While some people might think that Fall is all about finally getting to wear sweaters again and Pumpkin Spice Everything, we all know what this time of year is really about: Halloween! And now that it’s almost October, it’s officially socially acceptable to start getting ready for Halloween.
But there are so many horror and Halloween-themed movies, we can’t possibly watch them all over the next 31 days. Lucky for you, I’ve made this handy guide to help get you ready for the scariest holiday of the year. We’ll start off easy and get spookier as we get closer to the big day. Here are the 31 movies to help you get ready for Halloween.
October 1st: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
It’s not truly Halloween until you’ve watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, so what better way to start than with a classic? If you didn’t watch this every year on TV, then did you really even have a childhood?
October 2nd: Halloweentown
We’re still sad about the recent passing of iconic actress Debbie Reynolds, but the best way to honor her memory is by rewatching this Disney Channel classic. While one of my co-workers was offended that I wasn’t including all four Halloweentown movies, this isn’t a list of “31 Halloweentown Movies To Get You Halloween Ready,” so we’ll just stick to the original.
October 3rd: Casper
While we still have a lot of questions about this movie, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a necessary part of our Halloween movie marathons. He may be friendly, but he’s still a ghost.
October 4th: Young Frankenstein
We could probably have included Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory based on the creepy boat scene alone, but this other Gene Wilder classic feels a little more appropriate. Where else can you watch Dr Frankenstein and his monster sing and dance “Puttin’ on the Ritz?”
October 5th: Ghostbusters
The original one, obviously. Because when there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you need to know who you’re going to call.
October 6th: Little Shop of Horrors
If you’re feeling super traditional you could always watch the original 1960 version, but the ’80s one has Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, John Candy, and Bill Murray so it’s obviously the better choice.
October 7th: The Addams Family
While the idea of “The Addams Family” has been around since the 1930s, it wasn’t until 1991 that they got their own feature film. They might be creepy, spooky, and altogether ooky, but The Addams Family show what being a family is all about: love. You could always pair it up with the equally good sequel Addams Family Values and make it a marathon.
October 8th: Beetlejuice
You really can’t go wrong with a movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, and Michael Keaton. While it’s definitely more funny than spooky, the (mis)adventures of recently deceased couple Barbara and Adam Maitland (Davis and Baldwin) trying to get their house back are just too fun to miss.
October 9th: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Disney has a history of including some surprisingly dark and terrifying moments in some of their stories. One example is 1949’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was narrated by none other than Bing Crosby. While the end of the movie messed me up as a kid, I still watched it every year to help get into the Halloween spirit. The short film’s songs (courtesy of Bing Crosby) are also incredible, and make it worth the watch.
October 10th: The Witches
Based on the classic Roald Dahl book of the same name, 1990’s The Witches stars Anjelica Huston at her most terrifying best. While it’s not nearly as dark as the original book, it’s hard not to be a little traumatized by seeing Huston’s Miss Ernst in her witch form.
October 11th: Hocus Pocus
Speaking of witches, no Halloween celebration would be complete without a little Hocus Pocus. It’s definitely more on the comedy side of “horror comedy” but Hocus Pocus is definitely one of the “must watch” movies for Halloween.
October 12th: Sleepy Hollow
While it’s not the best Tim Burton movie, or even the best version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the 1999 movie has the perfect creepy atmosphere for getting into the spooky spirit. Also Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman is both perfect and legitimately terrifying.
October 13th: Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part II
I know I said we were going to start off mild and get scarier as we go, but this year October gets to be a little extra creepy, since along with Halloween it’ll also have a Friday the 13th. To celebrate this special day, obviously we have to watch Friday the 13th.
Because this is a special occasion, a double feature is in order. In order to get the true Jason Voorhees experience, we’re going to watch both Friday the 13th (featuring young Kevin Bacon!) and Friday the 13th: Part II. Feel free to go all out and watch the rest of the series, though you should really skip the recent reboot.
October 14th: Shaun of the Dead
While zombies have recently become popular to the point of being overdone, Shaun of the Dead is a great reminder of what a good zombie movie can be. This hilariously entertaining “romantic comedy with zombies” breathes life back into the (un)dead.
October 15th: The Crow
One year after he and his fiancée are murdered on Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween), musician Eric Draven returns for vengeance. While it’s more remembered for the fact that star Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) died in a tragic on-set accident during filming, The Crow is darkly beautiful, and probably one of the best comic book adaptations ever made.
We’re half way there! But what does the rest of the month hold?
October 16th: The Others
The Others is a supernatural ghost story with a twist ending that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous. Nicole Kidman absolutely chews the scenery, and this is a perfect movie to watch with all the lights turned off.
