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The 60 Best Spooky Movies to Watch for Halloween

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Film

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Vogue: One of the best things about Halloween month (the way all mature adults refer to October) is the fact that it coincides with the official start of Cozy Season. When the leaves start to fall and Rite Aid rolls out the ghost and skeleton costumes, there’s nothing better than curling up in a blanket or 12, sipping a seasonal beverage—Pumking ale, anyone?—and freaking the living hell out of yourself with a horror movie.

To celebrate all things Halloween-adjacent, we’ve put together a master list of the very best scary (or scary-ish) movies to watch this month.

The Night House (2021)

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Photo: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Saint Maud (2021)

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Photo: Courtesy of A24 Films

The story of an isolated, introverted hospice nurse played by Morfydd Clark (insanely good) who is hired to care for a once-famous dancer named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle, sexy, imperious) dying of cancer. An episode of religious ecstasy in a depleted, soggy, English seaside town spirals toward violence—and culminates in one of the best endings in recent horror. (Stream it on Hulu.)

The Swarm (2021)

60 Spooky Halloween Movies and Shows to Watch This Month
Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

The Invisible Man (2020)

Elisabeth Moss stars in this terrifying film about a woman who’s convinced she’s being stalked by the invisible ghost of her abusive boyfriend. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Lodge (2019)

A snowbound chamber piece about two kids spending a winter holiday in a cabin with their father’s mysterious new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Directed by the Austrian pair Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, The Lodge is a slow-burn genre exercise that exerts the pressure of a steel vise. (Stream it on Hulu.)

Midsommar (2019)

A bizarre Swedish death cult attempts to reel in a group of horrified American students in this psychological thriller. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Ready or Not (2019)

Ninety minutes of hilariously grotesque mayhem. Samara Weaving plays a bride named Grace marrying into an eccentric, board game-fortune family. The wedding held at the family estate concludes with a ritualized family initiation—a deadly round of hide and seek with the family hunting Grace with guns, crossbows, axes, and the like. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Us (2019)

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 Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Nobody does horror like Jordan Peele, and Us—which features a family terrorized by a set of doppelgängers—is no exception. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Apostle (2018)

A British horror film, set in 1905 and starring Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen, about a drifter who sets out to save his sister from a religious cult. (Stream it on Netflix.)

Hereditary (2018)

If you’re still craving the work of Ari Aster after Midsommar, check out this 2018 horror-tragedy film in which Toni Collette truly shines. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Malevolent (2018)

Florence Pugh stars in this horror movie about a paranormal detection racket that gets a very real assignment. (Stream it on Netflix.)

A Quiet Place (2018)

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror flick follows John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as they try to get their family through the end times. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Get Out (2017)

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams give memorable performances in this Jordan Peele film, which will make you think twice about meeting the parents. (Stream it on Amazon.)

A Ghost Story (2017)

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David Lowery’s supernatural drama is less a scary movie than a moving meditation on grief and the ever-shifting sands of time…but, as its title suggests, it wouldn’t be out of place in a Halloween movie marathon. (Stream it on Amazon.)

It (2017)

You’ll never look at clowns the same way again after watching this film. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Witch (2015)

Before she was Emma Woodhouse or Beth Harmon, Anya Taylor-Joy was Thomasin, a girl in 17th-century New England whose family suspects her of being a witch. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Babadook (2014)

A brilliantly crafted, deeply unsettling exploration of motherhood, grief, and guilt is the real terror that lingers well past the final scene. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Citizenfour (2014)

This 2014 documentary about the NSA spying scandal is more terrifying than many fictional efforts. (Stream it on Amazon.).

It Follows (2014)

There’s a distinctly feminist lean to this horror flick chronicling a fatal curse passed through a group of teenagers via sexual intercourse. (Stream it on Amazon.)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Oculus (2013)

This psychological thriller—which follows a young woman who becomes convinced that an antique mirror is haunting her family—cranks the fear-o-meter up a few notches. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Drive (2011)

While most people would classify Drive as a thriller, at moments it can be positively chilling. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Sound of My Voice (2011)

If you fear cults above all else, give this Brit Marling–led film a wide berth—or watch it for exposure therapy. (Stream it on Amazon.)

All Good Things (2010)

How scary could a Ryan Gosling movie be, anyway? Turns out, very. Kirsten Dunst’s performance is not to be missed. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Black Swan (2010)

Terrifying in a deep, dark, psychological way, despite being set in the beautiful world of ballet. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

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 Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo del Toro’s grim fantasy is terrifying, beautiful, and—against the backdrop of Franco-era Spain—a little bit true. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Saw (2004)

Gore to the max, if you like that sort of thing. Definitely avoid it if you don’t. (Stream it on Amazon.)

