13 Favorite Halloween Flicks

13 Fun and Scary Classic Halloween Films

Halloween is without a doubt my favorite holiday. It’s also my family’s favorite holiday, so I grew up watching a variety of scary movies around the month of October. Here’s my list of classic films that are perfect for getting in the Halloween spirit!

1.  House on Haunted Hill (1959)  
For me, House on Haunted Hill embodies the spirit of Halloween perfectly. Complete with walking skeletons and corpse heads, it’s a brilliant combination of silly and spooky. In retrospect, the film’s cheesy effects shouldn’t scare me now that I’m an adult but there are still scenes that make me squirm. It’s horror on a budget, and it works.

House on Haunted Hill 1959 film

House on Haunted Hill, 1959. Directed by William Castle. Starring Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Elisha Cook Jr., Richard Long, Carolyn Craig.


2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein(1948)
This is the best Halloween movie for someone who’s not a fan of getting scared. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a fun Halloween comedy that features all of the classic Hollywood monsters together in one film.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948. Directed by Charles Barton. Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange.


3. The Haunting (1963)  
The Haunting is one of the most impressive horror movies I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely terrifying and there are hardly any special effects. All the fear from this film comes from the ideas and the acting, which is what makes it so exciting.

The Haunting 1963

The Haunting, 1963. Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn.


4. Frankenstein (1931)
Frankenstein is an absolute classic and a must-see for any Halloween fan. Boris Karloff as the creature is a horror icon and this film is pretty much required viewing for classic Halloween scariness and fun.

Frankenstein 1931

Frankenstein, 1931. Directed by James Whale. Starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff.


5. Dracula (1931)
Like Frankenstein, Dracula is a Halloween essential. I mean, Halloween wouldn’t be what it is without vampires, right?

Dracula, 1931Dracula, 1931. Directed by Tod Browning, Karl Freund. Starring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners.


6. Tales of Terror (1962)
Tales of Terror is a compilation of three Edgar Allen Poe short stories, and each is as different from the next. It begins with the bone-chilling story “Morella” and in all honesty I still can’t watch the scene where Morella’s ghost is floating around the old house. The next episode “The Black Cat” is more comedic, however, and Vincent Price as the famous wine-taster Fortunato Luchresi is priceless. Ending with “The Case of M. Valdemar”, with Basil Rathbone playing what could be his creepiest role, Tales of Terror is a wonderful blend of dark Poe tales.

Tales of Terror 1962

Tales of Terror, 1962. Directed by Roger Corman. Starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone.


7. The Haunted Palace (1963)
At first glance, The Haunted Palace is your typical cursed old house tale, but then you find out about the cursed mutant townspeople, the evil ancestors being burned at the stake, and the mysterious primeval creature in the dungeon — which makes for one pretty scary film.

The Haunted Palace 1963

The Haunted Palace, 1963. Directed by Roger Corman. Starring Vincent Price, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney Jr., Elisha Cook Jr.


8. The Exorcist (1973)
Nothing says Halloween better than a can of Anderson’s Pea Soup (Campbell’s didn’t have the right “effect”) being vomited onto a priest. Also exorcism.

The Exorcist 1973

The Exorcist, 1973. Directed by William Friedkin. Starring Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller.


9. Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu is in the Horror Hall of Fame and for good reason. To pull off such a frightening film with no sound and limited technology is absolutely amazing. It is no wonder that the film is considered a masterpiece of silent cinema. Well done, Murnau. Well done.

Nosferatu 1922

Nosferatu, 1922. Directed by F.W. Murnau. Starring Max Schreck, Greta Schröder, Ruth Landshoff.


10. House of Wax (1953)
House of Wax features a compelling story and a strong cast (including a very young Charles Bronson) but the real magic is in the wax figures and Vincent Price’s character Jarrod’s obsession with them. It’s like a love story turned tragic as all hell breaks loose and Jarrod goes to extremes to perfect his “children”. Plus wax figures are just creepy in general.

House of Wax 1953

House of Wax, 1953. Directed by André De Toth. Starring Vincent Price, Phyllis Kirk, Paul Picerni, Charles Bronson.


11. The Omen (1976)
It’s pretty much law that all children in horror movies have to be absolutely terrifying. And, this film is a prime example, for sure. What I find really scary about this movie, however, are all the strange occurrences that happened during filming. After reading the stories about how this movie is cursed, watching it is a six times worse.

The Omen, 1976

The Omen, 1976. Directed by Richard Donner. Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Stephens.


12. Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
William Castle is known for cheesy fun horror, but Mr. Sardonicus is surprisingly dark. It’s mysterious and unnerving and there are some serious psychological elements at work. But all that aside, the film teaches a very valuable lesson about what a ghoul really is (and why it’s such a bad idea to be one).

 Mr. Sardonicus, 1961.

Mr. Sardonicus, 1961. Directed by William Castle. Starring Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe


13. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is such a classic story and it’s been made into many films, but what gets Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 version onto this list is the hands down best Jekyll to Hyde transition I have ever seen. EVER. I am consistently blown away by it, even after finding out how it was done.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1931

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1931. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins.


–Dana Walas for Classic Movie Hub

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