While Halloween is the spooky season for scary movies, these classic slashers and horror films never go out of style. Timeless movies like Beetlejuice will have you glued to your TV screen every time. Families can sit down to watch films like Hocus Pocus and Ghostbusters, which are nostalgic for the older generation and new and exciting for the kids. You’ll likely remember watching some of these scary films like it was yesterday, while others should be added to your watch list immediately!
Scream – 1996
Written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, Scream is a slasher film starring Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Matthew Lillard, among others. The film tells the story of a high school student named Sidney Prescott that is being stalked by a mysterious masked killer in a costume known as Ghostface.
The film is notable for its reference to several other horror films and the classic tropes the film builds on. The film made an impressive $173 million at the box office, which made it the highest-grossing slasher film until Halloween in 2018.
Beetlejuice – 1988
Directed by Tim Burton, Beetlejuice is a dark fantasy comedy film about a recently deceased couple who become ghosts haunting their old house along with a poltergeist who attempts to scare away the new residents. With a budget of just $15 million, the film was successful, grossing $73.7 million.
Furthermore, the film won the Best Academy Award for Best Makeup and three Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film, Best Makeup, and Best Supporting Actress for Sylvia Sidney. It also resulted in an animated television series, video games, and a musical.
Halloween – 1978
Considering the title of the movie, Halloween is one of the most classic Halloween films ever made. Directed and scored by John Carpenter, the film follows a mental patient that has been locked up since murdering his sister when he was six years old on Halloween night.
Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown, where he proceeds to go on a murder rampage, taking a particular interest in a babysitter played by Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie spawned a film franchise and is regarded as one of the most iconic slasher films of all time.
Carrie – 1976
An adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Carrie is a supernatural horror film directed by Brian De Palma. It stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a 16-year-old girl with supernatural powers that I constantly bullied at school. Carrie was a success, grossing $33.6 million against its $1.8 million budget.
It also went on to receive two nominations at the 49th Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Numerous publications have regarded it as one of the greatest horror films ever made and is the best adaptation of King’s original work.
Hocus Pocus – 1993
Hocus Pocus is a comedy horror film starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Burch, and Vinessa Shaw. The movie is about three witches from the colonial era that are accidentally resurrected by a teenage boy on Halloween night in Salem, Massachusetts.
Although the film had mixed reviews upon its release by Walt Disney Pictures, after years of being aired on the Disney Channel each Halloween season, it has grown to become a cult classic that children and young adults look forward to watching every year.
Edward Scissorhands – 1990
Also directed by Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands featured Johnny Depp as an unfinished semi-human creation that has scissor blades for hands. He is then taken from his creator’s laboratory and brought into a suburban family’s home where he falls in love with the teenage daughter Kim, played by Winona Ryder.
The film was well-received and grossed more than four times its budget of just $20 million. Both Burton and composer Danny Elfman consider Edward Scissorhands to be their favorite and most intimate work.
Casper – 1995
Casper is a 1995 live-action/computer-animated fantasy comedy directed by Brad Silberling. The film is based on the Harvey Comics character Casper the Friendly Ghost that befriends a young girl and is created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo.
The film was met with mixed reviews for its darker tone than the comics, although it was notable for its faithfulness to the source material. Yet, the film still managed to make $287.9 million on a $55 million budget, spawning four direct-to-video and made-for-TV follow-up films.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show – 1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a musical comedy horror film based on the 1973 musical stage production titled The Rocky Horror Show. The plot follows a couple whose car breaks down near a castle where the two go to find a telephone. There they find it full of strangers in costumes that are attending an annual event.
Although the film was ill-received upon its first release, it grew in popularity, and 45 years later, it’s the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2005.
The Craft – 1996
Released in 1996, The Craft is a 1996 supernatural horror film. It was directed by Andrew Fleming and was written by Fleming and Peter Filardi. The film is about four girls attending a Los Angeles, high school where they begin experimenting with witchcraft, only to discover its negative repercussions.
Incredibly, the film turned out to be a surprise hit, earning $55 million worldwide against a mere $15 million budget. The sequel, The Craft: Legacy, was released on October 28, 2020.
The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion musical dark comedy produced and created by Tim Burton but directed by Henry Selick. It follows Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who stumbles through a portal and finds himself in Christmas Town. Fascinated by Christmas, he attempts to bring the holiday to Halloween Town.
