50 Classic Scary Movies Guaranteed to Put You in the Spooky Spirit
While Halloween is just around the corner, it isn't really spooky season until you turn on a classic scary movie. Or ten. Sure, we love the holiday-themed favorites like Hocus Pocus and Casper, but sometimes we need an older, time-tested flick to really chill us to the bones. From Silence of the Lambs to the Children of the Corn, here 50 scary movies guaranteed to have you sleeping with the lights on.
1. ‘CHILD’S PLAY’ (1988)
Who’s in it? Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent
What’s it about? Before there was The Cult of Chucky (or any of the other sequels/prequels or remakes), there was Child’s Play, a story about 6-year-old Andy who learns that his toy doll, Chucky, is the serial murderer that is terrorizing his town. Unfortunately, neither the police (nor his own mother) believe him.
2. ‘CANDYMAN’ (1992)
Who’s in it? Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley
What’s it about? This blood-covered slasher flick focuses on graduate student Helen Lyle when she unintentionally brings to life the Candyman, a hook-handed figure who fillets anyone who says his name five times (this one is not for those who have a fear of bees because there’s a lot of them). It’s also worth mentioning that Jordan Peele has his own version coming in the not-too-distant-future.
3. 'POLTERGEIST' (1982)
Who’s in it? JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson
What’s it about? It doesn’t get much more iconic than this malevolent film about otherworldly forces that invade a suburban home in California. These evil entities transform the house into a supernatural sideshow centered on the family's young daughter. We’re not going to lie, the special effects still hold up, even today.
4. ‘THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS' (1991)
Who’s in it? Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
What’s it about? Known as one of the most terrifying movies of all time, the film follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she ventures into a maximum-security asylum to pick the diseased brain of Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist turned cannibal. The 1991 piece is based on a handful of real-life serial killers, so if stalkers and cannibals aren’t your thing, we recommend giving this one a pass.
5. ‘CHILDREN OF THE CORN’ (1984)
Who’s in it? Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong
What’s it about? Based on Stephen King’s namesake story, the movie examines a gory ritual in which the town’s children murder all the adults.
6. ‘HALLOWEEN’ (1978)
Who’s in it?
What’s it about? As the first movie in the Halloween franchise, it introduces viewers to serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) as he terrorizes the innocent residents of Haddonfield, Illinois.
7. ‘THE SHINING’ (1980)
Who’s in it? Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
What’s it about? When a struggling writer becomes a caretaker at an isolated hotel, he uncovers secrets about the property’s dark past. (Creepy children included.)
8. ‘CARRIE’ (1976)
Who’s in it? Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
What’s it about? Adapted from another Stephen King tale, Carrie follows Carrie White, a teenage outcast sheltered by an overbearing, religious mother, who unleashes her powers after being humiliated by her classmates.
9. ‘THE EXORCIST’ (1973)
Who’s in it? Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
What’s it about? When Regan starts acting bizarre, her parents seek medical attention only to realize she’s been seized by the devil. Turns out, getting the devil out of here is way harder than they expected.
10. ‘BOOGEYMAN’ (2005)
Who’s in it? Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Lucy Lawless
What’s it about? As a child, Tim (Aaron Murphy) is haunted by the memory of his father being dragged away by the boogeyman. Years later, he’s forced to face his fears as an adult (Barry Watson).
11. ‘THE SIXTH SENSE’ (1999)
Who’s in it? Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis, Toni Collette
What’s it about? Cole is too scared to tell anyone about his supernatural abilities. That is, until he meets Dr. Malcolm Crowe, who uncovers the truth.
12. ‘THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT’ (1999)
Who’s in it? Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
What’s it about? Through archived footage, three film students embark on a wild journey as they search for answers about a local murderer named Blair Witch.
13. ‘THE CONJURING’ (2013)
Who’s in it? Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston
What’s it about? Two paranormal investigators are enlisted to help a family who recently moved into a new house. The problem? It has a supernatural presence. Cue the nightmares.
