Ranking the best Halloween movies of all time


Canva graphic by Lilly Ashworth

The staff members of The Scarlet Scroll watched and rated 13 Halloween movies and picked our favorites. They are listed in order of our least to most favorite, and include a brief plot description as well as our commentary.

Sleepy Hollow 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 6.9/10 

Our Score: 1/10

When a young police detective, Ichabod Crane, is sent to investigate the mysterious murders in the small town, Sleepy Hollow, he discovers that the homicides may not be so random. Crane must discover who the killer is before it’s too late. This movie is both strange and boring. The main character is squeamish and suffers from PTSD. The movie tries to develop this throughout the story, but ultimately fails as the entire explanation for his trauma is completely rushed. Another major plot line in the movie is Crane’s attachment to his deceased mother. The way Burton chose to develop his relationship and convey young Crane’s trauma was strange and made me uncomfortable. There are multiple plot lines throughout the story and none of them are thoroughly developed. The main character seems to jump to far fetched conclusions that don’t make much sense. At the end of the movie, the main character discovers the secret of the headless horseman because of the most random clue. Tim Burton once again takes this classic story down a dark route– one which I did not enjoy. The acting in this movie, however, is very well done. I loved Johnny Depp and Christiana Ricci and thought they did a great job at creating their characters. Overall, I would not recommend this movie as it is slow moving and very peculiar. 


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 8/10

Our Score: 2/10

One Halloween, Marnie and her siblings discover the truth about their mysterious grandmother and her hometown. This movie is boring. Because it is a children’s movie, the jokes and incidents are those that do not appeal to older audiences. The plot itself is sweet and is centered around family, though it is somewhat slow-moving. The movie is primarily exposition with the majority of the action occurring in the last fifteen minutes. The entire first half just sets the stage for the climax which occurs at the end. The ending feels rushed and is not well developed. It seems as though it was just thrown together. The movie was not very entertaining and I had a hard time paying attention. This may be due to the slow moving plot, or maybe the lack of major plot points. It is a good movie to watch for the sake of nostalgia, though I would not recommend watching it for other reasons. 

Nightmare on Elm Street 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 1.5/10 

Our Score: 2/10

A disfigured man has been murdering teenagers in their dreams (or “nightmares”), which we learn then kills them in real life. It is up to Nancy and Glen to solve this mystery before time runs out. I would not recommend this movie as the entire plot is messy and seems somewhat rushed. The events do not fit well together and the ending makes no sense. The main character, Nancy, seems to come to far fetched conclusions which are somewhat hard to understand. She seems to know things throughout the story that seem to come out of nowhere. Furthermore, the climax and resolution all occur within the last twenty minutes and a lot of the resolution gets lost. I had no idea what happened at the end of the movie and didn’t understand what happened to Nancy. On top of the confusing elements within the movie, I found a lot of it to be flat out gross. The main villain, Freddy Krueger, is more disgusting than scary. The murders are also very gory and overall nasty. This movie is awful and I would not recommend it – it’s not a good horror movie and has hardly any redeeming qualities.

Addams Family 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 6.5/10

Our Score: 4/10

In an attempt to steal the Addams Family fortune, Gordon and his mother devise a plot to disguise himself as the long lost Fester Addams. On his journey, Gordon begins to see how truly peculiar the Addams Family is. This is a very odd movie filled with strange characters and even stranger events. Such events include an elaborate ballroom dance with a ball of hair. The bizarreness of the movie makes for a very entertaining film to watch. Even though it is meant to be a comedy, the movie does a great job of conveying the central theme of family. The plot is somewhat chaotic with multiple plot lines occurring at once, which adds to the entertainment. I would recommend this movie due to these reasons, though rank-wise, there are definitely better things you could watch.

Friday the 13th 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 2.6/10 

Our Score: 4/10

While trying to reopen a summer camp where a child once drowned and a grizzly bear killed two other children, camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an assailant who remains unknown. Friday the 13th is pretty much a rip-off of the classic Halloween. Although it does have some merit with the notorious hockey-masked antagonist Jason being a pretty popular Halloween costume, the movie itself is just alright. The antagonist is really nobody of significance, and you barely find out anything about him. Although this is somewhat done in Halloween, Michael Myers is a step above a total mystery. The camp counselors are pretty aggravating, since most of them don’t even realize the others are missing. The movie was entertaining and pretty scary while watching, but didn’t match up to some of the others on the list. I do think it’s a classic, but mostly because of what’s done in the later movies in the franchise. If you’re interested in watching a series of horror movies, I would recommend Friday the 13th, but personally I thought it was just okay.


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9.7/10 

Our Score: 4/10

A team of scientists decide to become “ghostbusters” after they lose their jobs at a university in New York City. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension that releases evil upon the city and now must save New York from these monsters and ghouls. I could barely get through this movie. The only thing that helped was the great cast. Ghostbusters has an overall amazing group of actors, like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. I feel like the storyline was more funny and weird than scary. I think it would have been better if it was a scarier movie because I feel like the audience would be more intrigued. If the plot was purely the monsters terrorizing the city without the comedy, I think the overall movie would be more interesting to watch. It is a classic movie with an iconic song that I think everyone should watch at least once.


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9/10

Our Score: 5/10

While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline discovers a secret door which leads to an alternate take on her own life. I never understood why so many people loved this movie. It is okay, but definitely not one of my favorites. The animation is creepy and I am shocked this is supposed to be a kids movie. I remember being creeped out watching this movie as a child and as a teenager it was still strange. It is an interesting storyline and is not like any other horror movie out there. It is an imaginative story and it was interesting to see the visual presentation of Coraline’s real word versus her alternate other world. Personally, I found this movie very disturbing, but many people seem to enjoy it. 

