21 Thrilling Movies for Halloween!

October arrived at midnight with a blanket of fog cloaking the twisted path. I awoke with a rekindled primal need deep down inside my core. I want to be transported. Flooded by memories and covered by goosebumps, I realized there was only one cure: Halloween movies!

Here are 21 of my favorite spine-tingling thrillers of all time.

For many years now as my favorite holiday approaches, I enjoy getting into the haunted spirit. In past years, I’ve watched scary movies as they counted down the days on TCM and AMC. I remember sewing many Halloween costumes while watching the old classics.

Alfred promoting “The Birds”

I LOVE psychological thrillers and grew up with Alfred Hitchcock films. When my children had sleepovers and would rent slasher movies, they would make ME want to scream. After all, most of those movies rely on the same tension buildup over and over with the inclusion of gore and special effects. Not only were most of them terrible films, but I had to deal with their nightmares during the following school week.

When a film compels the viewer to feel compassion for the character as they become more and more vulnerable to what….evil….lurks….behind…. that…..door… NO! DON’T OPEN THE DOOR! …too late – then it’s a really great film.

This is my list of all-time favorites!

X = 1 night’s sleep lost.

Click on the title to watch the YouTube movie trailer

Vertigo  – 1958 X

Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

A mysterious woman leaves a man spellbound as he struggles with the fear of heights.


The House of Usher – 1960 X

Vincent Price

Written by Edgar Allen Poe

A brother and sister are under a house’s curse. Will Madeline live to tell the tale?


Psycho – 1960 XXX

Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The film was played at my high school and one of the parents raised the dead after seeing the shower scene!


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane – 1962 XXXX

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis

Directed by Robert Aldrich

Jealousy, guilt, and power take these sisters on a ride of filled with horror.


The Birds – 1963 XXXXX

Rod Taylor, Tippy Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The television networks used to play this film once a year on Sunday nights, so I didn’t sleep a wink until the next weekend!

I never looked at a huge flock of birds the same way again.


Wait Until Dark – 1967 XX

Audrey Hepburn

Directed by Terence Young

Anyone can get creeped out when they live alone, but when you are blind, it adds another dimension to creepy!


Rosemary’s Baby – 1968 XXX

Mia Farrow

Directed by Roman Polanski

Most pregnancies have their ups and downs, but Rosemary is carrying the devil’s child so all Hell breaks loose!

The Omen – 1976 XXXX

Gregory Peck, Lee Remick

Directed Richard Donner

After seeing this film, I walked around with the numbers 666 in magic marker on my ankle courtesy of a boyfriend “tattoo artist.” The numbers reminded me of several subsequent night terrors knowing Damian lived!


Halloween – 1978 XXXXXXx (I finally fell asleep at 3:00 AM on the 7th night)

Jamie Lee Curtis

Directed by John Carpenter

After watching Halloween on the UW campus, my boyfriend went to the kitchen. I turned around and he wielded a huge carving knife. I screamed and he went home soon afterward.


Amityville Horror – 1979 XX

James Brolin, Margot Kidder

Directed by Stuart Rosenberg

This haunting is based on a true story. How scary is that?


The Shining – 1980 XXXX

Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall

Written by Stephen King

“Here’s Johnny!”

One of my favorites! I have my own story about the Stanley Hotel. I believe that Stephen King had very similar experiences while staying there!


Fatal Attraction 1987 – XXX

Michael Douglas, Glen Close

Directed by Adrian Lyne

An affair leads to a stalking to remember never to have an affair.


Pacific Heights 1990 – XX

Michael Keaton, Matthew Modine, Melanie Griffith

Directed by John Schlesinger

An unsuspecting tenant attempts to ruin the lives of a young married couple.


Misery 1990 – XX

James Caan and Kathy Bates who won an Oscar for her performance!

Written by Stephen King

Watch out for super-stalker Annie Wilkes when it’s hammer time.


Silence of the Lambs 1991 – XXXXXXXXXX!  

Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins – This film swept the Oscars!

Directed by Johnathan Demme

It took me years to get a few of those scenes out of my head. This is the only somewhat slasher-esque movie on the list.


Sleeping with the Enemy – 1991 XX

Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin

Directed by Joseph Ruben

Laura fakes her death to escape her maniacal husband, but doesn’t elude him for long.


The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – 1992 XX

Rebecca De Mornay

Directed by Curtis Hanson

Lust and longing could take a fatal turn…be careful who you trust with your babies.


The Ninth Gate – 1999 XX

Johnny Depp

Directed by Roman Polanski.

He is seduced by the ultimate power of the devil himself.


The Sixth Sense – 1999 XXXX

Bruce Willis 

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

“I see dead people……” A fantastic film on so many levels.


What Lies Beneath – 2000 XX

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

This haunting will leave you gasping for air.


