When October rolls around, it gets dark early, there's a chill in the air and it always seems like a good time to throw on a classic scary film for a spooky night in. But there are also so many to choose from across streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and Netflix. Here, we've put together your roadmap through decades of horror with a list of the best Halloween movies ever made. Next time you're looking for a movie fright at home — I mean uh, movie night at home — just choose any film off this list and you're good to go.
So, what kind of thrill are you in the mood for? Some of these are classic monster movies, giving us our first film glimpses of icons like Dracula, the Wolfman or the Invisible Man. Others kicked off horror franchises that have tons of sequels — some that are either still going strong or being rebooted today. Others are more indie/arthouse horror movies, the ones that scare you more by what they don't show. And when it comes to scary movies for kids (or adult wimps who want to watch a Halloween movie that is decidedly not scary), there are a few funny Halloween horror-comedies (and even a rom-com) that you can enjoy together as a family.
Now, just remember to check that you've locked all the doors before you go to sleep afterward.
The ultimate Disney Halloween movie, this whimsical classic makes chatty black cats and goofy witches the epitome of Halloween fun. A sequel is planned for Disney+ in 2022, so we'll watch this on repeat until then.
This kid-friendly classic is an easy choice for a spooky — but not nightmare-inducing — Halloween movie night. There's a recent cartoon version with a sequel out in October, but you can't beat the OG — and its 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values — for its chemistry between Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston.
A Tim Burton invention, Beetlejuice is a family-friendly horror film tracing a couple who find themselves stuck haunting their home in the afterlife. It's one of the few movies that puts you on the side of the ghosts haunting the house.
Jordan Peele's masterpiece, which uses racism as a vehicle for supernatural horror, is an absolute must-see. You'll be thinking about this one long after you turn the lights out.
Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock as sibling witches? Sign us up. This delightful cult-classic rom-com is a perfect pick for anyone who wants a gentle, lovelorn Halloween.
Another Tim Burton cult classic, this surprisingly heartwarming tale of a young man with scissors for hands is packed with lush cinematography, romance and life lessons.
Given that this iconic film — featuring the unstoppable killing machine that is Michael Myers — shares a name with the year's spookiest holiday, it's just about as classic as they come. It's worth it for the spooky score alone.
It's up for debate whether this classic falls into the Halloween or Christmas category. Either way, Tim Burton's imaginary world is a sheer delight. (So maybe watch it once a week from October to December?)
For many, it's simply not Halloween season until the whole family has gathered on the couch to watch this animated special starring the Peanuts gang.
Before you take in the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife this November, refresh yourself with the ensemble comedy that started it all. This is a good one to throw on for a mixed-aged group.
A brilliant invention from Jordan Peele, this allegorical horror features a family who discover their violent doppelgängers while on vacation. The only thing scarier than a monster is ... yourself.
This clever classic reinvigorated the slasher genre with deadly wit. Watch to learn the rules of the genre, like why you should never get too close to the man in the mask.
Host your own midnight showing of this musical comedy horror film starring a young Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry — then just try to hold yourself back from singing along to the "Time Warp."
Since she was a child, Christina Ricci has reigned supreme as the queen of Halloween movies. In this one, she befriends the friendliest of ghosts ... Casper!
Easily one of the most recognizable entries on this list, The Shining features Jack Nicholson's breathtaking performance as the writer-turned-madman Jack Torrance. It's a Stephen King classic that director Stanley Kubrick truly makes his own.
This inventive post-apocalyptic thriller takes place in a world where even the slightest sound can spell your imminent death. Real-life lovebirds Emily Blunt and John Krasinksi play the parents in this tale of how we can never really keep our children safe. After many pandemic delays, A Quiet Place Part II came out earlier this year — you can catch it on Paramount+ or rent it on Amazon.
If your kids wish that Halloween could be every night of the year, you’re in luck: In the magical Disney classic Halloweentown, that’s basically how it goes.
Follow young explorer Coraline through a door into an alternate dimension, where she meets characters who seem much like those in her real life ... but maybe a little off (even as they promise her everything she wants). Even though it's made for children, Coraline's creepy button eyes will make even adults a lil' unsettled.
RELATED: The Best Halloween Movies For Kids
If ghosts are more your flavor than slashers or monsters, this is your jam. It's a classic, New England haunted house movie.
Frenemies played by Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep discover the secret of eternal youth — but as it turns out, living forever isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Heralded as one of the funniest movies of all time (full stop), the jokes in this hilarious Mel Brooks spoof still hold up.
"I see dead people" is by far one of the most popular Halloween movie quotes to this day, and rightly so. In this paranormal drama, Haley Joel Osment plays a 9-year-old boy who has to help spirits move on, in sometimes unexpected ways.
In this high school horror story, a young misfit shows her bullies the terrible power that she possess. But who is the real monster?
Even now, if you say, "They're heeeere," in a creepy voice, people will shudder. It's all thanks to this story about a house possessed by angry spirits.
If you're looking for something a little more modern, this remake of the 1978 thriller gives the tried-and-true series a refresh with its original star, Jamie Lee Curtis. Director David Gordon Green re-focuses the series on the Strode women, and the way they react to the return of Michael Myers. Another Green Halloween film, Halloween Kills, is due out on October 15 — you can catch it in theaters or streaming on Peacock.
