The 10 scariest horror films of all time to watch for Halloween

Halloween – the spookiest day of the year – is finally here!

What better way to mark the occasion than by watching some of the scariest horror movies out there?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Halloween is looking very different this year.

So instead of going trick or treating or attending huge Halloween parties, we'd recommend getting cosy on the sofa – or even getting dressed up in your favourite costume.

We've compiled a list of the scariest horror films to watch over the Halloween weekend.

Whether you enjoy paranormal stories of possession and poltergeists, or get a kick out of gore – there is something for everyone.

Event Horizon

Alien is widely regarded as one of the scariest space-based horrors ever made.

But what if there was even more evil lurking and waiting to pounce at the very cusps of the universe? And what if a spaceship got possessed?

Event Horizon has a totally different sort of baddie than the chest-bursting slobbering xenomorphs of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic.

It's 2047, and after disappearing for several years, the Event Horizon reappears in the orbit of Neptune.

It's an experimental vessel, opening black holes to travel through time and space. Now it's back, with nothing but screaming voice logs to give clues as to where it's been, and what happened to the people on board.

It's not long until it becomes obvious that this ship has literally been to hell and back.

The crew of the Lewis and Clark led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and the Event Horizon's designer William Weir (played by Jurassic Park star Sam Neill), are dispatched to retake the ship.

But although the Event Horizon's crew has vanished, the vessel is not empty, and it has now gained a demonic energy that pits the salvage team against each other – and themselves.

People who have seen this dark experiment in cosmic horror are haunted by the gore and relentless visions of violence.

But it could have been much worse.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson was forced by censors to cut out large chunks of the most disturbing scenes.

Most of these scenes were lost, but were said to include footage of real life mutilation, and extended versions of the "Visions From Hell" and "Blood Orgy" scenes.

The few rough snippets that survived and have been uploaded to YouTube are harrowing to say the least.

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Hellraiser

For people of a certain age, going to the video shop as a kid would mean either an exhilarating or terrifying run-in with "Pinhead".

As the most iconic of the Cenobites, he has become synonymous with the torture-heavy gorefest that is Clive Barker's Hellraiser series.

It's the 1980s, Frank picks up a puzzle box at a market in Morocco – little does he know that solving it will open a portal to hell, where demonic sadists await to put his body and soul through eternal torture.

After years of enduring unspeakable pain, he escapes their clutches.

Spat back in to the real world he is a sinewy shadow of his former self, a literal bag of bones oozing blood and panting for air… but he still has the silver tongue that made him a hit with the ladies.

Without giving away too many spoilers, he ends up seducing his brother's glamorous wife, inspiring her to bring a string of men home to a dusty attic room where he can feed on them and gradually regain his human form – but the cenobites won't let him go that easily.

The film, which spawned a staggering NINE sequels, is a classic of the genre for a reason.

And if you think Pinhead is scary, wait until you meet his mates…

The Ring

Pre-internet, people wouldn't tag you in a scary video, they would send you an actual tape.

But if you watch the one in 2002 movie The Ring, you get a phone call warning you that you will die in seven days' time.

Sceptical of this urban myth terrorising her town – and the string of gruesome deaths connected to it – reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), decides to watch the tape and unravel the mystery.

She discovers the harrowing story of Samara Morgan, an orphan with supernatural abilities to etch disturbing images in to people's minds.

Everyone involved in her story has met a grisly end, does the same fate await Rachel and the people she loves?

Based on a Japanese horror called Ringu, The Ring is still giving people nightmares two decades after its initial release.

The Exorcist

The 1973 retelling of William Peter Blatty's novel sees a priest coming face-to-face with ancient demon king Pazuzu is an oldie but a goodie.

Lonely Regan MacNeil, 12, mucks about with an ouija board and makes friends with an entity called Captain Howdy.

Her mum thinks nothing of it until she starts displaying abnormal strength, emits a disgusting smell and starts speaking in a terrifying voice. Oh and there is the problem of poltergeist activity and the little girl's bed shaking violently.

When psychiatrists offer no explanation for her disturbing behaviour, her mum decides to have her exorcised.

Two priests, one elderly and one struggling with their faith, arrive to do battle with the unseen force that appears to have taken residence in the little girl.

The scenes that follow are ungodly, unforgettable and unnerving – and what happened off camera was, too – to the point some people believe the entire film is cursed.

The set of The Exorcist was plagued with problems, with unexplained fires, and even deaths.

