Movies + TV

Movies to Watch While You Trade Candy Tonight

Fantasy, horror, and other weirdo films that we love.

Psycho (1960)
The mother of all horror movies,* Psycho is such a standard-bearer that it’s easy to forget how knee-knockingly, teeth-chatteringly, heart-poundingly scary it is. Never one to settle for cheap and easy gore, Alfred Hitchcock takes a straightforward story—a girl on the run stops at the wrong roadside motel—and builds barely tolerable suspense using silence, aerial and close-up shots, creepy camera angles, and an overabundance of taxidermy. Two sequels, a made-for-TV “prequel,” a Gus van Sant shot-for-shot remake, and thousands of imitations have come and gone in the 51 years since Psycho hit screens, but nothing comes close to the terror and delight one feels when seeing it for the first (or fifth, or 15th) time. —Emily
* Bad pun intended.

Carrie (1976)
Horror movies are either scary (things popping out of other things, alarming images, screechy violin music) or creepy (things feeling vaguely wrong, building tension, ideas that straight-up disturb you and stay with you instead of just freak you out for a moment). Carrie is both. It’s about a high school girl with no friends, an overbearingly religious mother, and telekinetic powers. It starts with a scene in the locker room (which, by the way, is the most pornographic thing to ever exist in a non-porno movie, what the hell) where Carrie gets her period for the first time. Because her mom never told Carrie what a period is, she freaks out and everyone laughs at her. Then, since her mom believes blood is the sign of sin, shit goes down at home. Then, a boy feels bad and asks her to prom. And then, the best half-hour of a movie ever! Blood, murderous rage, religious imagery suddenly made terrifying. The scariness of the murderous-rage part will make you scream, and the creepiness of the revenge of the outcast will stay with you for a long time. Plus, being made in the ’70s and half taking place in a house lit by candles and covered in crosses, it’s really pretty. Also, Sissy Spacek goes from the prettiest girl in the world to a terrifying slinky column of blood in two seconds, and it’s amazing. —Tavi

House/Hausu (1977)
Technically House is a horror movie, but really it’s a psychedelic, Technicolor, bizzaro adventure that, by the time the end credits come up, will have you going “What the hell did I just watch?” The movie follows a schoolgirl named Gorgeous and her crew of friends (with equally awesome names, including Kung Fu, Fantasy, and Prof) as they go to visit Gorgeous’s aunt, who lives in a creepy old house—see where this is going? Almost immediately, the girls realize that something is not right with the establishment, as they are picked off one by one in the weirdest ways possible. If the general plotline sounds conventional, the super-cheesy special effects more than make up for it: phantom limbs fly through the air, electric skeletons dance menacingly, and you will never look at white cats the same way again. —Anna

The Craft (1996)
This movie was my everything when I was a teen and started my goth phase. In it, the new girl, Sarah, makes friends with three classmates who are rumored to be WITCHES. Because of her natural magical abilities, she is soon accepted into their coven, where she shows them how to levitate, cast love spells, heal scars, cast revenge on racist bullying classmates, and even use a “glamour spell” to change hair color at will (my favorite spell since that would save me a lot of $ on hair dye). When teen witch Nancy said to a bus driver, “Mister, we are the weirdos,” I felt right at home. —Marie

Scream (1996)
Have you ever seen Scream? You HAVE to see Scream. It’s genius because if it scares you, GOOD, and if it doesn’t, well, they just spent the whole movie making fun of horror movies, so geez, that wasn’t the point anyway! Basically there’s a serial killer in the town of Woodsboro, California, and all the teenagers realize they’re living in a horror movie, so they try to survive based on the rules they know from all the classics. It’s funny, because the teenagers are just so hilarious (Stu from Scooby Doo!!), but also terrifying and also bloody. Plus, two of the main characters were also in The Craft, so like, how could it NOT be AMAZING? —Tavi