Secret Window – 2004 XXX

Johnny Depp

Directed by David Koepp

A stranger comes to the door accusing Mort of plagiarizing his latest novel. This twisted tale will keep you guessing until the end.


Feel free to print up the list and don’t forget to pop some corn!

What’s your favorite thriller? Do you like a good adrenaline rush?

21 Thrilling Movies for Halloween. Click for ideas! Halloween movies, Creepy psychological thrillers, Halloween ideas, spooky stories, #Halloween #Halloweenideas #paranormal #movies #films


All movie poster photos are thumbnail size in compliance with copyright guidelines. Other photos are copyright-free. Top and bottom photo copyright protected by Susie Lindau

Click for more wild adventures!

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Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

123 thoughts on “21 Thrilling Movies for Halloween!

Add yours

  1. I would add ‘The Others’. However, considering that my own parents took me and my brother to watch ‘The Omen’ and ‘The Shining’ with them, and we were very young… the result is that some of these movies are too hardcore for me. For example, I can’t stand any of the ‘Saw’ movies, and even though I won a ticket for the premiere of ‘Hostel’ I wanted to leave the theater when the gore fest started. But, I have watched most of the ones on your list and somehow managed to survive the thrill.


    1. The Others was a great movie, but didn’t really scare me. I thought Nichole Kidman gave an amazing performance.
      I too watched The Omen and The Shining and couldn’t sleep afterward.
      I’ll never see any movie that includes a power tool for torture.
      Thanks so much for coming by!


        1. That is so true I think it is also his eyes and eyebrows. They are so intense. He would make me nervous in a dark room or hall or basement or………………………………………………………


  2. Oh my Gosh, there are some great movies in there! I haven’t seen them all, but I get chills just reading some of the titles.

    I don’t like those movies generally, but I have been known to watch once in a while. Fatal Attraction was C R E E P Y!!!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. They all get my stamp of approval which means nothing except that other than Silence of the Lambs, they are not gross, just very scary!
      I loved Fatal Attraction! When they find the rabbit simmering on the stove… EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!
      Thanks so much Patricia!


  3. Hey Susie! I’m going to come back in the morning to review this as I just got home. But, I’m a fraidy cat…..Dial M for Murder comes to mind, The Birds, Excorcist and as many times as my husband watched Silence of The Lamb—->I NEVER watched it! Heck even Jaws is scary when the big thing comes on the boat. ha ha. Check back in the AM.


  4. I like a lot of these movies. If I were forced to pick a favorite of this list, I’d pick Rosemary’s Baby. Hands down one of my favorite scary movies. I sort of forced my husband to watch this last year. He was resistant, but once the movie started he was amazed. It’s one of those movies that will never need an update.

    If I were to pick a favorite that is not on this list, it would probably be Angel Heart (1987). Robert Deniro and Mickey Rourke were wonderful.


    1. I don’t think I ever saw that!
      Rosemary’s Baby is a classic for sure. She was eating raw meat at 8 months pregnant. A sure sign that you are carrying the devil’s child! Hahaha!
      Thanks Catie!


    1. Great question! I just went off the top of my head. I was afraid there were a bunch I had forgotten, but so far so good. Dumb luck I guess! I hate slasher films and so many of the new ones are in that genre. A lot of them like Seven are too gross for me.
      I had to look up a few of the film names. I remembered the actors that were in them. I didn’t want to go heavy on any one writer or director. There’s your long answer to a short question!
      Thanks for stopping by!


  5. I immediately thought of What Lies Beneath–very good movie! I also loved the Shining and Misery. I think one of my fave scary movies is The Others with Nicole Kidman. Just sends chills down my spine.


    1. The Others was an excellent film. I don’t remember having a hard time sleeping afterward. 🙂 I think because it was all explained in the end. I’ll have to see it again! Nichole Kidman was excellent as the trapped mother who went crazy on her kids.
      The worst for me were the films that had me looking over my shoulder for the perpetrator of the bumps in the night! I truly lost sleep with many of these films.
      I am really looking forward to this month’s frightfest! OoooooOOOOooooOOO~
      Thanks Darla!


  6. What a list! I had to force myself to keep going to the end! EEEEK! Has any female been creepier than Bette Davis? And Silence Of The Lambs … I took five runs at it over a period of months before I was able to get through it . Once. Never again. Let’s not talk about it.


    1. Oh! I know what you mean about Silence of the Lambs. It is the only gross one on the list, but the movie was excellent!
      Bette Davis used to creep me out! I would love to see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane again!
      Thanks Patricia!


  7. Was The Omen the one with the little demon children in cloaks playing on the playground at the school? Scared the willies out of me as as a kid, as did Halloween. The 1st one and the 3rd one with the TV and the masks.

