Sure, there are plenty of Christmas films, but Halloween is the only holiday that has an entire genre of movies associated with it. It offers horror buffs a new excuse to gorge themselves on scary movies for the entirety of October. Granted, only a few films actually revolve around the beloved holiday, but many more use their scares to reflect the spirit of Halloween. They embody the hybrid of fear, fun, and childlike discovery that makes the holiday popular even among adults far too old to go trick-or-treating anymore. Try watching these 13 horror-centric movies to truly put yourself in the right mindset for All Hallows’ Eve.
Number 13. House.
Silly and scary go hand-in-hand around Halloween, and it’s hard to find a horror film any sillier than House, a colourful Japanese cult film concerning six schoolgirls who visit a haunted house that belongs to one of their aunts. As the film goes on, the house begins to devour the girls in increasingly bizarre ways, making for one of the most unexpected and deliriously off-the-wall viewing experiences one could ask for.
Number 12. Tales of Halloween.
Released in 2015, this anthology film is made up of 10 separate horror-comedy shorts, each taking place in different parts of the same town on Halloween night. Even the lesser shorts achieve a rare balance between lighthearted fun and genuine horror. Highlights include an urban legend about copious candy consumption leading to cannibalism and a hilarious standoff between a slasher villain and the most adorable alien invader in film history.
Number 11. Poltergeist.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without a good haunted house film, and Poltergeist is likely the most effective and iconic one ever released. The film recaptures the childlike feeling that something sinister is lurking in the shadows of one’s home and then ratchets up the tension with one terrifying set piece after another like skeletons in the pool, a snowy television, and that damn clown doll that only seems to grow scarier with each revisit.
Number 10. Trick ‘r Treat.
Trick ‘r Treat was never given a proper theatrical release, but it found acclaim on home video for its five loosely-connected stories that take place on Halloween night. Each story is gruesome, yet goofy in much the same way childhood urban legends are. Trick ‘r Treat deserves a spot on this list if only for inventing a mascot worthy of Halloween in the masked trick-or-treater called Sam, who doesn’t take kindly to folks breaking holiday tradition.
Number 9. A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Wes Craven’s horror icon Freddy Krueger is one of the freakiest villains out there, as a burned serial killer who targets children with a glove full of knives that would put Edward Scissorhands to shame. The worst part of the slasher series is that Krueger has the power to kill people in a dream world where he’s virtually invincible truly the stuff of nightmares.
Number 8. Halloween.
Sometimes the easy pick is also the right one. John Carpenter’s Halloween inspired countless imitations that didn’t understand the simplicity that made 1978 original so effectively terrifying. Michael Myers is a simple villain who’s scary because of his mysteriousness and his omnipotence. Wherever Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie goes, he follows, his imposing figure lurking ominously in the background, turning every suburban street into a terrifying place of impending horror much like the titular holiday is supposed to do.
Number 7. Shining.
The famous Stanley Kubrick psychological horror film inspired iconic performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duval. Nicholson plays a writer who moves his family into an isolated hotel, only to unravel mentally over the course of the film as he’s overtaken by the dark forces who frequent the establishment.
Number 6. Scream.
“Do you like scary movies?” That line and the shocking killing that followed it marked the beginning of a new era for horror movies. Written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, Scream is the perfect blend of ’90s pop culture archness with slasher film tropes. The series has produced four sequels and a TV series some good, some not so much but the original remains the best.
Number 5. Monsterville Cabinet of Souls.
The residents of Danville take Halloween very seriously, so when a mysterious man tries to set up a haunted house in town for their annual festival, everyone jumps at the chance to try it out. Dove Cameron and her friends find the mysterious Cabinet of Souls, which holds the souls of other people who have gone through the house but have disappeared. After her friends go missing, Beth has to team up with Katherine McNamara to bring them back before they’re lost forever.
Number 4. Coraline.
Dakota Fanning and her parents move from Michigan to Oregon, separating her from her close friends. After receiving a mysterious doll from one of her new neighbours, Coraline discovers the Other World, which includes Other Mother and Other Father, parents who are much more attentive to Coraline than her own. Coraline soon discovers that the world is not what it seems and tries to make her way back home and to her real parents.
Number 3. Death Note.
Based on the popular anime of the same name, Death Note follows Light Turner, a student who is angry with all the bad things that happen in the world. One day, a mysterious notebook called the Death Note falls from the sky and gives Light the ability to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. The notebook is also linked to a death god named Ryuk who encourages Light to use it. After various mysterious deaths start to happen all over the world, all of which involve criminals, Light must make a decision to continue to use the notebook to get rid of evil in the world or to go into hiding before he is caught.
Number 2. The Open House.
Fans of 13 Reasons Why will certainly recognize Dylan Minnette who stars as Logan. He suddenly has to move into his aunt’s mountain chalet after the death of his father. His mother is unable to support herself and her son and she agrees to try to help sell her sister’s home. After an open house, they come back home to find things mysteriously out of place and other odd events happening. The two must find out what happened or possibly not last through the night.
Number 1. Goosebumps.
So this isn’t technically a movie it’s a TV series, but with 5 seasons worth of episodes this show can keep your entire fall creepy as hell. Goosebumps is based on the R.L. Stone book series and it’s known for giving ’90s kids nightmares with its just-scary-enough plot lines. Check it out!
That’s it for this list. Let us know if we missed any good movies in the comment section below. Don’t forget to check out some of the other awesome videos.