Written on 25th October 2019

The best Halloween movies of all time

The season of pumpkin spice everything, candy corn, and scary movies has arrived! 

And you know what that means – that we have the perfect excuse to binge all our favourite horror films. From Hitchcock classics to '90s cult slashers, this line-up is guaranteed to get you in the Halloween spirit. 

Here are TAG Film and Media’s 17 picks for the best Halloween movie of all time.

1.    Psycho (1960) 

When it comes to scary movies, Hitchcock can always be counted on. He's the mastermind behind the most classic thrillers and laid the groundwork for scary movies to follow. Psycho is about the spooky Bates Motel and those who die there.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock


2.    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 

A madman with a chainsaw — what more do you need? While we can appreciate the sneakier approach of other horror-movie baddies, there's little more terrifying than the idea of being mowed down by such a vicious instrument.

Director: Tobe Hooper


3.    Alien (1979) 

People remember the film’s look: motes of dust hanging in the air, Jerry Goldsmith’s shivery orchestral score, an atmosphere thick with dread. But Ridley Scott’s chest-bursting horror landmark has a lot more going for it under the hood. It’s a radical sci-fi film that turns men into pregnant hosts—and a woman, Sigourney Weaver, into the most iconic hero in genre filmmaking.

Director: Ridley Scott


4.    The Exorcist (1973)

Few horror films are as chilling as this adaptation of the 1971 novel of the same name. The Exorcist is one of the most profitable horror movies ever made and is unfortunately loosely based on true events. As its name may imply, the film is about a young girl who has been ordered to get an exorcism.

Director: William Friedkin


5.    The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) 

A cult classic enjoyed year-round, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is especially relevant around Halloween. Two sweethearts stumble across an eerie mansion when they get a flat tire during a storm, and once they enter, they meet quite the cast of characters.

Director: Jim Sharman


6.    The Shining (1980) 

In one of the most suspenseful classic horror films, Jack Nicholson steals the show while director Stanley Kubrick serves up some of the most iconic scary movie scenes we know today. The Shining is about a man who unravels and terrorizes his family.

Director: Stanley Kubrick


7.    Poltergeist (1982) 

When real estate broker Steve Freeling moves his family into a shiny new home in a new development, little did he know what dark spirits were waiting for them. This is where the classic line "They're heeeeeeerrreeee..." came from, FYI.

Director: Tobe Hooper


8.    A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Freddy Krueger preys on teenagers in their dreams in A Nightmare on Elm Street, which kills them in reality. Nancy and her boyfriend Glen must find a way to help in this classic slasher film.

Director: Wes Craven


9.    Ghostbusters (1984) 

Ghostbusters. It’s hard not to enjoy watching four peculiar scientists team up to rid the city of New York from paranormal activity with vacuum cleaners. A great movie suitable for all ages, with a spectacular performance from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The film is so embedded in pop culture today, we still see them in TV shows such as Stranger Things, and everyone knows the answer to the question, “Who you gonna call?”.

Director: Ivan Reitman


10.    The Fly (1986) 

Jeff Goldblum’s queasily eloquent performance as a genetically modified scientist, along with that of Geena Davis as a charmed journalist who becomes worried about him, elevate this remake well above its hokey ’50s predecessor. It’s arguably David Cronenberg’s finest film: Who knew he could do romantic tragedy as confidently as he could gross us out with his signature body horror?

Director: David Cronenberg


11.    Beetlejuice (1988) 

Tim Burton is a director to turn to for Halloween thrills. His 1988 comedy-fantasy Beetlejuice is the epitome of a spooky spectacle that serves up some scares. Ghosts try to scare away a family who has moved into the home they're haunting, and they enlist the spooky spirit Beetlejuice for help.

Director: Tim Burton


12.    Hocus Pocus (1993) 

Three witches (played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy) return 300 years after being hung for their spellwork in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts. To hold onto immortality, they have to take the life of a child, and the three kids who accidentally resurrected them are doing all they can to stop the witches from returning Salem to the way it was when they first lived. This over-the-top comedy has witchcraft, black cats, and lots of laughs, and it's sure to make your Halloween a blast!

Director: Kenny Ortega


13.    Scream (1996)

This '90 slasher film revitalised the horror genre and spawned a fear of the iconic ghost costume worn by its killer "Ghostface." It became the highest-grossing slasher film in the U.S.

Director: Wes Craven


14.    The Blair Witch Project (1999) 

Love it or hate it, The Blair Witch Project was a real game-changer when it comes to how scary movies can be shot. It gave rise to things like Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, among many others. If you weren't afraid of the woods before, you will be after watching this.

Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez


15.    The Ring (2002) 

J-horror, a millennial revolution in Japanese cinema, can be traced back to Hideo Nakata’s 1998 supernatural thriller about a cursed VHS tape that imposes a lot more than late fees on its unlucky viewers. When Hollywood decided to do a remake, an unusual amount of thought went into it, beginning with the casting of spooked Naomi Watts. Director Gore Verbinski actually improves on the original.

Director: Gore Verbinski


16.    The Conjuring (2013) 

The Conjuring follows a pair of ghost hunters as they attempt to assist a family to rid themselves of an evil spirit. It's brought to us by the same director who worked on Saw and Insidious, and you could almost argue this is the best of the three.

Director: James Wan


17.    Get Out (2017)

In this gripping thriller that immediately became a cultural phenomenon, a young African American man meets his white girlfriend's family for a weekend, and disturbing discoveries lead him to realize he's living a nightmare.

Director: Jordan Peele

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