Hard Candy (2005)
After flirting heavily online, 14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page) and 30-something, clean-cut creeper Jeff (Patrick Wilson) meet in person at a cafe and then decide to go to his place. You think you know exactly where this is headed, but trust me, you don’t. Hard Candy is one of the most chilling thrillers that I’ve seen in the past couple of years. It. Is. Brutal. And when I say brutal, I mean that both in the sense that the movie is at times graphic, and that the drama is extraordinarily taut. The back-and-forth between the two actors is masterful, but Page in particular kills it. If she isn’t already on your list of badass actresses to idolize, this is the movie that will secure her spot. —Amber

The Exorcist (1973)
Often cited as the scariest movie of all time, this story of a young girl possessed by a horrible entity is completely engrossing and also, in some weird way, sort of relatable? The plot is simple: Young Regan accidentally invites a demon into her house. Uh oh, that demon takes over her body. But it’s not just an demon, IT’S THE DEVIL. Then some VERY terrible things happen (people die, heads spin, someone masturbates with a crucifix, etc.). The movie had people fainting and vomiting in the theaters! The special effects are so gruesome, it’s hard to not be freaked out. This movie was the reason why my mother wouldn’t allow me to have a Ouija board for so long, but she let me get one once she realized that I am actually the Devil. MUHAHAHAHA! See it! It’ll make you cry for your mom! —Hazel

Audrey Rose (1977)
“Suppose a stranger told you your daughter was his daughter in another life? Suppose you began to believe him? Suppose it was true?” That was the tagline for Audrey Rose, which is like a made-for-TV version of The Exorcist. Plus, the daughter bears an uncanny resemblance to Regan/Linda Blair. Sir Anthony Hopkins (aka Hannibal Lecter) plays the possibly deluded former dad infiltrating Audrey Rose’s new fam. The vibe is great: lots of raining, crying, screaming, and window-banging. There are also night terrors, a canopy bed, and great late-’70s fashions. —Sonja

Halloweentown (1998)
Watching this Disney Channel movie is a stressful experience. Mostly, it stresses me out that Marnie actually is a witch and her mom won’t let her be one. Being a witch > being normal; come ON, mom, you’re ruining her life! Also, the obnoxious younger brother is named Dylan, which really cramps my style. Otherwise, Halloweentown is the best made-for-TV Halloween movie of all time. When I saw blocks of this movie and its sequels (Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown) on the cable guide every October of my childhood, I knew it was time to slip into the Piper family’s world, with their wobbly little witch grandmother and her town of Halloween spooks and people with jack-o-lantern heads. When a-hole bro Dylan tells Marnie that he’d rather watch a Nat Geo doc than go trick-or-treating or generally enjoy childhood, she replies, “Halloween is COOOOL, Nature Boy.” That line validates everything I believe in. —Dylan

Rear Window (1954)
Nobody does voyeurism like Alfred Hitchcock. That dude is just OBSESSED with other people’s business, right? Rear Window is a fantastic thriller starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Confined to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment, Stewart’s character, Jeff Jeffries, spies on his neighbors through his window. But fishy things start to happen. What happened to his neighbor’s wife? Who killed that neighborhood dog by breaking its neck? Oooh, spooky! If you’ve seen the 2007 movie Disturbia starring Shia LaBeouf, basically that was a remake of this much better movie. Is it weird that Rear Window really makes me want to spy on people? Hopefully one day I can live in the city and spy on all my neighbors. Oh my god, I’m so creepy! I guess Hitchcock will do that to you. —Hazel

Edward Scissorhands (1990)
When this movie came out I remember reading somewhere that Johnny Depp based his portrayal of the boy with scissors for hands on a dog. And he totally plays Edward as a stray puppy adopted by a kind Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) and brought to her home in the pastel suburbs. He’s all soulful eyes and mute yearning, and he’s so gentle—even though he could kill you with his bare hands, he chooses instead to use those hands to make topiary and paper dolls and trim your bangs. I think every adolescent hetero girl pines for a boyfriend who’ll curb his dangerous nature out of love for her—see also Edward Cullen—which I guess just means every tween girl loves doggies? (Except for all you freaks who prefer cats.) Edward Scissorhands is a really cute guy who is also a doggie. What could be better? This movie also has Winona Ryder, so it’s officially the best. —Anaheed

