The 10 Best Halloween Movies
Our TV experts rounded up 10 of their favorite movies to watch on Halloween night—with details on where to stream the films.
What are your favorite movies to watch on Halloween? Forget ‘em—most of ‘em, anyway. While you’ll find old Halloween friends like Michael Myers and Dr. Frank N. Furter below, you’re also about to meet some less familiar creeps like Art the Clown and a fierce, devil-worshiping grandfather.
Onscreen, that is—we’re pretty sure they won’t pay you a visit.
OMG, this is so on the nose. Such astounding curation!
Don’t let Michael Myers hear you say that.
John Carpenter’s seminal slasher film is the first “Halloween movie” to come to mind because it ignited the ‘80s slasher-movie boom. It’s also legitimately scary, which can be easy to forget with 45 years of slasher-movie history since its release.
But every time we watch it, we’re struck by the effectiveness of Carpenter’s original Halloween. After showing you Myers’ first gruesome murder, the filmmaker drops you into the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. You have just enough time to get excited about normal Halloween fun before Myers returns to ruin it with more of his stabby b.s. while Jamie Lee Curtis, the world’s foremost scream queen, works her final girl magic.
Halloween might be the perfect Halloween movie.
What?! Another one? What?! Another one? The first film in David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot trilogy adds depth and bonus brutality to the Myers character—brings back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.
If you haven’t seen this one yet, or you’ve seen the original Halloween a few too many times, give this forty-years removed reboot a shot. It’s intense from start to finish.
You’ll have to rent Halloween (2018), but it’s only four bucks. And you can make a marathon out of it by streaming Halloween Kills on Max™ (formerly HBO Max), then catching Halloween Ends on October 14 when it hits theaters and Peacock.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
This Chiodo Brothers clown-horror classic doesn’t take place at Halloween. It sure has that fun Halloween vibe, though.
Killer clowns run around at night, causing mischief like costumed kids playing tricks. Those same clowns also use popcorn guns and wrap their victims in cotton-candy cocoons to store in their big-top spaceship as treats. Yeah, that sounds like Halloween to us.
Although we’ve eschewed family films for this list, Killer Klowns from Outer Space is PG-13 and safe—not to mention fun—to show the whole family (as long as none of them are scared of clowns).
If you want scarier killer clowns for your Halloween night, the next pick’s for you.
All Hallow’s Eve (2013) and Terrifier (2016)
Why the double feature? Damien Leone’s anthology All Hallow’s Eve is one of slasher Art the Clown’s earliest appearances, Terrifier is Art’s feature-length debut, and both films occur on Halloween.
Also, double features are fun—and anthology shorts are the fun-size candy bars of movies. Finally, we may or may not enjoy trolling folks who are scared of clowns.
If you’re not already a coulrophobe, then creative, messy, sadistic Art will fix that—with a rusty hacksaw.
Stream All Hallow’s Eve free (with ads) on CONtv or Tubi.
WNUF Halloween Special (2013)
On Halloween night in 1987, a news team from WNUF TV28 tried to contact the spirit world at a murder house—and, uh-oh, someone picked up the phone. This found footage movie is, of course, the only record of the ensuing carnage.
The WNUF Halloween Special isn’t really from ‘87. It sure looks the part, though, with a 4:3 aspect ratio, fuzzy footage, mullets, perms, and fake commercials for pizza joints, arcades, and $2-a-minute 1-900-number hotlines.
As the program runs, weird stuff happens, culminating in a twist ending. Unfortunately, poor performances and writing spoil the reveal.
Ultimately, WNUF nails the aesthetic, so it’s fun as atmosphere enhancement for an ‘80s-themed Halloween party. And it’d be a hoot to watch with friends, like that gullible dude who likes Alex Jones and Amway.
A murderous, Satan-worshiping grandfather (who alternates between a bumpkin accent and something more fabulous) has given his grandson black magic lessons since childhood. Now grown, the boy is devoted to Satan—and, it appears, slashin’ it up on Halloween night while wearing a weird, tusked mask.
That’s all great and everything—but what really makes Hack-O-Lantern fun is the ‘80s devil music, gratuitous nudity, inexplicable stand-up comedy scene, and grandpa’s bug-eyed overacting.
Trick or Treat (1986)
So there’s this rock ‘n’ roll nerd, Ragman, that looks like Skippy from Family Ties (because he is). Ragman’s an outcast at his school—and his life gets even worse when his favorite rock star, Sammi Curr, dies.
When Ragman cries on his radio DJ friend’s (Gene Simmons of Kiss) shoulder, the DJ gives the kid the only known copy of Curr’s final album. Playing the record, however, resurrects Curr—now 100% more Satanic!—who starts killin’.
More goofy than spooky, Trick or Treat is still a fun throwback watch with a soundtrack by Fastway (featuring members of Mötörhead and Flogging Molly) and a cameo from Ozzy Osbourne—as a televangelist with a raging case of Satanic panic.
Stream Trick or Treat free on YouTube.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Here’s another film that doesn’t happen at Halloween. It’s a staple of the holiday, though, since every local arthouse theater hosts midnight audience-participation screenings on the spooky holiday.
That’s because Rocky Horror fits the occasion. Not in the way almost any horror film fits Halloween but, like, spiritually, you know? It’s campy, with terrific songs, sweet transvestites, and lots of (sensual) candy.
Best of all, The Rocky Horror Picture Show holds up after repeat screenings. So do the Time Warp again—and again.
Night of the Demons (1988)
Eighties demonic–possession films like Demons, The Evil Dead, and Night of the Demons had some disgusting practical effects makeup.
That’s one of the big reasons those movies scared me as a teenager. It was the ‘80s, when 4 out of 5 doctors agreed you could totally catch demonic possession from listening to Bon Jovi. And these violent, pig-faced demons with their slobbery maws of unclean, protruding fangs and guttural voices activated my Satanic panic.
Even worse, I kinda totally wanted in on the Night of the Demons action. Cool punk rockers partying in an abandoned house on Halloween night? Awesome! But when the demons showed up—and lipstick became a weapon (you’ll see)—I’d have wanted to call my mom for a ride home.