Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, and as a film major and super reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes, I feel it’s my duty to share with you 31 recommendations if you need help choosing a movie for October. I broke it down into categories so there’s a movie for everyone – even people that don’t like horror movies. There were a ton that didn’t make it on this list. I was constantly changing it – and I’ll probably regret my decisions – so I added more I thought of at the bottom as “Honorable Mentions.”
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): When five college friends (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams) arrive at a remote forest cabin for a little vacation, little do they expect the horrors that await them. One by one, the youths fall victim to backwoods zombies, but there is another factor at play. Two scientists (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford) are manipulating the ghoulish goings-on, but even as the body count rises, there is yet more at work than meets the eye.
It sounds like a stereotypical horror movie, but it’s far from it. It pays tribute to a bunch of classic horror movies through its original plot (which sounds super unoriginal – a group of college kids go to a cabin in the woods and get attacked by monsters). It’s funny, scary and also showcases the many benefits of smoking marijuana.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): When teenagers Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) see a comet crash outside their sleepy small town, they investigate and discover a pack of murderous aliens who look very much like circus clowns. They try to warn the local authorities, but everyone assumes their story is a prank. Meanwhile, the clowns set about harvesting and eating as many people as they can. It’s not until they kidnap Debbie that Mike decides it’s up to him to stop the clowns’ bloody rampage.
I recently saw this a couple months ago on Netflix. I saw it around, but never watched it because it sounded so stupid. When I saw it on Netflix, I finally decided to see it, and it was so worth it. It’s just a goofy movie that knows it’s stupid and plays on it. And it’s great. Especially if you’re drunk.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes) Two scruffy pals’ (Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk) backwoods vacation takes a bloody turn when ignorant college students mistake them for a pair of murderous hillbillies.
This movie is hilarious. It uses all the horror movie cliches in a new way, and it’s not at all how it seems. It’s a great movie if you need a laugh. There is a good amount of accidental violence and gore, but it’s funny all the way through. But if you don’t like watching kids help themselves into the woodchipper, this might not be the movie for you.
Creature Features/Zombie Movies
4.) The Descent
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes) A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves with her friends; after descending underground, the women find strange cave paintings and evidence of an earlier expedition, then learn they are not alone: Underground predators inhabit the crevasses, and they have a taste for human flesh.
This is a truly terrifying movie that is one of my top ten favorites. It’s a suspenseful creature feature with a solid main cast of all girls (ladies represent!) who have depth to their characters that make the movie even more dramatic. It is very bloody and gory just as a warning. But if you can deal with girls beating the ever loving shit out of cave dwelling monsters, then you’ll like it.
5.) The Crazies
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Anarchy reigns when an unknown toxin turns the peaceful citizens of Ogden Marsh into bloodthirsty lunatics. In an effort to contain the spread of the infection, authorities blockade the town and use deadly force to keep anyone from getting in or out. Now trapped among killers, Sheriff Dutten (Timothy Olyphant) and his wife (Radha Mitchell) and two companions must band together to find a way out before madness and death overtake them.
This is a creepy and pretty scary zombie movie. It gives the vibes of 2020 with the whole virus thing, which ups the scare factor for sure. Definitely worth the watch if you haven’t seen.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): A reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals.
I absolutely love this zombie movie. It’s found footage documentary style (which I usually hate because apparently some film crews have never heard of stabilizers) but REC is done in a watchable way. If you saw the movie Quarantine, REC is the original Spanish version. REC is much scarier with better acting. It’s truly terrifying and again has a whole 2020 vibe to it. It is subtitled, but subtitles shouldn’t turn you off. Some of the BEST movies are foreign films, so definitely give it a watch!
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.
Cloverfield is one of my favorite movies. It’s another found footage style, but it’s not too much shaky cam. It’s a perfectly executed monster movie with a love story on the side. It’s a tearjerker.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) take drastic measures when it seems their new home is haunted and their comatose son (Ty Simpkins) is possessed by a malevolent entity.
