13 Halloween Movies that Will Scare You Senseless
From slashers to seances, we've rounded up the best Halloween movies (with bonus video trailers) for a scary night in. Too scary? Try the best Halloween movies for kids.
By Damon Beres
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
On our Halloween movies list because: It's a shocking gorefest set on Halloween: Possibly stomach-turning, but definitely fit for mature audiences looking for a thrill to match the occasion.
Critics say: "[Director Rob] Zombie, pillaging from every low-budget freak-out he can, proves that he at least has a lurid touch for shock theatrics. Blood spatters on the floor like a Jackson Pollock."—Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
On our Halloween movies list because: There's hardly a better fit for a creepy night in than director Tim Burton, and his take on the Washington Irving short story is ghoulish, intriguing fun.
Critics say: "Gorgeous filmmaking that brims over with fun-house thrills and ravishing romance... Heads roll, bodies pile up, and the horseman—played in flashback by a megaweird Christopher Walken—rises from the dead."—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
On our Halloween movies list because: Halloween all but invented an entire subgenre of slasher horror movies, those that take place on All Hallows' Eve.
Critics say: "There isn't another post-1970 release that comes close to it in terms of scaring the living hell out of a viewer."—James Berardinelli, Reelviews
The Changeling (1980)
On our Halloween movies list because: With a vengeful ghost, a haunted house, and the approval of Martin Scorsese, what more could you want?
Critics say: "This is a scare movie with taste."—Roger Ebert
The Amityville Horror (1979)
On our Halloween movies list because: It's a little stupid, somewhat laughable, and full of overt freakout moments—perfect for some fun if you're not in the mood for the really dark stuff.
Critics say: "[The house] causes members of the clergy to vomit whenever they visit the place, and has toilets that spew forth black goo. So much for the niceties."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Pet Sematary (1989)
On our Halloween movies list because: There just aren't enough movies about the walking dead that start with the horrid resurrection of a beloved family cat.
Critics say: "As a basic, icky, unvarnished scare show Pet Sematary renders some of the creepiness effectively in Halloween-spookhouse fashion."—Common Sense Media
On our Halloween movies list because: Unnervingly, this ghost story will leave you wary of your own television.
Critics say: "This is a barnstorming ghost story... consistently redeemed by its creator's dazzling sense of craft."—TimeOut London
Paranormal Activity (2007)
On our Halloween movies list because: Something of a modern classic, this shocking feature plays on a culture saturated with reality television and near omnipresent surveillance.
Critics say: "It comes by its screams honestly, earning them with incremental, at times agonizing gradations of old-fashioned, what's-that-noise-in-the-hallway suspense."—Dana Stevens, Slate
Ju-On: The Grudge [呪怨] (2002)
On our Halloween movies list because: It's a fun haunted house film with unnerving, creative imagery.
Critics say: "When The Grudge... focuses on the scary stuff, there's no shortage of fun to be found. And there are several moments of quietly effectiveness creepiness."—Scott Weinberg, eFilmCritic.com
Evil Dead (2013)
On our Halloween movies list because: This new update to the 1981 original eschews some of the camp and piles on the gory scares, making it a decidedly creepier pick for the holiday.
Critics say: "The gore is considerable (though often imaginative) and Alvarez's decision to forego CGI effects pays grisly dividends. That may not be a genuine tongue being slashed in half lengthwise (while still, it should be noted, in its owner's mouth) but damned if it doesn't look like one."—Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
House [ハウス/Hausu] (1977)
On our Halloween movies list because: Every Halloween night deserves a haunted house, and this delirious Japanese flick presents the weirdest, most entertaining example in memory.
Critics say: "Movies are rarely, if ever, as whirringly rich and strange as House."—Steve Dollar, Paste
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
On our Halloween movies list because: More slaughterhouse than haunted house, this classic still chills.
Critics say: "[A] sneaky equation of middle-class values with cannibalism and wholesale slaughter."—Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Panic Room (2002)
On our Halloween movies list because: This harrowing home invasion movie is a realistic nail-biter totally devoid of ghouls or the supernatural, making it a choice pick for those who know they'll be triple-checking their locks when the movie's done.
Critics say: "It could be an especially grisly, profanity-laced entry in the Home Alone' series. And, it must be said, an exceptionally well-directed one."—A.O. Scott, The New York Times