From costume parties to a night of trick or treating, Halloween offers no shortage of potential set pieces for cinematic drama. It’s then no surprise that the holiday plays different roles in different films and pops up across a slew of genres. John Carpenter’s 1978 seminal slasher (we all know the name) makes for an obvious example, but what about the recent rom-com “When We First Met” or the Old Hollywood musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” both of which also incorporate Halloween? (These are the most played Halloween songs of all time.)
To determine the best Halloween movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of October 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Only movies whose plots revolve around Halloween, or whose mise-en-scène directly relate to Halloween themes, were considered. Data on directorial credits comes from IMDb.
Our list includes films that feature Halloween in one way or another but don’t automatically strive for scares. The only real asterisks we need to place are next to 2015’s “Goosebumps” and a handful of Tim Burton movies – namely “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Corpse Bride,” and “Frankenweenie”. While they don’t specifically call upon Halloween, they feel almost purposefully crafted in honor of the occasion. Unsurprisingly, they were all released during the holiday season. (Halloween-themed or not, these are the best horror movies of all time.)
Then there’s the animated classic that we didn’t include. Released in 1966, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is technically a TV movie and a highly rated one at that. However, its 25-minute runtime makes it more of a TV special, and so you won’t find it on the following list.
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