I’m sure everyone has seen this movie. It’s spooky and had so much box office success that it spawned a number of sequels, but no sequel is as good as the original. So a solid rewatch is definitely worth it with the lights off in your basement on Halloween.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) is in a slump; he hasn’t had a best seller in more than 10 years and is becoming increasingly desperate for a hit. So, when he discovers the existence of a snuff film showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims’ home and gets to work. However, when old film footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, Ellison learns that living in the house may be fatal.
Sinister is in my top 5 favorite movies and top favorite horror movie. Its original plot line and mystery is so messed up and disturbing that it makes the perfect movie for Halloween. The soundtrack is also incredible (and insanely unsettling) which makes it even creepier especially if you are to watch it alone.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): When George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) and his wife, Kathy (Melissa George), find a beautiful new house in the small town of Amityville, N.Y., they think the place is too good to be true. After they move in with their kids, they find out the cheap price tag is thanks to the house’s sordid history: The former tenant murdered his family after supposedly being possessed by the devil. Believing the home is haunted, the couple find a priest (Philip Baker Hall) to help them rid the place of evil spirits.
So it got bad reviews, but the imagery in this movie is legit terrifying. I watched it when I was little and had nightmares for a week. It’s probably not as scary now that I’m older, but it’s definitely worth watching for the Halloween vibes – and if you’re not into subpar haunted house stories, maybe a shirtless Ryan Reynolds chopping wood will change your mind.
11.) The Grudge
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Matthew Williams (William Mapother), his wife, Jennifer (Clea DuVall), and mother, Emma (Grace Zabriskie), are Americans making a new life in Tokyo. Together they move into a house that has been the site of supernatural occurrences in the past, and it isn’t long before their new home begins terrorizing the Williams family as well. The house, as it turns out, is the site of a curse that lingers in a specific place and claims the lives of anyone that comes near.
I loved this movie, but I know a lot of people didn’t. I just think the ghost is pretty terrifying and has a similar vibe to The Ring (obviously). It’s kinda just like a slasher flick but with a ghost. The best of both worlds. And Sarah Michelle Gellar is great. I also highly recommend The Grudge 3 if you’ve already seen The Grudge. It’s hilarious and very quotable.
12.) The Woman in Black
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a lawyer, is recently widowed and grieving the loss of his wife when he is sent to a remote village to put a deceased eccentric’s affairs in order. Soon after his arrival, it becomes clear that the villagers are hiding a terrible secret. Kipps discovers that his late client’s house is haunted by the spirit of a woman who is trying to find someone and something she lost, and that no one — not even the children — is safe from her terrible wrath.
I love this movie. It’s a genuinely scary haunted house movie. Though my boyfriend said it was boring, I disagree. If you’re paying attention, it’ll creep you out. Must watch with the lights off.
13.) The Ring
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): It sounds like just another urban legend — a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die mysteriously exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery.
I posted a clip of the horse scene of this movie to my story and people kept asking what movie it was – well here it is. The only horror movie I know besides Sleepy Hollow that has a horse in it. So if you like horses, this may not be the best movie for you because it doesn’t end well for the horse. But I guess that makes it an even scarier movie for some people.
14.) The Baby’s Room
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): A married couple — Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Sonia (Leonor Watling) — move into a new home with their baby, ready to start their life as parents. But the house is anything but a dream. Strange noises emanate from the baby’s room at night. When they replace the baby monitor with a video camera, to their horror they see what appears to be a man standing over the crib. Eventually, the disturbed couple enlists the help of an outsider with knowledge of the supernatural.
This was a low budget movie I saw on FearNet a few years ago. It has an interesting plot and has some nice scares to it with the baby monitor. It’s similar to Insidious except Baby’s Room did it first. This movie is also subtitled, so put your reading glasses on.
15.) Disturbing Behavior
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Steve Clark (James Marsden) is a newcomer in the town of Cradle Bay, and he quickly realizes that there’s something odd about his high school classmates. The clique known as the “Blue Ribbons” are the eerie embodiment of academic excellence and clean living. But, like the rest of the town, they’re a little too perfect. When Steve’s rebellious friend Gavin (Nick Stahl) mysteriously joins their ranks, Steve searches for the truth with fellow misfit Rachel (Katie Holmes).
