Every year, I make it a point, usually come mid-September, to start my annual tradition of watching Halloween-feeling movies. That means movies set on Halloween just as much as movies that FEEL like Halloween. I’m always on the hunt for more and this list will likely fluctuate. Maybe in a couple years I’ll do a “Next Best” list or just edit the list itself who knows. For now, ranking somewhat on overall quality but moreso as to how Halloween feeling they are, these are my Top 13 Halloween Feeling Movies.
And yes I did top 13 because at the last minute I thought of 3 more I couldn’t possibly not include but I didn’t want to cut anything out. Also, I like it at 13.
And no I didn’t include Nightmare Before Christmas. I don’t like that movie. Pick a lane buddy!
13. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Midnight showings abound in October. I consider going to those a Halloween activity, the film itself uses old sets from the Hammer horror films; it’s a Halloween movie. The film itself is…fine. Weird in an unremarkable way. The event of SEEING the film is another story entirely. It’s mandatory to go to one of these things once in your life.
12. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Or the first Conjuring really, maybe even some of the spin-offs. This franchise just really excels at the spookiness for the season. For me though, it peaks at Conjuring 2 with some of the most iconic monster images of modern horror in figures like the Nun and the Crooked Man. It’s also just a damn good movie, with character-driven horror and some excellent performances.
11. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
I’m ranking Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island higher than The Conjuring. Because this movie kicks ass. It’s also a great kid’s starter on Scooby-Doo, or the pinnacle of Scooby-Doo watching. One of the DARKEST Doo storylines with a straight-up body count, this movie doesn’t mess around.
10. Sinister (2012)
In terms of modern horror masterpieces, Sinister is easily on my list. A downright uncomfortable film at times, it presents a genuine tension in its discomfort. Scary in a masterful way, there are times in this movie when I knew how it was going to scare me, but it was still able to scare me even with that foresight. With a great modern boogieman as its central antagonist, this movie is a must for horror fiends come October.
8. Hell House LLC (2015)
Showing the build-up of a pop-up haunted house attraction at a place that may really be haunted, Hell House LLC is an fingenious found footage flick. Making excellent use of that feeling of “wait, did that thing move?” this movie is just straight-up creepy. With a deeply unsettling horror that just plain works and a haunted haunted house as its setting, this is a perfect October film.
9. Terrifier (2016) / Terrifier 2 (2022)
I’m cheating a little bit with my 13 count here reluctantly including the Terrifier duology (so far). It’s very much a duo of films that I’m not even sure I like. Even so, Art, the Clown has already solidified himself as a Halloween symbol. But he’s a very outlandish and over-the-top symbol. Let’s put it this way: Jason Voorhees enjoys killing, and Art the Clown enjoys everything up to the killing.
All that said, I do recommend them to VERY specific friends under the category of “wanna see something fucked up?”
7. Haunt (2019)
This modern slasher takes advantage of a concept far too few have: a slasher movie set inside a pop-up haunted house. The first half of this film almost plays like a paranoid thriller with uncertainty if the scares are legitimate or part of the house experience. Once we know, then things really hit the fan. With great characters who you actually give a damn if they survive and some very enjoyable set design, Haunt is an excellent modern slasher.
6. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (or really, any Universal Monsters movie)
These guys ALWAYS pop up in October. Horror icons that have reached legendary status, it’s hard to see those gothic buildings, that dense fog, or creepy black-and-white and not think Halloween. For those who simply want the cream of the crop, Bride of Frankenstein is really the peak of this monster saga, but I also have to give a shout-out to my personal favorite, The Invisible Man.
5. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Is there anything I can say about Hocus Pocus that hasn’t already been said? The three witches are beyond fantastic and clearly having the time of their lives. The movie also has a bit of grit to it, with sucking the life from children as a central component. A staple of childhood Octobers, I’ve seen this movie more times than I could count, and always to kick off the spooky season.
And while I’m at it, honorable mention to Hocus Pocus 2. Not as good, but still good for that Halloween feeling.
4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Remember those movies I thought of later and couldn’t not include? This is one of them. In addition to having an establishing scene set on Halloween, the film just reeks of the type of thing for kid’s Halloween parties. The film itself is not spectacular. A perfectly serviceable horror film with some unique ideas and creepy moments. That said, where it will shine is as many kids' first horror film. Dangerous enough without being traumatic.
3. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
I debated putting this one so high but it’s my list, so fuck it. I don’t think this film even mentions Halloween, but god damn does it ever feel like Halloween. The creepy trees, the pumpkin imagery, the over-the-top gore, everything about Halloween imagery is captured here in what is a hideously gorgeous movie.
2. Halloween (1978), Halloween (2007), Halloween (2018)
Okay so technically this list has 15 now I guess? Wait, no, 16? Whatever. It doesn’t matter which Halloween-titled film you watch. Be it the original, the remake of that film, or the sequel to the original that ignores all other films. Any of these movies work to get that good Michael Myers fix. All have their own weaknesses and strengths. I’m gonna come right out and say it, these films rank about even for me. Pick your poison for your annual Halloween movie.
1. Trick r’ Treat (2007)
God damn does this movie reek of Halloween. It practically oozes Halloween off the screen. The small cult hit that has become a big phenomenon, with a literal mascot of Halloween at the crux of each story in this anthology. Serial killers, spooky stories, tainted candy, fun costumes, hidden town evil, pumpkins, over-the-top gore, everything good and bad you associate with Halloween is seeping from every corner of this glorious fucked-up little film. It’s mandatory for the season.
🎃Enjoy and Happy Halloween Season!🎃