For some, Halloween is a holiday of fun costumes and candy and bobbing for apples, but for others it happens to be the perfect excuse to watch horror flicks for a month straight. The trouble is that there are so many scary movies out there that it is impossible to watch them all inside of thirty-one days.
To save you some time, we’ve compiled a fantastically eerie list of movies to keep you freaked out until Halloween arrives. For those in search of a good fright fest specific for getting the viewer into the Halloween spirit, here is Screen Rant’s list of 10 Scary-Ass Movies to Watch On Halloween.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
While it is full of greatness in its own right, the horror genre has a reputation for being gross, corny, and stupid… but that is a huge part of what makes it so blissfully fun to watch, like the cinematic equivalent of a deliciously greasy cheeseburger. While based on the supposedly true story of horrible murders and supposed vicious hauntings, The Amityville Horror is just such a delightfully grimy and bloody horror show that perfectly sets the mood for October 31st.
One year after a man slaughtered his family in the ominous Dutch colonial at 112 Ocean Avenue, the Lutz family takes up residence, unaware of the paranormal presence looming there. As the weeks pass, it becomes more and more apparent that there are forces in the home that mean the family great harm.
While the original film has its own 1970’s schlocky charm, the 21st century iteration of the Jay Anson novel, despite a number of confusing and contradictory elements, sinks its teeth deeper into the viewer with its no-holds-barred practical freak-out effects and buckets of fake blood, not to mention the added bonus of seeing the demonic-possession prowess of Ryan Reynolds.
The Exorcist (1973)
Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is a normal girl who lives a comfortable life with her famous actress mother Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn). But Regan soon begins to display increasingly disturbed behavior that doctors attribute to lesions on her brain – but Chris knows in her heart that the root of the issue is something sinister. A local Jesuit priest offers his help, but soon realizes that there is evil to be dealt with far beyond his capabilities, inspiring him to call upon exorcism expert Father Merrin (Max von Sydow).
Most movies are made with the intent to be enjoyed by an audience, but sometimes a movie is made to provide an experience. There is no more perfect an example of a film made to rattle people and have them question the dark parts of their soul than William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. The only horror movie to ever be seriously considered as Oscar-worthy (it received eight nominations and two wins) is not for the faint of heart – it may have been made over forty years ago, but even modern ultra-gory horror isn’t nearly as unsettling. There is a reason why most people consider it to be the scariest movie ever made.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle) are the strangest girls in the town of Bailey Downs, a pair of sisters with an odd obsession with death. But when Ginger gets her period for the first time, she unknowingly becomes the target of a bloodthirsty werewolf. After Ginger is bitten, Brigitte starts to notice disturbing changes in her sister and resolves to find a cure.
It would make complete sense if you have never heard of this Canadian feminist horror movie – this amazingly gruesome film about a moody high-schooler who turns murderous after being bitten by a werewolf didn’t bode well with producers or audiences so soon after the tragedy at Columbine High School.
The ill-timed release aside, Ginger Snaps is definitely a film every horror fan should see, especially for special effects purists. On top of its intriguing yet simple script and a wonderful cast full of great chemistry, the use of practical makeup and effects makes it the perfect combination of old-school horror visual realism and new-school horror intensity.
Once upon a time Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) was a famous true-crime novelist, but as of late he has lost his spark. In an effort to find a subject for his next bestseller, he uproots his family and moves them to a house that has recently become vacant after the deaths of the previous home’s family and the disappearance of their daughter. But after finding a collection of truly disturbing Super 8 films in the attic, Ellison gets the feeling that the deaths he is investigating aren’t the work of a serial killer but rather something otherworldly.
Movies about angry ghosts and demonic spirits are incredibly hard to keep fresh and relevant these days. Although Sinister isn’t the most original of supernatural stories, it makes good on delivering plenty of blood, terror, and good old-fashioned jump scares; there’s a wonderful freak out moment involving a lawn mower that has the most perfect timing. The best part is that it still finds space to have humorous moments, mostly involving a bumbling deputy who is all-to-eager to help his favorite author Oswalt solve the mystery at hand.
When May Canady (Angele Bettis) gets her lazy eye fixed with the help of her optometrist, she becomes absolutely sure that her life will change for the better. But what she doesn’t understand is that her strange nature and fascinations stemming from her traumatized childhood are completely at odds with being accepted as normal. While she is able to make connections, her inability to accept rejection eventually turns her into something vicious.
There is a theme throughout classic horror literature about the dangers of sadness and how it can turn someone good into a monster, most famously from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Plenty try to recreate the power of this kind of story though few are able to evoke the needed sympathy with the theatrical terror.
In his solo directorial debut, writer/director Lucky McKee manages to capture the idea of a modern tragic monster in the film May, blending a well-composed story with freaky horror. It is a horrid shame that this movie isn’t as well known as it should be, making it the perfect thing to watch on All Hallows’ Eve when you’re tired of watching the same old horror movies.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
If there is one thing you should know about Rob Zombie, it’s that he’s built his entire career, as both a rock star and a filmmaker, on his devil-may-care attitude. With an entire persona founded in his love for horrifying curiosities, the freaky and the campy, anyone who knows his style could have predicted that he would begin his career as a writer/director by bombarding the senses of his audience with a movie chock full of an unapologetic sadism, reminiscent of the brutality of 70’s exploitation fare.