If anything you should watch this movie just for the young, hot James Marsden and Katie Holmes. It’s about mind control, insane asylums and high school drama. It’s an entertaining solid B-movie with questionable CGI and a bangin’ soundtrack.
16.) The Hills Have Eyes
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): A family road trip takes a terrifying turn when the travelers become stranded in a barren atomic zone established by the U.S. government. However, the unlucky travelers discover to their horror that the wasteland is far from uninhabited, A band of bloodthirsty mutants prowls the area, and there is nothing they like better than fresh meat.
A seriously messed up movie about cannibals and inbred freaks. It’s a gory, gross mess and a wonderfully disgusting movie to put you in the Halloween spirit or traumatize you.
17.) Dead Silence
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): After his wife meets a grisly end, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) returns to their creepy hometown of Ravens Fair to unravel the mystery of her murder. Once there, he discovers the legend of Mary Shaw (Joan Heney), a murdered ventriloquist whose eerie presence still looms over the town. As he desperately digs for answers, Jamie encounters the curse that took his wife’s life and threatens his own.
I found this movie nightmare inducing because I genuinely hate dolls and puppets of any kind. The reviews say this movie was a B-movie, but I personally thought it was top tier (if you ignore the plot holes). I’m probably in the minority. But if dolls creep you out, then this is the perfect movie to watch in October.
18.) Midnight Meat Train
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): When struggling photographer Leon Kaufman (Bradley Cooper) meets the owner of a prominent art gallery, he sees a chance for the success that has, so far, eluded him. Determined to show the darker side of humanity for his debut showing, Leon crosses paths with Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) a serial killer who preys on late-night subway commuters. His fascination with Mahogany pulls him — and his lover (Leslie Bibb) — deep into an evil abyss.
Bradley Cooper’s early work makes for a great mysterious serial killer movie with a satisfying ending. It got good reviews, but I listed it as a B-movie because it’s low budget and not well known. But it is a movie I can personally relate to as a struggling photographer riding the train to the boulevard of broken dreams.
19.) Dying Breed
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Nina leads an expedition into the New Zealand bush to find tigers and meets a cannibalistic family.
This is a fun low budget horror movie with lovely Australian accents and crazy people in the gorgeous forest landscape. I’m a fan of Leigh Whannell’s work (Saw, Insidious, The Invisible Man, etc.) which is how I found it. If you need a horror movie you probably haven’t seen before, this one is a good choice. It also stars the one hot guy from Saddle Club, so it gets points for that. There’s a bit of nudity, so don’t watch it with people that would make it awkward.
20.) House of Wax
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): A gang of college friends, including Wade (Jared Padalecki) and his girlfriend, Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), are en route to a school football game when they wind up with a flat tire in a ghost town. They are forced to seek help in the only place that’s open: the local wax museum. Once inside the spooky and seemingly abandoned building, they find the works on display are not quite what they seem — and the group soon discovers it’s being hunted by the insane twin brothers who run the museum.
This movie is nothing more than a guilty pleasure. It wasn’t going to make it on the list, but my boyfriend mentioned it and I had to agree. It’s a movie I can rewatch multiple times because it doesn’t get old. It’s quite the adventure going through the wax museum and the little desolate town. Probably the definition of B-movie.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings — Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), teenaged Dana (Dominique Dunne), eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins), and five-year-old Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke) — when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and, when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help.
The best ghost movie – the original not the shitty remake. The SFX don’t hold up, but it’s still creepy with that clown and that little girl. And it’s known as a cursed movie because a bunch of terrible things happened to some of the cast in real life.
22.) Friday the 13th
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Against the advice of locals and police, Clay (Jared Padalecki) scours the eerie woods surrounding Crystal Lake for his missing sister. But the rotting cabins of an abandoned summer camp are not the only things he finds. Hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees lies in wait for a chance to use his razor-sharp machete on Clay and the group of college students who have come to the forest to party.
