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The 25 Best films for Halloween

Updated on October 29, 2011

25 Films to get you in the Halloween mood

I love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday. I particularly look forward to the spooky Halloween films. I like horror films and I like monster movies. I always have. Therefore, I am sharing this list of what I think are the best horror movies and monster flicks ever made. So if you're looking for a good film for Halloween, these movies will really get you into that Halloween mood.

25. Godzilla:King of the Monsters (1954) He's the biggest thing in the East (literally) and the success of the Godzilla films over a 50-plus year period has been outstanding. Most people think of the silly Godzilla sequels that became increasingly aimed at children, but the original Godzilla film was a moody, somber thriller and an allegory about the atomic bomb. The best of the Godzilla films by far. (The original Japanese title was Gojira.)

24. The Exorcist (1973) Intense adaptation of William Peter Blatty's best selling book. This story of the demonic possesion of a 12-year-old girl (Linda Blair) is a real nail-biter. It won an oscar for best adapted screenplay. The whole cast does an excellent job and Willaim Freidkin's directing is excellent. The sequels were all terrible but this one will keep you transfixed.

23. The Sixth Sense (1999) An intelligent and well-acted film, with the now-famous twist ending that made M. Night Shyamalan (temporarily) so popular as a director. This is one of Bruce Willis' best performances, but it's young Haley Joel Osment who steals the show.

22. Alien (1979) The beginning of the Alien franchise is still the scariest. Many people prefer the more exciting sequel Aliens, but I see that film as more of an action film than a horror film. The first film is a prefect mix of sci-fi and horror, with the monster lurking in the shadows, rather than filling the screen with a thousand aliens. Those were the days, when the Aliens didn't need the Predators to carry a film.

21. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) Based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story, this is the best of the many versions of the Jeckyll/Hyde tale. The strength of this perennial tale is that it is character-oriented, focusing on the angst of Dr. Jeckyll as much as on the evil of Mr. Hyde. Frederick March won an Oscar for his wonderful portrayal of the main character(s).

20. Freaks (1932) A unique horror film about circus freaks driven to revenge against their tormentors. Director Todd Browning collected a genuine group of side-show oddities to star in the film, and they do an excellent job. I can't think of any other film like this one.

19. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) The last but not least of the pantheon of great Universal studios monsters, the Creature--also known as the "Gill-man"--was a wonderful addition to the ranks of the classic cinema creatures. This is a very atmospheric film with great underwater photography. The scene where the Gill-Man swims underneath a beautiful female swimmer, mirroring her moves, is a classic moment in cinema.

18. The Birds (1963) One of Hitchcock's best. Beautifully filmed and directed, with a great lead performance by Tippi Hedron, the simple but effective concept of birds taking over is done so effectively that this film will have you on the edge of your seat.

17. Them (1954) One of the best of the 1950s atomic mutation films. The giant ants here may not look great in terms of realistic special effects (too bad they didn't use Harryhausen) but the film is still a tense horror classic due to the excellent script, directing and acting.

16. The Golem (1920) A forgotten silent film classic and a great example of German expressionist cinema. How many films are based on Hebrew mythology? The Frankenstein-like Golem is one of the greatest silent film monsters. A chilling horror film that isn't as well remembered as it should be.

15. The Mummy (1932) Another of the great Universal pantheon of monsters, the Mummy first stalked his way into cinematic legend in this well-made and gloomy film. Throughout most of the film, the Mummy is unwrapped and played by horror film legend Boris Karloff. As the evil Imhotep, Karloff radiates menace and yet gives the character a sympathetic side. (No one could do that as well as Karloff.) The best of the Mummy franchise.

14. The Thing from Another World (1951) One of the best sci-fi films of the 1950s is also an engrossing horror film. Like Alien, it superbly mixes horror and sci-fi together. Many people prefer the more violent and special-effects oriented remake The Thing, but I feel this one is much better. With only a few sets and a mostly B-list cast of character actors, the film creates a great feeling of claustrophobic tension, as well as fine interaction and banter between the cast members. The scene where the men form the circle on the ice and realize they've found a flying saucer is a great moment in film.

13. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Another silent classic and another great example of German expressionist cinema. Considered the first great horror film ever made, this odd and somewhat surreal film got the horror genre off to a good start.

12. The Wolfman (1941) The first appearance of yet another of the classic pantheon of Universal studios monsters. The Wolfman was played in all his screen appearances by Lon Chaney Jr, who perfectly portrayed the cursed, tormented Larry Talbot, who becomes a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. This is the best off all of the Wolfman's appearances. A wonderfully atmospheric and engrossing film.