Suspiria (1977)
The Italian filmmaker Dario Argento + a fancy ballet academy in Munich = super Euro. Also, outstanding. The beautiful designer clothing. The coven of witches. The architecture. The blood. The stained glass. The wallpaper. The furniture. The knives. The popping candy Technicolor (better than Hitchcock’s Marnie). The soundtrack by Goblin. The amazing Jessica Harper. The maggots. All perfect. —Sonja

The Shining (1980)
I love almost any scary movie, mainly because it’s an excuse to grip the hand of a cute guy while we cheer on the character who doesn’t die in the end. The Shining, however, is more than just a scary movie; it is a cinematic masterpiece. Set in a spooky old hotel in the middle of nowhere, the film explores the limits of the human psyche, and tests the boundaries of familial relations. It is also pretty incredible aesthetically, from the opening credits to the last frame. Just keep a friend’s hand nearby—director Stanley Kubrick’s got quite a few surprises in store. —Cynthia

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The story follows a group of friends as they head into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about a local urban legend called the Blair Witch. They disappear, and a year later “recovered footage” of their trip is found, and that’s what makes up this movie. The whole thing is filmed with handheld cameras and although there are no scary monsters, gory situations, or other horror-film clichés, your heart will pretty much be beating out of its chest cavity by the end. I loved it so much that I went to see it THREE times in the movie theater, which, for a girl who isn’t into scary movies AT ALL (i.e., me), is a big deal. I really don’t know what attracted me so much to it either; maybe because there was something oddly IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU about the premise, ’cause who WOULDN’T go explore the myth of a witch who lives in the woods? Well, I wouldn’t, of course, because I’m a total scaredy-cat, but like, I would LOVE to? The scene of Heather apologizing to all her family for getting everyone involved in such a crazy situation is totally legendary, thanks in no small part to all the snot that is visibly hanging from her nose throughout most of it. So for ultimate witchy vibez (REAL ones), hinting at stuff that’s scarier than anything they could ever show you, AND snot-on-command, The Blair Witch Project is an essential scary-movie experience! —Laia ♦

27 Comments

  • Marguerite October 31st, 2011 3:16 PM

    I LOVE Edward Scissor Hands! It is the best! I always cry when I watch it! And whenever I hear Avon I think of the movie :) Oh and I hate that I have to go to school on Halloween! Halloween is a real holiday, shouldn’t have to go to school, I have places to decorate!

  • AinsleyBlue October 31st, 2011 3:24 PM

    Lol, the first thing I thought when I saw the poster for The Exorcist was “OHMYGOSHITSTHATSCARYGIRLFROMTHATGAMEOHGOD I need to watch this movie”.

  • Taylor October 31st, 2011 3:26 PM

    Hausu! I’ve seen that movie about 5 times. It was the most ridiculous and the most wonderful and hilarious and terrifying 90-something minutes of my life.

  • marimba_girl October 31st, 2011 3:28 PM

    I’d forgotten about Rear Window, Hitchcock is legit! I haven’t watched Carrie but I have read the book and that is super creepy too, but in a good way :) I’ll have to find House, it sounds like my kinda movie. I would also recommend The Sixth Sense for those of the faint at heart. It has a great plot and is more jump out of the closet and scare you than so bloody it’s scary (if ya know what I mean). In the campy Halloween movie category I would also have to add Hocus Pocus, it was just on tv the other day and I watched it instead of doing my homework…oops.

  • Naomi October 31st, 2011 3:30 PM

    i’d just like to say that i am really excited because daylight saving hours meant the clock went back so rookie posts are 7 and 11 in the evening and i don’t have to wait as long!!!

