NASHVILLE, T.N. (WKRN) — Many people are quick to name fall as their favorite season, and rightfully so. From sweater weather to football season to, dare I say, pumpkin spice flavors and scents, fall certainly presents the perfect package of activities and such.  

Fall (aka “Spooky Season”) is also a time to get excited for a good scare around Halloween, and what better way to get you in the mood than by watching some movies that fit the Halloween, horror spirit? Without further ado, here are 25 movies to watch/stream leading up to the holiday. 

Psycho (1960) 

It’s only fitting this list starts with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho. The master of suspense brings his A-Game here with a perfect combination of horror and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. Starring Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles, the film centers on an encounter between Marion Crane, an on-the-run embezzler, and shy motel operator Norman Bates, and its aftermath where a private investigation, along with Marion’s lover and sister investigate Marion’s disappearance. Psycho is widely considered to be the earliest example of a slasher film and is sure to give you goosebumps. Make sure you get your shower in before firing up this flic.  

Where to watch: Peacock and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) 

New moms beware, this may not be the film for you this Halloween. Roman Polanski’s psychological horror film stars Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer and tells the story of a young, pregnant wife who comes to suspect that her elderly neighbors are members of a Satanic cult and are grooming her in order to use her baby for their rituals. Widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2014 as they deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” 

Where to watch: Paramount+ and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 

If you can work up the courage to watch Tobe Hooper’s classic, props to you. This film centers on a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. The film was actually banned in several countries and some movie theaters even stopped showing the film after receiving complaints about how violent it was. Hooper used a cast of relatively unknown actors as he was on a limited budget; the limited budget also forced Hooper to film for long hours all week so he could finish as soon as possible to bring down the cost of renting equipment. Hooper limited the amount of onscreen gore and violence in hopes of getting a PG rating. Needless to say, that didn’t go well, but the film’s main antagonist, Leatherface, has since become a widely recognized figure in pop culture. Michael Myers, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees – now that’s a villain trifecta if I’ve ever seen one. 

Where to watch: Tubi, Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+

Young Frankenstein (1974) 

This comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks serves as a parody of the classic horror film genre, particularly the many film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder, with Wilder staring in the lead role as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, while Peter Boyle portrayed the monster. To help create the atmosphere of early classic horror films, Brooks shot the movie entirely in black and white, which was very rare in the 1970s. He also used 1930s-style opening credits and scene transitions like iris outs, wipes and fades to black, transitions that were also popular in classic horror films.  

Where to watch: HBO Max and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) 

This cult classic hit the big screen in 1975 and stars Jim Sharman, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, with narration from Charles Gray. In this musical comedy horror film, a young engaged couple has their car break down in the rain near a castle, where they look for a phone to call for help. Inside the castle are strangers in elaborate costumes, celebrating an annual convention. Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparent mad scientist, is the head of house and creates a living muscle man named Rocky in his lab.

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Carrie (1976) 

Did you really think this list wouldn’t have a Stephen King adaptation on it? If so, fine, you’re forgiven I guess. Anyway, Carrie! Stephen King’s first novel was adapted into a horror film in 1976. Directed by Brian De Palma, the film stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy 16-year-old girl who lives with her fanatically religious and unstable mother. As if her at home life wasn’t bad enough, Carrie is constantly mocked and bullied at school. Over time, Carrie discovers she has telekinetic powers and puts them to grave use following a now-famous incident at her high school prom. The iconic prom scene has since become a major influence on pop culture and was ranked eighth on Bravo’s 2004 program The 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video   

The Omen (1976) 

This classic stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner and Harvey Spencer Stephens and follows Damien Thorn, a young child replaced at birth by his father, unbeknownst to his wife, after their biological child died shortly after birth. Mysterious events and violent deaths begin to happen around the family, and as Damien enters childhood, the family comes to learn he is the prophesied Antichrist. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film was a commercial success and earned two Oscar nominations, winning Best Original Score for Jerry goldsmith, his only Oscar win.  

Where to watch: HBO Max and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Halloween (1978) 

John Carpenter’s masterpiece from 1978 still holds up 44 years later. The first installment of the lengthy Halloween media franchise, the film stars Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut as Laurie Strode, a babysitter who is stalked by Michael Myers. Myers was committed to a sanitarium after he murdered his sister when he was six years old. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown on Halloween night while stalking Strode and her friends from high school. The film has been widely praised for Carpenter’s direction and score and is a must watch for any horror fan around or on Halloween. If you’re stuck babsitting on Halloween night, you may want to rethink that gig, because remember, you can’t kill the boogie man.

