31 Films To Get You Into The Halloween Spirit

Once again it is that time of the year, where ghouls and goblins lurk around every corner, and that weirdo you walk past on you’re way to work is ten times more stress inducing. October has arrived meaning Halloween will soon be following, my personal favorite time of the year. While I eat, sleep, and breath horror year around it is nice to have a full month where its perfectly normal to spend all your waking hours thinking about the ghastly and terror inducing bumps in the night without being looked at like a weirdo or being labeled as a Goth kid (not that there is anything wrong with Goth kids).

This is also the time of year where casual and die-hard horror fans a like go out of their way to watch large amounts of scary movies. Often this is also when various friends or friends of friends ask me for recommendations as the creepy horror guy in many of the circles I am involved in. This lead to me putting together the following list of some films that I really enjoy watching to get myself into the spirit of Halloween. These are in no certain order and if I had the time and will power to do so could make this list go on forever, so if “insert name” is not on the list it is nothing personal. With that said lets get started and I hope you take the time to watch a few of these this year and send you all wishes of wonderfully wicked Halloweens.

Synopses courtesy of IMDB.com

Lady in White (1988)

Synopsis: Locked in a school closet during Halloween 1962, young Frank witnesses the ghost of a young girl and the man who murdered her years ago. Shortly afterward he finds himself stalked by the killer and is soon drawn to an old house where a mysterious Lady In White lives. As he discovers the secret of the woman, he soon finds that the killer may be someone close to him.

Comments: As a kid this movie scared me to death, it felt so plausible that it ended up being one of the films that authentically caused me to lose sleep for many nights. This is a great family friendly film for the season that will leave younger and old viewers alike with a steady cold chill working up their spines. This is one of the few horror films I could get my Mom to watch with me, as she cannot handle violence also making this a special movie to me.

House of Wax (1953)

Synopsis: A sculptor of wax figures for a museum is horrified when his partner proposes setting fire to the unpopular museum in order to collect the insurance money. As the wax figures melt amid the blaze, the two men have a fight. The sculptor is knocked out in the scuffle and left to “perish” among the flames.

Comments: Halloween just is not Halloween without Vincent Price, and this is my go to film when I need my Price fix. I absolutely love this movie, and once again perfectly family friendly and in my opinion a great way to spend the afternoon sharing some screams with the ones you love. I know if I ever have children of my own, this film will be a staple of Halloween celebrations as I pass the horror torch down to a new generation of fiends.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Synopsis: Five friends visiting their grandpa’s old house are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.

Comments: Also a special film for me personally due to it being the very first horror movie I ever watched at the very young age of five. While most normal children would find themselves completely terrified, I on the other hand latched onto Leatherface right off the bat instantly turning me into a life long horror junkie. This is necessary watch movie for the month of October and often is how I choose to start the season, a true horror classic that never gets old.

Phantasm (1979)

Synopsis: A young boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a mysterious arsenal of terrible weapons with him.

Comments: Another classic from my childhood that got a lot of play during the Halloween season. Each year my best friend growing up use to sit down for a horror movie marathon on the night of and I cannot think of one session that did not include this movie. A great flick to watch with friends munching down on serious amounts of popcorn and soda, this is film perfectly captures the vibe of a spooky Halloween night.

Poltergeist (1982)

Synopsis: A family’s home is haunted by a host of ghosts.

Comments: I was tempted to write my own more detailed synopsis, but honestly, that perfectly sums up this picture perfect example of a well-done supernatural based horror film. I love movies about ghosts and the paranormal, but as an ex-investigator who has had personal run-ins with the supernatural, I tend to be a bit fussy. Year after year, I revisit this flick and it never diminishes in terms of effectiveness, a basic and truly scary story brought to life with special effects that still cause jaws to drop today. What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with this

Critters (1986)

Synopsis: A massive ball of furry creatures from another world eats their way through a small mid-western town followed by intergalactic bounty hunters opposed only by militant townspeople.

Comments: You cannot go wrong with Critters in my book, it is the perfect blend of gore and campy laughs. With a PG-13 rating, it is another great choice for a night of family scares.  Creature features in my opinion are a great way to introduce younger viewers to horror as well as you can explain these monsters are not real.

