Arthur is an avid television and movie fan with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.
As a massive fan of horror movies, Halloween is not only my favorite time of year, it's also one of my favorite horror sub-genres. There is no shortage of Halloween-themed horror movies. In fact, it's the second most popular horror sub-genre after Christmas-themed horror movies (list to come).
The list below features some of the most iconic Halloween horror movies ever. These are perfect for people short on time or looking for something to watch on the fly.
If you're like me and love using movies to count down the days until Halloween, not only do you have my favorites listed below, here's a few runners-up that you should also check out: Bad Candy (2020), 10/31 (2017), and Hell Fest (2018). In the meantime, here's my top ten.
Halloween Horror Movie List
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
- Haunt (2019)
- The Houses October Built 1 and 2 (2014, 2017)
- Night of the Demons (1988)
- Tales of Halloween (2015)
- Hell House LLC (2015)
- Trick (2019)
- Trick 'r Treat (2007)
- All Hallow's Eve (2013)
1. Halloween (1978)
It only makes sense to start with the OG of Halloween horror movies. Of course, this is the first movie that pops into everyone's mind when they think of Halloween, and it is likely the first listing on Google when you type in the word Halloween. Just because it is the most well-known doesn't make it any less list-worthy.
For the three of you who don't know, the original film follows Michael Myers (not Austin Powers), a young boy who snaps and murders his sister; then, years later, escapes a mental institution to terrorize the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. It is a classic slasher film that defined the slasher genre for ages and inspired many other classics.
I believe Halloween defies the holiday nature and can and should be watched at any time of year. However, if you could only watch one horror movie during the Halloween season, this would have to be it.
There is no shortage of movies in this franchise, with another set to be released this year, but for those non-horror fans out there, know that you can go deep down the rabbit hole with Halloween, as the sequels have a substantial lack of continuity that fans have written off by creating separate timelines. Kind of like a Halloween Multiverse.
2. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
Another Halloween movie on the list so soon? Halloween 3 is in a world all its own; it doesn't even feature Michael Myers. The studio came to John Carpenter and said they wanted to make another Halloween movie, and Carpenter agreed, but he envisioned a more anthological direction for the franchise, so he didn't want to make another "Michael Myers" movie.
Instead, Carpenter created one of the most polarizing horror films ever for horror lovers. For decades fans hated this film because it was a Halloween movie without Myers, but recently it has enjoyed a renaissance, and the harsh view of this installment in the franchise has softened significantly.
The movie stars horror icon Tom Atkins as an alcoholic doctor that teams up with the daughter of one of his patients to investigate his mysterious death. What they find is a supernatural conspiracy that threatens every trick or treater in the country. Time has treated this movie well, and it is finally finding its way into the best top ten lists you've ever read.
3. Haunt (2019)
Haunt is an under-the-radar sub-genre bender that would be an instant classic if more people knew about it. It is one part haunted house, one part slasher, and a dash of whatever you want to call it that made the Saw franchise famous.
A group of friends decides to check out an "extreme haunt," but they don't know how extreme it really is. They give up their cell phones and enter into what they think will be a fun haunted house. Instead, they start to be picked off one by one, and the haunted house operators may not be as helpful as they seem.
This movie is a rare combination of gory and cerebral and is sure to leave you with some nightmares. Haunt may not be for the casual horror watcher but if you are a horror veteran, you will likely love this change of pace.
Please Note: There's a 2013 horror film also called Haunt. Totally different movie.
4. The Houses October Built 1 and 2 (2014, 2017)
I think The Houses October Built came at a really bad time. It's a decent found footage film packed with suspense and an uneasy feeling throughout, but it was released at a time when every film was found footage, so there was some genre fatigue.
Houses follows a group of friends traveling across the country, documenting the scariest Halloween haunts in the country. They hear of an extreme haunt known as Blue Skeleton, which allows the performers to touch thrill seekers—a steadfast no-no in the commercial haunted house world.
As they begin their search for Blue Skeleton, strange things start happening, and the seasoned crew starts to question how much is a performance and how much real danger they are in. The second movie picks up exactly where the last one left off, creating a two-part film that should be watched together.
