Watching horror movies is a fun Autumn activity, and an absolute must for Halloween enthusiasts. We rounded up 31 of the most exciting and outrageous horror movies (with plenty of classics and a few newer picks) to give you something thrilling to watch every day in October.
Many of these movies are available to watch through common video streaming services like Netflix or HBO Max. However, some of these movies can only be watched as a rental on sites like YouTube, Vudu, Redbox, or Apple TV. Because they aren’t all available on a single place (and since everyone has a different combination of video streaming services available to them), we have provided a link to JustWatch for each. The site lists every platform the movie can be streamed or rented on, so you can quickly find the best option that works for you.
It’s worth briefly mentioning that most of these movies are genuinely scary and likely contain content that some may find offensive, overwhelming, or triggering.
Update, 9/15/21: Double-checked that the info/trailer links are still good. Combined movies within a series into one post and added a few new picks.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Revenge always makes for an interesting story. A Nightmare on Elm Street, we watch Freddy Kreuger get his revenge by killing teenagers in their dreams. Nancy Thompson, a cop’s daughter, works with her boyfriend Glen to lure Freddy out of the dream world and into the real world to capture him.
Halloween is a classic horror movie following serial killer Michael Myers, who escapes from the sanitarium he was sent to 15 years after murdering his little sister. Michael then stalks and kills the unsuspecting people of Haddonfield on the movie’s namesake day: Halloween. And luckily, if you like this flick, there are eight more sequels for you to enjoy!
3. Friday the 13th
A classic slasher! Friday the 13th centers around summer camp counselors who are murdered by an unknown person. They are trying to reopen a summer camp that was previously the site where a child died from drowning.
4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Directed by the wonderful Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a terrifying horror classic. The movie features a group of friends who unwittingly end up in the hands of a family of cannibals, including the infamous Leatherface. Apparently, the movie was marketed as being based on true events (though it’s almost entirely fictional), and certain details were lightly inspired by serial killer Ed Gein. There are also several sequels and a remake from 2003 (and a prequel based on that) if you’re into the TCM scene after catching the ’74 flick.
Do you like scary movies? Scream is one of the most iconic horror films, and it has even inspired countless parodies. It’s a classic slasher and plays off all the cliches encountered in a horror movie (like answering the phone). Plus, the movie’s star-studded cast—which includes Neve Campbell and Drew Barrymore—makes it even more exciting.
6. The Exorcist
The Exorcist is a breathtaking masterpiece every horror movie enthusiast should see. There are no serial killers or frightening monsters, merely a little girl possessed by supernatural forces. It’s the original possession/exorcism flick, and its atmosphere and cinematography are powerfully spine chilling!
Loosely based on the story of the same name by Chthonic author H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator follows medical student Herbert West, who creates a reagent capable of reanimating dead bodies. West and a classmate start testing serums on corpses and have to work against someone trying to steal the concoction and pass it off as their own. For some reason, the movie originally received an X rating but was edited down to an R rating.
8. Death Becomes Her
With an all-star cast (of the Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn variety), Death Becomes Her blends horror with comedy for a good time. Actress Madeline and friend-turned-rival Helen consume a magic potion promising eternal youth only to have to deal with unpleasant side effects as they try to convince Madeline’s husband (and Helen’s former fiancé), Ernest, to drink the potion, too.
9. Ghost Ship
In Ghost Ship, a team of salvagers finds an ocean liner adrift in the Bering sea that’s been missing since 1962. They claim the ship and start towing it towards their home harbor, but along the way get trapped inside and experience bizarre events caused by the demonic creature that’s inhabiting the vessel.
10. The Cabin in the Woods
Yes, a lone cabin in the woods is yet another horror movie cliché, but yet The Cabin in the Woods offers much more than campy summer fun. Five college friends plan a simple weekend retreat at a remote cabin but must figure out what’s really happening there if they have any hope of leaving.
11. The Green Inferno
Considering that The Green Inferno is from director Eli Roth AND Blumhouse, you can bet the movie is only for those with the strongest of constitutions. Student activists fly from New York City to the Amazon to help protect and save the rainforest. But once their plane crashes, they realize they are not alone in the sprawling verdant landscape, and it becomes a different kind of fight for survival.
12. Rob Zombie’s Firefly Trilogy
Another set of flicks for the strong-stomached, Rob Zombie’s Firefly Trilogy includes House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and 3 From Hell. The trilogy begins with House of 1000 Corpses, as a tale of two teenage couples. They are on a journey through the Texan backwoods in search of some serial killers from urban legends, but they end up getting kidnapped and tortured by an insane family.
The Devil’s Rejects is a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses (and is still directed by Rob Zombie). It centers on three members of the above-mentioned psychopathic family and their attempts to meet up with their father and escape capture from the local sheriff.
If you loved House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects and are looking for more, we’ve got good news: 3 from Hell is the unholy third movie in this Rob Zombie series. It takes place a decade after the events of Rejects and follows villainous protagonists Otis Driftwood and Baby Firefly getting freed from jail by their also-psychotic half-brother.
Mandy is set within the Shadow Mountains in 1983, and the movie follows Red and Mandy living their peaceful rural lives. When their home is brutally destroyed, Red sets out on a phantasmagoric vengeful path. If you like your horror on the psychedelic side, don’t miss this colorful avant-garde gem produced by Elijah Wood and directed by Panos Cosmatos.
14. Color Out of Space
Another powerful entry based on a Lovecraft story of the same name, Color Out of Space is a movie unlike the others on this list. The Gardner family moves to rural New England to escape modernity, and are enjoying life until a meteor crashes nearby. The meteor—or rather, what’s inside of it—slowly starts infecting and mutating everything around it with its sickening otherworldly color … even the family.