Spider Baby (1968)

Synopsis: A caretaker devotes himself to three demented adults after their father’s death.

Comments: Some of you may already know this, but Spider Baby is my all time favorite horror film. The debut of horror icon Sid Haig, this is a movie that I could re-watch repeatedly and never grow tired of it. I always make sure this is apart of my own personal Halloween season. Again, a great choice for a night with the family, authentically creepy and suggestive but never visually graphic making it perfect for younger viewers.

Monster Squad (1987)

Synopsis: Young kids form a club that is devoted to monsters, but soon get more than they bargained for when Count Dracula adjourns to Earth, accompanied by Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gillman. The uglies are in search of a powerful amulet that will grant them power to rule the world. Our heroes – the Monster Squad are the only ones daring to stand in their way.

Comments: This is one of the best choices you can make if you are looking for family fun. Kids and adults a like will love this insanely fun horror comedy. As a youngster, I always dreamt of starting my own monster club thanks to this movie, and it made me feel normal for being so into monster movies, thanks to being exposed to other die-hard kid fans in movie form.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Synopsis: Survivors of undead serial killer Freddy Krueger – who stalks his victims in their dreams – learn to take control of their own dreams in order to fight back.

Comments: Why not the original? Because in my opinion this is the best film of the franchise and always is my first choice when it comes curing my Freddy Krueger cravings. The kills are top-notch and they level of laughs in this one is through the roof, Freddy is really on his A game in this one spitting out endless one liners and quotable phrases. “Ain’t gonna dream no more, no more. Ain’t gonna dream no more. All night long, I sing this song. Ain’t gonna dream no more.”

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Synopsis: While Jason lies unconscious, a local man decides to use Jason’s old M.O. and wreaks havoc at a halfway house for troubled teens.

Comments: Once again I feel this is by far the best of the best of the franchise and would go with it over the original any day. Tommy Jarvis in my eyes is just as much of the franchise as Jason himself which is why this is by far my favorite Friday the 13th film. The premise is highly interesting and the characters all for the most part are memorable creating a bond with them that many of the other Friday the 13th films lack. The man behind the mask is necessary for Halloween, I highly recommend going with this sequel, as it never fails to impress.

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

Synopsis: After a misunderstanding, Ernest P. Worrell unleashes an evil troll on Halloween.

Comments: Combo Ernest Scared Stupid with Monster Squad and you have a night your children will not soon forget. Some of my fondest memories from Halloween growing up were getting to watch “scary” movies with people in my family who normally would not watch them. The typical silly Ernest humor intertwined into a classic creature feature, a hybrid that leads to endless laughs and is powerful enough to make Halloween always remain a magical time of year.

Return of The Living Dead (1985)

Synopsis: When a bumbling pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally releasing a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to re-animate as they go on a rampage through Louisville, Kentucky seeking their favorite food, brains.

Comments: The crème de la crème of both zombie cinema and horror comedies, this film will never grow old. Set in my very own home state of Kentucky this movie has been an obsession of mine since the first time I laid eyes on it. Gore, laughs, and one of the best punk rock fueled soundtracks to ever exist, this movie truly has it all.

Night of The Creeps (1986)

Synopsis: Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.

Comments: Totally unrelated to the film, but some of the IMDB synopses crack me up and are why I have opted to include them instead of trying to sum them up myself. Now on to this wonderful example of 80s horror comedy, this in my opinion right below Return of The Living Dead is the second best horror comedy to ever be made. Tom Atkins for starters is the man, his one-liners are second to none, and he shines in this flick. The first time I saw this film was around Halloween on Cinemax in the middle of the night when I should have been asleep and it forever left its mark on my fragile impressionable mind.

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

Synopsis: A man on the run is hunted by a demon known as the Collector.

Comments: I have been a long time fan of Tales From The Crypt, back to when it aired on HBO. Clearly, when I heard they were making another film I freaked out and went into uncontrollable nerdgasm mode. Demon Knight has everything a horror nerd could want all rolled up into one ball of perfection. Humor, nudity, and buckets of blood and gore, it perfectly captured the vibe of the television show on the big screen creating an experience I will never forget.

Night of The Comet (1984)

Synopsis: A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types who survive.

