I love October. Scary movies are probably my favorite genre and it’s so easy to find tons of them to watch in October. We’ve debated this list back and forth, and I think this list is pretty comprehensive and offers something for everyone! These movies are in NO particular order, but all warrant a view (or two)!
1. The Exorcist
Just in case Linda Blair’s portrayal of a possessed young lady wasn’t terrifying enough, the thought that the movie is based on actual events should be enough to give you chills. The movie was adapted from William Peter Blatty’s 1971 book of the same title, which told the tale of the exorcism of Roland Doe. Bonus points for The Exorcist, due to how amazing the special effects were, given that the movie was released in 1973!
2. When a Stranger Calls
Carol Kane plays the lead in the 1979 thriller. While babysitting she receives a call that implores, “Have you checked the children?” and initially dismisses it as a joke (which, of course, it’s not). Given today’s technology, younger generations may not get why she didn’t just check Caller I.D. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on who you ask) the movie was given a make over with much of today’s technology back in 2006. However, the remake just missed the “spark” of the original. If you’ve never seen the original, do yourself a favor and watch it. Carol Kane was amazing!
In the 2000’s American Filmmakers took inspiration from Japan and adapted several films that were successful horror films in Japan for the American audiences. Some fell flat. Shutter, starring Joshua Jackson (of Dawson’s Creek fame), was one of the more successful adaptations. Newlyweds are being stalked by a spirit, which seems intent on doing them harm. I’m not going to spoil the story but let’s just say, bad things happen to bad people.
4. Pet Sematary
One of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. After the family pet, Church the cat, dies Mr. Creed takes him to the Native American cemetery to bury him. Cat comes back to life evil (aren’t all cats evil?) and Mr. Creed decides to repeat the journey with other members of the family who pass. What could go wrong?
5. The Omen
“Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you!” I don’t know that you can get much more creepy, where little kids are concerned anyway, than the son of Satan. I’ve never made it through the whole movie, to be honest. It gives me the heebie-jeebies! In addition to being totally creepy, there’s a supposed “curse” where the movie is concerned that is quite interesting. If you like reading up on that sort of thing, The Omen Curse is definitely one to research!
6. Friday the 13th
It spawned countless sequels, with a hockey masked murderer, but the first is where the true horror is. Jason was NOT the killer in the original movie, but the victim of neglect. After his death his mom seeks vengeance (and gets it) on the teens tasked to watching her baby boy when he died, but were too busy being…um…horny teens. It also gets bonus points for starring Kevin Bacon in one of his early roles!
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street
“1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you. 3, 4, Better lock your door. 5, 6, Grab a crucifix. 7, 8 Better stay up late. 9, 10 Never sleep again on Elm Street.” This franchise also spurned many sequels (and a remake that I absolutely detested) but the original was terrifying. Just like Friday the 13th, another big name got his start in this franchise, Johnny Depp!
8. Helter Skelter
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who was not familiar with Charles Manson. Charles Manson orchestrated the murder of Sharon Tate, as well as many others. It’s terrifying to know that not only are there people so mentally ill that they could plan these murders, but that they could also influence others to do the crimes. It’s chilling, because it is true.
9. Silent Hill
Silent Hill was based on a video game. Many video games have been turned into movies but none as successfully as Silent Hill, in my opinion. As a gamer I had played the game, but the movie disturbed me much, much more. It’s worth a couple of hours of your time, for sure!
Although it suffers from a “curse” similar to The Omen, which people seem to talk about more than the actual movie (I don’t believe in the curse, personally), it’s one of my favorite movies ever. I actually enjoy the sequels as well. An interesting fact about Poltergeist though, is that there were real skeletons used in the making of the film. In the scene with JoBeth Williams, where she’s in the pool and the skeletons pop up, those aren’t props! It was cheaper to acquire real skeletons than it was to purchase prop skeletons. Unfortunately, that cool fact is part of what feeds into the curse talk.
When Halle Berry wants to, she can give some of the best performances. Her performance in Gothika is what got it on this list. Her portrayal of a psychiatrist who is hospitalized for the murder of her husband, which she swears she did not do, is one of my favorite of her characters. Add in Penelope Cruz and Robert Downey Jr and what’s not to love?
12. Dolly Dearest
I know you wouldn’t expect this movie to be on the list, but it’s here for good reason. Let’s just say my house is haunted and talking dolls….just no. You can read more about it in my Haunted Happenings post, but know that I still cannot be around a talking doll over 20 years later thanks to this movie and a doll that talked, even though it had no batteries in it. Since I’m making the list, I get to add this one! haha
13. The Conjuring
Another of the movies that’s loosely based on true events. It tells the tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren coming to the rescue of a family dealing with increasingly disturbing events in their farm house (set in Rhode Island, 1971). Quite a few times I found myself “jumping” during this movie, which is a sign of a good horror movie to me!
14. The Haunting in Connecticut
“Based on True Events” of a family who has moved into their dream home, which just happened to be a mortuary at one point. I know that should have sent off Red Flags (at least it would for me) but it didn’t for the family, until they had all kinds of paranormal activity occur. Regardless it’s a good movie, and pretty scary (if you’re into paranormal movies).
15. The Mist
The Mist is another Stephen King adaptation, but it’s special because it brought together three The Walking Dead alums (Andrea, Dale, and Carol) well before The Walking Dead became a TV hit. The ending of the movie, which differs from the ending of the book, is more disturbing than I can put in to words.
16. The Ring
This is another movie that was a hit in Japan and remade by American Filmmakers. The idea behind the film is a cursed video tape. Anyone who watches the video will die within seven days. Although it’s dated (most kids won’t even know what VHS tapes are anymore), it’s a good one, and a great adaptation, in my opinion.
17. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Leatherface, the “monster” of the movie, wears a mask made of human skin, while chasing you with a chainsaw through the middle of nowhere. Now, I’ve never been to Texas, but I’ve been to some remote parts of Alabama, and I can say that the story line is in the realm of possibility. Especially if you consider that it was inspired by Ed Gein (a TRUE monster).
On Halloween night, 1963, six year old Michael Myers murders his older sister with a kitchen knife, and ends up being placed in a mental institution. Fifteen years later, Myers escapes the institution and goes on a killing spree. Halloween has spurned many sequels, but none as scary as the original, which was released in 1978.
19. Night of the Living Dead
If you’re a horror movie buff you’ll know the name George A. Romero. Night of the Living Dead may be one of his best known movies. As the name depicts, it is a zombie movie, about deceased individuals who have come back to “life”. The graphics may not be what we’re used to now, but considering this movie came out in 1968, it definitely is a classic horror movie.
20. Stir of Echoes
The story line of this one is pretty simple: Couple moves into a house and Dad (played by the boyishly handsome Kevin Bacon) starts experiencing visions of a violent scuffle involving a teen girl. The movie tells the story of Kevin Bacon finding out the truth of what happened to the young girl and trying to get justice for her. Also, did I mention Kevin Bacon?
21. The Possession
The Possession is another one of the movies that are based on true events. I saw the original story on one of those “Haunted” type shows and it freaked me out then. When I saw Jeffrey Dean Morgan was playing in a movie loosely based on the story of the haunted dybbuk box, I was super excited. The movie did not disappoint.
“Time is on my side. Yes it is!” To this day if I hear “Time is on my side” I look over my shoulder for a demon. Fallen has some big names in it (Denzel Washington and John Goodman) and tells the story of police officers trying to solve crimes, which are being committed by people possessed by the demon Azazel. Possibly one of my favorite movies of all time. Definitely worth your time to check it out!
I have an issue with creepy kid movies and Insidious definitely is one of those. There were a couple of moments that were confusing (you have to watch it to keep up with it and I tend to do 100 different things while watching a movie, other than watching the movie) but if you pay attention it is a really good movie.
“BEEP BEEP Richie! They ALL float down here. When you’re down here with us, you’ll float too!” Another Stephen King adaptation (and why I’m a little scared to know what’s going on in his head) is IT. Pennywise, portrayed by the fabulous Tim Curry (who I love in EVERYTHING he does!), is what nightmares are made of. Every 30 years Pennywise comes back to kill kids in the little town of Derry. The “Lucky Seven” battle Pennywise in their youth, and then come back 30 years later to finally do away with him. IT was originally a mini-series, which debuted in 1990. It’s as terrifying now as it was 24 years ago.
25. Fire in the Sky
Based on Travis Walton’s book, The Walton Experience. Fire in the Sky tells about the five days Travis was missing, which he claims he was abducted by aliens. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you believe in intelligent life out there, or just the possibility of there being aliens, it’s worth a couple of hours of your time.
26. The Amityville Horror
Newlyweds move in to a home where a mass murder occurred and experience paranormal activity. While the basis of the movie, which is the experience of the Lutz family, has been questioned, The Amityville Horror is the epitome of a “Haunted House” movie. There was a remake in 2005 starring Ryan Reynolds and, although I love Ryan Reynolds, I have to say the original movie, released in 1979, is much better.
27. The Crazies
I’ve never seen the original (blasphemy, I’m sure) but the remake freaks me out. A plague of sorts affects a small town. Instead of the typical flu though, those infected go, well, crazy (hence the name). They become murderous and it’s up to the small town sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) to save the day. I love it and now that I know it’s based on a George A. Romero movie, I’m making a point to see the original!
28. Child’s Play
“Hi, I’m Chucky. Wanna play?” Child’s play might not have been as terrifying, had it not came out around the same time as the “My Buddy” dolls. My nephew had one of those creepy dolls and every time I saw it I couldn’t help but wonder, “So, are you possessed by the spirit of a serial killer?” (Hey, I was a kid! haha). Personally, I think the My Buddy dolls were much more creepy than Chucky, but I don’t like any kind of dolls so I’m definitely not the person to give an unbiased opinion. (Don’t believe me about the My Buddy dolls? Watch the commercial and you be the judge!)
Not a very well known movie, and often considered a B-Movie, Brainscan earned a place on the list because it was my favorite scary movie for awhile and I wasn’t the only person who remembered it. Starring Edward Furlong (years ago, when his poster still hung all over my walls), Brainscan is the tell of a boy who plays an interactive video game. The downside of the game? The people dying in it, die in real life as well.
30. The Shining
“REDRUM! REDRUM!” Another trip into the twisted mind of Stephen King. A family of three head to a lodge to care for it for the winter as the dad writes a book. However, something evil lurks in the house and manifests in Dad, while the son sees into the past and future to see all that’s happened and will happen. The movie came out in 1980 and I can still drive my mom crazy my saying “REDRUM” (Murder in reverse) in a gravelly voice!
31. An American Werewolf in London
Prior to the Paris version, the American traveler became a werewolf in London. Released in 1981, the effects were beyond their time (the guy even won an award because of how good his work was!). Somehow it’s a horror, that’s also a comedy, and a romance….and somehow it all works. While the Paris version was “okay”, An American Werewolf in London is where it all started. (Plus, it’s real werewolves…not werewolves that hang out with sparkly vampires!)
As you can see I tend to gravitate toward the older movies (and even some B-Movies), versus more current scary movies. Today’s scary movies tend to rely on gore, which I’m not a fan of. I’m sure I left some of your favorites off the list, so I want to hear your suggestions in the comments below!