Halloween season is just around the corner, and now’s the perfect time to get into the spirit of the holidays. What better way to get your scare-face on than by watching Halloween movies?
Nothing can compare to the feeling we get when we turn the lights down low and watch a spooky film that gets our hearts racing and hair rising. We are utterly glued to our seats for two hours and we feel the adrenaline rush in our blood as we watch the story unfold. Somehow, we are completely transported from our rooms to a different dimension where witches, ghosts, and magic exist. For those two hours, we feel completely alive.
30 Quintessential Halloween Movies for Adults in 2023: Old Time Classics and New Thrillers
Now the question is: what are the quintessential movies that you need to add to your to-watch list this year?
Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re breaking down 30 of the best Halloween films you need to watch, from cult classics to new releases.
Classic Scary Movies To Get into the Halloween Spirit
When choosing a movie, there’s one rule of thumb that you always need to remember: you can never go wrong with cult classics. If you can’t decide what movie to watch for spooky movie night, we suggest looking back at old-time favorites, like the following.
The first on our list is none other than John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween. This is a seriously scary show that introduces you to a stalker-slash-killer named Michael Myers who escapes a mental institute to go on a killing spree in a small town.
He lurks in the shadows and pounces on his victim, complete with a mask and a knife in his hands. So, it comes as no surprise that this character will surely haunt your dreams and keep you on your toes.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Originally released in 1984, this slasher film focuses on a seriously scarred midnight mangler named Freddy Krueger who preys, haunts, and kills a group of teenagers in their dreams. Not knowing why this supernatural phenomenon is happening, the characters work to unravel the secrets of this mystery to escape the wrath and power of this disfigured nightmare.
If you love a good mix of mystery, thriller, and — of course — horror, this classic is definitely right up your alley.
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Among the many movies on this list, nothing screams slasher movie and gore more than “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” released in 1974.
The plot for this film revolves around a group of hippies going on a road trip through Texas and falling prey to — you guessed it! — a murderous and cannibalistic family. If that alone is not scary enough, the members of the family are composed of a grave robber, a cannibal chief, a decaying grandfather, and a chainsaw-wielding, leather-masked maniac. What can go wrong, right?
Every scene is action-packed and full of blood. This movie will keep your heart rate up as you watch this group of hippies try to escape their doom.
4. The Shining
“The Shining” is an iconic film based on Stephen King’s book of the same title. The story centers around the life of a struggling writer and a recovering alcoholic named Jack Torrance who becomes a caretaker of an isolated historic hotel.
While the plot may seem basic on the surface, don’t let it fool you. A lot happens in that hotel that is brilliantly depicted in the movie. From sinister surroundings to psychological breakdowns and everything in between, this movie is one of the most quintessential Halloween movies you need to watch.
Another adaptation of Stephen King’s writing is “Carrie.” Released in 1976, this film is about a sheltered outcast who has telekinetic powers named Carrie. After being pushed too far by her peers, she unleashes her powers and causes mayhem — and on prom night, no less.
This whole story puts a major twist on high school drama that will make you see it in a completely new light. So, if this is something you’re interested in, be sure to grab a copy of this movie.
6. The Exorcist
We can’t talk about Halloween movies without going into the demonic possessions. So, of course, we have to talk about “The Exorcist.”
The first installment of “The Exorcist” came out in 1973. In the film, we follow the story of a young girl being possessed by a demon and her mother trying to rescue her through a series of exorcism rituals. This movie is extra scary because unlike other horror films that are purely fictional, this one is loosely based on actual events. So, it makes you wonder: do the events that happen in the film happen in real life?
While there have been many remakes of this film’s concept over the years, the original version remains unparalleled in delivering an equally disturbing and terrifying cinematic experience.
“They’re heeeere!” Doesn’t that quote just give you goosebumps?
If “The Exorcist” is your cup of tea, then you’ll love “Poltergeist.” This movie revolves around the Freeling family who lives in a seemingly average California home. One day, ghosts begin to communicate with them through their television set. At first, these supernatural entities seem playful and friendly. But as the movie progresses, they become more menacing and even psychotic.
That said, if you love a bit of jumpscare, a bit of family (mis)adventure, and a lot of angry spirits, this is the movie to watch during this spooky season.