Comments: Another late night classic, I first saw this movie during USA Channels Up All Night at staple in my childhood exposure to many movies that would later become inspiration for my own writings. I have always felt that Night of The Comet is one of the most solid attempts at the scenario of being one of the few left on Earth after some sort of terrible event.  A highly underrated addition to the comedy sub genre of horror, I have many Halloween memories attached to watching Night of The Comet.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Synopsis: Three unemployed parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

Comments: It does not get much more legendary then Ghostbusters, and I’m sure practically everyone reading this has seen this film a million times. Nonetheless, this is a perfect movie to revisit once again during the month of October. Fans with kids I highly recommend you include this in their festivities as a way to pass the torch and share with them some of your own childhood memories. Pair with the sequel for a dark and stormy night double feature that be forever embedded into the minds of your kids.

House (1986)

Synopsis: Roger Cobb is an author who has just separated from his wife. He moves into a new house and tries to work on a novel based on his experiences in the Vietnam War. Strange things start happening around him; little things at first, but as they become more frequent, Cobb becomes aware that the house resents his presence.

Comments: This is a great movie to save until Halloween night itself, the classic haunted house story with plenty of laughs. I first stumbled upon this movie the old fashion way of scanning shelves of a brick and mortar video rental store, thanks to an extra awesome box cover. Ding-dong you’re dead, one of the most memorable taglines from this horror fiends childhood.

The People Under The Stairs (1991)

Synopsis: Two adults and a juvenile burglar break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children and cannot escape.

Comments: In my opinion this is one of if not the best work of Wes Craven’s, I know many people in the community seem to dislike this film but it has always been one of my favorites. The characters are all highly memorable and likeable you honestly want to see them rise up and succeed. Very dark and creepy atmosphere created by the fact while over the top it is mostly believable, for a great religious nuts double feature pair this with Kevin Smith’s Red State.

Ghost Chase (1987)

Synopsis: In an old Hollywood mansion, the spirit of an old family retainer inhabits an old grandfather clock. When a movie company uses the mansion for a film, the spirit inhabits the body of an alien and persuades the two filmmakers to track down an old house that will resolve a family scandal.

Comments: From director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Stargate) comes a 80s gem that most people have never seen. If by chance you are one of the few people, who have watched this film and enjoyed it then by default we have just became BFFs. I fell in love with this flick the first time I rented to the point that I “lost” it and paid an insane fee in order to keep the VHS because the chances of me locating it locally to own was non existent. Family friendly and loads of fun this one may take some searching to find but its well worth it. Last I checked you could get it new for $25-30 on DVD and used for around $10 but limited copies, or those with VHS players can snag a copy for a few bucks and experience it the way it should be.

The Thing (1982)

Synopsis: a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills confronts Scientists in the Antarctic.

Comments: John Carpenter’s special effects masterpiece, a must watch for any fans gearing up to go out and see the prequel this Halloween season, this is a very important movie to me as it truly showcases the beauty of 80s special effects. As mentioned before there is a prequel coming out this season but it looks like a CGI fest so that aspect of the original has likely been lost. You can do no wrong when it comes with the original though and if you looking for a night of blood and guts look no further.

The Blob (1988)

Synopsis: A strange life form consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

Comments: I went with the remake on this one because it is my personal favorite of the two due to it being insanely gory compared to its counterpart. With that being said, if you want to watch this with younger viewers I would dial it back to the 1958 version because this one is far from family friendly, a true classic in every sense of the word and a great way to get into the mood for tricks and treats.

The Brood (1979)

Synopsis: A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation.

Comments: My personal favorite Cronenberg flick, The Brood is truly a visually disturbing movie. If you want to invoke some old fashion fear this season, I highly recommend you toss in The Brood and bask in the glory that is Cronenberg at his finest.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Synopsis: A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.

Comments: Out of all the family friendly movies that I have included in this list, this is by far the best choice if you ask me. Beetlejuice perfectly captures the mystery and magic that make Halloween such a fun time of year. Mind blowing visuals and laughs for both kids and adults, this is a win win situation for a fun night with the family this Halloween.

The Changeling (1980)

Synopsis: A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds his life being haunted by the presence of a spectre.