I linked the original, but the remake will do as well. Really any Friday the 13th movie. The classic slasher. Gotta love Jason and his hockey mask.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
Nightmare on Elm Street – the original not the remake for this one. Definitely need the original’s vibes for Halloween. The remake just doesn’t have that spark.
24.) The Evil Dead
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.
I love this movie. It’s such a weird rollercoaster ride of dark humor and creepiness. It’s a well made classic, but it’s not for everyone. Sam Raimi be like that sometimes.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Teenagers Mari (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) head to the city for a concert, then afterward go looking for drugs. Instead, they find a gang of escaped convicts who subject them to a night of torture and rape. The gang then kills the girls in the woods, not realizing they’re near Mari’s house. When they pose as salesmen and are taken in by Mari’s mother (Cynthia Carr) and father (Gaylord St. James), it doesn’t take the parents long to figure out their identities and plot revenge.
Scary movies don’t have to have monsters. Real life is scary enough. You can watch the remake if you’re uncultured, but definitely recommend the original even though it’s from the ’70s. It’s worth it trust me.
26.) Trick r Treat
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of a small town face real ghosts and goblins on Halloween. Tales of terror reveal the consequences of extinguishing a Jack-o-Lantern before midnight and a grumpy hermit’s encounter with a sinister trick-or-treater.
This is a must-see Halloween movie. I watch it every year as a tradition. It’s a bit gory – despite cute little Sam (the scarecrow looking fellow), so don’t be misled. It’s R for good reason. It’s a good festive movie if you like traditional horror with a twist. There’s a lot of violence, gore and some sex so just a heads up.
27.) Hocus Pocus
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
Another classic. I used to watch this every year on ABC family. Now I guess Disney Plus? It’s a stupidly inappropriate children’s film, but it’s a tradition to watch it at this point for Halloween.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): After learning she is a witch, a girl (Kimberly J. Brown) helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures.
I also used to watch this on the Disney channel as a youngin. It’s so cute. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I might just watch it again on Disney Plus. It’s probably the most festive Halloween movie in existence. It’s just so wholesome.
29.) Monster House
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): No adults believe three youths’ (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner) assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends.
A kind of creepy animated kids film that definitely freaked me out a bit. But it is about trick r treaters and Halloween, so that makes it pretty festive. And it’s a good movie with all the feels <3.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): After his son dies in a hit-and-run accident, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks revenge against the teenagers responsible. With the help of a local witch (Florence Schauffler), Ed summons the vengeful demon Pumpkinhead to hunt and kill the group of friends. But when Ed discovers a bond between himself and the creature, he begins to have second thoughts about employing the vicious monster, and he fights to end Pumpkinhead’s murderous rampage before it is too late.
It got a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes which brings it out of the B-movie territory (despite the audience score), and sends it straight to the Festive category strictly because Pumpkinhead has a pumpkin for a head which is probably as festive as you can get for Halloween. He’s a lovely justice seeking pumpkin-headed hero. At least that was my take on it.
Plot (from Rotten Tomatoes): The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large in the small town of Mill Valley for generations. It’s in a mansion that young Sarah Bellows turns her tortured life and horrible secrets into a series of scary stories. These terrifying tales soon have a way of becoming all too real for a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon Sarah’s spooky home.
If you read those Scary Stories books, you’ll love this. It brings to life almost identical versions of those creepy ass illustrations and even includes some of the plots from the books. It’s clever in how it connects all the stories together, and it’s just an overall really fun movie. It’s festive because it takes place on Halloween, so it’s the perfect movie to watch.
Bonus: Instagram Recommendations
Here’s a list of movies recommended by the wonderful people of Instagram that weren’t included in the list above.
34.) The Conjuring
35.) The Omen
36.) The Sixth Sense
37.) The Changling
38.) The Craft
39.) The Shining
41.) Lights Out
43.) Pet Sematary
46.) The Addams Family
Did I leave a movie out? DM @vispera to add it to the list.