50+ Must Watch Classic Halloween Movies

A list of where to watch/stream the best Halloween movies.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007) is a classic horror anthology set during Halloween.

Table of Contents

Halloween takes place on October 31st. Yet for many of us Halloween is more than a single day. It’s a season that can last weeks or even months, and spooky movies define this autumnal period of time.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) is one of many movies perfect for the Halloween season.

This list is the ultimate streaming guide of the best Halloween movies. We feature all the classics like Halloween (1978) and Beetlejuice (1988). We also focus on movies that may not come to mind right away, but are perfect for the Halloween season. Think, cult films like Donnie Darko (2001) and Coraline (2009). The movies are also tailored to the 2023 Halloween season, and every movie has a streaming watch link.

Must Watch Halloween Movies for 2023

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight for the proper effect.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the ultimate Halloween party film. Get together with friends to wear ridiculous costumes, sing, and do the Time Warp (again) along with this joyous send-up of campy sci-fi movies starring Tim Curry.

The Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad (1987)
Impress and annoy your friends by pointing out every reference to classic monster movies littered throughout The Monster Squad.

The Monster Squad manages to feel nostalgic not only for ’80s kids, but also for devotees of the Universal Monsters. Plus, what says “Halloween” more than a light-hearted movie about a bunch of kids battling classic monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein?

Beetlejuice (1988)

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice (1988)
A long-awaited sequel to Beetlejuice was announced in 2022.

Tim Burton found the perfect balance of creepy and hilarious when he made Beetlejuice. It’s a mainstay of the Halloween season loaded with iconic scenes and tons of memorable quotes from the great Michael Keaton.

Night of the Demons (1988)

Amelia Kinkade in Night of the Demons (1988)
Amelia Kinkade (seen here) stars as Angela, the same role played by Shannon Elizabeth in the 2009 remake of Night of the Demons.

If you like your Halloween movies cheesy and violent, Night of the Demons might be your new October 31st tradition. It’s a demonic possession movie like The Evil Dead (1981), but it’s set in a spooky house on Halloween night.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands (1990)
You could make a solid Halloween movie marathon just with movies directed by Tim Burton. (Pictured: Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp)

Edward Scissorhands is like a gothic fairy tale. Dark and touching, it’s a great choice for those looking to add a bit of tragic romance to their Halloween festivities.

Candyman (1992)

Tony Todd in Candyman (1992)
Candyman is adapted from the short story “Forbidden” by author Clive Barker. (Pictured: Tony Todd)

What’s Halloween without a spooky dare based on an urban legend? Tony Todd’s portrayal of the hook-handed killer in Candyman entered the character into urban legend status, making people around the world nervous to say his name five times in front of a mirror.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her (1992)
Death Becomes Her is a dark comedy about two women caught in an intense rivalry that transcends life and death.

The cult classic dark comedy Death Becomes Her is a treasure trove of Halloween costume inspirations thanks to the fabulous clothes worn by Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep, combined with the grotesque imagery of their comically mangled bodies.

The Craft (1996)

Fairuza Balk in The Craft (1996)
Fairuza Balk became so interesting in the occult while researching for The Craft that she bought an occult shop, Panpipes Magikal Marketplace, in Hollywood.

If you remember being an angsty teen (or if you’re an angsty teen right now), then The Craft is for you. Witchcraft, high-school drama, and some real darkness make up a recipe for great Halloween viewing.

Practical Magic (1998)

Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic (1998)
Director Griffin Dunne claims that the witchcraft consultant used for Practical Magic threatened to curse the movie if she didn’t receive more money for her work.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are at their romantic-comedy best as two sisters attempting to overcome a family curse involving their love lives. The movie exudes witchy aesthetics, and its emphasis on the bonds of family make it a heartwarming choice for Halloween night.

Idle Hands (1999)

Jessica Alba (1999)
Many people consider the TV series Dark Angel (2000-2002) to be Jessica Alba’s breakout role, but that distinction actually goes to Idle Hands.

