Frightful Flicks for Halloween, Thrills for All Ages

It’s almost here! Do you feel that? Halloween is a time of thrills and chills, literally. Most have noted a nip in the air as the autumn weather has turned the heat down here in Los Angeles. Across the country, it’s getting cooler, and the shorter days seem to echo the season’s darker nature.

Fall is associated with the harvest, but before we get too grateful and give thanks, we delight in darker endeavors. We have a fascination with the scary and macabre, from the beauty we find in colorfully dying leaves, to the thrill of being frightened… almost to death. Maybe it makes us more appreciative of being alive as the seasons play out their changes around us, and we become more fully immersed in the rhythm of life, more grateful for our own cozy homes and firesides. Whatever the reason, Halloween is a favorite holiday and beloved time of year for many of us.

It’s a great time to snuggle up and reminisce about Halloween’s past or make new memories with family and friends. When decorating for the season, carving pumpkins, or just sipping some hot apple cider together, Halloween movies set the mood. If you’re like most people, you have a favorite and can cite all the reasons why it’s top of your list.

For many, the favorites have changed over the years because among other reasons, they are still making more! Whether you prefer scary and gruesome, funny with a side of fright, or cute and nostalgic, the varied offerings of Halloween movies always have you covered. With various streaming and on-demand services playing many creepy classics, there is no shortage of options this time of year.

There are so many ways we love to entertain our lust for terror, from zombies, monsters, and psychopaths on the loose (or in disguise, waiting to pounce), to supernatural forces and tales of possession.

Maybe you like the slasher films, such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.

Can’t get enough of the mind-bending suspense? Try films such as Get Out, Hereditary, and the Blair Witch Project.

For full-on gore, there’s the Saw movie franchise, the Hostel movies, and House of 1000 Corpses.

Cult classics like Dead Alive, Evil Dead, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are always sure to please.

If you want to keep it light, there are fun movies such as Goosebumps, Casper, and Halloweentown.

Here are some more favorites, categorized by genre. Many of these are streaming now, and if not, might be worth finding.

Gruesome and Gory

The Exorcist (1973) is an Oscar-winning film of epic proportions that had raving fans lined up outside theaters across the country. Starring Linda Blair, the story about a possessed girl shocked and thrilled movie-goers and still has its place as a classic dark favorite.

It (2017) This Staff Writer Pick is full of terror from the master himself, Stephen King. The movie stars Bill Skarsgard as he brings to life one of the creepiest clowns known to grace the silver screen. (Skarsgard was fabulous in the series Hemlock Grove 2013-2015 along with Famke Janssen, although the series had mixed reviews).

Halloween (1978) Made a huge impact as it set the stage for teen slasher movies. For Jamie Lee Curtis, it was the picture that made her a star. The John Carpenter film was destined to endure also in part because it serves as the intro to what became an iconic villain: Michael Myers.

Family Friendly

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) An animated classic featuring the Peanuts gang, this short movie has ushered in the season for countless kids and adults alike for decades. This classic harkens back to a time when your favorites were not on-demand and you had to catch this beloved film when it happened to air.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949) This Staff Writer Pick is a Disney classic that terrified and delighted many a child in older generations. The story is actually part of an anthology, The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad. The animated story follows Ichabod Crane as he encounters the Headless Horseman. This short movie set the stage for the much later Sleepy Hollow (1999) with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.

Hocus Pocus (1993) Stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson sisters of 17th century Salem, witches who are accidentally freed to wreak havoc for one night. The new kid in town Max, along with his little sister and their friend must save the day.

Funnier Frights

What We Do in the Shadows (2014) This movie by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement is a silly and clever romp full of satire and laughs. It features vampire roommates in New Zealand whose lives are being documented by a film crew.

Hubie Halloween (2020) Starring Adam Sandler as Hubie, this Staff Writer Pick movie is a fun way to spend an evening, enjoying a lighthearted Halloween-themed plot full of some colorful characters and fabulous stars in a true underdog story.

Scary Movie (2000) There are many of these films, from hilarious and irreverent Wayans, and they all have one thing in common – they make fun of popular scary films. The first one was of course a spoof on the popular scary flick, Scream. If you are a big fan of slasher films and other pop culture classics, you might find yourself laughing along at how the plotlines are intertwined within any of the Scary Movie films. 

Television Series

If you have a lot of time on your hands and want to dig into a new series or revisit one you haven’t seen in a while, here are some favorite binge-worthy TV Series that fit the season:

American Horror Story

Stranger Things

Sleepy Hollow

True Blood

The Good Witch

Scream Queens

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

A Discovery of Witches (Staff Writer Pick)

The Haunting of Hill House


Vampire Diaries

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