14. ‘ROSEMARY'S BABY’ (1968)
Who’s in it? Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
What’s it about? A young couple is desperate to conceive a baby. When they finally do, the mother suspects an evil cult is plotting to steal the newborn.
15. ‘NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR’ (1922)
Who’s in it? Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim
What’s it about? The silent German horror film follows Thomas Hutter, who gets sent on a business trip to an isolated castle in Transylvania. However, things take a turn for the worse when he learns that his so-called client, Count Orlok, is a vampire.
16. ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
Who’s in it? Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger
Who’s it about? Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family.
17. 'INSIDIOUS' (2010)
Who’s in it? Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
What’s it about? A suburban family moves away from everything they know in an attempt to leave behind their haunted house. However, they soon learn the home isn’t the root of the problem—their son is. Staring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, Insidious centers on paranormal entities and possession, if you’re into that sort of thing.
18. ‘The Amityville Horror’ (1979)
Who’s in it: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
What’s it about? Reportedly based on a true story, the film follows a now-possessed husband on a mission to murder his wife and children after they move into a home in habited by evil spirits.
19. ‘Psycho’ (1960)
Who’s in it? Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
What’s it about? A Phoenix secretary embezzles money from a client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. You probably know this one for the infamous shower scene.
20. 'Misery' (1990)
Who’s in it? James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
What’s it about? The movie focuses on an author who is left seriously injured after a car crash. He quickly notices something odd about the retired nurse who rescued him: She's a stalker.
22. ‘Dracula’ (1931)
Who’s it it? Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners
What’s it about? Count Dracula hypnotizes a British soldier, Renfield, into becoming his mindless slave. Together, they travel to London and prey on victims in the nighttime.
23. ‘Frankenstein’ (1931)
Who’s in it? Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
What’s it about? You know the story. But this original tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his man-made Monster (made out of dead body parts) who goes on a rogue killing spree, is sure to give you chills.
24. ‘CREEP’ (2014)
Who’s in it? Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
What’s it about? Exploiting the potential horrors of Craigslist, this indie thriller followers videographer Aaron as he takes a job in a remote mountain town and quickly realizes his client has some pretty disturbing ideas for his final project before he succumbs to his inoperable tumor. Clearly, the name is fitting.
25. ‘Alien’ (1979)
Who’s in it? Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
What’s it about? After a space crew is harassed by a mysterious life force, they quickly realize that the creature’s life cycle has simply just gun. .
26. ‘Jaws’ (1975)
Who’s in it? Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
What’s it about? What’s more horrifying then a great white shark who terrorizes the waters of a local beach town? The fact that it’s based on a true story, that’s what.
27. ‘Deliverance’ (1972)
Who’s in it? Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty
What’s it about? This 1972 film about a foursome who decides to venture down a rural Georgia river quickly takes a turn for the worse due to rapids and unwelcoming locals.
28. ‘THE INVISIBLE MAN’ (1933)
Who’s in it? Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan
What’s it about? Not to be confused with Elizabeth’s Moss 2020 film of the same name, this one follows a scientist who makes himself invisible, but in doing so, he starts to terrorize those around him.
29. ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968)
Who’s in it? Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
What’s it about? A group of people isolate themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast. Think of it as the O.G. zombie movie.
30. ‘PAN'S LABYRINTH’ (2006)
Who’s in it? Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú
What’s it about? Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning fairy tale tells the story of a young girl in early Francoist Spain, 1944 to be exact, who becomes encased in her own dark fantasy world to escape her sadistic army officer stepfather.
31. 'DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK' (2010)
Who’s in it? Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison
What’s it about? Horror fans will love Guillermo del Toro’s reimagining of the 1973 television movie. When young Sally Hurst and her family move to a new home, she discovers they aren’t alone in the creepy mansion. In fact, strange creatures also live there and they don’t seem too happy with their new guests. It’s important to note that the original film terrified del Toro as a young boy, so we’re going to say make sure the kids are asleep when you turn this one on.