Comments: On the other end of the haunted house spectrum this is perfect if you are in the mood for ghosts and want to lose some sleep. This truly creepy flick would be idea for setting a scary mood before a night of walking the streets looking for treats. This one always leaves me with an uneasy feeling whenever I watch it alone in a pitch black room.

The Shining (1980)

Synopsis: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Comments: One of the most terrifying supernatural based horror films to ever come along, visually stunning, with one of the most famous Jack Nicholson performances ever, a true masterpiece. This movie creates such a creepy atmosphere it always finds its way on my list of recommendations for Halloween fun. If you are in the mood for old school scares this is a perfect choice.

Puppetmaster (1989)

Synopsis: André Toulon is a puppet maker and the best of the kind. One day he happens upon an old Egyptian formula able to create life, so he decides to give life to his puppets. The Nazis seek to use this knowledge to their advantage and in desperation, Toulon commits suicide. Some years later four psychics get on the trail of a former colleague who suddenly commits suicide, and they decide to investigate the mansion he killed himself in. Along with his widow, they uncover the secrets of the Puppet Master.

Comments: Full Moon was always a big part of the season for me as a kid, often there would be a Puppetmaster marathon starting at the beginning up until the latest release. Normally these would be paired up over a weekend with the Subspecies films as tribute to one of the coolest studios of the 80s/90s.

The Good Son (1993)

Synopsis: A young boy stays with his aunt and uncle, and befriends his cousin who is the same age. However, his cousin begins showing increasing signs of psychotic behavior.

Comments: This may seem like a completely out of left field choice but, the fall/winter back drop of this movie and the fact once again it is totally plausible made it a movie I often watch this time of year. Pair this with 1956s The Bad Seed for a double feature of killer kids.

The Burbs (1989)

Synopsis: An overstressed suburbanite and his paramilitary neighbor struggle to prove their paranoid theory that the new family in town is a front for a cannibalistic cult.

Comments: As many readers know by now I love this movie as if it was my very own child. This is one of the funniest horror comedies ever and is perfect for old and young a like. You get an all-star cast including legendary Tom Hanks along side director Joe Dante (Gremlins) creating a movie that is timeless in every sense.

Slaughter High (1986)

Synopsis: Eight different people are invited to their 10-year high school reunion at their now-closed down high school where a former student, disfigured from a prank gone wrong, is there to seek revenge.

Comments: A lesser-known slasher from the 80s that I have a deep respect for. Very low budget and ultra effective this flick still manages to make me jump a time or two with its clever use of age old scare tactics. Each of the kills is imaginative for the most part and the set up is relatable to most creating a great movie experience.

The Gate (1987)

Synopsis: Three young children accidentally release a horde of nasty, pint-sized demons from a hole in a suburban backyard. What follows is a classic battle between good and evil as the three kids struggle to overcome a nightmarish hell that is literally taking over the Earth.

Comments: 80s metal, superb creature effects, and a story that will completely enthrall the minds of kids and adults this is a great movie to break out this season. This has always been a go to for me during October and year around honestly and I hope to see it end being one of those films that are handed down generation to generation.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)

Synopsis: Garfield has one spooktacular adventure on the Eve of All Saints. He fashions himself a pirate costume then takes Odie out trick-or-treating to ensure extra candy. However, when attempting to cross a river on a boat, Garfield and Odie end up at a haunted house. Horror and hilarity ensue.

Comments: If you only watch one thing in honor of Halloween this year or any year here after it should be Garfield’s Halloween Adventure. For me Halloween does not start until I hear a chorus of “Candy, candy, candy” coming from my television’s speakers. I saved this one for last because it is hands down the most important Halloween film in my book.

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About Ted Brown

I eat, breath, and live the horror genre. Gore translates to beauty, and terror the gateway to happiness.
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  • Stephanie

    Spider Baby…my fav! :)

  • Mei

    This list is really interesting. I am a huge horror fan, and our lists would be quite different. What I appreciate about your list is that I didn’t go through saying “seen it… seen it… seen it” after each one. There are a lot of movies here to add to my must-watch list, and I thank you!

    Some of the movies I would have on my list: In the Mouth of Madness, Pet Sematary & Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (my fave metafilm of all time).