  • Dahlia October 31st, 2011 3:30 PM

    Edward Scissorhands always made me so sad. I’ve always wanted to see the “classic” scary movies but I don’t want to watch them alone and all my friends are HUGE chickens, so thet won’t watch it with me. :(

  • lyndsey October 31st, 2011 3:39 PM

    you guys have killer taste, but where is ‘beetlejuice’? :) oh, and for all those uber-obsessive movie nerds with time on their hands other than me (anyone?… no?), check out this analysis of ‘the shining’. it will blow your mind, i swear:

    http://www.collativelearning.com/the%20shining.html

  • yourenotfunny October 31st, 2011 3:55 PM

    Edward Scissorhands aaaaawwwwww! <3 I cry every time I watch it.

  • Sarah M October 31st, 2011 3:56 PM

    This is the greatest scary film list EVER. Suspiria! Halloweentown! Awesome job, ladies.

  • littleDani October 31st, 2011 4:15 PM

    I LOVE The Exorcist. it’s probably one of my favorite horror films of all time.

    Another good movie to watch is Halloween, it pretty much invented the slasher genre. I watch it every year on halloween hehe

  • fizzingwhizbees October 31st, 2011 4:19 PM

    For someone who hates scary movies, this made me really want to watch one! Maybe I’ll watch The Craft tonight since it’s practically the movie of the month here on Rookie.

  • CariStereo October 31st, 2011 4:23 PM

    Blair Witch Warning:

    If you suffer from motion sickness, be warned. I am not ashamed to admit I did not make it to the end of this movie owing to (pretty picture) getting puke-y from all the handheld shaky-cam goings on. So glad I was home. Phew!

    • Anaheed October 31st, 2011 4:26 PM

      I experienced this same effect @ Blair Witch.

  • Sonja October 31st, 2011 4:25 PM

    Hard Candy is very disturbing. I couldnt even finish watching it. Oh wait. I watched the last 1/4 on fast forward. Also so good is THE STRANGERS!!!!!!!!! It’s a classic.

  • Eleanor October 31st, 2011 4:55 PM

    I CANT BELIEVE HAUSU IS ON HERE!!!! well done anna!!! such a masterpiece film…

  • Maddy October 31st, 2011 4:59 PM

    I had seen Hard Candy on imbd because it was by Ellen Page, but have yet to watch it. Also, for the record, Gardasil sucks (“hey look over there! *points, then clutches shoulder in pain*)

  • airheads October 31st, 2011 5:17 PM

    YES. THIS LIST. YES. I love love love Hausu and Suspiria, so glad they were both featured here.

  • Lascelles October 31st, 2011 5:34 PM

    I am about to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas :D

  • PussyGalore October 31st, 2011 6:14 PM

    Props for not being predictable, film nerd to film nerd you have afirmed my love of this website x

  • ichewmylips October 31st, 2011 7:28 PM

    You forgot Beetlejuice!!!!

  • kalika_ma October 31st, 2011 8:36 PM

    I was a 15 year old mouthy asshole at a sleepover halloween party with 12 other girls on Halloween when I first saw The Exorcist. Not only did I not sleep that night, but I slept on the couch next to my parent’s room for the next 3 months.

    It IS that scary.

  • Hunter October 31st, 2011 11:03 PM

    I’ve seen all these movies. Where is my damn reward?

  • appledarling November 1st, 2011 2:11 AM

    HAUUUSUUUUUU.
    I love that famous killer lampshade scene. stop motion decoupage so killer. <3

  • karysrhiann November 1st, 2011 7:09 AM

    SUCH a good list! I’ve been looking for good spooky film lists for ages but this one really takes the cake! I definitely think Hocus Pocus should have made the cut though :)

  • Nomi November 1st, 2011 7:23 PM

    I hadn’t even read this article yet but we watched the shining. it was great! it was also my first horror movie ever :3 because im a bit of a chicken when it comes to scary stuff

  • seriouslyforreal November 9th, 2011 6:03 PM

    if you’ve never seen “teen witch” i highly recommend it. i promise you won’t be disappointed by the “top that” number.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a5Mvw0j1rY

  • LilyB November 1st, 2013 1:09 AM

    HALLOWEENTOWN