32. ‘A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’ (1984)
Who’s in it? Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
WHat’s it about? Director Wes Craven incited fear with this classic slasher film, which follows Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) as he stalks teenagers in their dreams.
33. ‘Don’t look now’ (1973)
Who’s in it? Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason
What’s it about? A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter and quickly become convinced that she is trying to contact them from the other side.
34. ‘DEVIL’S ADVOCATE’ (1997)
Who’s in it? Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron
What’s it about? A young NYC attorney learns that the head of his firm might have sinister intentions. With ample suspense and creepy vibes, there’s a surprise twist we totally didn't expect.
35. ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978)
Who’s in it? Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum
What’s it about? When strange space seeds come to earth, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade San Francisco, California, where they create creepy clones of the residents.
36. ‘The ring’ (2002)
Who’s in it? Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox
What’s it about? A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it. Not to mention, there’s a few sequels.
37. ‘The Birds’ (1963)
Who’s in it? Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy
What’s it about? A small Northern California town starts experiencing some weird happenings when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. This one will definitely have you panicked the next time you walk through a group of pigeons.
38. ‘TRAIN TO BUSAN’ (2016)
Who’s in it? Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
What’s it about? A business man and his daughter hop on a train just as the world is taken over by a zombies. And we’re not going to lie, these flesh-eaters are terrifying (and super contagious).
39. ‘The evil dead’ (1981)
Who’s in it? Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
What’s it about? Director Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead tells the tale of a group of teenagers who turn into flesh-eating zombies during a visit to a cabin. Lesson learned: Don’t read old books that could possibly reawaken the dead.
40. 'Scream' (1996)
Who’s in it? David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox
What’s it about? After a series of mysterious deaths overtakes a small town, a group of teens becomes the target of a masked serial-killer psycho and must find a way to stay alive.
41. 'The Thing' (1982)
Who’s in it? Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
What’a it about? Taking place in Antarctica, The Thing tells the story of a research team who is haunted by a shapeshifting creature that takes the shape of his victims before he attacks them.
42. 'The Omen' (1976)
Who’s in it? Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens
What’s it about? Mysterious deaths surround an American diplomat and his wife after they adopt a young child, forcing them to to question whether or not the young boy is the Antichrist.
43. 'The Fly' (1986)
Who’s in it? Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
What’s it about? A scientist invents a teleportation device and decides to test it out. However, he failed to realize that a fly is also along for the ride. Do you see where this is going?
44. ‘It’ (2017)
Who’s in it? Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard
What’s it about? Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, It follows a group of bullied kids who band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children.
45. ‘Suspiria’ (1977)
Who’s in it? Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
What’s it about? A young American dancer gets more than she bargained for after she joins a German ballet school plagued by murders. The is a remake (starring Dakota Johnson) but the original critically acclaimed.
46. ‘THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN’ (1935)
Who’s in it? Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive
What’s it about? In Mary Shelley’s follow up, she reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein. And this time, he builds his monster a mate.
47. ‘SINISTER' (2012)
Who’s in it? Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone
What’s it about? True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt discovers a box of Super 8 videotapes depicting several brutal murders that took place in his new home. However, what seems to be the work of a serial killer turns out to be not as straightforward as it seems. Warning: This one had us sleeping with the lights on for weeks and is definitely not for children.
48. ‘CAT PEOPL’E (1942)
Who’s in it? Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard
What’s it about? A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a black leopard. Yup, we’re serious.
49. ‘HOUSE OF WAX’ (1953)
Who’s in it? Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk
What’s it about? A wax museum owner seeks revenge after he miraculously survives a fire. Now, he refills his museum with dead bodies of his victims that he stole from the morgue.
50. ‘THE WOLF MAN’ (1941)
Who’s in it? Claude Rains, Warren William, Lon Chaney Jr.
What’s it about? A man is attacked by a (you guessed it) were wolf and then becomes one every time there’s a full moon.