In his debut film, Zombie gives us the story of two couples on a trip searching for weird roadside attractions to write a book on. When they decide to go off in search of the hanging tree of local madman legend Dr. Satan, they pick up a hitchhiker named Baby. After the car’s tires mysterious blow out, Baby encourages the group to drive to her house to get their tires fixed. Little do they know, Baby’s family is as far from the average American family as you can get.
Even though its pseudo-sequel The Devil’s Rejects is a far better film, House of 1000 Corpses is still delightfully twisted enough to leave a lasting impression – if the gruesome human taxidermy doesn’t curdle your blood, then Sheri Moon Zombie’s heinous cackle surely will.
Pet Sematary (1989)
There is virtually no definitive list of horror movies out there that is complete without some offering from the beautifully twisted mind of Stephen King, so this list couldn’t possibly be whole without one of his book-to-movie adaptations. While Pet Sematary is not as well known as The Shining or Carrie, the deeply ghoulish nature of the film makes it as unforgettable as it is an essential part of the King canon.
It is widely known amongst his fans that King bases most of his novels on personal fears and experiences, and Pet Sematary is rooted in the near-death of his son. It tells the story of the Creed family who move to Ludlow, Maine under the assumption that it is a sleepy and peaceful town. But when his family is struck with a horrible tragedy, head of the family Louis (Dale Midkiff) soon learns that the ancient burial ground just beyond his property is the seed of a terrifying power.
One of the most scary tropes of the horror genre is the turning of pleasant things into foul, and this film’s realization of that idea is what makes it so bone-chilling – really, what is scarier that a demonic and murderous toddler?
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
If director Tim Burton has ever been good at anything, it’s his ability to create a fantastical and weird macabre atmosphere that is still viewer-friendly. But like any auteur, there came a point when he felt compelled to stretch his creative wings and ventured into full-on horror with Sleepy Hollow, a blood-soaked yet elegant cinematic offering so visually rich it could easily be mistaken for a Caravaggio painting.
Instead of following the story of the Washington Irving short story, Burton’s Ichabod Crane is a New York policeman who firmly believes in the power of scientific objectivity. Tired of his babblings, his superiors send him away to investigate a series of decapitations in a town called Sleepy Hollow. Despite Crane’s presence, heads continue to roll and the detective begins to realize that he may be dealing with something that cannot be combated with science.
Despite the triteness of its narrative, Sleepy Hollow is the perfect balance of beauty and horror and, with the exception of maybe Edward Scissorhands, is the best character Johnny Depp has ever played in his lengthy list of Burton collaborations.
Although he is known as the king of the zombie movie and, in some circles, the father of modern horror, George A. Romero made more than just films about flesh-eating, undead corpses when his career was still in full motion.
Directed by Romero and written by Stephen King, Creepshow is a series of five vignettes that all tell their own spooky little stories of fatal flaws gone wrong and gruesome revenge plots. Inspired by 50s-era horror comics like Tales from the Crypt beloved by both writer and director, the campy short films are more likely to scare kids than adults, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of being classic Halloween viewing.
All of the stories are incredibly entertaining to watch – seeing Stephen King playing the dim-witted Jordy Verrill is great fun, especially for fans of the infamously macabre novelist – but there are favorites amongst repeat viewers. “The Crate” starring Hal Holbrook is bloody good fun for anyone who ever fantasized about feeding their annoying significant other to an ancient flesh-eating monster. If you have any phobia of bugs, be sure to steer clear of the cockroach infested “They’re Creeping Up On You.”
When it comes to movies that are essential viewing on certain holidays, there is no film as obviously perfect to watch on Halloween than Halloween. But just because the John Carpenter classic is unquestionably the most overplayed movie on TV the night of October 31st doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve generous respect as both a well-made movie and a simple-but-powerful horror story.
Michael Myers (Nick Castle) is a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath with no other apparent driving force in his life other than to kill. After escaping from the mental hospital where he was locked away at six years old for stabbing his sister to death with a butcher knife, he returns to his hometown and begins to stalk high-schooler Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Night falls, and murder ensues.
While Halloween isn’t by any stretch Carpenter’s best film, it remains a horror master class on how to create tension and suspense. The dramatic irony is intensified a thousand-fold when the audience forced to watch the slaughter of teenagers through the killer’s eyes. There’s a reason every one watches this movie on Halloween and it isn’t because of the name – it’s because no matter how old this movie gets, it’s still scary as hell.
Even though that is the end of our Halloween-themed horror movie list, there are still plenty of great scary movies to bring about the trick ‘r treating spirit. Post your favorite Halloween-set scary movie below in the comments section!