These movies are a slow burn so if you are looking for something that is fast-paced and full of jump scares, this may not be the one for you, but if you want a pair of movies that will keep you up until Thanksgiving, these should be on your list.
5. Night of the Demons (1988)
Night of the Demons is one of my all-time favorite Halloween horror movies and maybe even makes my top 100 all-time list. Where Night of the Demons shines is its practical effects that far exceed the effects of the digital age.
A group of kids throw a Halloween party at an abandoned mortuary that is allegedly haunted. Unfortunately, a night of Halloween fun quickly turns deadly as partygoers die and become possessed one by one.
This is a perfect 80s horror fest with plenty of blood, but it's not over the top. It spawned two sequels, but Night of the Demons 3 is not related to Halloween and is also incredibly difficult to find. So if you are looking for one movie to watch on Halloween night, this has to be in contention for consideration.
When searching for this film, make sure you get the 1988 version, it was remade in 2009 with some familiar faces, but it couldn't capture the magic of the original.
6. Tales of Halloween (2015)
I am a sucker for anthology movies so I may be a bit biased, but I think Tales of Halloween is one of the best Halloween movies, period. Since it is a collection of short stories, there's a little something for everyone, from the cerebral to the suspenseful and, of course, the gory.
All of the stories are fantastic, but the one that really sticks with me is the segment "Ding Dong," which should have won some kind of award. It is a masterful allegory for domestic abuse, and the underlying idea is scarier than the actual story. On the other end of the spectrum, "Friday the 31st" pokes fun at the slasher genre and climaxes with a hilarious twist.
I look forward to watching this film around Halloween every year, and no matter how many times I watch it, I never get bored. Tales of Halloween is a great one to put on during a party, too, because the short segments allow people to catch one when the conversation dies down and then go back to the party.
7. Hell House LLC (2016)
Hell House LLC is one of the best movies to ever do found footage. Much like the other found footage film on this list, The Houses October Built, this is a slow-burn series of three movies that should be marathoned consecutively. Unlike The Houses October Built, though, this Halloween-themed horror movie has a little more action.
As a group of friends sets up their own Haunted House in an abandoned hotel, strange things start to happen. People go missing, props seem to move by themselves, and strange noises are heard in empty rooms. Hell House LLC is deeply disturbing and will indefinitely make you sleep with the lights on.
8. Trick (2019)
Trick is way better than it deserves to be and somehow flew way under the radar, considering it has a relatively recognizable cast, including Omar Epps, Jamie Kennedy, and Tom Atkins.
This film combines the slasher genre we all want with a psychological mystery that will surprise most viewers. The film continues to pay off as you bounce back and forth between sweet kills and a deceptively good storyline.
I don't want to make Trick sound Oscar-worthy because it is definitely still a B-movie, but it's a lot better than many other Halloween-themed movies you will find in your search.
9. Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Trick 'r Treat is an iconic Halloween film that is grossly neglected. First of all, this movie took forever to produce, and sequels have been in development hell ever since. The problem is that this anthology is based on a comic book series of the same name, so there is an endless amount of source material.
The movie is an absolutely brilliant vignette of interconnected stories that are the perfect marriage of gore and storytelling. You will recognize a few of the actors but overall this film is a low-budget masterpiece. Trick 'r Treat is an excellent choice for a mixed group looking to decide on one movie.
10. All Hallow's Eve (2013)
I saved this movie for last because it is only for true horror lovers. All Hallow's Eve is disgusting, unnerving, and brilliant.
First, this film brought us the best villain in a 2010s slasher franchise in Art the Clown, who has gone on to have success in the Terriifer movies. Art will disturb you to no end, but he's only a small portion of the film.
A pair of siblings bring home an unmarked VHS in their Halloween haul and beg their babysitter to watch it. The cassette shows gruesome videos that feel a little too real. After sending the kids to bed, the babysitter can't help but continue to watch the collection of short films, and it just might be the death of her.
© 2022 Arthur Thares