20 Scary Movie Recommendations for Every Kind of Horror Creep to Watch on Halloween

Alien, As Above, So Below, Bride Of Frankenstein, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Lifeforce, Night Of The Living Dead, Phantasm, Poltergeist, Prophecy, Session 9, Silent Hill: Revelation, Splice, Television, The Cabin In The Woods, The Host, The Invitation

It's Halloween time, which means 'tis the season to snuggle up, drink something with pumpkin spice in it, then pig out on individually wrapped candies as you watch a scary movie. Sadly, trick-or-treating is ill-advised during a pandemic year, but this means you don't have to spend the run-up to Halloween sewing, stitching, or, more likely, racing to a store to purchase a party outfit. With more time on your hands, it is your duty to the Great Pumpkin to watch more horror films for Halloween. Luckily there are a lot of them out there on subscription streamers.

Here's our list of recommendations of scary horror movies to watch for Halloween, running the gamut from classic monster flicks, cheap-o slashers, indie horror, and recent titles you may have missed. To spread the wealth a little and keep the list unique, there's no Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, or Chucky here, which you've probably seen a million times by now.

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Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! And if you're looking for more hand-picked recommendations based on shows you love, we have those too.

Alien


Watch it on: HBO Max

AlienAlien

Think of the Nostromo as less of a space ship and more of a haunted house. Ridley Scott's Alien has been subjected to sequels, prequels, and a face-off against the Predator franchise, but nothing will ever touch the original. The terrifying tale of blue collar workers whose safety is tossed aside by an uncaring company revolutionized gory special effects and still scares the crap out of people all these years later. Home on your couch, only your neighbors can hear you scream. 

As Above, So Below


Watch it on: Netflix

As Above, So BelowAs Above, So Below

The “found footage” horror craze seems to have abated, but this late entry in the genre is actually one of the best. Perdita Weeks stars as an archaeology expert who convinces a documentary crew and some fellow scholars to sneak into an off-limits section of the Paris catacombs. The gang ends up in a supernatural pit of horrors, and the result is 90 intensely claustrophobic minutes with quality jump scares and at least one sequence of pure terror. Definitely one to watch while shouting at the screen.  

The Blackcoat's Daughter


Watch it on: Netflix

The Blackcoat's DaughterThe Blackcoat's Daughter

This spooky supernatural thriller is set at a girls school over a winter break and is bursting with a cold, eerie tone. You just know all that white snow will eventually turn red. Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton star as two students left behind in the empty dormitory, and Emma Roberts is a hitchhiker you know will connect with the others, but in a way you are not supposed to guess. (Spoiler: You won't!) The film is written and directed by Osgood Perkins, son of Psycho‘s Anthony Perkins, so, in a way, making movies packed with tension and sharp knives is the family business. 

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The Bride of Frankenstein


Watch it on: Peacock

Find me a more iconic hairstyle! You can't. This sequel to James Whale's original is, some believe (okay, I believe), the best of the Universal Monsters classics. Boris Karloff returns as Frankenstein's Monster, and Elsa Lanchester is the bookending narrator Mary Shelley and the undead mate of the lumbering, occasionally murderous creature. Scenes, lines, and images from the Universal Monsters pictures have become so iconic that we sometimes forget they flow as part of an engrossing story. This one plays all the hits, but still holds up as rich drama. 

The Cabin in the Woods


Watch it on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Epix

Simultaneously a parody of horror films (or, at least, a loving tribute to them) as well as a gross-out on its own terms, this tale of partying college hotties (including a not-quite-household-name-version of Chris Hemsworth) intercuts with Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins bored at some kind of laboratory surveillance job. It comes to a head in ways that are unpredictable, hilarious, gory, and famously worthy of the freeze-frame button. You'll never think of a bank of elevators in the same way again.

Climax


Watch it on: Amazon Prime

ClimaxClimax

Some might argue that this isn't a horror movie, but if being trapped in a school auditorium with a group of people whacked out on hallucinogenic drugs who start attacking one another isn't horror, what is? Oh, and they are also dancing the whole time. Directed by Argentine-French provocateur Gaspar Noé, Climax is a fever dream of high intensity filmmaking that maybe doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the cold light of morning, but while it is raging it is full of shocks and jaw-dropping imagery. 

Deep Red


Watch it on: Amazon Prime

Deep RedDeep Red

No Halloween list should be deprived of a classic Italian giallo, and while there are no shortage available on subscription services (hooray for easy licensing deals, I guess), Deep Red is a quality choice for either a first taste or a revisit. Directed by Dario Argento, this lavishly produced, hyper-stylized mid-'70s classic stars David Hemmings as a musician on the trail of a demonic serial killer. Prog rock band Goblin provides the eerily groovy score. 

The Host


Watch it on: HuluAmazon Prime

HostHost

Before he won the Oscar for Parasite, South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, following up on the realistic police drama Memories of Murder, surprised audiences with this shocking monster movie with cutting edge special effects. As with Parasite, it's an insightful portrayal of a family in crisis, only this time it is because a young girl has been kidnapped by an enormous river-dwelling reptilian beast. The Host bucked tradition by famously not waiting until the end to let audiences get a good glimpse of the creature. It's out there, in broad daylight, just a few minutes into the film.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers


Watch it on: Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, Showtime

Invasion of the Body SnatchersInvasion of the Body Snatchers

This remake of the '50s black-and-white Cold War original is an oozing, hairy, 1970s update rich in deep greens and shaggy beiges. Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams are San Francisco health department workers who are the first to notice strange activities afoot as people suddenly start acting unlike themselves. Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright are their kooky pals (she runs a mud bath salon, he dabbles in poetry), and then there's Leonard Nimoy in one of his best non-Star Trek roles as a pop psychiatrist who seems just a little too calm. This movie is equal parts paranoid and putrid, with plenty of gross-outs that hold up to this day.

