Halloween is the time of year where the leaves start to change, the weather gets a bit colder and spooky occurrences begin to take place. Amid the pandemic, 2020’s Halloween is the perfect time to stay inside, curl up with a good movie and get into the spooky season spirit. For those who like family-friendly Halloween films and those who enjoy the more adult scary films, here are the top 11 classic films of each genre to binge on this Halloween season:
11. Hotel Transylvania & Paranormal Activity
Monsters are looking for an escape in Hotel Transylvania. Whenever they want to get away from their responsibilities, they head to Count Dracula’s hotel where they can truly be themselves without the prying eyes of humans. On one special weekend, Dracula is celebrating his daughter’s birthday with several special guests. However, the celebration gets chaotic when an unwitting human crashes the party and gets eyes for Mavis. It’s adorable, but not as good as some of the other classics.
This horror film has six in the franchise, but is laid out as real home-movie footage of paranormal occurrences. Though it has some decent jump scares, it’s definitely not the best of the adult Halloween films.
10. The Addams Family & The Exorcist
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re the Addams family. Mystery arises for this unusual family when a man claiming to be Gomez’s long lost brother shows up at their house. However, they begin to grow suspicious of this man when he can’t remember any details of his life. Gomez realizes he’s trying to swindle the family fortune and must challenge him. It’s an absolute classic and has sparked several remakes and even a Broadway musical.
One of the original films about an exorcism, The Exorcist is loosely based on actual events. A young girl starts acting strangely and her mother enlists medical and religious help to save her daughter. This film paved the way for other exorcism-based premises, and it definitely will leave you feeling uneasy.
9. Beetlejuice & The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Say it three times: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice. After two homeowners die in a car accident, they’re left to haunt the house for eternity. Then, when the awful Deetzes move into the home, it’s up to the dead couple to scare them away. When they’re unsuccessful, a rambunctious spirit called Beetlejuice offers his services, but he’s packing more danger than usefulness. Though it’s not the best family-friendly film, it’s certainly a classic to break out once around this time of year.
In the cult classic, Brad and Janet find themselves stuck with a flat tire and on the doorstep of a mad scientist, Frank-N-Furter. As they navigate a house full of crazy characters, Brad and Janet wonder if they’ll ever get out. For the full viewing experience, look up the various lists of callbacks and props to accompany you while watching. It’s iconic.
8. Edward Scissorhands & The Witches of Eastwick
Scientifically created Edward is left with scissors for hands after his creator dies before making his hands. A loving saleswoman discovers Edward living all alone and takes him home with her, where he falls in love with her teenage daughter. The rest of the film follows Edward navigating normalcy while being an outcast. With an overall important message and beautiful cinematography, it’s definitely a must-watch.
Three small-town friends have their worlds turned upside down when a strange man comes into their lives and teaches them about their witch powers. As the three spend more and more time with the man, they begin to question his intentions. This film isn’t necessarily scary, but Jack Nicholson’s performance is enough to frighten anyone.
7. Casper & Child’s Play
Casper is the friendliest ghost you’ll know, living with his evil uncle ghosts in a Maine mansion. When a man and his daughter move in, Casper quickly falls for the girl. Their relationship is complicated by his uncles and other unfriendly spirits –– not to mention the fact that he’s a ghost himself. This adorable classic is so heartwarming and fun to watch this time of year.
A dying murderer uses black magic to put his soul inside a doll named Chucky. When a mom buys the doll for her young son, chaos ensues. You could also watch the 2019 remake with Aubrey Plaza and Mark Hamill, but the original will give you more of a classic Halloween feeling.
6. Corpse Bride & Carrie
Victor and Victoria are caught in an arranged marriage. Though they’re both in love with each other, Victor is nervous about the ceremony and takes off into the forest to practice his vows. When Victor accidentally proposes to a tree branch that turns out to be a dead body who takes him to the underworld, it’s up to Victor to get back home and save his bride from marrying an evil man. Tim Burton does some of his finest work with Corpse Bride, and it will leave anyone feeling emotional.
In this Stephen King adaptation, a teen named Carrie is relentlessly bullied at school and abused at home by her pious mother. However, when Carrie starts making strange things happen, she begins to think she has supernatural powers. The remake in 2013 also has a chilling feel, but isn’t as shocking or classic as the original 1976 film.
5. Twitches & Halloween
Twin sisters are reunited on their 21st birthday and use their magic powers to save their kingdom from the forces of darkness. It’s so Disney and early 2000s that it hurts, but in the absolute best way.
On Halloween night in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers murdered his 17-year-old sister. Then, 15 years later when being transferred for a court date, Myers escapes and heads to his hometown to find his next victims. There are so many Halloween films in the franchise, but Jamie Lee Curtis alone makes this movie beyond worth it to watch.
4. Ghostbusters & Sleepy Hollow
When three scientists get laid off from their jobs, they become “ghostbusters” by battling the supernatural for money. When they stumble upon a gateway for another dimension, threatening evil could be released upon the city. It’s up to them to save New York City from ultimate peril. This movie definitely packs a lot of laughs, and will have you saying “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” for days.
Constable Ichabod Crane heads to New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village of Sleepy Hollow. To make matters even more confusing, the murders are carried out by a Headless Horseman. The mystery will leave a chill up your spine, but is also one of the best Halloween-esque films to watch this season.
3. Hocus Pocus & The Sixth Sense
A teenager, his kid sister and their new friend explore the legend of the Sanderson Sisters: three witches who used to haunt the town of Salem. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must escape the witches’ danger, while also avoiding the other supernatural elements at work. A lot of people choose this as the most iconic Halloween film, and though it’s close to number one, I think there are some family-friendly Halloween films that are more iconic.
A young boy is haunted by a dark secret: he sees dead people. He is too scared to tell anyone this secret, until he meets Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. He comes clean to Malcolm, who works to uncover the truth about the boy’s supernatural abilities, and several shocking truths are revealed. This film has one of the best plot twists ever made and will leave you feeling ridiculously emotional.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas & The Craft
Jack Skellington is getting tired of being the pumpkin king of Halloweentown. When he accidentally discovers Christmastown, Jack gets a revitalized sense of holiday spirit –– for the wrong holiday. This film is another Tim Burton classic, and though it is frequently argued to be a Christmas film, I believe it is appropriate for either holiday and that’s what makes it special. It plays almost every day on Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween, so you can almost always catch it there.
Another cult classic features a coven of witches seeking a fourth member for their rituals. When Sarah transfers to the coven’s high school, the four troubled witches use their powers for good -- until it gets out of hand. This film will get anyone excited about spooky season and show the chilling realities of being all-powerful.
1. Halloweentown & Scream
Three siblings are in for a big surprise when they follow their grandma home to Halloweentown and discover they descend from a family of witches. On the eldest sibling’s 13th birthday, she not only finds out that she’s a witch, but she is also thrown in the middle of a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world. This Disney Channel Original Movie is an absolute classic. What better way to get in the spirit of the holiday than by immersing yourself in a town dedicated to it?
Sidney Prescott is a high school student in California who becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a Halloween costume called Ghostface. Inspired by the real case of the Gainesville Ripper, Wes Craven’s Scream reinvented and revitalized the slasher-horror genre by combining comedy with cleverness and horror with an ultimate plot twist. It’s a fantastic spooky film to watch and try to guess who the murderer truly is.