October 17th: The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys is a perfect vampire movie, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Considering just how intensely ’80s it looks and feels, it has only gotten better with age. Kiefer Sutherland should really be a villain more often.
October 18th: Night of the Living Dead
Before George Romero came along, zombie movies were all about the Voodoo zombie, which are more “mind-controlled slaves” than “shambling undead ghouls.” That all changed with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, which introduced the world to the modern, flesh-eating zombie that we know and love. It’s probably one of the most important horror movies ever made, so of course it’s gotta be on our list.
October 19th: Dawn of the Dead
Even though the weird, gray-blue zombies look ridiculous by today’s standards, the fact that this movie is still pretty intense is proof of just how good it is. 10 years after Night of the Living Dead, George Romero replaces the remote rural setting with a shopping mall for Dawn of the Dead. You could always round out the trilogy by watching Day of the Dead, but the rest of Romero’s zombie movies never really live up to the first two.
October 20th: The House of the Devil
This one’s a little more recent than most of the movies on this list, but you wouldn’t guess that from watching it. Ti West’s House of the Devil pays tribute to the horror movies of the ’80s. He even shot it on 16mm film so he could get that gritty look the low budget movies all had. But despite its “low quality” look, it’s tense the whole way through, and the ending will definitely leave your jaw on the floor.
October 21st: Scream
Scream is what you get when you combine black comedy and a slasher movie. It manages to still have some scares, even while poking fun at itself and what we expect from slasher films.
October 22nd: The Evil Dead
You just can’t spell “Halloween” without “Ash Williams.” Well, ok, you totally can, but that doesn’t mean you should go through the month of October without spending some time with one of the greatest horror movie characters of all time. The Evil Dead taught us all the valuable lesson of never playing the tape recordings that come with creepy Sumerian books found in a cabin’s basement, otherwise bad things will happen. Not sure how far we’d get in life without learning that.
October 23rd: Evil Dead II
Part simplified recap of the first movie, part sequel, Evil Dead II is the rare example of a movie sequel that’s actually better than the original. You know a movie’s great when by the end someone has a chainsaw for a hand.
October 24th: Army of Darkness
While it’s a lot more comedic than the previous two movies, Army of Darkness is still a great finish to the Evil Dead trilogy. Just when you think Ash’s camping adventure can’t get any worse, suddenly he’s sucked into a portal and whisked away to the 1300s.
October 25th: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
10 years after directing the original, Wes Craven finally returned to the Elm Street franchise with New Nightmare. Not only did it breathe new life into a series that had been basically run into the ground, but Craven was finally able to make the truly dark and terrifying Freddy Krueger he’s always wanted. This time Freddy invades the “real world” by targeting the cast and crew of the Nightmare on Elm Street films (who obviously all play themselves), including Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy in the original.
October 26th: Pontypool
Even if you feel like zombie movies have gotten stale and won’t surprise you anymore, I guarantee you haven’t seen anything like Pontypool. Set entirely in a small town radio station as the world falls apart, it doesn’t show much of the horrors going on outside. Instead, it forces you to listen to and imagine them, which is honestly a lot more terrifying. Also the way the “virus” spreads is something no other zombie movie has ever done (and no I won’t spoil it for you).
October 27th: You’re Next
Probably one of the best horror movies of the last decade, You’re Next is both a love letter to ’80s horror movies and the darkest of black comedies. Like other home invasion movies, You’re Next can get pretty intense, but the second half of the movie is so satisfying to watch that even the most fainthearted horror fans will have a great time.
October 28th: The Ring
It’s not often that an Americanized remake of a foreign horror movie ends up being actually good, but that’s exactly what happened with Gore Verbinski’s The Ring. While the whole “watching this VHS will kill you” thing feels a little outdated now, the whole thing is just so damn creepy that you’ll probably want to watch it with the lights on.
October 29th: The Blair Witch Project
While it didn’t invent the “found footage” style of horror film, The Blair Witch Project definitely perfected it. Remember when we were so sweet and innocent that the viral marketing campaign had us genuinely wondering if this movie was actually real? Even though it’s almost 20 years old, watching it will have you reconsider ever taking another camping trip.
October 30th: Trick ‘r Treat
Made up of a bunch of short, loosely connected stories set on Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat will have you reconsidering whether you still want to open your door for trick-or-treaters the following night.
October 31st: Halloween
While it’s definitely not the “scariest” horror movie on this list, if you’re only going to watch one horror movie on October 31st, it has to be John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s basically a law now, I don’t make the rules, I only help others follow them.
Bonus: Silly Symphony: The Skeleton Dance
Because you’ll probably want some brain bleach, and who doesn’t love dancing skeletons?