8. Night of the Living Dead
Now, let’s move on to the zombie movie classic. “Night of the Living Dead,” released in 1968 follows the story of a group of individuals taking refuge in an abandoned house. During their stay, the corpses suddenly come alive. They leave the graveyard and search for food, which — spoiler alert! — is human flesh. One of the characters tries to mitigate the situation as best as he can but, as all horror movies go, he doesn’t completely succeed. In no time at all, chaos ensues and all hell breaks loose. Zombies try to make their way inside the house, and one by one, the survivors become prey to the living dead.
Compared to the other films on this list, “Night of the Living Dead” can be considered relatively tame. There are no jump scares and no exceptionally gory graphics that will give you nightmares for days. Every scene unfolds slowly and you can follow through without jumping out of your seat. Despite this, however, it remains unnerving on a different level. So, be prepared.
Have you ever heard of the Boogeyman? The mythological creature that hides under your bed and haunts your thoughts? If you haven’t you’re definitely in for a treat.
“Boogeyman” transforms this popular folklore into a thing of nightmares because it centers around childhood trauma, imagination, and fear. It questions the reality (or lack thereof) of something our minds have concocted during our developing stages. Because of this, “Boogeyman” is considered a psychological horror story that makes us think: are the monsters of our childhood only just a figment of our imagination?
10. Paranormal Activity
“Paranormal Activity” is a film franchise that started in 2007. Since then, there have been seven other releases that follow the same concept but in different settings.
This franchise is so popular, not only because of its inventive plotline, but more importantly, its screenplay. Every scene is presented as though you’re watching from a CCTV camera, making the story feel more real and relatable. So, if you want to feel like you’re part of the film, binge-watch this whole franchise.
Ever wonder why clowns get a bad rap? We might not be able to pinpoint the exact origin, but we want to place our bets on this movie.
Based on another Stephen King novel, this horror flick started out as a mini-series in 1990 but was later on adapted to the big screen in 2017.
It’s sort of similar to the “Boogeyman,” but 10x worse because the monster (It) transforms into the character’s biggest fears, enabling it to exploit everyone’s phobias. So, there’s no escaping the scare factor.
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is a masterpiece that tells the story of an escaping secretary, a psychotic proprietor, and a ramshackle hotel.
While the traditional elements of a horror film are present — a damsel in distress, a murderer, and a rundown environment — the film was considered a breakthrough at the time because of its ability to set audience expectations and defy them. In doing so, Hitchcock made the mysterious and spooky aspects of the film more powerful and noticeable.
If you watch it now, you may come to appreciate the origins of horror films and see how the genre has evolved throughout the years. Because of this, “Psycho” is a must-watch this season, especially if you’ve never seen this timeless classic before.
13. Silence of the Lambs
Another psychological horror flick you need to add to your list is Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs.”
In the movie, Jack Crawford, an FBI agent, brings in Clarice Starling, an FBI student, to interview a violent psychopath and cannibal named Hannibal Lecter. While she goes in with a pretense of getting valuable information, Crawford’s main objective is to use the student as bait in the hopes of obtaining insight into a case he’s working on.
Unlike other horror films that use heavy gore and visual effects to get the story across, “Silence of the Lambs” leaves everything to the imagination, making it exceptionally unsettling.
14. Friday the 13th
“Friday the 13th” follows a timeless horror plotline where a group of youngsters set camp in the abandoned woods only to be brutally stalked and killed by a masked murderer. One by one the characters die and the whole movie keeps you on your toes trying to figure out which one of them dies next. Will they all die or will one of them survive to carry on?
15. Child’s Play
You will never see dolls and toys the same way after you watch “Child’s Play.”
A dying detective uses black magic to transfer his soul to a doll called Chucky. Unaware of the soul in the doll, a mother (Karen Barclay) buys the toy for her son, Andy.
Soon after getting Chucky, Andy discovers that his doll comes alive and kills people — his first victim being Andy’s little sister. When Andy tries to warn people, they ignore him. Now, Karen needs to convince the detectives of the doll’s murderous intentions before Chucky gets the chance to kill her son.
Talk about childhood trauma, right? If you want to get spooked this Halloween season, you need to watch this movie.