Idle Hands is for those who want a Halloween movie with a bit of gore, but they also want to relax with a hit of 1990’s stoner comedy. Bonus points for the high school that booked The Offspring for their Halloween dance.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Creature effects in Sleepy Hollow were created by Kevin Yagher, the effects artist who designed the original Chucky doll. (Pictured: Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane)

Mysterious and magical, Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow has a spooky yet not-too-scary vibe that fits Halloween perfectly. It’s also beautiful in a dark and gothic way.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Katharine Isabelle in Ginger Snaps (2000)
Why not make it a triple-feature along with Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004) and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)? (Pictured: Katharine Isabelle as Ginger)

Ginger Snaps is a bloody coming-of-age movie with werewolves, and it is a fantastic pick for when you want a monster movie that’s surprisingly smart. It’s also set partially on Halloween, and the cold, dark suburban setting matches the aesthetic of the holiday.

Thirteen Ghosts (aka Thir13en Ghosts, 2001)

Thirteen Ghosts (aka Thir13en Ghosts, 2001)
A real-life haunted house attraction or escape room based on Thirteen Ghosts would be amazing.

Thirteen Ghosts is incredibly campy, and it’s a fantastic choice for a so-bad-it’s-good night during the Halloween season. Also, the ghost designs are legitimately kind of creepy.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Frank the Rabbit in Donnie Darko (2001)
Writer/director Richard Kelly wrote Donnie Darko in 28 days, the same span of time in which the movie takes place.

Halloween can be a dark and weird holiday, and few movies exemplify dark and weird better than Donnie Darko. Also, the costumes, from Frank the rabbit to Donnie’s grey-hoodie-skeleton outfit, are great for any reality-breaking Halloween night.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
The idea for House of 1000 Corpses came to Rob Zombie while he was designing a haunted house attraction for Universal Studios. (Pictured: Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding)

Violent and goofy in equal measures, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses is like walking through a haunted house attraction, but without having to wait in line. It’s also a movie where even the monsters get dressed up for Halloween.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Whether you want to watch killers, ghosts, or monsters, Trick ‘r Treat has you covered.

Trick ‘r Treat is a modern Halloween classic, collecting multiple intertwining stories of supernatural and murderous horror. The anthology format is also great for when you want to watch something on Halloween, but you keep getting interrupted by trick-or-treaters.

The Strangers (2008)

Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler in The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers is home-invasion movie about a trio of masked strangers tormenting Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler.

For the best effect, watch The Strangers on Halloween night after the trick-or-treaters have all gone home and your house is totally quiet. The next time someone knocks on your door will be terrifying.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine win Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2011)
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine star as two kindly gentlemen who are mistaken for madmen by a group of not-so-bright college kids.

Halloween is a holiday that takes scary things and makes them fun. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil takes the slasher movie format and makes it funny in a unique and hilarious way.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
The Cabin in The Woods has numerous allusions to other horror movies, including this monster that references the Hellraiser series (and looks a lot like the goofy CD Cenobite).

If you can’t decide what kind of horror movie you want to watch on Halloween, then watch The Cabin in the Woods. Just about every movie monster is represented in this clever horror comedy.

The Conjuring (2013)

Lili Taylor in The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is the best movie in the ever-growing Conjuring franchise.

The Conjuring is a modern haunted-house movie with a retro aesthetic. And since it’s based on the supposedly true stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, it’s a smart choice to get a group inspired to share their own spooky stories during October.

Terrifier (2016)

Terrifier (2016)
Art the Clown previously appeared in the anthology horror movie All Hallows Eve (2013).

Scary clowns and Halloween are inseparable. Art the Clown in Terrifier is perhaps the scariest of all Halloween clowns, violently murdering people in this extremely gory slasher movie set on October 31st.

Ready or Not (2019)

Samara Weaving in Ready or Not (2019)
Ready or Not contains themes exploring classism, but it’s also a fun movie about murder and supernatural pacts.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets murdered, which is exactly the plot of Ready or Not. Samara Weaving is funny and fantastic as she tries to survive a deadly game of hide and seek, just don’t take the movie as inspiration for your own Halloween party games.

Us (2019)

Lupita Nyongo in Us (2019)
Jordan Peele’s movies are great for watching multiple times so you can pick up all the details he packs into every scene.

Jordan Peele’s Us is partially about identity, which is a perfect theme for a holiday about wearing masks and costumes. Us gets quite violent and scary while still maintaining a sense of fun throughout.

Classic Halloween Movies

The Haunting (1963)

Julie Harris in The Haunting (1963)
The 1963 version of The Haunting is much closer to the original novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, than the 1999 movie or the 2018 Netflix series.

