Whether you thrive on a good scare or prefer to celebrate the holiday in a lighthearted fashion, there are a few essential Halloween movies everyone should see, some are classics, some are recent releases, all are at least a little bit spooky. From thrillers to supernatural stories to horror comedies, cue up one of these flicks when you want to ring in All Hallow's Eve with spirit.
1. Nosferatu (1922)
When it comes to horror movies, there isn't really anything more classic than Nosferatu, the 1922 film that basically invented the modern day vampire.
2. Psycho (1960)
One of the first and best slasher flicks of all time is this one, which tells the story of a deranged man who runs the Bates Motel and his unsuspecting customer—you'll never think of showers the same way again.
3. The Exorcist (1973)
This quintessential supernatural horror film, featuring literal head-turning moments as a young girl is possessed by the devil, spawned many demon-centric movies to come
4. Carrie (1976)
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the OG Carrie movie is a horror classic and a harrowing look at just how hard (and horrifying) it can be to be a teenage girl.
5. Halloween (1978)
This was a movie made to be watched on October 31 (hence the name), all about a masked serial killer named Michael Myers who returns fresh from the insane asylum to terrorize his hometown in Illinois. Make it a marathon by watching the whole franchise (10 movies in total).
6. The Shining (1980)
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.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
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.
8. Ghostbusters (1984)
When it comes to Halloween comedies, Ghostbusters is a classic (also feel free to throw in Ghostbusters 2 and the 2016 all-female reboot for a full-on marathon). The ghosts are actually frightening at times, but mostly it's a laugh-riot, so there's something for the scary movie lovers and scaredy cats.
9. The Addams Family (1991)
The first theatrical film *snap, snap* to chronicle the lives of Charles Addams' "creepy, kooky" family gifted the world a cast of unforgettably morbid characters, from Christina Ricci's dark schoolgirl Wednesday to Anjelica Huston's glamorous Morticia.
10. Hocus Pocus (1993)
The family-friendly fright fest came out in 1993 and has been a Halloween staple for millennials ever since. The Sanderson Sisters are the perfect balance of genuinely scary and laugh-out-loud hilarious.
11. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
It might not be the most frightening of flicks, but Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is definitely a holiday classic. The stop-motion animation film tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, who plots to take over Christmastown by kidnapping Santa and running the December holiday his way.
12. The Halloween Tree (1995)
This is a bit of a dark horse, but a worthy addition to your Halloween watch list, nonetheless. This 1995 animated film, based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name, is about a group of friends who embark on a magical journey on Halloween to save the life of their friend, Pip.
13. Scream (1996)
This '90s slasher, which follows a group of high schoolers who fall victim to a masked murderer, inspired one of today's most popular Halloween costumes and also made our list of the 25 best plot twists of all time.
14. The Ring (2002)
You may not be able to sleep after watching this ghastly supernatural flick about a cursed video tape. A journalist played by Naomi Watts investigates the death of four teenagers who all die after watching said tape and must unravel the mystery behind the vengeful well-dwelling girl whose death causes all the trouble.
15. The Babadook (2014)
Pegged by critics as one of the most intelligent horror movies in recent years, The Babadook uses mounting suspense rather than cheap thrills to scare the viewer, as a supernatural force terrorizes a mother and her child.
16. It Follows (2014)
One of the most inventive modern scary movies, It Follows puts a spin on the horror genre with a sexual twist. The film is about a girl who, following a sexual encounter, contracts, er, conjures a terrorizing force—a shape-shifting monster that can assume the form of others and can only be gotten rid of by passing it on to someone else through sex.
17. Happy Death Day (2017)
The movie that answers the question, "What if Groundhog Day were a horror film?" Happy Death Day is one of the best scary movies in recent years and a perfect addition to your Halloween watchlist.
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