Best Movies To Watch For Halloween: Unforgettable Films to Make Your Spine Tingle on All Hallows’ Eve

We like to do the same things every year for the holidays because they are customs. A scary movie is the best way to start the Halloween season.

This is the holiday season, so you can watch all of your favorite Halloween movies, especially the scary ones. There are some scary movies on this list, but you can also watch some of them with your kids.

Best Movies To Watch For Halloween

01. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

It’s not a surprise that An American Werewolf in London was one of the first horror comedies; it was director John Landis’ follow-up to the huge hits Animal House and The Blues Brothers. 

David, played by David Naughton (who was in Dr. Pepper ads in the 1970s), is the bad guy in the movie. He and his friend Jack (Griffin Dunne) are on a British walking tour when they are attacked by a werewolf. The bite leaves Jack badly hurt, and he has to visit his friend from beyond in a worsening state.

But David has it worse because he inherited the werewolf curse. This movie is scary (watch out for the dream sequences), spooky, and surprisingly funny thanks to Dunne’s acting. It might make you want to visit England and celebrate Halloween at the same time.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

02. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Official Trailer - Cary Grant, Peter Lorre Movie HD

This Frank Capra favorite has probably been performed on stage at a high school near you. But this time of year, the black-and-white movie version is a real treat. 

AAOL does take place around Halloween, and stars like Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey play scary movie roles straight out of the theater. Cary Grant, a famous actor from Hollywood, plays the role of a theater critic named Mortimer Brewster. He finds out that his two sweet aunts are actually serial killers who kill lonely men to end their lives.

While Mortimer was away, his long-lost brother Jonathan (Massey) and his evil, drunk doctor partner (Lorre) show up. Things only get worse for him.

Plus it’s funny! Arsenic and Old Lace moves at a very fast pace as our main character finds out more and more horrible things. That’s part of what makes the movie so great: Grant clearly didn’t like it very much because it was his most crazy performance on screen.

03. Bell Book and Candle (1958)

Bell, Book & Candle (1958) - Trailer 1080p

In the same year that Vertigo came out, Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart changed the way they were together. Novak is the one who is crazy about Stewart, her upstairs neighbor, in Bell Book and Candle. Luckily for her, she knows how to use witchcraft to win Stewart’s love.

Novak’s Gillian is a stylish witch from Greenwich Village during the Beatnik era. She owns a strange art store and a very strange black cat. Stewart thought (wrongly!) that he was too old to play love leads after this movie.

But at least he went out on a fun note with this Halloween-themed rom-com. And if that’s not enough for you, check out Jack Lemmon playing the bongos as Gillian’s cool magician brother.

04. The Craft (1996)

The Craft (1996) - Official Trailer (HD)

“We are the weirdos, mister.” The four teenage girls in The Craft deal with their teenage anger not with croquet or slam books, but with magic.

The result is a fan classic that supports women’s rights and has some real scares. There is a new girl in town named Robin Tunney who gets sucked into the wrong (right?)

group of outcasts, led by Fairuza Balk’s evil Nancy and made up of Rachel True’s Rochelle and Neve Campbell’s Bonnie. These four friends discover that they are stronger when they work together. But what happens when they spend too much time on the bad side?

05. Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978) Trailer

Without a doubt, the movie named after the event must be on this list. If you don’t see Halloween this season, it would be like not seeing It’s a Wonderful Life in December. Yes, John Carpenter’s story is still being told through several sequels, but why not go back to where it all began?

The scary blank mask (based on the face of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk!), the many jump scares, and Jamie Lee Curtis making the best Scream Queen of all time in her film debut. Of course, there are a lot of slasher movies out there now, but there’s something satisfyingly familiar about the way the 1978 classic set up a lot of genre tropes.

06. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Hocus Pocus (1993) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

The long-awaited sequel about the toe-eating Sanderson sisters and their search for tasty children in Salem just came out, but it’s still not as good as the first book.

Surprisingly, Disney thought this first movie was a failure until people watched it again every year around this time of year and made it into the cult favorite it is today.

