The 50 Scariest Halloween Movies Will Absolutely Give You Nightmares

Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

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We’re headed into the scariest time of year, autumn, when a chilly breeze picks up in the air, all the greenery around you wilts, and the days get shorter while the nights grow longer. This season makes for the perfect atmosphere to cozy up at home in front of your television and watch some movies that are guaranteed to bring a shiver down your spine.

Horror films are entering a renaissance era, and it couldn’t be a better time to start watching and rewatching some of the best films of the genre. As the world around us seems to manifest more things for us to be afraid of, horror movies are becoming a more essential form of media for us to digest the horrors around us and experience some form of catharsis.

Luckily there is no shortage of incredible scary movies to satisfy the appetite of any movie lover. There are films for the hypochondriacs in us, the conspiracy theorists, the apocalyptic over-thinkers, and the superstitious ghost hunters. Let these films provide you with a nightmarish alternate reality where you can vicariously experience your worst fears and then return to the comfort of your own home. So get ready to settle in and be frightened out of your wits.



Ti West’s A24 feature presented itself as a tribute to exploitation films of the ‘70s, but it turned out to be so much more. In X, we follow a group of young actors who are making a stag film in the barn behind an old couple’s remote Texas home. Between scenes of choreographed sex and brutal violence, X makes introspective explorations on the fleeting nature of youth, the horror of aging, and unfulfilled desires.

Scream (2022)


The the fifth installment of the iconic '90s horror flick that shook up the genre
did not hold back on the punches. Although it may be a sequel (or a fivequel?), it turns horror film tropes upside-down in delightful ways, much like the original. The brand-new cast, the exciting return of several OG cast members, and a plot that makes you entirely breathless cements this Scream addition an instant classic.



James Wan might be recognized for his essential additions to the horror genre with movies like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring, but this standalone feature truly unleashed Wan’s storytelling abilities. This wild tale of a young woman being haunted by dreams of a mysterious man committing horrible murders takes you through breathtaking revelations—with visual affects that will give you nightmares.

Ready Or Not


As if marriage doesn’t induce enough fear in some people, Ready Or Not ups the ante with in-laws whose tradition is to hunt the new bride, with all forms of weapons, from dusk 'til dawn. After surviving the wedding itself, the bride, Grace, has put up a fight if she wants to enjoy her new life. And, you know, stay alive.



Ever thought that Predator needed an origin story? Well, now you’ve got one. Prey is set 300 years ago in the Northern Great Plains of North America, where a young woman from the Comanche tribe must face off with the alien predator in order to protect her loved ones. It’s a showdown of epic—and terrifying!—proportions.

The Hunt

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The Hunt was one of the last movies to come out in theaters, traditionally-speaking, before the pandemic hit in 2020—meaning, if you don't remember it, it's because plenty of real life horror was soon in the way. The political satire mixes The Hunger Games essence with liberal elitism and far-right extremism for a somewhat messy, and completely troubling, depiction of our current times. It is also is genuinely terrifying, with a heaping side of gore and violence.


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You'd be hard pressed to think of a film with as cheery a color palette, but as menacing a tone, as Midsommar. From the twisted minds at A24, the film takes place in Sweden in a small town's midsommar festival. And when a couple (who should not be together) arrive with their friends (who honestly aren't much better), shit hits the fan. Let's just say that there's gore, a bear suit, and a really dazzling food spread that would be appetizing if everyone didn't keep dying.

His House


Brilliantly crafted and remarkably original, His House subverts the expected horror movie tropes and presents a film unlike any before it. The movie follows a South Sudanese couple who manage to escape the throes of war in their home country of South Sudan, only to come to England and discover that they're dealing with a new threat... of the supernatural variation.

Train to Busan

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South Korean action horror film Train to Busan places the typical zombie apocalypse genre in a new container, as it follows one father and daughter's trip across the country by train as they learn that the country is becoming overrun by a plague.


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Jordan Peele’s sophomore directorial feature Us stars Lupita Nyong’o as the mother of a family who finds themselves under the attack of a mysterious group of strangers that are their exact doppelgängers.


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Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey star in the first installment of the Insidious series, in which a family faces the reality that their son has fallen into a mysterious comatose state where he becomes possessed by otherworldly spirits.

The Witch

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The first partnership of Lighthouse director Robert Eggers and beloved production company A24, The Witch is set in 17th-century New England and follows a Puritan family who is quick to blame the disappearance of their son on their daughter. Suspecting she is a witch, they battle between their familial bond and dark forces that might prove more powerful.


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Sometimes the scariest films don't need to venture into the supernatural or the grandiose to strike fear. Put a deep-woods boy on a bridge and give him a banjo and that's all you'll need to send a chill up a lot of people's spines. Starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, this 1972 film about a foursome who decide to venture down a rural Georgia river likes to label itself as "an adventure drama," but the phrase "Squeal like a pig!" begs to differ.


