Halloween is of the most cherished holidays of the year, a favorite tradition for most people (outside of trick-or-treating) is watching old scary movies. From the spooky Johnny Depp-led Sleepy Hollow to beloved 1995 classic Casper, we’ve collected 10 of the creepiest Halloween-themed movies ever made… just for you! Do you have a favorite?
Check out our list of Halloween-themed movies we’ll never get tired of watching. Oh, and if you think we missed one, let us know in the comments below. Happy reading!
10. Night of the Demons
Kicking off the list is this 1988 classic, Night of the Demons. The film tells the story of 10 high school seniors who decide to have a Halloween party in an isolated mortuary. The party soon takes a wrong turn when they conduct a séance that releases a demon who had been locked away. The film is your classic “teens wander into an isolated locale and die horrible deaths” movie so it isn’t a masterpiece, but it is very fun to watch. Despite getting fairly negative reviews upon its release, it has since garnered more appreciation for being entertaining, fun and lively.
9. Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus was released by Disney in 1993 and is one of the most unique films they’ve ever done. The comedy/fantasy film centers on a trio of witches named the Sanderson Sisters, who were mistakenly resurrected by a cynical teen and a few other characters in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. Despite receiving largely negative reviews when it was released, the film has gone on to achieve cult status, with high DVD sales and great ratings when it is shown on TV. And in September of 2015, Disney also introduced a Hocus Pocus-themed attraction at Magic Kingdom Park for the Halloween season.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
Despite not being known primarily as a Halloween movie, one of the most important parts of this film does take place at a Halloween-themed event, so we felt it deserved a spot on this list. This film is consistently ranked as one of the single greatest movies of all time and won three Academy Awards. The timeline for this movie begins in the summer and follows the characters through Halloween when we are treated to a very eerie scene where Scout and Jem need to trek through the woods to get to their harvest pageant.
7. Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko is a sci-fi film that was released in 2001 and focuses on the character Donnie Darko as he tries to figure out the meaning and significance behind his weird and troubling visions. Because there are so much strangeness and weirdness that takes place in this film, it is sometimes hard to remember that it is a Halloween movie. The iconic “Frank” rabbit mask that appears in the film is part of a Halloween costume. So if you’re in the mood for an extremely strange film that can take you to a deeply emotional place, give Donnie Darko a watch.
6. Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow is a film that was released in 1999, but whose storyline was set in 1799. Because the film is set so far back in history, and Halloween because it didn’t reach North American soil until the mid-19th century (and didn’t get popular until the 20th century), there is no mention of the holiday in the movie. However, the atmosphere, tone, and feel of this movie are perfect for the Halloween season. The film received great reviews from critics and even won an Academy Award. Some people may feel the movie doesn’t deserve a spot on this list because it doesn’t mention Halloween, but we beg to differ.
5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This film is different than most on this list as it was a primetime animated television special. Its initial broadcast was on October 27th, 1966, and has aired every year since then, without fail. Because of this continued showing, the special is one of the most popular Charlie Brown specials of all time and has generations and generations of fans who love it. This is a great film for parents and children alike and is an absolute classic that should be watched every Halloween season.
Casper is a 1995 film that was based on the friendly ghost made popular by the Casper comics and cartoons. Casper used extensive CGI throughout the film to create Casper himself and the other ghosts in the film. In comparison to the cartoons and comics, the film was quite a bit darker and more adult than what was expected. Either way, the film still had monumental success, earning nearly $300 million in worldwide box office sales. The reviews were mixed, but the film was praised for being on the cutting edge of using CGI in films. The film tells a great story, is visually appealing and entertaining, which makes it a good candidate to watch this holiday season.
3. Trick ‘r Treat
Trick ‘r Treat was released in 2007 but has since developed a large cult following. The film centers on four Halloween-related horror stories. One common element that is included in all of the stories and ties them together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious and creepy child trick-or-treater who appears whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions. The film only had a very limited release at a handful of theaters, which has been called “criminal” by fans of the film. It is everything you want out of a Halloween horror, and consistently appears on lists of the best horror movies of the 21st century.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is perhaps the most visually appealing and creative film on this list, and one of the great masterpieces of Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a being from “Halloween Town” who opens a magical portal to “Christmas Town” and decides to celebrate the holiday with some funny and crazy consequences. The film was nominated for Academy Awards and was praised for its great use of stop-motion animation. Now, some may argue this is a Christmas movie over a Halloween movie, but I would argue that it’s both. Plus, good luck not getting “This is Halloween” stuck in your head after watching this brilliant film.
And coming in as the obvious choice for the best Halloween movie of all time is none other than Halloween. This film, released in 1978, is the first in a series that centers on horror legend, Michael Myers. This film is also credited with popularizing the ’80s trend of slasher horror films. The film was also a giant commercial success, as it grossed around $70 million worldwide, having had a shoestring budget of only $300,000. If you can only watch one horror movie this year, you better make it the one that started it all.