'Tis the season for scary screen time, and while Australia doesn't quite have the same effect as, say, cosying up on the couch in the cold ready to be absolutely rattled, you can bet we'll be indulging in the best Halloween movies regardless. From the classics to the cultic, all star casts meet famed directors and some very 90s special effects.
To celebrate, we're compiling a list of our favourite watches for the spooky season. Some are more comedic, while others are truly quite dark. Whichever way you fare, we're hoping the 20 below options will get you in the spirit or at the very least, provide some outfit inspiration for those who plan to venture out.
An opening option like no other. When Phoenix-based secretary Marion Crane stops at the Bates Motel after stealing from her employer, she meets its suspicious and creepy owner, Norman Bates. After Crane is murdered by a shadowy figure in the shower scene that made history, the story unravels into the perfect nightmare. Psycho has been declared countless times as a work of art, and we’re not inclined to disagree.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
In a Tim Burton classic, a poor soul Edward has scissors for hands. Taken in by a kind family, Edward falls for the daughter (young Winona Ryder so who could blame him?). It gets us every time as we wonder if their relationship will stand up to the judgement of the smalltown occupants who just don't understand.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Based on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Washington Irving, a policeman is brought into a village to save the village folk from a murderous headless horseman running rampant. Featuring all of the necessary effects that make period dramas so enticing laced with darkness.
Some mid-range scariness fun. Credited with revitalising the horror industry, the twisted and dark-humoured plot follows high-school student Sidney Prescott as she navigates her peer group to escape, and ultimately uncover, the serial murderer in her midst. Wes Craven’s modern take on a horror classic will have you cautiously laughing the way through.
Practical Magic (1998)
Practically heaven, if you ask me. Two sisters who are witches attempt to use their powers to end a family curse - which promises to prevent them from ever finding true love - end up killing and resurrecting a few unlucky stragglers while they navigate their circumstances.
American Psycho (2000)
The film that boasted perhaps the most screengrabs of Christian Bale working out during lockdown goes to...American Psycho. Perhaps the only scene of the film that isn't filled with gore, a psychotically egotistical Wall Street VP Patrick Bateman, is determined to fit in until his insane fantasies of bloodlust are no longer imagination.
The Witches (1990)
The Roald Dahl novel and film follows a young boy who discovers a coven of witches that are plotting against all children, planning to turn them to mice. Sweet and freaky! Coincidentally, this 90s flick has had a 2020 update with Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway.
Brian De Palma creates a morbid and vicarious cinematic masterpiece centred on the shy and awkward Carrie White and the discovery of her first period, alongside newfound Telekinesis powers. Grappling with vicious high-school bullying and a psychotic mother, White’s powers spiral out of control when her emotions get the best of her after a particularly humiliating night at the prom, resulting in unforgettable carnage.
Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Young FBI agent Clarice Starling enlists an incarcerated, psychopathic genius cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter to help her find a missing girl and catch a serial killer. Lecter is both disarmingly magnetic and terrifyingly animalistic in character, lending to the twisted and eerie nature of the plot.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Who could ignore the Disney Classic? With Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, what's not to love? The plot follows the Sanderson sisters who are accidentally resurrected by a group of children. The trio must defeat the ghostly witches before they kill all the children in Salem.
The Addams Family (1991)
A classic dedicated to the weird and wonderful family we love. When a man claiming to be Fester, the missing brother of Gomez Addams, arrives at the Addams' home, the family is thrilled. But when the ever astute Morticia begins to suspect the man is a fraud, things start to turn pear-shaped.
Roman Polanski's horrifying masterpiece has gone down in history as one of the best psycho horror films of all time. The film follows a young woman, Rosemary, who falls pregnant with her first child under some very sinister circumstances. Upon giving birth to her child, she suspects that her cultic neighbours have some twisted plans for the baby.
The Shelley DuVall and Jack Nicholson cult classic. When writer Jack Torrence moves to the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, with his wife, Wendy Torrance and son, no one would expect for Jack's mental sanity to take a landslide as he is gifted with "the shining" - psychic abilities that enable him to see into the hotel's horrific past. When snowed in one season, Jack is at the mercy of the supernatural forces that still inhabit the hotel.
A "family friendly" (albeit still creepy) halloween movie option for those not in the mood to be rattled. One girl has 13 hours to save her brother from being turned into a goblin by The Goblin King. Jim Henson's musical fantasy is a pop culture must-see.
Albeit a bit cheesy with its dated special effects, Poltergeist remains a haunted house classic as it follows the narrative of a perfect nuclear family being tormented by paranormal chaos.
Another Tim Burton Halloween movie classic that never lets us down. A family moves into a home inhabited by the spirits of a deceased couple. The couple, hating their new roommates, hire a deviant poltergeist, Beetlejuice, to drive them out.
Modern king of horror Jordan Peele has created another home run of a film with Get Out, which follows a photographer who takes his girlfriend home to meet his family for the first time. The film is pieced with casual racism and fraught dynamics which only get eerier as the film progresses.
A Bill Murray classic for those who are fans of lighter halloween flicks. Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service, and the adventures of hunting such ghosts are endless.
The Witches of Eastwick
Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer star alongside Jack Nicholson as three best friends who are unlucky in love, until they meet a charming and affluent man who goes on to wreaks havoc upon their lives.
Death Becomes Her
Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn are like none other in this 1992 hit. When Streep's waspy actress character, Madeline has exhausted every anti-ageing treatment on offer, she discovers a potion in a desperate attempt to preserve her youth and finally outdo her long time friend and rival, Helen.