Actors Jack MacGowran, and Vasiliki Maliaros both died while the film was in post-production – and their characters died in the film as well.

The Beyond

The second film in Italian gore master Lucio Fulci's "Gates of Hell" trilogy, The Beyond is as heavy on sickening scenes as it is on synth.

Banned in the UK as a "video nasty" until 2001, it tells the story of a young woman who inherits a hotel… unaware it is the portal to hell.

Compared to modern horror films it is delightfully kitsch, and its surreal and disorientating style and plot have made it a cult favourite since its 1981 release.

Composer Fabio Frizzi's chilling score is the backdrop to some truly heinous scenes, including a child seeing their unconscious mum's face being dissolved by dripping acid during a forbidden visit to a morgue, and a very drawn out scene of spiders eating someone's eyeballs.

  • Creepy snap of Victorian mill workers spooks people who spot ghostly hand

Antrum

Mystery surrounds Antrum, which has been touted as a 'lost' Bulgarian movie from the 1970s that has left 60 people dead.

Recently released sandwiched in a mockumentary about the film's origins and supposed powers, it's reputation has left some people too afraid to tune in.

The film sees a young boy so desperate to be reunited with his dead dog that his sister takes him off to the forest to dig a portal to hell after their mum cruelly says the tragic pooch wasn't a member of the "good boi" club.

As they dig deeper and deeper, eerie things begin happening in the forest, and it seems an older sister's attempt at closure might have had the opposite effect…

Despite the makers claiming that the film is cursed and causes anyone who watches it to die shortly after viewing, it is available to stream on Amazon Prime – and they haven't reported a sudden nosedive in subscribers.

Poltergeist

A family move in to a new build home… and end up trapped in a nightmare.

No, they don't have a snagging list as long as their arm, they've inadvertently bought a house built on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground – and it's not long until they are made to feel very, very unwelcome.

Their small child Carol-Anne ends up being snatched by demons – who she chillingly refers to as "the TV people" – and held hostage in the realm of the undead.

Nearly 40 years after its 1982 release, it still has the power to scare people witless, and its off set legacy of death and unexplained phenomena is still the stuff of film legend.

Heather O'Rourke, who played little Carol-Anne, died aged 12 from a heart-attack, just months before the release of Poltergeist 3.

[REC]

Spanish horror film [REC] became an international horror favourite after its 2007 release.

Centred on a news reporter and her cameraman, they accompany firefighters to report on an elderly woman who is trapped inside a building.

But all is not as it seems.

The found footage style movie focuses on the eerie goings-on inside the building, which unbeknown to them is overrun with plague-riddled residents who are incredibly infectious.

Sealed inside by the military, the pair are confronted with danger, evil and death – will they survive?

The film had three sequels, and a US remake, Quarantine.

The Conjuring 2

Real life ghost-hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to the UK for the second instalment of this horror series, which also brought horror maniacs Annabelle and The Nun.

Based on the true story of The Enfield Haunting, a north London family is terrorised by the ghost of Bill Wilkins, who had died in the living room of the family's home on Green Street.

In the film, as in real life, he possessed teen Janet Hodgkins.

She later appeared in a documentary about what went on in her childhood home, telling Channel 4: "I felt used by a force that nobody understands.

"I really don't like to think about it too much. I'm not sure the poltergeist was truly 'evil'. It was almost as if it wanted to be part of our family. It didn't want to hurt us.

"It had died there and wanted to be at rest. The only way it could communicate was through me and my sister."

Knowing that what you're seeing on screen actually happened to real people in real life, gives this haunted house sequel the sort of ominous atmosphere that stops you sleeping for days… and wondering who might still be lurking in your own home, unseen.

Rosemary's Baby

Against the advice of their pals, Rosemary and her struggling actor husband Guy Woodhouse move in to an apartment in a building with rumoured connections to the occult.

Their elderly neighbours seem nice but overbearing – Rosemary doesn't warm to them, but Guy thinks the fussy old women are charming.

Guy's luck starts to change and his star starts to rise as he's cast in a new play – with more money coming in, he wants to become a dad.

Rosemary, played by elfin-haired Mia Farrow, falls pregnant, but is plagued with visions and flashbacks that appear to show her being raped by Satan as her husband and weird old neighbours watch.

Things are getting weirder and weirder, but her husband is on cloud nine… is she just paranoid, or has he done a shady deal with the Devil?

Rosemary's Baby was Roman Polanski's debut film, and is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin.

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