11. Nosferatu (1922) The first of the great vampire films, this famed silent classic was very scary for it's day and still entertaining today. The film tells basically the same story as Dracula, (Which is what director F. W. Murnau wanted to do at first but couldn't get the film rights) but instead of the elegant vampire we're used to today, we get the rodent-like Orlock, who is probably the scariest looking vampire ever. Max Schreck does a fabulous job playing the evil Orlock.

10. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) Lon Chaney sr. was the king of horror during the silent era and this was one of his best performances. He also created the frightening make-up for the deformed phantom Eric. There have been many, many versions of this famous story (and even a Broadway musical) but it's never been done better than it was done here.

9. M (1931) This is one of the most disturbing horror films ever because it was so realistic. What can be scarier than a serial killer of children? Peter Lorre is pure evil in this German masterpiece about a killer so horrible even the criminal underworld wants him dead. Harrowing, riveting and truly frightening!

8. Dracula (1931) Still another of the Universal pantheon of great screen monsters, Dracula is one of the best known characters in all literature and film. Bela Lugosi made his reputation playing the undead Count from Transylvania, and remained stuck in the shadow of that role forever, since it was such a powerful and effective performance. His odd broken-English way of talking made his delivery seem more otherworldly. No one could portray a totally malevolent character the way Bela could.

7. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Rounding out the pantheon of great monsters from Universal studios is the most popular of them all--the Frankenstein Monster. This was the second appearance of the Monster, once again played with great pathos by Boris Karloff. Although many consider this film better than the original, I think it falls just hair short of that benchmark. Still, this is an amazing monster film, and is best viewed back-to-back with the original, as one long film.

6. Halloween (1978) I guess it goes without saying why this film is on the list of the best films for Halloween. But even without the title, it's still a brilliantly frightening piece of cinema, filmed on a very low budget (the only big name star in the cast at the time was Donald Pleasence) and excellently directed by John Carpenter. Forget the ever-diminishing quality of the sequels. This first and best entry in the franchise is horror gold.

5. Silence of the Lambs (1991) Hugely successful horror film that became one of the few movies ever to capture the 'Big Five' awards at the Oscars. (Best picture; Best director for Jonathan Demme; Best actor for Anthony Hopkins; Best Actress for Jodie Foster; and best screenplay by Ted Tally.) This film introduced us to the bizarre and terrifying Dr. Hannibal Lecter, also known as "Hannibal the Cannibal". Hopkins' mesmerizing performance is one of the most chilling portrayals of a madman ever on film.

4. Frankenstein (1931) The first and arguably the best of the Frankenstein franchise. Many may put the sequel ahead of the original but I maintain the first one is just a tiny bit better because the sequel suffered from one-too-many scenes of comedy relief. This film began Boris Karloff's career as the king of the big-screen boogiemen. He put an amazing amount of pathos into an unspeaking monster. And this film gave us the first look at the iconic make-up by Jack Pierce, who made the image of the flat-headed monster famous world-wide.

3. Psycho (1960) Hichcock's masterpiece of terror. The classic shower scene is one of the most iconic moments in cinema. Anthony Perkins shines as the seemingly meek Norman Bates, who suffers from a killer case of split-personality. This was the forerunner of the Slasher genre. No one could build suspense the way Hitchcock did.

2. King Kong (1933) Speaking of iconic scenes, there can't be a more iconic image in the history of film than King Kong standing atop the Empire State Building, swatting at airplanes with one hand, while Fay Wray screams in the other. This is not technically the first giant-monster-on-the-loose-film (The rampaging Brontosaurus from The Lost World preceded Kong) but it's still the best. (And the first sound film about a giant monster.) At the time, the special effects by Willis O'Brien were state-of-the-art. Fay Wray's shriek's of terror in this film originated the term "Scream Queen". The best giant monster movie ever made.

1. Jaws (1975) Spielberg put himself on the map with this magnificent film, which made people afraid to go to the beach for years. Brilliantly directed and acted, the simple story of three men hunting for a shark is so absorbing, you just can't turn it off. It's one of those films you watch over-and-over again. Spielberg was clever to keep the shark off-screen most of the time, only popping up occasionally, to snack on one of the characters and startle the viewer. Everything is done just right in this film. It's not only the best horror movie ever, it's one of the top-ten best films of any genre ever made. Great film.

If these films don't get you in the mood for Halloween, nothing will!



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    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Epigram; "The Haunting" and "Carnival of Souls" are excellent horror films, too. There are so many good scary movies, I could have done a top 100 if I'd had the time.

