25 Halloween Movies to Watch Instead of Going Trick-or-Treating

Hocus Pocus
Photo: Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection.

Thanksgiving has TV episodes and Christmas has songs. But when it comes to films, that’s where Halloween shines, and this list of the best Halloween movies of all time is an example of that.

While trick-or-treating and Halloween parties are fun, sometimes the best Halloweens (especially for us introverts) are spent indoors watching Halloween classics like Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice and Halloweentown. Of course, family Halloween movies aren’t the only spooky films out there. When it comes to cinema, Halloween and horror movies are made for each other. Not in the mood for a family Halloween flick, perhaps a Halloween horror film, like Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street or (of course) Halloween, is more your speed.

Ahead, we rounded up the best Halloween movies for any occasion. So dress up in your costume, grab some popcorn and watch one of these best Halloween movies to celebrate the holiday right. Whether you’re into spooky fun or scary screams, these best Halloween movies have it all.

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Halloween (1978)

When it comes to Halloween horror movies, Halloween is one of the OGs. (Duh, the name of the holiday is in the title.) The slasher film centers on Michael Meyers, a serial killer who escapes from a sanitarium and murders several teenagers on Halloween night in 1978. The movie, is known for launching the career of star Jamie Lee Curtis, has led to 12 sequels.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

No Halloween is complete without Hocus Pocus. The film, which was directed by High School Musical’s Kenny Ortega, stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as three villainous-but-hilarious witches who inadvertently resurrect a teenage boy in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. Whoops!

Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice, beetlejuice, beetlejuice! This Tim Burton classic revolves around a recently dead couple, who become ghosts haunting their former house. They haunt the home with a devious poltergeist from the Netherworld named Betelgeuse (also spelled Beetlejuice), who tries to scare away the house’s new owners.

Halloweentown (1998)

Halloweentown may be a Disney Channel original movie, but the film deserved to be seen on the big screen. This family Halloween movie follows three siblings who follow their grandmother home to Halloweentown, where they discover that they come from a family of witches. The eldest sibling, Marnie, also learns on her 13th birthday that she’s not only a witch, but that she and her family must save the world from an evil threat that wants to wreck havoc on society.

Scream (1996)

The first film in the Scream series, which stars Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell, centers on a mysterious masked killer, known as Ghostface, who has his sights set on a high school student named Sidney Prescott as his next kill. The film—which has led to three sequels and a TV series—subverts clichés seen in other slasher horror films, such as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters, which stars Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis, centers on a trio of eccentric parapsychologists (a.k.a. ghost hunters), who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. The film was rebooted with all-female cast in 2016.

Casper (1995)

Based on the Harvey Comics cartoon character, Casper the Friendly Ghost, this family Halloween film centers on a young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine—until a specialist arrives who can communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits. It doesn’t take long before Casper falls in love with the man’s teenage daughter, Kat, who’s in need of a friend after her mother dies.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Based on the 1973 play, The Rocky Horror Picture show centers on a young engaged couple who find themselves near a mysterious castle when their car breaks down and they need to find a phone for help. Inside the castle, the couple meet Dr. Frank N. Furter, a mad scientist.

Practical Magic (1998)

Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock star as sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens, who have been raised by their aunts after their parents’ death. The Owens sisters are also witches, who have been taught by their aunts how to use practical magic. The sisters are also haunted by a family curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed to die.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were 7 years old when they starred in this straight-to-video Halloween movie. The two play Lynn (MK) and Kelly (Ashley), two adventurous little girls who discover that their Great Aunt Sophia has been trapped and cursed by her evil twin Agatha. (Double the twin fun!) And so, in order to break the curse, Lynn and Kelly  must cast a magical spell before the seventh year of Sophia’s imprisonment lest their aunt be doomed forever.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Originating from a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, this animated film centers on Jack Skellington, the King of Halloweentown, who stumbles through a portal to Christmas Town and becomes obsessed with the holiday.

Child’s Play (1988)

Child’s Play is the origin story for Chucky, a serial killer doll who terrorizes a family. The film stars Catherine Hicks as a widowed mother who gives her son a doll for his birthday. Little does she know that the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Holly,” Sleepy Hollow stars Johnny Depp as police officer Ichabod Crane who’s sent from New York City to the village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders by a mysterious Headless Horseman.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Directed by Scream director Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street is regarded as one of the best horror movies in cinematic history. The film centers on Freddy Kreuger, a burnt killer with a bladed leather glove who invades the dreams of teenagers in the fictitious town of Springwood, Ohio, and kills them.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Based on the imaginary friend Steven Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce in 1960, E.T. tells the story of Elliott, a boy who befriends an extraterrestrial (named “E.T.”) who is stranded on Earth.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Starring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, this animated film reimagines Count Dracula as the owner of a hotel named Hotel Transylvania, where monsters can rest from the human world. Things become complicated when Dracula’s daughter Mavis receives unexpected visit from a human traveler named Jonathan, and Dracula must do everything to prevent Mavis from falling in love with him.

The Craft (1996)

This cult-classic film follows four outcast teenage girls at a fictional high school in Los Angeles who pursue witchcraft for their own gain only to realize that their experimentation in magic has serious negative repercussions.

Scooby-Doo (2002)

Scooby-Dooby doo! This live-action movie, based on the television franchise of the same name, stars IRL couple Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, as well as others early ’00s faves, as a group of young adults who—along with a dog named Scooby—solves mysteries. The film starts with the Mystery Incorporated reuniting after a two-year disbandment to investigate a mystery on a popular horror resort.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Directed by Tim Burton, this romance horror follows edward, an artificial, unfinished humanoid who has scissor blades instead of hands. Edward is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter, Kim.

Corpse Bride (2005)

Another animated Tim Burton Classic, Corpse Bride follows Victor, a man who is arranged to marry a woman named Victoria. While he’s in the forest practicing his vows for the wedding, a tree branch becomes a hand drags Victor to the land of the dead. The hand belonged to Emily, a woman who was murdered after eloping with her love and wants to marry Victor.

The Addams Family (1991)

This cult-classic Halloween film is based on a fictional household created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. The film starts with a man claiming to be Fester, the missing brother of Gomez Addams, arriving at the Addams’ home. At first the family is thrilled, but Morticia suspects that the man is a fraud and tries to find out who he really is.

Coraline (2009)

This animated film is based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman. The movie follows an adventurous girl named Coraline who discovers a parralel world behind a secret door in her new home. She soon learns that the secret world isn’t as fun as she thought, but is an alternative universe with a dark and sinister secret.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki’s Delivery Service, based on Eiko Kadono 1985 novel of the same name, follows a young witch named Kiki who moves to a new town and uses her flying ability to earn a living.

Fun Size (2012)

Fun Size is a hilarious teen halloween film about Wren (Victoria Justice), a high school senior, who’s left alone with her little brother, Albert, on Halloween night. When Wren is distracted by an invitation to a massive Halloween party, her little brother disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters, and thus a frantic search ensues for her younger sibling.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

This Peanuts Halloween special follows the Peanuts gang as they celebrate Halloween. Linus, one of the Peanuts gang members, however, is distracted on the holiday, as he hopes that he will be visited by The Great Pumpkin.

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