The pumpkins are out, the treats are within reach and the tricks are in your back pocket.
But don’t you want a few thrills and chills too as we head towards the Halloween witching hour?
Leaving COVID out of this equation (no treats with that one!), there are plenty of fun and frights to be had from the movies on this list.
They’re watchable all month long, and carefully curated for when you want to feel good…or a little devilish…
20. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Wrong holiday? Guess again! This is what happens when Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town decides he’s had enough of the holiday and wants to kidnap Santa Claus instead. It’s a Tim Burton creation, which means plenty of uniquely skewed visions that are more awe-inspiring than scary.
Fright Factor: Fun for the family, and bring the dog too!
19. House On Haunted Hill (1959)
The one and only Vincent Price is a millionaire who invites five people to a haunted house he has rented, offering to give them US$10,000 if they can stay the entire night. Think things happen? Sure. The film has spawned a more recent remake and even influenced Alfred Hitchcock to make his own classic “Psycho”.
Fright Factor: Pop a bowl of popcorn.
18. Hubie Halloween (2020)
Hubie Dubois is a lovable loser (played by Adam Sandler) in Salem, Massachusetts who aims to keep the town safe every Halloween. One year, people really do start disappearing, but nobody believes Dubois. So he goes on a one-man quest to catch the culprit.
Fright Factor: Like a handful of melted M&Ms, with a side order of corny chuckles and cameos.
17. The Craft (1996)
It’s witchcraft for four LA female teens who get more than they bargained for. Considered to be stylish and MTV-hip upon its release, the film has become a kind of cult classic due to its early girl-power themes and fun soundtrack.
Fright Factor: What’s your favorite Tootsie Pop flavor?
16. Halloweentown (1998)
A teenage girl learns that not only does she come from a family of witches, but she has to save an entire town from a dark fate too! The success of the Disney film spawned a whole series of sequels.
Fright Factor: Grab the butter biscuits, and a couple of slices of cheese.
15. Rocky Horror Picture Show ( 1975 )
When an engaged couple’s car breaks down near a castle, that sets up an encounter with mad scientist Frank N. Furter. Or is he really an alien transvestite? In any event, musical mayhem and much campiness result. Is it one of the greatest movie musicals or schlock personified? Do The Time Warp to decide…
Fright Factor: It’s just a step to the left…
14. Beetlejuice (1988)
A recently deceased couple has trouble spooking the inhabitants of their former home, so they call in the guy who gleefully can: Beetlejuice. Coming from the mind of wacky go-to guy Tim Burton, it’s bizarre, funny, and a tad macabre.
Fright Factor: Like eating pumpkin pie with a licorice ice cream topping.
13. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (1966)
The Peanuts gang goes trick or treating in their inimitable style, except for Linus, who is waiting for the appearance of The Great Pumpkin. Will he appear this year? The short film is long considered to be an animated classic and an Emmy nominee to boot.
Fright Factor: Go ahead kids, time to bob for apples…
12. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
18th-century police constable Ichabod Crane gets more than he bargained for as he investigates the murderous deeds of the Headless Horsemen in a small town. The classic Washington Irving short story received the Tim Burton treatment (his third appearance on this list) in this creepy, gothic drama.
Fright Factor: You can finish that box of wine gums.
11. Candyman (2021)
Whether it’s the original 1992 film or the new amped-up release, Candyman is an urban legend set in Chicago — or is he? His numerous murdered victims certainly learned how real he is. The new release is notable as it became the first time a black female director reached the number one spot at the box office.
Fright Factor: Go on, another Snickers bar won’t kill ya…
10. Ghostbusters (1984)
When there’s something strange in New York City, who ya gonna call? That’s right…the comic trio known as the Ghostbusters. Then something REALLY strange appears, which threatens to take over the city. It’s a landmark blend of the funny and the supernatural…
Fright Factor: Stuff your face with marshmallows…
9. Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007)
Four separate creepy stories take place in a small town over the course of one Halloween night. The one overlapping theme is a young trick or treater who wears a burlap sack over his head. Some viewers found it so memorable that they’re still demanding a sequel.
Fright Factor: M&M’s melt in your mouth, not in your hand. But you’ve had three bags already.
8. Fright Night (1985)
The average American suburban teen discovers that a vampire lives next door, only nobody believes him. So he calls a local TV host to help him snuff out the coffin dweller. Frights, comedy, and plenty of schlock ensue in memorable fashion. So memorable that sequels and a more recent 2011 remake followed. Choose your poison.
Fright Factor: Enjoy the Jawbreaker AND the Sour Tarts…
7. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Four aging vampires who share a flat are followed by a documentary crew in New Zealand. Sure there’s blood, but also, a whole lot of silly laughs as they poke fun of the genre’s conventions. The film even inspired an American TV series that’s heading towards its fourth season.
Fright Factor: Have a few Twizzlers, strawberry if you like.
6. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
When a young loan officer denies an old lady an extension on a loan, the woman puts a curse on her and threatens to drag her to hell. Then she follows up on her threat. Under the skilled hands of director Sam Raimi, the film’s premise and frights are so perfect and outlandish that they come with an undercurrent of dark comedy.
Fright Factor: Check the freezer, there may be a bag of Mars bars in there.
5. Scream ( 1994)
Do you like scary movies, murderous masked men, originality, and heaps of kitschy horror twists? Then look no further. Here’s the original that spawned several sequels, including a highly anticipated new film due out early next year.
Fright Factor: It’s okay to have a beer or two to numb the quick, out-of-nowhere scares.
4. The Omen (1976)
Damien is a young son of an American ambassador who causes mayhem and murder around him. Cross him at your peril. A gothic type of influential horror film that’s creepy and cheesy in near equal measures…so much so that it led to a series of sequels and a remake. Stick to the original.
Fright Factor: Right…where are those peanut butter cups?
3. Rosemary’s Baby – (1968)
A young married woman begins to suspect that her neighbors are not what they seem, and believes they’d like to have her baby used for satanic purposes. In director Roman Polanski’s hands, the film unravels to become as creepy as they come. A recent 2014 mini-series with Zoe Saldana also brings the spooks.
Fright Factor: Didn’t you say you picked up some Devil’s Food cake?
2. The Exorcist (1973)
A young girl becomes demonically possessed, which calls for an exorcism from two trained priests. Complications ensue, to put it in mild terms. An undisputed classic that set a benchmark which other films of the genre can rarely match decades later.
Fright Factor: Time for the whisky, and it’s not the evening to snack on pea soup.
- Halloween (1978)
A murderous psychopath escapes an institution and stalks young women in a suburban US town. The music, mayhem, and general creepiness ushered in a new era of horror films. Countless sequels followed, including a new 2021 release with original star Jamie Lee Curtis.
Fright Factor: Keep all the candy handy and the popcorn nearby, but stay away from the cutlery drawer.