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Best Halloween movies

  • Best Halloween movies

    Halloween might be right around the corner, but per tradition, most Americans have already begun celebrating. Far more than a single night of costumes and candy, Halloween is basically a month-long event, which brings forth an endless bevy of spooky lawn decorations, haunted attractions, and, naturally, scary movie marathons. Still, it’s worth noting that the majority of scary movies don’t tie October’s foremost festivity into the premise, while a slew of other movies feature Halloween as a plot point, but don’t necessarily fall under the horror genre.

    Of course, no list of Halloween-themed films or scary movies alike is complete without mention of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, aptly titled “Halloween.” The film series featuring Michael Myers, a serial killer tearing through a small Midwestern town, brought slasher films to cultural relevance in the 1980s. Though the subgenre has fallen out of favor in the 21st century, the newest installment, starring original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, might just bring it back in time for next Halloween. It takes place in a universe where all the previous sequels and reboots never happened at all, which is probably for the best given the lackluster reviews of most of the previous installments. If early reactions are anything to go by, the new sequel might very well be on this list next year.

    Until then, the first one will have to suffice, alongside with the rest of this list, which consists of Halloween movies in the most literal sense. To compile the list, Stacker went to IMDb and looked for movies where Halloween plays a central role in the plot. Only English-language feature films with at least 5,000 user votes were considered eligible, and in the case of a rating tie, the film with more user votes ranked higher on the list. Some of the films are scary; others are not, but all of them feature the spookiest day of the year. Counting down from 17, here are the best Halloween movies.

    ALSO: Halloween by the numbers

  • #17. Flatliners

    Year released: 1990

    IMDb rating: 6.6

    IMDb votes: 72,680

    Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

    In this psychological thriller from 1990, five medical school students undergo near-death experiences and soon find themselves being haunted by demons from their own respective pasts. Directed by Joel Schumacher, the film stars Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon. One of its most harrowing scenes takes place on Halloween night, when Dr. Rachel Mannus (Roberts) decides to flatline, almost to the point of being gone for good. In 2017, a subpar remake was released to little fanfare.



  • #16. Monster House

    Year released: 2006

    IMDb rating: 6.6

    IMDb votes: 85,386

    Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

    “Rick and Morty” co-creator Dan Harmon co-wrote the screenplay for this 3D computer-animated adventure comedy, about three teenagers who come up against a living, breathing haunted house. As one might expect, the ultimate showdown between the teens and the house goes down on Halloween night. Featured in the film are the voices of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, and Steve Buscemi.



  • #15. Lady in White

    Year released: 1988

    IMDb rating: 6.7

    IMDb votes: 5,422

    Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

    An overlooked horror film, “The Lady in White” primarily takes place in 1962, and stars Lukas Haas as a young boy named Frankie Scarlatti. On Halloween night, Frankie gets trapped in a classroom closet, where he witnesses the ghostly reenactment of a murder from years ago. Irrevocably haunted by what he saw, Frankie soon finds himself being stalked by the killer, who might be someone he knows.



  • #14. May

    Year released: 2002

    IMDb rating: 6.7

    IMDb votes: 29,986

    Genre: Drama, Horror

    Angela Bettis plays the title character in this independent horror flick from 2002, about a young woman who struggles to connect with other human beings. Instead, she seeks solace in a strange doll. After the doll gets broken, May decides to replace it using real human body parts, and thus embarks on a vicious Halloween killing spree. Made on a shoestring budget, the film endures as a modern-day cult classic. Anna Faris co-stars.



  • #13. The Guest

    Year released: 2014

    IMDb rating: 6.7

    IMDb votes: 79,318

    Genre: Mystery, Thriller

    Director Adam Wingard drew inspiration from films like “Halloween” and “The Terminator” when crafting this 2014 thriller, which comes complete with a synth-heavy score. In the film, a deranged soldier wanders into a small town around Halloween time and proceeds to terrorize each respective member of the Peterson family. Between the movie’s seasonal backdrop, taut pacing, and horror genre influences, there’s plenty of reason to check it out or revisit it whenever Halloween rolls around.



  • #12. Ginger Snaps

    Year released: 2000

    IMDb rating: 6.8

    IMDb votes: 36,938

    Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

    Exploring themes of teenage puberty through a rather twisted lens, this 2000 horror movie centers on two death-obsessed sisters, both of whom are outcasts in their suburban town. After the older sister gets bitten by a werewolf, her body begins to radically transform, as do her desires. Soon enough, the siblings are in a race against time, trying to cure the older sister of her uncontrollable disease before the next full moon, which happens to fall on Halloween night.



  • #11. Trick 'r Treat

    Year released: 2007

    IMDb rating: 6.8

    IMDb votes: 71,288

    Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller

    Interweaving five grisly (albeit semi-comedic) stories together on a single Halloween night, this heralded cult classic makes for quintessential October viewing. Accordingly, it features a mischievous prank gone awry, a serial killing principal, and a supernatural trick-or-treater. Released straight-to-DVD in 2009, the movie unexpectedly spawned a mini-franchise, which included a graphic novel, a coffee table book, a comic book, merchandise, and a sequel. Former “X-Men 2” castmates Anna Paquin and Brian Cox star.



  • #10. Hocus Pocus

    Year released: 1993

    IMDb rating: 6.8

    IMDb votes: 73,501

    Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

    What began as a bedtime story that writer David Kirschner invented for his kids eventually became this cult Disney movie from 1993. It stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as three 17th-century witches, who are brought back to life in modern times. With precious little time on their hands, the witches must feast on children’s souls before Halloween is over, lest they disintegrate at sunrise. The movie underperformed upon its initial release, but has since become an October staple thanks to regular airings on Disney Channel and Freeform. Thora Birch co-stars.



  • #9. The Addams Family

    Year released: 1991

    IMDb rating: 6.9

    IMDb votes: 110,189

    Genre: Comedy, Fantasy

    The short-lived but iconic TV series soared onto the big screen with this 1991 adaptation, starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci in respective lead roles. Chronicling the exploits of the truly eccentric Addams family, the movie was a box office smash, as well as a veritable pop culture phenom. As one might imagine, Halloween is a big deal in this kooky household, so it’s no surprise that the celebration plays a central role toward the end of the film.



  • #8. Affliction

    Year released: 1997

    IMDb rating: 7

    IMDb votes: 13,321

    Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

    Just because a movie incorporates Halloween, that doesn’t mean viewers should automatically expect an endless string of spooky thrills. So goes this gripping drama from 1997, about an alcoholic cop (Nick Nolte) who grapples with his deteriorating mental state while investigating a small town murder. One of the movie’s most telling exchanges—involving the main character and his estranged daughter—occurs on Halloween night. That said, “Affliction” is not a Halloween film in any real sense, even if it is kind of terrifying in its own way. Sissy Spacek co-stars.



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