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Friday the 13th (1980) 

One by one, a group of teenage camp counselors are murdered by an unknown killer while trying to reopen an abandoned summer camp. The film’s success led to a long series of sequels, a 2009 series reboot and a direct sequel, titled Friday the 13th Part 2, was released one year later. Following the success of Halloween, Friday the 13th introduced us to killer Jason Voorhees and his famous hockey mask. The mask has since become a Halloween phenomenon and can be found on people’s faces every year around the holiday. The Jason-style hockey mask was also used in the National Hockey League for a while; today, most NHL goalies wear a full fiberglass mask with a birdcage facial protector as it is safer and offers more visibility, but I’m not convinced that’s the only reason why the Jason-style mask is off the ice. Perhaps it creeped the players and fans out after the release of Friday the 13th? Let your mind wander on that for a while.  

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Shining (1980) 

Bashed by critics at first, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has since been regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time, and a pop culture phenomenon. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, along with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). After a winter storm leaves the family snowed in, Jack’s sanity begins to deteriorate as supernatural entities in the hotel begin to infiltrate his mind, leaving Wendy and Danny to try and escape with their lives. Fun fact – the famous “Here’s Johnny!” line uttered by Nicholson was actually improvised. Also, in that same scene, Nicholson uses an ax to break the bathroom door. According to Insider, Kubrick broke a world record on set after forcing his actors to do countless takes to get each scene just right. In the end, Nicholson chopped down 60 doors. I wonder if lumberjacks even work that hard. 

Where to watch: HBO Max and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Thing (1982) 

Back to John Carpenter for a second. Who’s up for a trip to Antarctica to encounter a parasitic extraterrestrial “thing” that assimilates and imitates other organisms? No one? Just me? Fine, but let me at least try and persuade you to fire up this cult classic. Kurt Russell, the leader of a team of researchers in Antarctica, and his team are overcome by paranoia and conflict after learning they can no longer trust each other as any of them could be the thing. The film was released to negative reviews that described it as “instant junk” and “a wretched excess.” Did that work? No? Alright, but at least I tried. Oh, by the way, in subsequent years, the film has been reappraised as one of the best science fiction and horror films ever made and has gained a cult following, just saying.  

Where to watch: Peacock and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Poltergeist (1982) 

“They’re heeere!” Tobe Hooper, the mastermind behind The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, was selected to direct this movie based on his work from the aforementioned film. This film stars JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O’Rourke and Beatrice Straight, and focuses on a suburban family whose home becomes invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct their daughter Carol Anne (O’Rourke). Steven Spielberg served as one of the film’s main writers and was frequently on set during filming, while exerting a significant amount of creative control. I won’t get into the whole idea of whether or not the film is cursed, but if you’re interested, here’s an in-depth article on how the film may indeed be cursed.

Where to watch: HBO Max and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 

Sweet dreams give way to nightmares in this supernatural slasher film written and directed by Wes Craven. Staring Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Johnny Depp in his film debut and Robert Englund as the iconic Freddy Krueger, the film was met with critical acclaim and is considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. The film’s success spawned six sequels, a television series, a crossover with Friday the 13th, and a remake of the same name. A Nightmare on Elm Street was also one of the first films produced by New Line Cinema, leading the company to become a successful film studio and even nicknamed “The House that Freddy Built”.

Where to watch: HBO Max and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Ghostbusters (1984) 

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis play three eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City, while Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis appear in supporting roles. The film was well received for its fusion of comedy, action and horror and earned $282.2 million during its initial theatrical run, making it the second-highest grossing film of 1984, only behind Beverly Hills Cop. Remember, if you see something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call

Where to watch: Hulu and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) 

This adaptation of the 1982 off-Broadway musical stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin and Levi Stubbs, with special appearances by Jim Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest and the ghostbuster himself, Bill Murray. The film tells the story of a floral shop worker who finds a sentient carnivorous plant that feeds on human blood. I’m not sure if anyone has a Venus flytrap around their house, but if you do indeed have one and it starts acting weird….it might be a good idea to break out the Roundup.

Where to watch: Tubi and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Beetlejuice (1988) 

Tim Burton’s fantasy horror comedy film hit the big screen in 1988 and was a critical and commercial success, spawning an animated television series, video games and a 2018 stage musical. Starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton as the titular character, the film revolves around a recently deceased couple who haunt their former home and contact Beetlejuice, an obnoxious “bio-exorcist” from the Netherworld, to scare away the home’s new inhabitants. Be sure to put Beetlejuice on your TV screen this Halloween but remember not to say his name three times fast or he’ll appear in your living room.  