The film started as a poem written by Burton in 1982 and he ended up fiddling with the project for a decade. Although there has been debate over whether it’s a Halloween or Christmas movie, audiences tend to watch it more during the Halloween season. The film has since garnered a cult following.
Double, Double, Toil And Trouble – 1993
Released in 1993, Double Double, Toil and Trouble, is a made-for-TV Halloween children’s movie. It features Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson as two little girls that discover their great aunt Sophia has been trapped and cursed by her evil twin sister, Agatha.
In 1994, the film received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition for a Mini-series or a Special. Furthermore, Mary-Kate and Ashley won the Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actress in a TV Mini-series, Movie of the Week, or Special.
Halloweentown – 1998
A Disney Channel Original Movie, Halloweentown is the first movie in the series featuring Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, and Judith Hoag. The film follows three siblings that discover their grandmother is a witch and follow her to her home of Halloweentown where they find themselves in a series of adventures.
Complex named Halloweentown as one of the 40 Best Disney Channel Original Movies, and has grown to become a cult classic with an approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Witches Of Eastwick – 1987
The Witches of Eastwick is a dark fantasy comedy film starring Jack Nicholson as well as Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon as the witches. Directed by George Miller, it is based on the 1984 novel of the same name by John Updike.
Although the film had positive receptions, some thought that the ending got a little bit out of control. However, the film is also known for Jack Nicholson’s performance, which showed that he had a knack for acting in comedies.
Sleepy Hollow – 1999
Sleepy Hollow is a supernatural horror film directed by Tim Burton and released in 1999. Loosely based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” it tells the story of a police constable named Ichabod Crane that is sent from New York to investigate murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow by a Headless Horseman.
The film did well with both the critics and the box office, going on to win the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
The Shining – 1980
Based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name, The Shining is directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick and co-written by Kubrick and Diane Jones. The film follows an aspiring novelist and his family as they watch over the isolated Overlook Hotel during the winter.
While there, the father slowly begins to slip into madness as supernatural events occur in the hotel. Although King wasn’t happy with the movie, audiences and critics were, and the movie is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time.
Silence Of The Lambs – 1991
A 1991 psychological horror film, Silence of the Lambs, is an adaptation of Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel of the same name. The film stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, a detective on the hunt for a serial killer. To find him, she seeks the advice of the psychiatrist and cannibalistic murderer Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins.
The Silence of the Lambs was the fifth highest-grossing film of 1991 and was the third film to win five Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Today it’s considered extremely influential.
Ghostbusters – 1984
Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy movie starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Remis as parapsychologists that begin a ghost-busting business in New York City. Initially, there were doubts that the film would be a success, however, after its release on June 8, 1984, the film became a cultural phenomenon, earning $282.2 million during its first initial release in theaters.
It was the most successful comedy film of the 1980s and was the No.1 film in the theaters for a whopping seven straight weeks. To this day, the film is regarded for its flawless blending of comedy, action, and horror.
The Exorcist – 1973
Based on the 1971 novel of the same name by the film’s screenwriter, William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist tells the story of a 12-year-old girl possessed by a demon and an attempt by two priests to save her through the performance of an exorcism.
Audiences came in droves to watch the film, although there were mixed reviews with some viewers loving it and others having reactions such as vomiting, fainting, and rumors of heart attacks and miscarriages. It became the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture, Winning Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound.
The Blair Witch Project – 1999
Released in 1999, The Blair Witch Project is a supernatural horror film. It was marketed as based on the true story of three student filmmakers that go backpacking in the Black Hills in Maryland. The film takes place in 1994, in which the three set out to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch.
However, after the three disappear, their footage is discovered, which chronicles their horrific experience up until their final moments. The film is credited with reviving the found footage style of film and is considered one of the most successful independent films of all time.
The Sixth Sense – 1999
The Sixth Sense is a psychological thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It follows a young boy played by Haley Joel Osment, who can see and talk to the dead, and his relationship with Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis, a child psychologist who tries to help him.
Known for the film’s final twist, the movie helped to establish Shyamalan as a respected writer and director. The Sixth Sense was the second-highest-grossing film of 1999 and was nominated for six Academy Awards.