video ($3.99)
Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend, and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.
5. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Where to watch: Disney+
This one should already be on your list. After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Where to watch: Disney+
The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles upon Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life: Plotting to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the job. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.
7. The Addams Family (1991)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, The Roku Channel
When a man (Christopher Lloyd) claiming to be Fester, the missing brother of Gomez Addams (Raul Julia), arrives at the Addams’ home, the family is thrilled. However, Morticia (Anjelica Huston) begins to suspect the man is a fraud, since he cannot recall details of Fester’s life. With the help of lawyer Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya), Fester manages to get the Addams clan evicted from their home. Gomez realizes the two men are conspiring to swindle the Addams fortune and that he must challenge Fester.
8. Coraline (2009)
Where to watch: The Roku Channel
While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate world that closely mirrors her own but, in many ways, is better. She rejoices in her discovery, until Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and the rest of her parallel family try to keep her there forever. Coraline must use all her resources and bravery to make it back to her own family and life.
9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video ($3.99), Apple TV ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99)
In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a trans scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker (Meat Loaf) and a creepy butler (Richard O’Brien). Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: A muscular man named “Rocky.”
10. The Exorcist (1973)
Where to watch: HBO Max
One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd — levitating, speaking in tongues — her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
11. Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
Where to watch: Netflix
Fear Street Part One: 1994 – After a series of brutal slayings, a group of teenagers take on an evil force that’s plagued their notorious town for centuries. Director Leigh Janiak describes it as influenced by 1990s slasher films, especially Scream.
Fear Street Part One: 1978 – In the cursed town of Shadyside, a killer’s murder spree terrorizes Camp Nightwing and turns a summer of fun into a gruesome fight for survival. Janiak states that she was influenced by Friday the 13th.
Fear Street Part One: 1666 – Rewind back to 1666, Deena learns the truth about Sarah Fier. Back in 1994, the friends fight for their lives — and Shadyside’s future. Janiak compares it to The New World.
While this list alone will keep you busy until the 31st, we didn’t leave you hanging with the lists. Check out our horror movie picks that’ll actually scare you.
Photo via Warner Bros.