The Invitation


Watch it on: Netflix

The InvitationThe Invitation

Here's one for fans of suspense and the slow burn. A group of friends meet in the Hollywood Hills for a dinner party, and things subtly go from awkward to terrifying. While one could easily make a lofty analysis of this film as a highly symbolic treatise on the varying stages of grief, it's also a rich drama with some cutting scenes that leads to a bonkers conclusion. 

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Lifeforce


Watch it on: HBO Max

LifeforceLifeforce

Before horror films got “elevated” they were gleefully full of gratuitous gore and glimpses of unnecessary nudity. This mid-'80s classic stars Mathilde May as a space vampire (the film's original title) breaking hearts and devouring the life essence from unsuspecting Londoners. Tobe Hooper directs the Golan-Globus production, representative of an apex of reasonably budgeted trash. 

Lights Out


Watch it on: HBO Max

<em>Lights Out</em>Lights Out

What if you could only see something in the dark? I know, it makes no sense, but work with me here. A ghoul of some sort is only visible when there's no light shining on it, so it may be there, or it may just be your mind playing tricks on you. This gimmick is played out over 81 minutes, and from every possible angle. Eventually it does start to give you the creeps. 

Night of the Living Dead


Watch it on: Amazon PrimeHBO Max, Criterion Channel

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead

Does it hold up? Yes, it holds up. In silvery black-and-white, this foundational horror picture, shot on a minuscule budget by some young people outside of Pittsburgh, works because it is simple. Faced with an inexplicable assault of slow-moving zombies (though the word zombie is never used) a group of strangers hole up in a house and try to figure out what next to do. All of it goes wrong, even the good ideas. For over 50 years people have been projecting psychological and social theories against this film, all of which stick. It's also still scary. 

Phantasm


Watch it on: Amazon Prime, Shudder

PhantasmPhantasm

This is one of the all-time classic independent horror films, written, directed, shot, and edited by Don Coscarelli and starring mostly friends with special effects created by his mom. Fun! An investigation into missing coffins at a cemetery leads to a house of horrors, a weirdly tall villain, and a portal to another dimension. Phantasm is intentionally perplexing, in an attempt to mirror the discomfort of nightmares on screen. Sequels tried to fill in the lore, but best to stick with the original. 

Poltergeist


Watch it on: Netflix

PoltergeistPoltergeist

This movie features a killer tree, and somehow it is terrifying. No one knows for sure if Tobe Hooper or Steven Spielberg was the real director here, but the result is a powerful manifestation of childhood fears on film. '80s suburbia and the comforts of home transform into a living nightmare when a bland housing development is discovered to be on sacred ground. Next thing you know, moppety girls are getting trapped in the TV, or whatever. (It makes sense when you see it.) No Poltergeist, no Stranger Things.

Prophecy


Watch it on: CBS All Access

ProphecyProphecy

What do we want? Killer mutant bears! When do we want them? Now! Join Talia Shire, Robert Foxworth, and New York Italian-American Armand Assante as a leader of the Penobscot Tribal Nation in Maine in this John Frankenheimer film that starts as a conspiratorial thriller, then catapults into insanity. Murderous ursine beasts are terrorizing the woods, and it's all because a paper mill is keeping its logs soaked in mercury to make a profit. I'm not a scientist, but it all checks out to me. 

Session 9


Watch it on: Netflix

Session 9Session 9

A crew tasked with cleaning asbestos out of an abandoned mental hospital have their personal conflicts aggravated by the discovery of old audio tapes from an inmate's therapy sessions. Tensions rise as weird things start happening in both timelines. While the film inches toward supernatural horror, it is also quite effective as a character-based drama; it might be the best thing David Caruso was ever in.

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Silent Hill: Revelation


Watch it on: Netflix

Silent Hill RevelationSilent Hill Revelation

Okay let's be really honest here. Sometimes the point of a late night horror movie on the couch during spooky season is less about the actual art of cinema. Our forefathers didn't die for our right to Netflix and Chill for nothing. To that end, let's make sure we pack this list with one movie that is absolutely idiotic but loaded with gorgeous imagery. That's Silent Hill: Revelation, a sequel to a video game movie with crispy computer generated imagery of ghouls collapsing into ash amid decrepit signifiers of Americana and, if my memory isn't failing me, some demonic dogs or something. True garbage, but enjoyable. 

Splice


Watch it on: Netflix

SpliceSplice

Don't these scientists know by now? You can't play God! I mean, you can — but if you do, you are liable to end up on a “good movies to stream for Halloween” list. Splice is a strong gross-out picture about what happens when DNA experiments get out of control, even if you have good intentions. There's also some strong ick factor here when Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley‘s new creation hits a certain age and the sex drive kicks in.

The Vast of Night


Watch it on: Amazon Prime

The Vast of NightThe Vast of Night

No blood or gore (at least on screen) but there's interplanetary-sized tension in this crafty, lo-fi indie spooker that is inspired by both B pictures of the 1950s and, weirdly, modern day podcasts. A late night DJ and a telephone switchboard operator in a small town are the only ones not at the big high school basketball game, so naturally that's when UFOs have decided to do … whatever it is they are planning to do. First time filmmaker Andrew Patterson has created a terrific calling card movie, and all eyes are on him to see what he does next. 

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