Why has it been going on for so long? The three witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker) are both scary and funny, and their downfall depends on some very smart kids figuring out how to get rid of them for good.

The bad guys come back in Hocus Pocus 2, so it’s clear that their success wasn’t permanent. But hey, being banished for almost 30 years is a pretty good run.

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07. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service - Official Trailer

This cartoon movie is from the same people who made My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. Kirsten Dunst plays a young witch-to-be named Kiki who sets out to make her way in the world. The girl is very good at using a broomstick, so a delivery service seems like the best way for her to make money.

A few setbacks, though, make Kiki question her magical skills until a crisis forces her to act and shows what she’s really good at. Not only is Kiki’s Delivery Service a great Studio Ghibli movie (with beautiful, detailed landscapes that wrap you up), but it also teaches kids an important lesson about life and is one of the sunnier Halloween movies you could pick this year.

08. Meet Me in St Louis (1944)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Official Trailer - Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien Movie HD

Meet Me in St. Louis by Vincente Minnelli isn’t really a Halloween movie, but it does have a lot of holiday memories. In this famous movie, Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien play the Smith family, a sweet family that goes through a year of life.

The most-played scene is Judy singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to Margaret. But don’t miss the fall scene where Tootie O’Brien and her sister Agnes (Joan Caroll) go to a Halloween bonfire. The movie section is a rare look back at the scary holiday of the past, with scares and pranks that were probably the best parts of a traditional childhood.

09. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Official Trailer #1 - Animated Movie

Sure, some might say that Jack Skellington’s story is really a Christmas movie, but let’s not fool ourselves—Halloween Town is called that for a reason.

In the enchantingly original Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack, the Pumpkin King, gets bored and wanders into Christmas Town while looking for something new. Then, he makes the bad decision that his world will take over the December holiday. He comes up with a plan to kidnap “Sandy Claws” and put scary gifts under the tree.

The stop-motion animation by Henry Selick and Tim Burton is very detailed, so there are new and fun things to see each time you watch it. Danny Elfman’s music is truly magical, especially when Jack understands what Christmas is really about and what his true destiny is.

10. The Ring (2002)

The Ring (2002) Theatrical Trailer

Looking for a scary horror movie that isn’t too graphic? If you dare, watch The Ring! Come on, it’s that time of year.  Naomi Watts plays a reporter who is trying to figure out why four people, including her niece, died after watching a certain DVD in the American version of the Japanese film Ringu, which came out in 1998.

What does this have to do with Samara, the girl who got stuck in a well? Knowing the answer would be exciting in and of itself, but let’s just say that The Ring is full of enough tension to give you goosebumps. Also, good luck forgetting Samara’s scariest moment.

11. Scream (1996)

Scream | Official Trailer (HD) - Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore | Miramax

This is another slasher movie that has been followed up on for decades after it came out. In fact, Halloween and Scream would make a great double feature because you can tell what Scream is making fun of. The horror movie Scream was so popular that it started its own series.

It was funny and smart, and it made fun of its own genre in a clever way. Why should you always say “I’ll be back”? In a scary movie, why is being a virgin the best thing to do? People who might be victims should be running out the front door, not up the stairs. Also, why are there so many masks?

This masterpiece by Wes Craven is a crazy, funny example of what makes scary movies fun, while also being very scary on its own. There are still chills in the air from the opening scene with Drew Barrymore, and Neve Campbell deserves praise for being a great Final Girl.

12. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein (1974) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

In this horrifyingly funny parody movie, Mel Brooks gave the famous monster his own unique twist. A lot of big names were in the movie.

Gene Wilder played young Frankenstein (pronounced “Frahnk-en-STEEN”), Peter Boyle played the monster, Madeline Kahn played the monster’s bride, Marty Feldman played Igor, Cloris Leachman played Frau Blücher, and Teri Garr played the young woman.

Even young kids will enjoy Young Frankenstein because of its quick-witted comedic breaks. It’s totally normal to need to watch the “Put… the… candle… back!” scene at least a few times.

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