Haunted houses are a staple of the Halloween season. The Haunting, directed by Robert Wise, is an amazing movie for people who want a haunted house movie that relies more psychological frights rather than jump-scares.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)
You might need to send the kids to bed before watching this horrifying demonic possession movie.

What’s Halloween without watching one of the most terrifying horror movies ever made? The Exorcist is just as scary now as it was when it was released about 50 years ago.

Carrie (1976)

Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976)
Carrie was Stephen King’s first published novel as well as his first novel adapted into a movie.

Many people like playing pranks on October 31st, but it is inadvisable to play the famous pig’s blood prank from Carrie during your night of mischief. Instead, just watch this classic horror film from Brian de Palma.

Halloween (1978)

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (1978)
For years, the Halloween season was the time of year when everyone was required to change their cell phone ringtone to the Halloween theme music.

The easiest decision you can ever make is to watch John Carpenter’s Halloween on October 31st. The second easiest decision you can make is to watch Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982) on the same night.

The Shining (1980)

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980)
Stephen King may not be a fan of this adaptation of his character Jack Torrance, but Jack Nicholson’s performance is one of the most iconic in all of horror.

If you want some mentally grueling horror for the Halloween season, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining is just right. The snow-covered finale will also get you in the mood for the year-end holidays.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Betsy Palmer in Friday the 13th (1980)
A hockey mask is a simple and recognizable Halloween costume, but a baby-blue sweater is for those who want a deeper cut.

As a genre-defining classic, Friday the 13th is a great starting point for a slasher movie marathon. Follow it up with the rest of the franchise, or mix it up with some of the best slashers of all time.

Poltergeist (1982)

Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeist was initially given an “R” rating, but director Tobe Hooper successfully petitioned to get the rating reduced to “PG.”

Cowritten (and, some might argue, codirected) by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist is a ghost movie for the whole family that still manages to be quite scary.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters (1984)
A Ghostbusters jumpsuit is a timeless Halloween costume, seen here modeled by Bill Murray and a bunch of slime.

Ghostbusters is an untouchable classic. The quotable dialogue, the outlandish characters, and the memorable ghosts all make for a fun movie night during Halloween or any other night of the year.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Pick this movie if you’re not planning on getting any sleep on Halloween.

Wes Craven’s masterpiece of dream-horror is one of the more visually stunning movies you could pick for the Halloween season. Follow it up with A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) for a great double feature.

Child’s Play (1988)

Child's Play (1988)
Chucky wore a Hello Kitty mask for Halloween in the Chucky TV series.

Many of the later movies in the Child’s Play/Chucky franchise get quite silly, but the first in the series has a few nicely scary moments for people who are creeped out by living dolls. Plus, if you watch this movie early in October, you can easily finish the whole series before the end of the month.

Scream (1996)

Scream (1996)
Always be aware of your surroundings while watching a scary movie like Scream (or like Randy here, when watching Halloween).

It’s impossible to go all October long without seeing at least one person dressed up as Ghostface, so why not spend a bit of time during the month with the slasher movie that forever changed the genre, Wes Craven’s Scream?

Mean Girls (2004)

Amanda Seyfried in Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls has some inventive costume suggestions, such as Karen’s (Amanda Seyfried) sexy mouse costume.

If you’re not really into Halloween or horror, but you are into iconic high-school comedies, watch Mean Girls. The costume party scene is enough to technically qualify it as a Halloween movie.

Halloween Movies for Family/Kids

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
In Italy, “The Great Pumpkin” is localized to “Il Grande Cocomero,” which translates to “The Great Watermelon.”

Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts gang is beloved by people of all ages, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is required Halloween viewing for multiple generations who grew up watching it on television.

The Addams Family (1991)

Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia in The Addams Family (1991)
Director Barry Sonnenfeld also directed the sequel, Addams Family Values (1993).

The appeal of The Addams Family crosses multiple generations. The finale of the 1991 movie starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci is set on Halloween, making it a wonderful choice for families on the holiday.

Double, Double Toil and Trouble (1993)

Double Double Toil and Trouble (1993)
The Olsen twins break a witch’s curse to save their great aunt in this children’s TV movie.

Some people might scoff at the idea that Double, Double Toil and Trouble is a classic Halloween movie, but people of a certain age and of a certain Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fandom will say otherwise.

The Halloween Tree (1993)

The Halloween Tree (1993)
Leonard Nimoy provides the voice for Mr. Moundshroud (on the far right).