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After her estranged mother dies, Annie (Toni Collette) begins to notice some peculiar activity around her house. After another shocking tragedy, Annie begins to spiral out of control. Is there a supernatural force attempting to manipulate her family, or is it all in her head?

A Quiet Place

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A family (led by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) silently navigate a post-apocalyptic world, stalked at every turn by monsters that hunt their prey with a supercharged sense of hearing. Although the family of survivalists have so far managed to avoid the extraterrestrial hunters, the fractures within their own relationships may lead to their downfall. You will spend this entire movie on the edge of your seat.

The Babadook

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In Jennifer Kent's gothic Australian thriller, a young widow is burdened with her troubled six-year-old son. But it only gets worse for the beleaguered mother when the titular character of her son's picture book—the tall, top hat-wearing spook named the Babadook—begins to creep beyond the pages of his book and wreaks havoc on the mother and son.

The Descent

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Six adventurous women go into the dark depths of an unmapped cave in North Carolina, hoping for a fun trek through the darkness. But their mountain vacation is disrupted when they discover that they aren't the only ones in the cave, which also happens to be full of flesh-eating humanoid monsters who hunt them women down.

It Follows

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Annie thinks she's found someone trustworthy in her new boyfriend, but after they have sex, he reveals that he's being stalked by an unnamed evil—which will now hunt her down until she can pass "it" onto the next person she sleeps with. The moody, retro-inspired horror film is a modern classic with an unsettling, unimaginable monster that our heroine must outsmart.

Get Out

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A young black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) joins his girlfriend (Allison Williams) for a visit to her suspiciously overenthusiastic Obama-supporting parents' home and discovers that they can't be trusted in Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning modern masterpiece. In Esquire, Stephen Thrasher called the film, "The Best Movie Ever Made About American Slavery."

Eyes Without a Face

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In the very literally titled French art-horror classic, a famous and unhinged surgeon kidnaps beautiful women and tries to transplant their faces onto his daughter who is, yes, missing a face.

Last House on the Left

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Wes Craven was one of a few masters of horror who plumbed the depths of America's Vietnam War-era cultural divides in this grimy, arty thriller about two teenage girls who encounter ruthless escaped prisoners—and how the tables get violently turned.

Rosemary's Baby

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In the most disturbing allegory for childbearing gone wrong, Mia Farrow's Rosemary becomes increasingly panicked about her painful pregnancy and the mysterious neighbors in a building with a history of Satanism. The great Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her role as Rosemary's fiendishly quirky neighbor, who isn't as sweet as she seems.

The House of the Devil

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Samantha, a broke college student struggling to pay her rent, picks up a babysitting job from a weird couple named the Ulmans. Things get even more strange when Samantha learns that her charge is not a child, but in fact Mr. Ulman's ailing mother. Foolishly ignoring her intuition, Samantha's gig turns into a night from hell when she realizes the Ulmans have some particularly devious plans for her.

The Exorcist

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Nearly four decades after its release, The Exorcist is still the scariest movie ever made—and features one of the most terrifying movie villains in Regan MacNeil, an innocent 12-year-old girl possessed by a demonic force. William Friedkin's Oscar-nominated film was pretty much the first prestige horror movie with incredible performances, heavy thematic material, and game-changing scares.

Donnie Darko

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Donnie Darko —which gave us a taste of how great (and weird) Jake Gyllenhall could be—follows Donnie as his cliche teenage-social-outcast problems somehow accrue interdimensional stakes. It’s a perfect scary-movie blend: A troubled teen, memorable monster, all set during the Halloween season.

Night of the Living Dead

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It created the modern zombie genre, and its fondness for sociopolitical echoes. But even more than that legacy, George A. Romero's low-budget black-and-white original proved that you don't need money to create a horror classic; you just need braiiiiiiiins.


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John Carpenter's bogeyman slasher nightmare spawned a legion of inferior sequels that couldn't diminish the ominous power of his original, about a psychopath who returns to his hometown years later to don a misshaped William Shatner mask and stalk Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Shining

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Arguably the scariest film of all time, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller generates terror from its meticulous filmmaking. And, courtesy of Jack Nicholson's turn as a murderous paterfamilias, it also features the most memorable horror-movie performance in the past few decades.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

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The story of a child molester who returns from the dead to prey upon his killers' children in dreams, Wes Craven's seminal shocker recognizes that you're never more vulnerable than when asleep—a fact that naturally set up countless scares for one of the biggest horror franchises in film history


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Its sequel may boast grander man-vs.-beast action, but Ridley Scott's gorgeous 1979 outer-space saga about a group of astronauts battling against a malevolent extraterrestrial is still the franchise's most deeply frightening installment.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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Ignore all the remakes, remake sequels, and remake prequels, and stick with Tobe Hooper's original 1974 grindhouser, about a slightly unhinged hippie-hating family with a house notable for its giant meat hooks, human bone furniture, and human skin wearing giant who loves to kill twirl his chainsaw.