Nightmare Before Christmas 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9.5/10 

Our Score: 5/10

This classic Halloween film tells the story of Jack Skellington, who is king of Halloweentown, and has become bored of the holiday he rules over. Upon discovering the holiday Christmas by leaving the Halloween world and stumbling upon the other holidays, Skellington attempts to steal the holiday by getting into some unfortunate trouble. I really wanted to enjoy watching this movie, simply because it’s one of the most nostalgic Halloween movies of this generation. I knew that I was signing up for some weird stuff since it is a Tim Burton film, but I didn’t really enjoy it. The plot of the movie is great, ‘Halloween discovers Christmas’ and wants to take the glory, but I just don’t know how I feel about the animation style. I much prefer the animation in Coraline compared to this film, even though both use a similar stop-motion animation style. Despite this, I feel like it deserves a somewhat high status in our ranking just because it’s such a classic all-around movie. I enjoy the whole “aesthetic” surrounding it, like the ride come Halloween time at Disneyland, but the movie was just alright. 


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 8.5/10 

Our Score: 8/10

After Barbara and Adam Maitland die in a car accident, they start haunting the new residents of their former home in hopes of getting rid of them. I loved Beetlejuice! It is technically not a Halloween movie, but it is a great comedic scary movie. Michael Keaton does a fantastic job portraying the crazy Beetlejuice character by the funny maniac-like way he acts. It is a very strange and silly movie because it explores the supernatural and afterlife worlds. Beetlejuice is a weird guy that causes mayhem, but he is also so intriguing that it gets you hooked from his first appearance. I would definitely recommend watching this movie for a good laugh. 

Hocus Pocus 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 3.8/10 

Our Score: 8/10

After moving to Salem, MA, teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister, Dani, and new friend, Allison. After not believing Allison’s superstitious story about witches, he accidentally frees a coven of evil witches who used to reside in the house. Hocus Pocus is an iconic Halloween movie that you should watch every year to get into the Halloween spirit. This movie has the perfect mix of funny and scary moments. It is a classic movie about witches, magic, sibling relationships, and trying to fit in in a new town. The witches are a little odd and goofy, and their personalities make the movie quirky. There are some “cringy” scenes, but what movie doesn’t have a little cringe in the mix? The beginning scene is a great way to set the movie up and provide background history before the story jumps forward 300 years. I do think this movie is overplayed way too much during the Halloween season, and it starts to become overrated for many viewers. Hocus Pocus is a nostalgic Disney film with an original storyline that I highly recommend watching every Halloween season. (Side note, I love the song “I Put A Spell on You” and think that deserves a 10/10 rating by itself.)

Practical Magic 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 2.2/10 

Our Score: 8/10

Sally and Gillian are two sisters with a secret. But when a mysterious murder begins to expose them, the girls must do whatever they can to keep it. This movie is great and the plot is unlike any other I have seen before. The movie is filled with spells, sorcery, love, and the undead. Sally and Gillian are incredibly lovable and their bond is unmatched. Despite the fact that they are polar opposites, Sally and Gillian would kill for each other, which the audience can see first hand in this film. They are two strong, dynamic women whose lives continue to stray down a strange path. The way they interact and handle their situations is so unique and very entertaining to watch. Though the movie centers around a serious topic — domestic abuse— the writers included several goofy lines and events which effectively lighten the mood. I highly recommend this movie.


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9.6/10

Our Score: 9/10

A six-year-old Michael Myers brutally murders his older sister and is sentenced to prison for 15 years. While on his way for a court date, 21-year-old Myers steals a car and returns to his hometown, looking for his next victims. I think what was so good about this film was how little we knew about Michael Myers. The first scene shows him killing his older sister — but why? Myers is a great antagonist that builds so much suspense into his murders. The shots in the film are amazing, and use subtle details to create terrifying angles. What makes the film so scary is the music and  suspense before the murders. Knowing the kill is coming but not knowing the when, how, or why is the terrifying part. The acting is typical horror movie acting – not great but still decent – but what sets the film apart is how beautifully it’s done technically. Overall, Halloween is a classic horror film that truly embodies its title. 


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 7.9/10 

Our Score: 9/10

This comical take on Halloween follows a masked killer who stalks the high school students trying to figure out their identity. What I enjoyed about Scream is the fact that it’s pretty much a self-aware horror film. As the high schoolers are debating about who the killer might be, they talk about common horror film tropes and what they’ve seen in horror films (which is pretty meta). Another plot detail I liked was that the killer was just someone in a mask, nothing more. A lot of horror films go crazy with their antagonist, making them some type of supernatural being, but the simplicity of the antagonist in Scream is what makes the movie different – in the best way possible. The movie has a lot of fun in between the heavy plot details, which increases its rewatchability. Because of the self-awareness and fun the characters seem to have, this movie defines itself as both a horror and comedy film. I really enjoyed the movie and feel that it’s definitely something to watch every year during the Halloween season. 

Honorary Mention

Girl vs. Monster 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 5.7/10 

Our Score: 10/10

Teenage girl Skylar learns that her parents have been hiding their real job from her and is forced to save a high school party while dealing with the truth. This movie deserves the highest of honorary mention awards. Monstober is one of the greatest seasons on Disney Channel and Girl vs. Monster really hits the mark. What it lacks in plot, cinematography, acting skills, and many other technical aspects, it makes up for in its pure nostalgia and entertainment. What more could you want from a movie than Olivia Holt and Luke Benward? The soundtrack also deserves a second review, “You Had Me At Hello” and “Fearless” being on my Halloween playlist multiple times. Safe to say, this movie is amazing and should be watched every Halloween. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend that you do (I won’t spoil anything). Once again, 10/10 for both the movie and soundtrack combined despite the lacking in other regions.