New Releases to Stream
While many may argue that cult classics aren’t that scary because technology and special effects have come such a long way, we beg to differ. The classics paved the way for modern horror and have become a cornerstone and timeless standard for what scary movies ought to be.
With that in mind, there have been many incredible films in recent years that have utilized some fundamental aspects of the classics and have transformed them into something more modern — with the help of technology, of course. Without further ado, take a look at our top picks for new horror movies you need to watch in 2023.
16. There’s Someone Inside Your House
Combine secrets and gossip with murder, and you got yourself a movie called “There’s Someone Inside Your House.” It follows an “I know what you did” and “whodunnit” format of storytelling that puts you on the edge of the seat.
Every character is a victim and a suspect, which makes this film quite interesting and engaging. Follow the series of events as you uncover the true murderer and solve the crime.
17. The Black Phone
This movie has it all: masked serial killer, kidnapped child, spirits, mystery, and of course, suspense
A boy is abducted and trapped in a basement where he tries his hardest to escape. One day, a disconnected black phone begins to ring and the boy discovers that he can talk to the killer’s previous victims. Through his communication with the dead, he tries several times to get out of the basement. So now the question is: does he succeed?
“The Black Phone” is an imaginative, frightening, and entertaining movie that keeps your heart racing from start to finish. You’ll definitely be at the edge of your seat as you follow the boy’s efforts to escape.
18. Ready or Not
On the day of Grace’s wedding, everything seems blissful and perfect… that is until she ends her vows and finds herself in the middle of a game that will spell life or death for her.
Taking the whole hide and seek to a whole new level, this horror flick is about fighting for survival no matter what. So, if you like suspense, action, and a whole lot of violence, give this movie a watch.
19. Get Out
Jordan Peele’s first horror film, “Get Out” will take you on the ride of your life. The plot may be seemingly innocent, but when you uncover the layers that lie beneath, you’ll be surprised at what horrors can arise.
The film is full of twists and turns, cultural references, and psychological games. Not only does this film serve as a breakthrough in the film industry, but it also demonstrates the issues in race relations in modern America. Get ready to get your mind blown with this film.
In Peele’s second horror movie, a family takes a vacation in the country when something unexpected happens. A group of doppelgangers appears and begins attacking their respective counterparts. From then, the movie takes a turn for the worst and we’re immersed in a world of psychological breakdowns and crazy mysteries.
It’s safe to say that everything about this film is a whirlwind — including the soundtrack that will give you chills — and you’ll be sure to leave your seats a little confused, but completely disturbed.
Wonder what could go wrong in a pagan festival halfway across the world? Well, this movie answers it for you. As it turns out, a lot of things can happen.
While this film may seem cinematically aesthetic and pleasant with its vibrant colors, beds of flowers, and breathtaking scenic views, it’s anything but. Throughout the movie, you’ll enter a seemingly new world to uncover the true colors of the festival and witness the evil intentions of a pagan Scandinavian cult.
22. Fear Street Trilogy
Based on the best-selling horror series by renowned author, R.L. Stine, the “Fear Street” trilogy began in 1994 when a group of teens discovers that something haunted is happening in their small town of Shadyside. Turns out, this haunting spree has been going on for generations and the new kids on the block become the monsters’ next victims.
The classic themes of prey and predator, small-town story, and masked murderers are all present in this movie, so you’re bound to enjoy every minute of it. Plus, Sadie Sink and Maya Hawke — your favorite characters from “Stranger Things” — are in the film. If that’s not reason enough to go see it, we don’t know what is.
23. Escape Room
What makes a horror film so successful? It’s how they use relatable instances in day-to-day life and exaggerate them to create an unforgettable and truly terrifying cinematic experience. From family vacations gone wrong to haunted houses and violent games, a good horror film is all about looking at the real world from a different perspective. “Escape Room” does just that.
Based on a popular activity, the movie revolves around a group of strangers taking part in an escape room to win a grand prize. While it may seem all fun and games at first, they quickly realize that there’s more on the line than just money.
24. Things Heard and Seen
The movie tells the story of a timeless plot where a family moves from the city to the country only to find out that their new house is haunted. The mother — played by Amanda Seyfried — begins to notice strange things. At first, she assumed that they were only a result of her muddled mind. But as stranger and creepier things continue to reveal themselves, she then comes to realize that they’re all real.