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A cautionary tale about the perils of stealing from your boss—and, also, about staying at roadside motels run by mamma's boys. Alfred Hitchcock originated the surprise first-act murder of the star with the story of a woman (Janet Leigh) on the run who is way too accepting of a dark-haired stranger's (Anthony Perkins) generosity.

The Thing

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The only thing scarier than facing off against a hideous intergalactic monster is facing off against one that has the ability to shape-shift into human form—a who's-the-creature scenario that director John Carpenter employs for intense suspense (with some great, gross special effects).



Japanese director Takeshi Miike is infamous for pushing the boundaries of good taste, though he's rarely delivered more extreme tension than with this 1999 film about a man who discovers that dating can be a deadly affair.

Let the Right One In

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A young outcast boy meets, and falls in love with, a young immortal bloodsucker in this superb 1980-set Swedish vampire romance from Tomas Alfredson, which climaxes with an unforgettable pool sequence.

The Host

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Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho's 2006 film is a fantastic, Spielbergian tale of a South Korean family under siege from an extraordinary foe—namely, a giant sea monster created from toxic dumping.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

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Michael Rooker is a serial killer whose crimes don't warrant much attention from the powers that be in John McNaughton's cold, clinical, harrowing character study (partly based on real events).


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Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's novel is an unbearably disturbing portrait of youthful alienation and fury, with one of the genre's most unforgettable fire-and-brimstone endings.

Don't Look Now

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A couple (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) grieving from the death of their daughter become convinced that she's trying to contact them from beyond the grave in Nicolas Roeg's profoundly unnerving thriller. You'll never look at little girls in red coats the same way again.

The Ring

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The movie that for a brief time in the early aughts made everyone afraid of their TV. Naomi Watts plays a journalist investigating why people keep dying from watching a certain video tape. And just like all of the best scary movies, it's got a creepy kid.

The Blair Witch Project

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When The Blair With Project originally came out in 1999, people didn't know whether it was real or fiction. Advertised as "found video footage," it tells the story of three students who travel to a small town to investigate a murder, and eventually get terrorized in the woods.

Drag Me to Hell

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Sam Raimi's 2009 horror film is the perfect example of unspeakable horror and gross-out humor. Alison Lohman plays a bank loan officer who turns down an elderly woman's request for an extension on her mortgage payment. The woman retaliates in witchy ways, placing a curse on her new enemy and promising an untimely death.


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A nine-year-old Russian girl adopted by a kind American couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard), Esther begins to act out in dangerous ways: bullying her new brother as well as kids at school, murdering a nun, and trying to seduce her new adopted father. It doesn't take one long to realize that maybe this kid is not all she seems. A brand new prequel was released this year, Orphan: First Kill, that would make for an exciting double feature.

Suspiria (2018)


If you’re Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagino, how do you follow up one of the most memorable love stories of the 2010s? By making one of its best horror films. His remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic puts Dakota Johnson in the leading role as an American dancer auditioning at a world-famous dance academy in Berlin (where, spoiler, the dance instructors aren’t just dance instructors!).



Before James Gunn hit it big with Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy, he was making weird-as-hell genre flicks—like the Michael Rooker and Elizabeth Banks-led Slither. Yes, there’s a comedic bent to the movie, which takes place in a small town that an alien organism begins to terrorize, but its body horror elements will leave a slug-sized stamp on your brain.

The Witch


In Robert Eggers’s feature directorial debut, a Puritan family in colonial New England move to a farm outside of their Plymouth colony, where they encounter all kinds of crazy supernatural shit in its surrounding forest. Come for the period-piece colonial throwback, stay for the scary goats.

It (2017)


If you’re unfamiliar with the story, which is based on a Stephen King novel, It follows a group of children battling against an ancient, supernatural clown named Pennywise. Of course, the 1990, Tim Curry-led It miniseries will always be a classic—but Pennywise was just begging for 21st Century, big-budget CGI effects. The giant clown in that projector scene? Tentacles swinging from Pennywise’s mouth? Good luck sleeping.



Even though this horror-world OG is nearly 100 (!) years old, this story of Count Orlok’s hosting of Thomas Hutter still delivers the goods. Yeah, old scary movies like this tend to look a little campy in modern times, but Noseferatu’s creepy mug, shadowy photography, and a timely message about xenophobia hold up today.



I would imagine it’s hard to make a cannibal movie, let alone one that’s not a gross-out mess or a campy write-off. Raw, which tracks a vegetarian starting her first semester at veterinary school—where, woah, she gets a taste for flesh. It sounds simple, but Raw’s built-in suspense (how far is she willing to go?) and art-film vibe makes it worth the watch.

Don't Breathe


For a breathless 90 minutes of Stephen Lang in prime form, check out Don’t Breathe—Fede Álvarez’s breathless horror-thriller. The movie follows three robbers who try to steal $300,000 of cash from a house in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood—which happens to be owned by blind Gulf War Veteran, Norman Nordtrom (Lang).

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