 Signs (2002)

After watching this one, you might keep seeing aliens on top of buildings and hallucinating visions of Joaquin Phoenix. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Unfaithful (2002)

Richard Gere and Diane Lane star in a story involving an affair, and the lengths that people will go when seeking revenge. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

This complex portrait of the hell of addiction will stay with you long after you’ve finished the film. (Stream it on Amazon.)

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Amber Valletta looks eerily like Michelle Pfeiffer in this campy movie, which will give you pause every time you wipe down a steamed-up mirror in the bathroom. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Halloweentown (1998)

A Disney Channel original movie from the era before they were all about tweens becoming pop stars. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Practical Magic (1998)

You’ll want to become a witch after watching this ’90s cinematic staple. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as witchy sisters navigating love, death, and magic. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Ringu (1998)

The Ring is horrifying, but the Japanese original is even creepier on a deep psychological level. (Buy it on Amazon.)

Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996–2003)

If you were into the sexy Sabrina reboot, revisit the quirky original. You won’t be disappointed. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Craft (1996)

A new girl with a troubled past moves to Los Angeles and becomes friends with three students who aren’t exactly popular, but are far more interesting than they seem. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Casper (1995)

No, not the millennial mattress brand; it’s the Christina Ricci joint, the one that launched a thousand debates about whether Casper the human being cute makes Casper the ghost automatically cute, too. Prepare to rehash. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)

Before there was The Row, there were the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies, and Double, Double is one of the Olsens’ most compelling dramatic turns. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Hocus Pocus (1993)

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 Photo: Everett Collection

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The best of both holiday worlds—you can watch this one now and in December! It’s a little spooky, sure, but mostly adorable. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Your next movie night will be complete with this ’90s psychological thriller starring a vengeful nanny attempting to destroy a former boss’s life. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Misery (1990)

An oldie but a goodie, this Stephen King classic stars Kathy Bates as the scariest obsessive fan in history. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Fatal Attraction (1987)

An ’80s classic: Michael Douglas and Glenn Close battle it out as an errant (married) businessman and the fling who won’t go away quietly. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Ms .45 (1981)

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This Abel Ferrara cult classic follows a mute seamstress who goes on a revenge rampage after being attacked twice in one day on the streets of New York. (Stream it on YouTube.)

The Shining (1980)

A family of influencers moves into a remote hotel only to find out that #SponCon isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (just kidding). An aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic (Jack Nicholson!) accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of a historic hotel and moves his wife (Shelley Duvall!) and son in with him. Things go badly very quickly. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s from Disney—this Bette Davis movie is guaranteed to freak you out. (Buy it on Amazon.)

The Amityville Horror (1979)

More houses, more murder, this time with 1979 James Brolin. Even more alarming: The story is based on a real house. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Watership Down (1978)

Watership Down’s psychedelic animated film about bunnies in distress has led to many sleepless nights of rabbit-related terror. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Suspiria (1977)

The 2018 Guadagnino remake got all the attention, but the 1977 original about a haunted dance academy is well worth your time. (Stream it on Tubi.)

Carrie (1976)

The original Mean Girls, but with pig’s blood. This film is truly the stuff of teen-outcast nightmares. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Young Frankenstein (1974)

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With its brilliant cast—Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn—and incredibly funny script, Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein turns Mary Shelley’s classic story totally on its head. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Exorcist (1973)

A scary movie with a scarier real-life history. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is still matchless for sheer psychological terror, but don’t let Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes’s Satanic neighbors ruin New York City for you. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman who manages to thwart intruders by shutting off all the lights in her apartment. The audience is put into her shoes, only able to decipher what is going on by listening to the men banging around the house trying to kill her. (Stream it on Amazon.)

The Birds (1963)

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Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

There are the violent scares, yes: birds gouging people’s eyes out and children being chased, even if they might pale in comparison to more recent nightmares like Freddy Krueger. But the existential fear in The Birds is way worse. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Psycho (1960)

Is there a more famous—or more terrifying—shower scene in all of cinema? Alfred Hitchcock crafted the perfect horror movie with Psycho, employing clever camera tricks and a wonderfully disquieting performance from Anthony Perkins to iconic effect. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Freaks (1932)

This 1932 pre-Code horror film remains truly terrifying, even after all this time. (Stream it on Amazon.)

Nosferatu (1922)

A standard-bearer in the horror genre (particularly where vampires are concerned), F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror was a hit when it premiered 1922, praised for its moody visuals and poetic screenplay. “Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films,” remarked Roger Ebert decades later. (Stream it on Amazon.)

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