This isn’t just another ‘best of scary movie’ list, this is ‘the best of scariest movies to specifically watch on Halloween night’ list. You can watch those other films any day of the year. There’s something really special about watching a spooky movie on Halloween night though. These movies are not recommended for children, but, I’ll leave the parenting up to you.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Not only is Director Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish language film visually stunning, it’s hands down one of the scariest and most masterfully written ghost stories ever produced. Besides that, creepy ghost children are just never not going to be scary.
Get Out (2017)
Writer and Director Jordan Peele delivers a terrifying psychological thriller, which relies on the audiences’ own inner fears to fuel the suspense on what the true scare here is all about, Is it a ghost story? Is it a killer story? Is it all someone’s imagination?
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Director Michael Dougherty weaves together four separate terrifying Halloween night horror stories, each connected by a mysterious little creature, who reminds us Halloween can be deadly if you mess around and break the rules of Halloween. I consider this film quintessential Halloween viewing.
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
Dead kid. Check. Dead cat. Check. Dead ghost. Check. Writer and Director Takashi Shimizu doubled down on scares by telling this frightening story out of order, which added confusion for some. Make no mistake, scary is scary, whether you understand it or not. However, if subtitles or non-linear storytelling aren’t your thing, you can always rent The Grudge, the American remake, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the very same dead kid, dead cat and dead ghost. I affectionately refer to this film as the Neverending Ghost Story
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Writer and Director George A. Romero’s classic horror shocker wasn’t the first zombie movie in the world, but never had the undead taken a bite out of human flesh on film before. Most people have a primal fear of being eaten alive, it’s our consciousness reminding us that just because we’re at the top of food chain, doesn’t mean we’re not food. Romero took the cannibalism theme to the next level and horror movies have never been the same since then.
The Conjuring (2013)
The first movie that kicked off a billion-dollar franchise and gave us, not one, but two of the scariest villains in horror, only gets scarier when you realize some of it was based on the real true-life adventures of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Evil and supernatural exists in this world and hopefully, it won’t visit you on Halloween night.
Some channels will show this film on loop in an all- day marathon, while other channels may show other films in the Halloween franchise, but the first movie is the one the counts. The first Halloween is the scariest. The first Halloween is the perfect slasher film that all others aspire to, and that alone makes it must-see Halloween night viewing.
28 Days Later (2002)
After nearly 30 plus years of zombie films, crossing genres, spanning continents and covering every thematic plot possible, Director Danny Boyle’s terrifying vision of the zombie apocalypse was the most plausible, treating the zombie virus as bio-hazard accident. The result is a serious horror film for people who don’t buy into wayward meteors and silly supernatural books bringing back the dead. The scariest part of the movie isn’t the supercharged rage-induced zombies, it’s the grim harsh lonely world that survivors fight hour by hour to live in. This is more than a horror film, this is art.
The Exorcist (1972)
Back in 72, when religion still dictated our social norms and what was shown in the theaters, William Friedkin’s masterful interpretation of William Blatty’s novel about a little girl possessed by a demon, was so scary and shocking, there were several reports of people walking out early. Even hard line atheists find the idea of being helpless to save your own child who isn’t in control of their own body, a scary notion. Whether you take movie literally or figuratively, it’s scarier to watch in the dark.
The Shining (1980)
There’s a reason why this brilliant ghost story is usually top three on all the ‘best of’ lists. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece based on Stephen King’s scariest novel, is chock full of symbolism, intriguing or terrifying characters, unforgettable imagery, and still has the most chilling soundtrack ever produced. King wasn’t fond of Kubrick’s vision, saying he thought Jack Nicholson’s version of Jack Torrance, was too off-kilter and audiences never got to see Jack as a good man before descending into darkness, like how Kin wrote it in the book. For the rest of us though, this is the ultimate scary movie to watch on Halloween night with the lights off.