    I saw part of 28days the other night and wigged. Oh! I don’t like Zombies. Great spooky thriller list. 🙂


    1. Do you remember the photographer with the line through the photos? Creepy.
      Halloween? I couldn’t sleep for several nights after that movie. I remember being absolutely terrified after that movie! Hahaha! And to think I willingly went!
      I’ve never seen 28 Days. I avoid anything with dismemberment or eating people now that it is so realistic. Eeeeeuuuuuuwwww! Happy October Angelia!


    1. Hahaha! I was just on your blog! How “ironic!” We were visiting each other!
      I can’t watch anything gross, so other than SotL’s, everything else just gets my heart racing! Love your Ostrich Theory of Life! It’s the only way to parent!
      Thanks for coming by!


  8. I’m all into psychological thrillers, but not into the horror thing. We also have that Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown spirit over here. But I’m liking your list. Very nice October movies. I look forward to the AMC and TCM countdown. Alfred Hitchcock is always a master. Master! But Silence of the Lambs … dude that one was definitely awesome. Misery, Fatal Attraction and the Sixth Sense were very edge of your seat too. Happy movie watching.


    1. Thanks Guat! I love this month and the sheer terror of watching thrillers! I have’t seen too many lately since most have been on the gross side. I love baking in the kitchen while listening to AMC or TCM and it’s pie week!


  9. I have never seen Vertigo, that I know of, maybe I’ll try that. Sixth sense was great! And I didn’t know Johnny Depp did scary, might try those. Misery was awesome, now that is some writing!


    1. Great! Tell me how you like them! Misery was so simple and brilliant! Johnny Depp plays two very different characters. Secret Window is amazing!
      Thanks for stopping by!


    1. I love dressing up in costume and decorating. The movies have to be intense, but not gross or I turn them off. That is why I haven’t jumped on the Zombie bandwagon! 🙂


  10. Great selection you have here, Susie! I have seen and greatly enjoyed most of your picks.

    Have you seen “Black Swan”? My wife and I watched it the other night for the second time after we originally saw it in the theater a few years ago when it was first released. Seeing it the first time was a more powerful experience, because the movie has a high tension level of mystery and suspense that does an excellent job of keeping the viewer off balance, as the plot constantly blurs the lines between reality and delusion. Like the main character, the viewer often isn’t sure whether what seems to be happening is real or hallucinatory, and both delusion and reality can be suddenly shocking and horrifying, without warning.

    But we still thought that “Black Swan” held up very well to a second viewing. The acting is excellent and the movie is very atmospheric, often in a very dark and disturbing way. It’s a film that’s not for everyone because it’s main theme is psycho-pathology and the horror of a descent into madness, portrayed with an intensity that some people find too disturbing and upsetting to enjoy. But I think that it’s one of the most original and unusually different “horror” movies that I’ve ever seen.


    1. Hey Chris!
      I thought the film was really interesting until it switched from first person to third person. I have to admit to laughing at the end. I would understand if she thought she was turning into the black swan, but it seemed as though the audience viewed her that way as she danced across the stage. Up until that point it was all seen in a mirror or through her eyes. That’s where the film lost me.
      I loved the tension and how her loss of reality was portrayed up until that point.
      To me it wasn’t scary though. Not like The Shining, Halloween, or Silence of the Lambs. Those terrified me!
      I am hoping to find a few more good clean (no gore) thrillers this month! (I can only take a movie like Silence of the Lambs once in a lifetime!)
      Thanks Chris!


      1. There might have been some gore; I can’t remember, but I don’t recall anyone getting hacked to bits. I’m not keen on those films, either. It was more of a mind-fuck type of a ghost story.


  11. Great choices! Fun post, pretty lady. I like them all! I can’t say which on is my favorite. But you know what? Sometimes it looks like a version of “The Birds” around here. It can be rather freaky.


  12. Oh Silence of the Lambs terrified me! I still think about that crazy serial killer who kept the girls in that hole in his basement *shivers*. I used to love the adrenaline rushes when I was younger–not so much now. 🙂


    1. I know what you mean and yet in my case I think I am more terrified that there will be some gory scene. I cn’t watch that kind of thing…I’ve seen Silence of the Lambs and that was too much for me, but I had to include it since the film was exceptional…
      Thanks Coleen!


    1. I remember Sunday Night at the Movies! I think it was NBC that televised The Birds every year. Why on a Sunday???? I would be so exhausted Monday morning while dragging my feet to school….
      I love the adrenaline rush! Hahaha! I am looking for some newer ones, but they are hard to find without gore….


  13. A lot of good choices – when I was kid and just learned to read I was crazy about Hitchcock (ans still are) – teachers told me that I was a strange kid ‘hahahaha’ – in a way I haven’t any favorite.. 🙂


    1. Hitchcock was the best director. I can’t believe what he did with so little..nothing like the special effects today.
      Strange is good! Join the club! 🙂
      Thanks for coming by!


    1. Hahaha! These are my favorites and they last the span of time since they are directed so well.
      I hope you had pleasant dreams!


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