What will the ghost of past residents do to the new family? Will they make it out alive? Discover the answers to these questions by watching this thrilling movie.
Since the South Korean film “Parasite” won a historical Oscar in 2020, South Korean entertainment has taken the world by storm. Since then, many Asian directors and filmmakers used this newfound fame to introduce new films to the world. One of them is “#Alive.”
The movie centers around a reclusive live streamer who must find a way to survive amidst the ongoing zombie outbreak outside of his apartment.
At the time it was released, the global pandemic was at an all-time high. Talks of viruses and outbreaks became triggers for fear and uncertainty. By tapping on a collective experience and adding a hint of a zombie apocalypse, this movie was able to get the attention of audiences on a global scale.
Leveraging the need to be present online, the film takes horror to a whole new level. Forget about ghosts and witches, demonic possessions, and unrealistic killers. It’s time to bring horror to the real world through the digital space.
“Cam” tells a story of a camera girl trying to increase her viewership when one day she gets locked out of her account and discovers that there’s a woman who looks just like her taking over. From there, it starts to become eerie as the mystery of who this woman is becomes the center of attention.
What will she do and to what extent will she go to get her life on camera back on track?
Since we’ve lived in the world of Zoom for the past two years, this is the movie that we’re sure everyone can relate to.
In this screen life film, every scene unfolds as if we’re watching a video chat in real-time. At first, it might seem like just a group of friends catching up. However, we soon find out that that’s not the case. There’s a cyber stalker on the loose and the characters try to figure out who it is before all their secrets are revealed.
We love a good family mystery/horror movie, that’s why we’ve included “Hereditary” on this list.
The haunting tale begins when the matriarch of the family passes away without a certain cause, leaving her daughter and grandchildren with a mystery to uncover. As the story unravels, they discover cryptic clues and terrifying secrets regarding their ancestry that puts their lives on the line. Will they be able to escape their sinister fate or will they inherit the same unexpected death?
29. The Conjuring
What makes a movie extra scary is not the special effects or the unexpected jumpscares. It’s the origin of the story itself… If it’s based on real events, then the fear that we feel can skyrocket to a new dimension.
“The Conjuring” is based on true stories and real-life paranormal investigations of experts Lorraine and Ed Warren. In the film, the Perron family decides to move to a new freaky house — which in itself should be a red flag — when weird things begin to happen. Unsettled by everything that’s happening, the family decides to call on paranormal experts (The Warrens) to thoroughly investigate. In the end, what they find is more than what they ever expected… It’s nothing short of a nightmare.
Whoever said dolls are nothing to be scared of clearly has never seen “Annabelle” before.
John Form thinks he’s found the perfect present for his pregnant wife: a beautiful vintage doll wearing an adorable white dress. Ecstatic at first, they display the doll inside their nursery to welcome their baby once she’s born. But one night, a group of devil worshippers barge into their home to perform a ritual that will summon a demon.
As part of the ritual, they must smear a bloody rune on the wall. But one drop of blood drips on the doll, turning it from a thing of beauty to a doll of evil. Now, the doll is possessed and out to do sinister things to the couple.
Want More Scary Stuff? Check Out Halloween Events in Denver
Watching movies is just one way to get into the spirit of Halloween. But if you really want to immerse yourself this holiday season, we can think of more creative ways to get spooked this Halloween in Denver. We have just the thing to get your hearts racing and feet thumping.
This October 28, Coloween is hosting an epic Halloween party for all horror lovers out there!
The Denver Halloween Ball will be filled with interactive experiences, haunted adventures, costume contests, music festivals, and so much more to make this season the spookiest season yet. Visit our Halloween Bar in Denver and join a group of fun-loving horror enthusiasts like yourself on an unforgettable night.
Halloween Denver 2023 is coming your way and now’s the perfect time to book your tickets through our website! The early bird ticket sale begins September 1, so you better add it to your calendar. After all, you don’t want to miss out on one of the best Halloween events in Denver this year.
Remember, costumes are mandatory, and this year’s theme is Fantasy & Fashion. Dress up in your most captivating outfits and unleash your spooky alter ego. We can’t wait to see you there.