20 of the best Halloween movies you can stream right now
Need some Halloween movie recs?
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There’s a chill in the wind; the leaves are turning; Count Chocula’s back on the endcaps. From mid-September to late October, some of us just can’t get enough of the Halloween season. With a pumpkin-spice latte in hand and chili in the Crock-Pot, it’s a time for marathoning spooky movies, candy, costumes, and sharing tales of the macabre.
My love of horror films means I have more streaming subscriptions than I can count. But—lucky for you—that helped me in putting together this list of the 20 best Halloween movies to stream this fall. Whether you’ve got Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Paramount+, Prime Video, or HBO Max, there’s something here for you. Get the popcorn ready.
The Craft (1996)
Come for Scream costars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich; stay for one of the great teen-horror gems of the nineties. Critics didn’t know what to make of The Craft in ’96, yet its adolescent power fantasy—a cast of young women guided by a queer director—resonated and endured. It’s Mean Girls with witchcraft, sure, but it also takes a real stab at issues like sexual harassment, racism, and domestic violence.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Young love and mental illness can feel like the end of the world. Donnie Darko is a kaleidoscopic dream—of plane crashes, time travel, superpowers, giant rabbits offering doomsday prophecies—with needle drops from INXS, Tears for Fears, and Joy Division. The all-star cast includes Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Jolene Perdy, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, and Seth Rogen.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T.’s not the first movie that comes to mind on Halloween, but candy and trick-or-treating are pretty central to the plot, so it’s worth revisiting this time of year. Spielberg gets some phenomenal performances from the child actors in this one, and John Williams delivers one of his most iconic scores. Plus, Dee Wallace just breaks your heart as the hard-working single parent whose kids bring home not a cat or a dog—but a spaceman.
The Faculty (1998)
What if The Thing took place in your high-school gym? Boba Fett showrunner Robert Rodriguez directed this from a rewrite by Scream creator Kevin Williamson. The cast’s made up of countless Y2K-era favorites: Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Usher, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, and Jon Stewart. It features an obligatory cover of “Another Brick in the Wall,” with Layne Staley on vocals and Tom Morello on guitar.
The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
You could go into Fear Street expecting Scream for the Stranger Things crowd, as I did, but its ambitions are bigger than that. This saga spans centuries, using witchcraft and a small-town curse to explore family, friendship, generational trauma, romance. It’s witty, it’s stylish, and it satisfies that reptilian part of your brain that loves the sight of a silent killer in a mask. This trilogy just might be a new perennial classic.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
The Final Chapter is of course a misnomer, because they went on to make eight more of these things, but this is a fun one. If you’ve never seen a Friday the 13th—but don’t feel like sitting through a dozen movies—this is as good a place to start as any. It stars Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys), Crispin Glover (Back to the Future), and Ted White, a veteran stuntman who’s worked on everything from the ’68 Planet of the Apes to Road House.
After growing up in the real-world Warren County, Illinois, I still have great reverence for this classic, understated slasher. John Carpenter’s score—“Laurie’s Theme,” “The Shape Lurks,” and especially the track that plays over the opening credits—is synonymous with Halloween night. Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie and Nick Castle’s wordless silhouette are such enduring icons that we’re getting another sequel to this thing 44 years later, Curtis included.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Anthology-style horror properties are fashionable nowadays, but that approach didn’t work out for the Halloween series—at least not in the short term. Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy starred in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, a film that had nothing whatsoever to do with Michael Myers, Laurie Strode, or even the town of Haddonfield. But ask horror fans what they think of it today, and most regard it as sort of the quintessential movie about trick-or-treating.
Halloweentown’s a beloved artifact of the nineties for good reason. Its director, Duwayne Dunham, helmed the sophomore episode of Twin Peaks, “Traces to Nowhere,” and served as an editor on Return of the Jedi. The film was shot by Breaking Bad cinematographer Michael Slovis, while Thor: Ragnarok’s Mark Mothersbaugh composed the music. And the legendary Debbie Reynolds charms as Grandma Aggie, who comes from a place where it’s Halloween all year round.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
“It’s a full moon outside. The weirdos are out.” As the parent of a kid who’s obsessed with Halloween, I’ve seen Hocus Pocus a few times too many. But I’m not immune to its family-friendly charms. It’s a camp classic with some show-stopping musical numbers, a great sense of humor, and chameleon Doug Jones as a slapstick zombie rebelling against his makers. Mick Garris, best known these days for his excellent Post Mortem podcast, cowrote the screenplay for this one.
Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful) play a pair of all-too-lovable newlyweds in this haunting picture about strange goings-on in the woods. It was the directorial debut of Leigh Janiak, who recently entered the spotlight with her sensational Fear Street series on Netflix, and it’s a must-see for horror fans.
Horror of Dracula (1958)
Late-fifties Dracula imagery from Hammer Films—what more could you ask for? I suppose you might ask for Christopher Lee as the titular count, or Peter Cushing in the role of Doctor Van Helsing. Director Terence Fisher went on to direct a 1959 adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles, the ’62 Phantom of the Opera, and countless other films involving Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and so on. Many of those also starred Lee and Cushing.
Hubie Halloween (2020)
This was an unexpected delight in 2020. I’m a sucker for a little nineties nostalgia, as this list makes clear, and Hubie Halloween is chock full of it. From the casting and cameos to the occasional flaming bag of excrement, it plays like a love letter to Adam Sandler’s early career. It’s got Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp, Ray Liotta, June Squibb, and Steve Buscemi. It’s silly, goodhearted fun, and sweet as candy corn.
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
The Invitation firmly established director Karyn Kusama as a master of suspense. But it was Jennifer’s Body—with its vibrant, bloody script by Juno’s Diablo Cody—that marked her entry into the world of horror. Jennifer’s Body is hilarious, shocking, and sometimes downright terrifying, showcasing the full talents of both Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. The cast also includes Adam Brody, a pre-Marvel Chris Pratt, Amy Sedaris, J. K. Simmons, and Lance Henriksen.
Let Me In (2010)
Matt Reeves has made headlines in recent years with his acclaimed DC project, The Batman, and his pair of Planet of the Apes sequels. But back when he was largely known for his J. J. Abrams collaborations, he directed this unbelievably good vampire film—a remake of Tomas Alfredson’s acclaimed Let the Right One In. Reeves’s version stars Richard Jenkins (a national treasure), Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Chloë Grace Moretz.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Part Halloween flick, part Christmas movie, this gorgeously animated musical is still as vital and enchanting as it was three decades ago. My children get swept up in the songs; my son practically idolizes Jack Skellington. And, I have to admit, “Kidnap the Sandy Claws” is a certified banger. The soundtrack features performances from the likes of Danny Elfman, Schitt’s Creek legend Catherine O’Hara, and Paul Reubens.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Though it lacks the rewatchability of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, or the sheer beauty of Big Fish, Sleepy Hollow is pure Tim Burton at the top of his game. It’s got that surreal, persistent-nightmare quality you find only in the best dark fantasies. Sleepy Hollow makes you believe in magic, in a reality where Halloween neither ends nor begins—and in a long-dead horseman back from the grave.
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
An ancient knight in a leather jacket and a Firebird does battle with demonkind. Directed by Do the Right Thing cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, this movie’s an absolute blast. It stars Bill Sadler, a 22-year-old Jada Pinkett Smith, and Titanic’s Billy Zane as a handsome devil known as the Collector. The soundtrack features Pantera, Filter, and Megadeth. Needless to say, I adore this film.
Trick ’r Treat (2008)
Trick ’r Treat is an anthology film in the tradition of Creepshow and Twilight Zone: The Movie. It tells four different stories about Halloween night in a small Ohio town, all of which bleed into one another to various degrees. The cast features Dylan Baker, True Blood’s Anna Paquin, and Brian Cox from Succession. It’s terrific fun, and the film’s mascot character—a masked trick-or-treater named Sam—is total nightmare fuel. I try to watch this every October.
The Witch (2015)
Anya Taylor-Joy’s breakout role was in The Witch, the chilling directorial debut of Robert Eggers. A family of Puritan farmers, excommunicated, believes that God has cursed them—or is at least testing them. Their newborn baby vanishes; their crops fail. And so their suspicions turn to the other children. What truly lives in the woods beyond their farm? As with Honeymoon and many of the great horror films, its final shot will haunt you.
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