Halloween engenders so many different feelings for people: sweet treats to last a few weeks or hours for some; the arrival of the holiday season; donning that unique costume or the one everyone seems to be wearing; and watching those Halloween movies. For some, that means sitting down to watch a scary movie, perhaps your favorite or a new favorite. For others, it might be a comedy or family take on Halloween. There are so many great Halloween movies to choose from. The best part, if they aren’t on normal broadcast television, you can find them on streaming services. So, here is our list of 10 of the best Halloween movies you can stream now.
The list was compiled based on a composite score from a survey of entertainment writers, editors and bloggers. There are certainly a great many movies that could be on the list. You may even have your own opinion of what should be on the list. Please feel free to share. Honorable mentions go out to Casper, Sleepy Hollow, Halloweentown, Edward Scissorhands, Young Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead, Carrie and many more.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
No, the film is not on the list because of Johnny Depp’s film debut. It’s here because Wes Craven brought a new twist to the American slasher genre when it was released in 1984. Plus, the movie is plain scary and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is centered around a dead serial killer, Freddy Kruger, played with eerie delight by Robert Englund, who stalks and kills a group of teenagers who are kids of the parents who killed him. So, here is the revenge twist: Freddy stalks and kills the doomed kids in their dreams. Yeah, you probably knew that already, so not much of a twist. But in 1984, the idea of your nightmares coming to life was just horrific delight.
In this animated gem from Tim Burton, a name you will see a few more times on this list, what happens when a gifted pianist (voice by Johnny Depp – you’ll see that name again as well), mistakenly marries a dead woman (voice by Helena Bonham Carter)? Well, you get Corpse Bride. A delightfully dark look at the misadventures of Victor Van Dort, the pianist, who tries to marry his betrothed, Victoria (is there a Victor/Victoria pun), but instead forgets his vows at the wedding rehearsal and attempts to memorize them in front of a forest tree, not realizing the tree is the grave of the aforementioned dead woman, Emily.
Of course, Emily claims she is now the wife of Victor and that’s when the fun begins. Emily drags Victor to the underworld. However, Victor still loves Victoria and tricks Emily to let him go back to the Land of the Living. That’s when Victor learns Victoria is going to marry someone else. Devastated, Victor agrees to marry Emily by taking vows and then drinking poison. Don’t worry. Everything turns out for the best with Victor and Victoria ultimately marrying. It is a lot of fun getting to that event though.
The Exorcist – 10 of the Best Halloween Movies You Can Stream Now
In 1973, The Exorcist was unleashed upon the movie-going public with much anticipation. Based on the bestselling book by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist had plenty of pre-build up to the release with most of the set burning down and actresses Ellyn Burstyn and Linda Blair both suffering injuries during the filming. When the film did open, there were reports of viewers fainting and vomiting during the film. All of the accidents and viewing incidents just led to more fascination with the film and let to sell out showings.
If you haven’t seen The Exorcist before, get ready for one of the scariest movies you’ll ever see as the daughter of a visiting actress to a home in Washington, D.C. changes both behaviorally and physically as she is possessed by a demonic entity. Hold onto your seat, or cross, as a priest specializing in exorcisms is called to the house to expel the entity. If you’re squeamish, fast forward through much of the exorcism. But then you’ll miss all of the fun and what would be the point of watching the film.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
If you’re a fan of the Peanuts gang created by cartoonist Charles Schulz, then you’ve probably seen this jewel more than a few times. Nominated for a 1966 Emmy Award, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown follows the adventures of the Peanuts group as the prepare for Halloween. That means getting a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, getting their costumes prepared and making the jack-o-lantern.
All this against the backdrop of Linus hoping for a visit from the great pumpkin. After trick-or-treating, the kids find their way back to the pumpkin patch where Linus sees a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch. Is it the great pumpkin? Watch and find out.
The Addams Family
Whether you’re a fan of the cartoon series by Charles Addams or the Sixties series really doesn’t matter with this movie. It is a great stand-alone film with a fantastic cast – Angelica Houston as Morticia, Raul Julia as Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Fester and more. Yes, all the characters from cousin Itt to Lurch are present and accounted for in this fun story of the Addams Family dealing with an imposter posing as Fester who infiltrates the Addams’ home to try to find their family fortune for his con artist mother.
That’s when the antics begin as the imposter turns out not really to be an imposter but Fester with amnesia. This is revealed after several hilarious scenes involving a sceance, torture, booby traps and eccentric behavior. In the end, the con artist is revealed, Fester recovers his memory and the family returns to their normal, weird but loving lives.