15. The Saw Series
Wanna play a game? The Saw series centers around a sadistic serial killer who is obsessed with teaching his victims the value of life through torture. Once they are captured, they have to play along in a game for their very survival. If this is your cup of tea, we have good news: there are several Saw movies so you’ve got plenty of footage to feast upon after you enjoy the OG.
16. The Fly
The Fly is a classic creature feature. Jeff Goldblum’s character, Seth Brundle, makes a big scientific breakthrough in teleportation. He decides to test out the device on himself but a housefly slips into the device at the same time, merging them together into one horrible monster. Chaos ensues.
17. The Evil Dead Trilogy
Perhaps the most iconic horror flick around, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is a must-watch cult classic. In it, five college students go to a cabin they’ve rented for the weekend (yes, that trope again). They happen upon a mysterious book, which happens to be The Book of the Dead, and unintentionally summon a demonic force that kills them all one by one with only one survivor—Ash.
Ash is back! In Evil Dead 2, Ash and his girlfriend Linda find (yet another) cabin in the woods with a recording of an archaeologist reading from The Book of the Dead.” The recording itself unleashes an evil power that possesses Linda’s body as it plays.
And to round out the trilogy, we have Army of Darkness, in which Ash is transported to 1300 A.D., and enslaved by Lord Arthur. Ash is pointed out as The Chosen One who will retrieve the Necronomicon. Though he only cares about returning home, Ash learns that the only way he can get home is to use the book.
18. The 28 Days Later Franchise
You didn’t think we were going to leave this iconic zombie film off the list, did you? 28 Days Later is a classic zombie movie about a killer virus leaked from a British research facility. A few survivors must work to protect themselves from the infected and stay alive. The virus can be carried by both animals and humans, makes them bloodthirsty, and is impossible to contain, it’ll be one hell of a battle.
Can’t get enough zombies? We get it. You’ll need to watch the sequel, of course: 28 Weeks Later. The virus is still running amok on the British Isles when a group of Americans arrives. They’re convinced the danger has passed, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Will they survive?
Ari Aster’s Midsommar is a jaw-clenching masterpiece. A group of anthropology students are invited by one of the members to travel with him to his hometown—a remote village in Sweden—where they’ll study a summer festival that’s held only once every 90 years. Although the sun never sets there at that time of year, the increasingly dark and disturbing goings-on become an exponentially intense nightmare that you’ll never forget.
Set in Madrid, Spain in 1991, Veronica is the story of a girl who plays a session of Ouija with friends during a total solar eclipse. She tries to contact recently deceased family members, but the session goes wrong. Veronica starts to feel several strange presences around her house and decides they are a threat to her siblings and works to find a solution.
21. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a wild carnival-themed movie about aliens. After their crash landing on Earth, the aliens disguise themselves as clowns and capture victims, storing them in cotton-candy cocoons to eat later. Terrifying if you hate clowns, campy fun if you don’t.
22. High Tension
In High Tension, a quiet weekend with the girls goes wrong. Friends Alexia and Marie plan a fun weekend at Alexia’s family farmhouse, but the sadistic killer that breaks in and wreaks havoc on the girls’ lives was, in fact, not part of the plan.
23. The Strangers
The Strangers features a couple spending some time at an isolated vacation house after a wedding reception. The couple is surprised by violent invaders and has to fight for their lives. (I’m telling you, remote lodgings of any variety are simply a bad idea … )
In retrospect, Audition was kind of a harbinger for dating apps. In the movie, widower Aoyama spends years grieving his dead wife. His filmmaker friend suggests an actress casting session for a fake movie, which Aoyama watches while hidden. Aoyama falls for (and becomes obsessed with) a particularly mysterious actress. Surely nothing could go wrong there.
25. Trick ‘r Treat
Starring the lovely Anna Paquin, Trick ‘r Treat consists of multiple interwoven stories that all fall on Halloween. There are storylines about a college virgin, prankster teenagers, a woman and her holiday-obsessed spouse, a high school principal with a secret life, and a mean man that meets a mean trick-or-treater.
26. The Babadook
A bedtime story can’t hurt anything, right? Not unless it’s a children’s book entitled “Mister Babadook” and you, a single mother, read it to your child only to learn it’s about a monster that hides in the dark of your specific house. Then it might hurt something.
27. Thir13een Ghosts (13 Ghosts)
No, 13 Ghosts isn’t a story about friends in an isolated cabin. It’s about a guy and his family who inherit and enter a glass house that’s a prison to 12 ghosts and might contain a machine that’s designed by the devil (and powered by the dead) to open the Eye of Hell. It should be totally safe. Nothing to worry about here.
28. The Conjuring
If the paranormal is more your speed, you’ll probably like The Conjuring. The 2013 movie is about two paranormal investigators working to help a family that’s being threatened by a dark presence in their house.
29. The Creepshow Series
The Creepshow movie series is inspired by the pulpy EC Comics of the 1950s. In them, a variety of fantastic tales of terror from horror masterminds Stephen King and George A. Romero are brought to life. Love the first Creepshow? You’ll want to check out Creepshow 2 and Creepshow 3 as well.
30. Brain Damage
Eww! In Brain Damage, our protagonist awakens only to find that a gross creature has attached itself to the base of his brain stem. While the creature provides him euphoric happiness, it demands human sacrifices in exchange.
Everyone knows this classic. Jaws is about the vicious great white shark that terrifies (and eats) the people on Amity Island. A shark hunter, police chief, and oceanographer work to capture and kill the shark. And with John Williams’ famous score behind it, the movie is an intense wonder.