Top Halloween Horror Movies

From The Midnight Hour to Trick 'R Treat

What better to watch on Halloween than a horror movie that takes place on Halloween? Here are some great Halloween horror flicks to scare you senseless.

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The Midnight Hour (1985)

Midnight Hour DVD
© Anchor Bay

This lighthearted made-for-TV movie plays like a feature-length version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video without the red leather or the burdensome insistence on hipness. The film takes place one Halloween night as a group of 30-something "teens" (including LeVar Burton, Shari Belafonte, Dedee Pfeiffer and Peter DeLuise) accidentally unleash an ancient curse that raises the dead (which, for some reason includes a werewolf and a vampire). It's cheesy PG-rated fun that's good for an (unintentional) laugh -- especially during the jaw-dropping musical number "I'm Dead, You're Dying."

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Hellbent (2004)

Hellbent DVD
© Regent

If it's Halloween in LA, there's only one spot to be: West Hollywood. Hellbent, supposedly the first gay slasher, smartly takes advantage of this gay neighborhood setting in the tale of a devil-masked killer stalking victims at the annual Halloween festivities. Its strong set pieces provide thrills beyond the film's modest budget because it's first and foremost a horror movie -- one that just happens to feature gay characters.

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Boo (2005)

© Kismet

Is there anything better on Halloween than a haunted house? This high-end straight-to-video offering provides the requisite scares (partying teens + haunted hospital = dead partying teens) with a clever self-awareness of genre expectations: one character exclaims as they head into the spooky building on Halloween night: "Great, we are gonna be those stupid kids."

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The Hazing (2004)

The Hazing DVD

This derivative but fun low-budget horror-comedy finds a group of fraternity and sorority pledges dressing up in costumes, going on a scavenger hunt and spending Halloween night in a haunted house. Unfortunately for them, one of the items in the scavenger hunt is a book that opens a portal to Hell (probably something by ​Nicholas Sparks). As if spending the night in a haunted house isn't bad enough, now they have to deal with demonic possessions -- although, on the bright side, this makes their deaths all the more entertaining.

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Trick or Treat (1986)

Trick or Treat DVD
© Platinum Disc

Few trends define the '80s such as hair metal, and few movies capture the essence of hair metal like the campy Trick or Treat. In the movie, social misfit Eddie discovers that he can conjure his dead rock 'n roll idol, Sammi Curr, by playing his last, unreleased album backward. Given this method of communication, he shouldn't be surprised when the rocker's spirit turns out to be evil and goes about killing people right and left, including a Halloween concert in which he vaporizes audience members by shooting electric beams from his guitar. Another can't-miss scene: Sammi reaches through the TV and strangles a moral crusader railing against his music on a talk show.

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Lady in White (1988)

Lady in White DVD
© 20th Century Fox

This staid ghost story is all the more terrifying because it's told from a child's point of view via voiceover and nostalgic flashbacks; indeed, it could've been called A Halloween Story. On Halloween night, a boy is locked alone in a closet at school, where he witnesses the ghost of a murdered girl -- and the return of the all-too-alive murderer.

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Cemetery of Terror (1985)

Cemetery of Terrror DVD
© BCI Eclipse

This so-bad-it's-good Mexican flick (also known as Cementerio del Terror) proves that cinematic teenagers are stupid in any language. On Halloween night, a group of teens thinks it's a good idea to sneak into an abandoned house and use a satanic book they find to raise the dead. It's such a good idea, in fact, that they go out of their way to break into a morgue and steal a body suitable for raising. Too bad for them they end up stealing a claw-handed satanic serial killer. Bad things ensue, including a rousing ending that turns the film from a slasher into an all-out zombie movie.

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Night of the Demons (1988)

Night of the Demons DVD
© Anchor Bay

Ridiculous caricatures, lame dialog, and cheesy acting only enhance the campy fun of this oh-so-'80s gorefest. Stop me if you've heard this one before: a group of teens decides to throw a Halloween party at an old haunted house. I'm sure they'll be fine. Or maybe a demon from Hell will possess a pair of partygoers, turning them into hideous, fanged she-demons.

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Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps DVD
© Artisan

A pair of brooding teen sisters with an unhealthy bond and a hilariously morbid fascination with death sneak out one night and are attacked by a werewolf. Ginger, the pretty one, is bitten and begins to turn, going from burnout to hottie in an effort to draw in her prey. She's able to attend a Halloween party partially turned (including a tail) because everyone thinks she's in costume. The film cleverly parallels Ginger's transformation to going through puberty, with the growing pains, sexual promiscuity, social changes and Clearasil inherent therein.

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May (2002)

© Lionsgate

May chronicles the descent into madness of a young woman who's always been an outcast because of her lazy eye, her social awkwardness and her penchant for the macabre. Just when she thinks she's starting to make friends -- and more-than-friends -- they end up pushing her away. "So many pretty parts," she reasons, "and no pretty wholes." She finally snaps on Halloween and decides to create her own friend from the "pretty parts" of the people she knows.

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Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
© Key Video

This made-for-TV movie is a dark, disturbing tale of revenge from beyond the grave. Bubba, a mentally challenged man in a small town, befriends a little girl named Marylee, and when she's attacked by a dog, four yokels who've apparently read Of Mice and Men one too many times assume Bubba is to blame. They track him down -- he hides disguised as a scarecrow in a field -- and shoot him in cold blood. Only after they kill him do they discover that the girl was attacked by a dog and is in fact alive and well. Later, as Halloween approaches, the culprits notice the scarecrow popping up on their property and one by one suffer deadly "accidents." 

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Satan's Little Helper (2004)

Satan's Little Helper DVD
© Universal

Gleefully dark humor marks this story of a delusional boy who befriends a serial killer on Halloween, thinking he's a character from a video game. The killer is dressed as Satan, and the boy gladly signs on as his "helper," aiding in what he thinks are fake deaths but which turn out to be quite real. Kids are so easy.

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Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow DVD
© Paramount

It's not stated explicitly that this movie takes place on Halloween -- probably because Halloween wasn't celebrated much in 1799 -- but jack-o-lanterns are seen throughout, and the Headless Horseman tale, told with delicious dry wit by Tim Burton, has become synonymous with the October holiday.

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Trick 'r Treat (2009)

'Trick 'r Treat' movie poster.
'Trick 'r Treat' movie poster. © Warner Bros.

This anthology delves into several Halloween mythologies -- like jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating -- while weaving five tales that play like ghost stories you'd tell each other in front of a fireplace on a spooky Halloween night.

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Halloween (1978)

Halloween DVD
© Anchor Bay

Is there any other choice? The preeminent slasher is also the preeminent Halloween horror movie. The babysitter and child-in-peril theme strikes at the heart of the childhood fears that fuel the holiday. Combine that with the thought of a serial killer with an insatiable bloodlust and a soulless visage blending into the masked Halloween crowd, top it off with John Carpenter's creepy score, and Halloween is a must for any October 31st festivities.