Beetlejuice – 10 of the Best Halloween Movies You Can Stream Now
Directed by Tim Burton, Michael Keaton really steals the show in this movie that flips the script on the haunted house genre in so many ways. Let’s start with the deceased young couple that inhabit the house – played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. A new family, played by Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder, is moving into the house they literally died decorating. As the new family starts to redecorate the house, Baldwin and Davis are abhorred with the idea and the actual transformation. So, like any ghost who lack the expertise to conduct a traditional haunting, they hire bio-exorcist, Beetlejuice, to get rid of the family.
Keaton is hilarious as the bio-exorcist Beetlejuice as he sells himself on his services and then proceeds to expel the new family. However, an obstacle presents itself as the daughter (Winona Ryder), can communicate with Baldwin and Davis. They become friends and with the daughter and decide not to proceed forward with the plan to get rid of the new family. The dinner scene at the end is brilliant as the family conducts a séance that backfires horribly as Beetlejuice works his magic dispel the family and their friends.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
How many Tim Burton movies can you place on a Halloween movie list? Quite a few. Tim Burton movies that were on the survey but got edged out: Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd. However, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the best Halloween movies you can treat yourself to.
It follows the story of Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, who has grown tired of the same annual Halloween celebrations and routines and is pining for something different. After finding doorways that lead to several different holiday towns, he enters the one for Christmas and becomes infatuated with the holiday and its traditions, so much so that he decides he wants to take over the event.
With that in mind, Jack abducts Santa and builds a sleigh with skeletal reindeer and starts delivering presents. However, everything goes haywire for Jack. The Halloween presents are scary and start to attack people, leading to a military response against Jack. In the end, Jack fixes his mess. Santa is reinstated and Christmas and Halloween resume their traditions.
Scream is the second Wes Craven movie on the list and like A Nightmare on Elm Street, offers a different take on the American slasher film, this time taking more of a satirical look at the genre. The story, which is based on the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper, follows a serial killer decked out in a Halloween costume consisting of a black robe and white scary mask. The killer, nicknamed Ghostface, calls his victims asking them what their favorite scary movie happens to be.
The bulk of the movies focuses on Ghostface’s pursuit of Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell. As the investigation starts as to whom Ghostface is, Campbell and the rest of the characters discuss who the killer might be, and the clichés associated with real-world horror films, which are a focus of the threatening calls.
Made in 1996, Scream was unique at the time and was a critical as well as a financial success, leading to a sequel and other spin-offs.
Hocus Pocus – 10 of the Best Halloween Movies You Can Stream Now
The best word to describe this movie is “fun.” It is the perfect family movie for Halloween. Get all the kiddies together to enjoy this comedy about three Salem witches who are accidently resurrected on Halloween night by Max Dennison (Omri Katz). The three Sanderson sisters are played perfectly by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as they pursue Max, his sister, Dani, and Max’s friend, Allison (Thora Birch). The witches must drain Dani’s life essence and youth so they can retain their youth and remain alive.
Set against that plot, the story unfolds with the witches encounter costumed kids and adults celebrating Halloween, mistaking a candy giver as the devil and his wife, cameos by Gary Marshall and Penny Marshall. The movie is absolutely delightful with an immortal cat named Binx, a zombie that is resurrected to help capture Max, Dani and Allison, and the perfect ending to this very engaging Halloween movie.
Well, you knew Halloween was going to be on the list. The 1978 film from John Carpenter has spawned 11 movies and is still one of the most profitable independent films made. The story follows the escape of a mental patient, Michael Myers, from a sanitarium where he was committed at the age of six for murdering his teenage sister on Halloween night. Michael, now 21, returns to his former hometown and begins to terrorize a group of teenagers, consisting of babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut) and her friends.
Who would have thought a white mask modeled after William Shatner’s on the face of a serial killer would be so scary? Halloween is credited with starting the American slasher movie craze and that white mask with its emotionless aspect and the disturbing score from Carpenter make this one of the scariest movies of that or any genres. The film features Donald Pleasance as Michael’s doctor who tries to convince local law enforcement of the threat Myers poses. Of course, that falls on deaf ears and Pleasance is forced to take things into his own hands.
Be prepared to watch Halloween. There are quite a few jump-out-of-your seat moments in the movie as the “boogeyman” wreaks havoc on Curtis’ character and her friends.