For the young and curious, The Halloween Tree is an animated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s book of the same name that explores the origins of Halloween. It’s for those who need a little edutainment during their holiday.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus (1993)
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler (seen here) star in this Halloween classic.

It took a while, but Hocus Pocus rose in the ranks of Halloween classics to become one of the most prominent movies of the category. It’s light and fun Halloween fare with three of the most iconic witches to ever grace the screen.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
To quote director Henry Selick: “It’s a Halloween movie.”

Instead of arguing about whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, why not just agree that it’s both? Transition from the spooky season to the season of giving with this Tim Burton classic.

Halloweentown (1998)

Halloweentown (1998)
A young girl from a family of witches travels to the magical Halloweentown, a place where supernatural creatures live (mostly) peacefully.

Disney Channel Original Movies (or DCOM for those in the know) around the year 2000 were wonderous. Charmingly goofy, Halloweentown is sure to give you that nostalgic feeling of being a kid on Halloween… even if you’ve never seen it before.

Monster House (2006)

Monster House (2006)
Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and more lend their voices to Monster House.

Set on Halloween and featuring a house as a sentient, angry being, Monster House is great for a family movie night before going trick or treating. It may make the little ones even more excited about approaching the spookier houses on the block.

Coraline (2009)

Coraline (2009)
Coraline is based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman.

Stop-motion animation is always creepy, and the imagination of Neil Gaiman makes the story of Coraline even creepier. The movie is about family, and it contains lots of Halloween imagery (like a talking black cat), making it a Halloween movie for all ages.

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Everyone’s favorite Sanderson Sisters are back at it again in Hocus Pocus 2.

Nearly 30 years after the original Halloween hit, Hocus Pocus 2 brings back the three colorful witches we all know and love along with a new storyline. We’re happy to report that Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker have still got it.

More Halloween Movies

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The shaky-cam found-footage all-star, The Blair Witch Project, will add a some scares to any Halloween movie marathon.
  • Clue (1985) is the only murder mystery based on a board game that could be filled with this much hilarious humor. Watch on Prime Video and Paramount+.
  • Once Bitten (1985) has a much younger Jim Carrey before his career really took off, showing off his bendy body as a young man slowly turning into a vampire. Watch on Prime Video and Tubi.
  • Teen Witch (1989) is a great way to introduce a new audience to an older witch movie, in which a teen girl turns 16 and suddenly discovers her new witchy powers. Watch on Max and Amazon.
  • Stephen King’s It (1990) is the made-for-TV adaptation that caused so many ’90s kids to be afraid of clowns–especially with Tim Curry’s stellar performance as Pennywise. Watch on Max, Hulu, and Amazon.
  • Interview with the Vampire (1994) is a vampire movie that’s a great Halloween choice for friends who insist they don’t like horror movies. Watch on Hulu and Amazon.
  • Urban Legend (1998) features all your favorite urban legends wreaking havoc on this college campus and a group of friends who just want to survive. Watch on Tubi and Amazon.
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999) started a love of found-footage films that continues to this day, and this offering is often considered the scariest. Watch on Paramount+ and Amazon.
  • The Ring (2002) had the “you’ll die in 7 days” hook that people still quote to this day–and it’s scary as hell. Watch on Amazon and Paramount+.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003) is an Eddie Murphy-led adaptation of everyone’s favorite spooky Disneyland ride, which makes this Halloween movie perfect for the whole family. Watch on Amazon and Disney Plus.
  • Corpse Bride (2005) is perfect to add if you’re having a Halloween stop-animation movie marathon. Watch on Amazon and Max.
  • Paranormal Activity (2007), though often made fun of, is a spooky found footage movie about a couple in a house haunted by a demon. Watch on Amazon.
  • Cloverfield (2008) is the start of a perfect Halloween movie marathon with the whole Cloverfield trilogy–this one about a monster attacking New York City. Watch on AMC+ and Amazon.
  • Fun Size (2012) is a Nickelodeon original movie that’s a surprisingly good look at teens trying to get to an epic party on Halloween night. Watch on Amazon.
  • Hereditary (2018) is often regarded as one of the scariest movies to come out in the last five years, making it a great choice for the spookiest Halloween movie marathon. Watch on Max and Amazon.
  • The Body (2018) is a Hulu Original horror movie about a hitman who conceals his kill by fitting in with the rest of the costumed Halloween revelers. Watch on Hulu.

Streaming Guides

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.