      Thanks for including another link for my hubs,


    • epigramman profile image


      6 years ago

      ..I would have personally included The Haunting from 1963 and an old black and white film from the 60's called Carnival of Souls ...but that said, I still love this hub because you always do such a world class job and I know it's a labor of love for you - and it's Halloween all year round for me - so let me post this classic to my Facebook page with a direct link back here

      lake erie time 12:15am

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks Paradise; I think so, too.

      Good to hear from you again,


    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I've seen just about ALL your picks, and you hit the money every time! Thanks for a great article.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi H.H.; Thanks. I agree, they are all great films.

      Good to hear from you,


    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      6 years ago from London, UK

      You have done a splendid job here and definitely chosen all the right Halloween movies. They were all masterpieces.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi cogerson; yes, the '6th Sense' is definitely under-rated these days, probably because M. Night Shaymalan is no longer popular as a director after a string of bad films. But it was a nifty bit of film-making.

      "Halloween" did start the Slasher film craze but, as you rightly point out, it wasn't very bloody because much of the violence is filmed artfully and not in-your-face blood and guts. Too bad Jason and Freddy didn't get the memo.

      "Jaws" is such a classic film. I was 10 years old when it came out and I couldn't go to see it. It wasn't until several years later when VHS came along that I got to finally see it uncut and uninterupted. I've been hooked ever since.

      Always a pleasure to hear from you,


    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Mike; Jaws is worth seeing at any time.


    • Cogerson profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      A great collection of great movies for Halloween. I have seen 13 of the 25 you listed....thanks for listing The Sixth does not seem to get much attention for its scares...but to me it is an excellent movie for Halloween. Another favorite of mine is Halloween....John Carpenter's masterpiece and the granddaddy of slasher films....too bad the people that copied Carpenter did not notice that the violence and the killing pretty much happened off screen in that movie....and gory special effects do not make a movie scary.

      And Jaws at number one is one of my all-time favorites...I just got through reading Steve's Jaws hub and it makes your list...makes me want to watch Jaws before I go to bed tonight....awesome..that was lots of fun reading and remembering. Voted up and awesome.

    • Mikdee10 profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting choice of Jaws as #1. I have to admit I wouldn't have even thought of that one originally as a Halloween Must See.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Lady E. Hopkins was super-spooky as Hannibal the Cannibal. The voice alone was creepy. Great performance. No wonder he won the Oscar.

      Thanks for reading,


    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Flora; Yes, James Arnes appears in "The Thing from Another World" and "Them". He's best known for playing Marshall Dillon on "Gun smoke".

      I see "King Kong" as a monster movie, not a horror film but I lump those two genres together. "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" is great, old-fashioned horror film, which has the bonus of an unusual setting, in a lagoon. (Lots of underwater scenes.)

      Not too many people I know have seen "the Golem", which is a shame because it's a good monster film.

      Always good to hear from you,


    • Lady_E profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      Spooooooky. I quite like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. That smooth voice doesn't scare

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      6 years ago

      Well, you know me and gory or bizarre effects films as well as loving classic movies so you will not be surprised to hear which films I've seen and which I haven't seen. Of course, I've made an exception for Hitchcock.

      You haven't mentioned that James Arness appears in two of these films...

      First, I have attempted several times to get through Nosferatu, but it's been too scary.

      M has been waiting until for me patiently to watch.


      I have seen numbers: 2, 4, 7, 8,10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, and 21.

      I do plan on seeing creature from the Black lagoon someday. I've never come across a copy of Golem. The others are not my kind of movie.

      I tend to think of king Kong as a love story not a horror film.

      My favourites that you have listed here are, in alphabetical order:

      The Birds

      The Bride of Frankenstein


      The Mummy

      The Phantom of the Opera


      The Thing From around the World

      The Wolf Man (my favourite overall of the list)

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi loanyi. Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading,


    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Steve; I read your "Jaws" hub. It was another fun read. I've been watching some old horror films online. I love the classics.

      Thanks for stopping by,


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Super clasic. Very good compilation

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 

      6 years ago from London, England

      A superb collection of Halloween films Rob, I've got every one of them in the collection so no complaints here. It's great you picked Jaws as your number one it's the subject of my latest hub. :)

      I would have included a couple of ghost stories to the list, maybe The Innocents or The Haunting (1963)?

      A great job Rob. I still haven't decided what horrors to watch tonight, tomorrow and monday. Maybe Alien? The Birds? Night of the Demon (1957) hmmm

      Voted Up and Useful.


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