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Best Scary Movies of the Halloween Season: ‘Psycho,’ ‘The Shining’ and More!

The season of the witch! Halloween time is upon Us, and there’s no better way to scare yourself silly than settling in with a bucket of popcorn, kicking up your feet and turning on a horror movie.

Our list of the best Halloween horror flicks kicks off in the 1960s, when the Bates Motel was not the place to stop on a rainy night. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, one of the director’s most iconic psychological thrillers, features Anthony Perkins and original scream queen Janet Leigh as Norman Bates and Marion Crane, respectively, whose time together comes to an end when she gets stabbed to death in the shower — presumably by Norman’s mother.

Next, we move into the 1970s, where a young girl named Regan (Linda Blair) becomes possessed by the devil in The Exorcist, spins her head 360 degrees and spews pea-green vomit across her bedroom. Later in the decade, boogeyman Michael Myers stalks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, Leigh’s real-life daughter) for the first time in the Halloween franchise, setting the scene for decades of screams.

The ‘80s and ‘90s only brought more terrors to the big screen, giving fans gems like The Shining, the Stephen King horror novel-turned-classic-movie starring Jack Nicholson as writer Jack Torrance who moves with his wife and precocious son Danny to an isolated hotel in Colorado. A Nightmare on Elm Street — which was later remade in 2010 after first premiering in the ‘80s — came next, while the ‘90s brought Us the beginning of the Scream franchise, a place where horror, comedy and meta combined into the perfect spine-tingler. (“What’s your favorite scary movie?” has never been the same since.) The Blair Witch Project was also iconic for its time, popularizing the front-facing camera technique decades before selfies became the norm.

Getting into the 2000s, the horror genre was revitalized with innovative films like Saw and The Conjuring, the latter of which brought creepy spirits back to the big screen. It (2017) was also remade from a Stephen King tome into a feature film, reviving the 1980s miniseries into the first of a two-part film series and reminding viewers why they should always be wary of sewers in Derry, Maine.

Whether it’s a slasher, a possession film or a meta horror — looking at you, Scream — here are our choices for the best movies to watch this October.

Check out Us’ top 10 list – and rewatch their trailers! – below:

Halloween (1978):

This 1978 slasher flick was Jamie Lee Curtis’ film debut. Set in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, we meet Michael Myers, the now infamous character that has surely haunted all of our dreams. He’s gone on to become of the most popular costumes on October 31.


The Shining (1980):

You’ll never be able to hear the phrase “Here’s Johnny” the same way again — thanks to the brilliance of Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in this horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film is based on the hit 1997 novel of the same name written by the king of horror himself, Stephen King.


The Exorcist (1973):

Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair star in this supernatural horror film adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel. Released the day after Christmas in 1973, this movie went on to have a significant impact on pop culture. After many notable directors turned the project down, it went on to be directed by Academy Award winner William Friedkin.


Scream (1996):

This Wes Craven-directed scary movie starred familiar faces Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Rose McGowan and Neve Campbell. The film combined comedy and horror and spawned a series of sequels.


Psycho (1960):

The Alfred Hitchcock classic changed the game for the horror genre in the film industry. Starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, this film made everyone scared to take a shower.


It (2017):

Based on the 1986 Stephen King novel of the same name, It has been satirized on SNL and will prove to be one of the biggest Halloween costumes for 2017. The supernatural horror film raked in $123 million at the box office in it’s opening weekend.


The Blair Witch Project (1999):

This late ’90s flick only had a budget of $60,000, but overtime has gone on to make more than $248 million dollars worldwide. The close up “selfie” video of scared eyes and a runny nose has definitely become a mainstay in motion picture history.


The Conjuring (2013):

A farmhouse blanketed in fog, paranormal investigators and a family terrorized by a haunting presence all add up to the perfect scary movie. Based on a true story, this 2013 film stars Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Vera Farmiga.


A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010):

Whether you prefer the original 1984 film or this remake starring Rooney Mara and Kellan Lutz, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a must-watch in October. Complete with his burnt face and razor sharp claws, Freddy Krueger has become one of the most popular scary Halloween costumes of all time.


Saw (2004):

Waking up and not knowing where you are can be a scary feeling, but not scarier than waking up in a room and realizing you’re a pawn in a deadly game being controlled by a serial killer. What would you do to stay alive?