Even little kids who don't watch scary movies know who Freddy Krueger is. (And they kind of think he's cool?) But if you sing, "One, two, Freddy's coming for you," even the tough ones will run away.
Disneyland built the house, but Eddie Murphy made the movie. By the end of this heart-warming Disney classic, you may just change your mind about those grim, grinning ghosts. Watch this one on Disney+ if you have it.
There's a reason so many of us are wary of Friday the 13th whenever it comes up on our calendars. We can owe a lot of that nervousness to this eerie fan-favorite.
Mia Farrow is chilling as the pregnant young Rosemary, who must face the truth about the secret origins of the mysterious child she's carrying. It's a true, slow-burn terror.
When paranormal investigators are called to search an isolated farmhouse, they think they can handle the less-than-horrifying hauntings there. But, if we know anything from the horror movies of yore, it's that spirits should never be underestimated. This is based on the real-life exploits of paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren, and a third installment in the franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, just came out earlier this year.
Both an entry within and a satire of the horror genre, this fascinating film features classic tropes — college students trapped in a cabin, zombies, werewolves and evil rituals — but cleverly turns them each on their head.
One of the creepiest things ever is the unknown, and you never really know what you're doing when your asleep. This movie stars when a couple starts filming themselves after they go to bed, because they'd been experiencing strange things. It only gets more intense from there.
Just because Halloween is meant to celebrate thrills and chills doesn't mean you can't also indulge in a star-crossed romance, right? This stop-motion animated Tim Burton movie, about a man sent to the Land of the Dead after accidentally marrying a ghost, is your best bet — and, best of all, it's totally kid-friendly.
Although it's a newer addition to the horror genre, The Invisible Man has earned its place among like classics, including the one that bears its name. Leigh Whannell, one of the Saw creators, manages to wring intense drama while focusing mostly on the Invisible Man's victim, instead of the monster himself.
A couple moves into their dream home, only to discover the previous tenants met a deadly end. Really, this drama teaches an important life tip: If the house you’re buying seems too good to be true, call the ghostbusters before you settle in.
Teenage angst goes supernatural when the new girl at school falls in with a coven of witches — and things go off the rails.
Loosely based on Washington Irving's 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp star in this gothic romance directed by Tim Burton.
While most remember the Saw franchise as the one that ushered in an era of movies high on gore and violence, the original Saw movie felt novel for its mixture of horror and police procedural — and for its killer twist.
There is nothing more classic than Bela Lugosi as Dracula himself. If you're looking for the iconic Universal monsters, here's the place to start.
The movie that popularized the concept of "found footage" horror, this cult favorite follows a group of film students who get lost in the woods while investigating the local "Blair Witch." Try not to think about it next time you're off in the woods.
A group of college friends camp out in a remote cabin, where they discover a haunted book and accidentally release a few demons. Director Sam Raimi, known for his Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire, imbues this one with B-movie verve.
Francis Ford Coppola does for Dracula what he did for The Godfather before it, using his Coppola magic to bring the book to the screen. This ornate, gothic movie features swing-for-the-fences performances by Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves.
Candyman just got a Jordan Peele-produced remake, in theaters now. Wait ... we just said his name twice! We've only get three more before he's summoned.
Imagine Toy Story, but without, well, all the things that give it Disney's stamp of approval. Instead of Woody and Buzz, this movie follows a young boy who receives a doll that takes on a demonic life of its own. A TV series is coming to Syfy, so it's a good time to re-watch.
How many decades have Halloween partygoers been teasing their hair and trying to add the white streak to emulate this bride? After watching the James Whale film, you an see why she's endured.
It might not scream “Halloween,” but this murder mystery has inspired enough costumes and themed dinners that it deserves a spot with the classics. It's a good Halloween movie for scaredy cats.
An absolutely terrifying paranormal horror — featuring Toni Collette in impeccable form as the Graham family matriarch — Hereditary is what you watch if you don't want a wink of sleep on Hallow's Eve.
This famous paranormal horror from 1973 is based loosely around actual events. Loosely. Reassuring, right?
A trip to a remote island with Leonard DiCaprio might sound tempting, until you reach the terrifying insane asylum at the heart of this mind-boggling Martin Scorsese drama.
This movie, about a family rejected by their Puritan church and sent to live away from the safety of their community, has a rhythm and a cadence all its own. It may not hit you with jump-scares, but it'll get under your skin.
Remote location? Check. Shape-shifting villain? Check. Kurt Russell to the rescue? Check. This satisfying sci-fi/horror movie manages to entice even Halloween skeptics.
This Jonathan Landis horror-comedy is worth it for the werewolf transformation alone — the movie won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Makeup. (The famed Rick Baker did the makeup.)
This Dario Argento film shows you can fill your movie with bright colors and still have it be totally unsettling. When a student travels abroad to study dance, she finds the school is not what she thought it would be.
Classic horror doesn't always have to creep you out. If you want to get into the mood but also want to sleep at night, try this monster-filled comedy.
This gilled creature adds more of a sci-fi element to the classic lineup of Universal monsters. When it falls for a beautiful lab assistant, the film takes on a beauty-and-the-beast quality, but fishier.