There’s nothing quite like watching a scary movie. When the time is right, it can be pretty fun.
What’s scary is very subjective based on each person. Some of these movies may technically fall into the thriller genre, but if you ask the right person they will gladly tell you how much those films spooked them.
Without further ado, here are 10 horror movies to watch on Halloween.
10. The Thing (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: R.J. MacReady burning samples of blood in an attempt to see who is lying about their identity.
Best line: “Somebody in this camp ain't what he appears to be. Right now that may be one or two of us. By spring, it could be all of us.” – MacReady
A group of scientists in Antarctica make a horrifying discovery. A shape-shifting alien that can perfectly mimic and replicate humans is spreading among them. How do you know someone is actually who they say they are? “The Thing” attempts to answer that as paranoia spreads among the scientists as quickly as the alien. They slowly realize that if it replaces all of them, it could quickly lead to the extinction of humanity.
9. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: When Cole Sear has an “incident” at another child’s birthday party.
Best line: “I see dead people.” – Cole Sear
Nine-year-old Cole Sear has a problem. He sees dead people, but they don’t know that they’re dead. He tries to work through his problem by talking to child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe. Crowe doesn’t believe Sear, at first. Slowly though, Crowe realizes that Sear is telling the truth.
Plus, this movie has a great twist in it. You probably already know what it is, but just in case you haven’t, I won’t spoil it here.
8. Halloween (1978)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: Michael chasing Laurie towards the end of the movie.
Best line: “I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply ... evil.” – Dr. Loomis describing Michael Meyers
What if the Boogeyman was real? “Halloween” essentially answers that question. Michael Myers is a violent 21-year-old psychopath that’s been locked up in a mental institution since he murdered his older sister when he was six. Myers escapes and returns to his home town to kill more people.
“Halloween” has been copied numerous times over the years, most famously by “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Child’s Play.” “Halloween” was one of the first slasher films though, and since this is a list for movies to watch on the holiday, “Halloween” gets the nod here.
7. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: The zombies trying to break into farmhouse as the animosity amongst the group intensifies.
Best line: “They know we're in here now.” – Ben
Zombies are used constantly in movies and television now, but it was a novel idea in 1968. A massive amount of people mindlessly wander around looking for other humans or animals to feed on.
A group of people are trapped in a farmhouse as a horde of zombies lurks outside. While the zombies are terrible and terrifying, humans can be just as bad when pushed to extremes.
6. The Ring (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: The girl coming out of the television.
Best line: “You start to play it ... and it's like somebody's nightmare. Then suddenly, this woman comes on. Smiling at you, right? Seeing you ... through the screen. Then when it's over, your phone rings. Someone knows you watched it. And what they say is, ‘You will die in seven days.’ And exactly seven days later...” – Becca
Sure some movies are scary. They can’t really hurt you though. It’s just images on a screen. “The Ring” takes that and flips it on its head. What if just watching a video tape (this was 2002 so streaming things wasn’t a possibility) could lead to your death?
Rachel, a reporter, is investigating some bizarre deaths. She discovers that people are dying seven days after watching a video tape. Rachel watches it herself, then gets a phone call saying she will die in seven days. It’s a race against the clock to discover the insidious nature behind the tape and trying to stop the outcome.
5. The Omen (1976)
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: The nanny jumping off a roof and hanging herself.
Best line: “Look at me, Damien! It's all for you.” – The nanny
Some people have bad or unpleasant children. But what if your child was actually the Antichrist?
After a child dies moments after being born, Robert Thorn, a U.S. ambassador, has his child replaced without his wife’s knowledge. Strange things start happening around the child after he turns five. His nanny publicly hangs herself at his birthday party. Zoo animals freak out whenever he is near and he vehemently thrashes around to resist entering a church. Thorn is repeatedly warned by a priest about his child. Thorn slowly starts to realize that something is wrong with his son.
4. Psycho (1960)
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: The shower scene.
Best line: “A boy's best friend is his mother.” – Norman Bates after being asked if he goes out with friends
Even if you’ve never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, you will almost certainly recognize it. From the music, to the shower scene, to the lines and the twist, it has permeated pop culture.
After stealing money from her employer to pay off her boyfriend’s debts, Marion Crane is on her way from Phoenix, Ariz. to Fairvale, Calif. to meet her significant other. When the weather gets bad, she stops for the night at the secluded Bates Motel. Things don’t go well.
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: Agent Starling trying to find Buffalo Bill in the dark.
Best line: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” – Hannibal Lecter
With a serial killer on the loose, FBI agent Clarice Starling looks for advice in an odd place. She talks with Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist and now-imprisoned serial killer with a penchant for eating his victims. Lecter is willing to help Starling, for a price. Lecter wants to know intimate and personal details about Starling.
This is one of a few movies on the list that may fit more into the thriller genre than horror. It is super creepy though. It also shows how good of an actor Anthony Hopkins is. Hopkins won an Oscar for best supporting actor despite only having 15 minutes of screen time. Also, my mom won’t watch movies that Hopkins is in anymore because he creeped her out so much in this film.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: Pretty much anytime the priests talk to the possessed Regan.
Best line: “Have you ever heard of exorcism?” – Dr. Barringer
While “Silence of the Lambs” is about metaphorically making a deal with the devil, “The Exorcist” deals with a girl being possessed by the actual devil.
Regan, a 12-year-old girl, plays with a Oujia board one night. She starts acting strangely. She starts making odd noises, begins cursing and even urinates on the floor. Things get worse and Regan’s mother, Chris, is running out of options. Eventually, an exorcism is recommended and a pair of priests must overcome their fears and insecurities to try and save a little girl.
1. The Shining (1980)
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Scariest/most nerve-racking scene: Wendy finding her husband’s manuscript and discovering he hasn’t been writing a book, he’s been typing a repetitive phrase.
Best line: “Here's Johnny!” – Jack Torrance while trying to break down a door
Imagine being trapped in the middle of nowhere during a Colorado winter for months. Would that be enough to drive you crazy? Toss in a few ghosts trying to tell you to commit heinous acts and it would be difficult to keep your sanity.
Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, his wife, Wendy and their child, Danny, head to Colorado where Jack has accepted a position as the caretaker of a hotel in its offseason. Jack, an aspiring writer, intends to use the time to write a book. The previous caretaker murdered his wife and two daughters before killing himself. Strange things start happening to Jack and his family when they start getting settled in at the hotel.
A handful of movies have scared me. Most scare me after the movie is over and I’m left with that uneasy feeling. “The Shining” is the only movie that scared me as I watched it. It starts getting creepy fairly early. Then it expands on that and the creepy factor builds and builds to a climactic finish.
Disclaimer: It may be a bad idea to watch this movie while you’re snowed in.