Where to watch: Peacock and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Child’s Play (1988)

This film features a widowed mother giving a doll named Chucky to her son, unaware that Chucky is possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Despite a production budget of $9 million, it grossed over $44 million at the box office and has since gained a cult following, followed by six sequels, merchandise, comic books, a reboot film of the same name released in June 2019, and a TV series that began in 2021.

Where to watch: FuboTV and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Addams Family (1991) 

Former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfield made his screen directing debut with this classic supernatural, black comedy film. Starring Angelica Huston, Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd, this film features the Addams family reconnecting with what they believe to be a long-lost relative, Gomez’s brother Fester Addams, who is actually the adopted son of a loan shark trying to swindle the Addams family out of their wealth. While you may try your hardest not to be like this whacky family, I think we could all agree we could all use our own Thing, or hand servant if you will.   

Where to watch: Paramount+ and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Hocus Pocus (1993) 

What’s Halloween without witches? Lucky for you, Hocus Pocus has three of them. Kenny Ortega’s 1993 fantasy comedy film centers on a villainous comedic trio of witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) who are inadvertently resurrected by a virgin teenage boy (Omri Katz) in, of all towns, Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. While receiving mixed to negative reviews, the annual celebration of Halloween has helped the film grow in popularity. A sequel, directed by Anne Fletcher, was recently released on Disney+. 

Where to watch: Disney+ and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 

From the mind of Tim Burton comes Jack Skellington, the King of “Halloween Town” who eventually stumbles upon “Christmas Town” and becomes obsessed with celebrating the holiday. The principal voice cast features Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix and Ed Ivory. Yes, the film can also be considered as a Christmas movie, but we won’t talk about that because, after all, “this is Halloween”.  

Where to watch: Disney+ and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Interview with the Vampire (1994) 

Okay, witches are checked off the Halloween list. Now, what am I missing? Oh yeah, vampires! Interview with the Vampire focuses on Lestat and Louis, beginning with Louis’ transformation into a vampire by Lestat in 1791. The film chronicles their time together and their turning of 10-year-old Claudia into a vampire, while the narrative is framed from a present-day interview where Louis tells his story to a San Francisco reporter. Need another reason to watch the film? It stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst, enough said.

Where to watch: Fubo and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Scream (1996) 

Wes Craven’s Scream is largely credited with revitalizing the slasher film genre in the 1990s after the genre was almost considered dead due to an influx of direct-to-video movies and tons of sequels to established horror franchises from the 1970s and 80s (i.e., Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Released in 1996, Scream remains the highest-grossing slasher film in adjusted dollars. Scream also marked a change in the slasher genre as its cast featured already-established actors and actresses such as Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, and Rose McGowan to name a few, which was considered to have helped the film find a wider audience and a large female viewership. The villain’s outfit has been a staple Halloween costume since the film hit theaters, so you’re bound to see a few of those around your neighborhood. Just be sure to think twice about answering your phone should you receive a call.

Where to watch: Paramount+ and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Sleepy Hollow (1999) 

Ah yes, a good ol’ urban legend made into a film perfect for Halloween. Join Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane as he travels from New York City to investigate a series of murders committed by a mysterious Headless Horseman in the village of Sleepy Hollow. The film grossed $207 million worldwide and received positive reviews, primarily for the performances, Tim Burton’s direction, screenplay and musical score, as well as its dark humor and visual effects. Sleepy Hollow also took home the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

This anthology horror comedy hit the big screen in 2007 and relates four Halloween horror stories with a common element: Sam, a trick-or-treater wearing orange footie pajamas with a burlap sack over his head. Sam makes an appearance in each of the stories whenever one of the other characters breaks a Halloween tradition. This may not be the type of movie to show the youngsters, but I think we can all agree Sam’s Halloween costume is one worthy of rocks, just like Charlie Brown’s.

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

It (2017)

Pennywise The Dancing Clown continues to creep children (and adults) out to this day, so if your child(ren) does not want a clown at their birthday party, chances are they’re scarred by this iconic villain. Anyway, this 2017 film tells the story of “The Losers’ Club”, a group of seven outcast children who are terrorized by Pennywise, only to face their own personal fears and demons in the process. A critical and commercial success, It set multiple box office records and became the third-highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, according to Time Magazine.

Where to watch: Netflix, HBO Max

*Side note – If you want more Pennywise, you can also watch the sequel, It: Chapter Two, on HBO Max.