Scariest Halloween Movies of All Time

Peter Travers puts together his favorites.

ByABC News
October 26, 2016, 2:33 PM

— -- Get ready to freak out, to cringe and scream! This is, of course, the season of all things creepy. That means now is the perfect time to binge-watch the scariest flicks of all time.

But before you grab the obligatory popcorn, candy and perhaps even a security blanket, you’ll need to know just which movies will scare the bejesus out of you. Peter Travers, host of ABC’s “Popcorn With Peter Travers,” breaks down the best of the best to help you get your scare on.


In an all-new Halloween special, Travers said zombies are the most popular genre of horror movies right now, especially because of the rising popularity of zombie shows on TV.

“Come on, zombies are everywhere. ‘The Walking Dead’ has come back for season 7,” Travers said. “And we have to ask, ‘What are our favorite zombie movies? And why are we so obsessed with them?’

“I know that my favorite of this that started it all for me is ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ That’s George Romero. It’s black and white. And I remember that opening scene in the cemetery where that old man said, ‘They’re coming for you, Barbara.’ It’s just so scary. It always gets me.”

Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” also made Travers’ list. But with less scare-factor. “I laugh at it as well as be scared of it,” he said.

But there’s one zombie movie that Travers said tops his list.

“The top zombie movie of the 21st century is a movie called, ‘28 Days Later,’” he said. “These zombies moved like this,” Travers said while moving his hands like speeding race cars. “They were fabulous. They knew how to move. This movie still gets me. It’s one of the scariest ever to me.”

Watch the trailer for ’28 Days Later’:


But if zombies aren’t your thing, maybe vampires will do it for you.

“There’s a movie that you don’t know about that I want you to watch. It’s directed by Catherine Bigelow,” Travers said. “Yes, that Catherine Bigelow who won an Oscar for ‘The Hurt Locker.’ Before that she made a movie called ‘Near Dark,’ which is kind of a Western version of a vampire movie. It sneaks up on you and it just knocks you down.”

Download the all new "Popcorn with Peter Travers" podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher.


Just how much fun can one have during the Halloween season without ghosts? Probably not much. Travers included several ghost movies on his list.

“Who can forget ‘The Sixth Sense’ where little Haley Joel Osment kept running around saying, ‘I See Dead People?’” Travers said. “And the truth is, he did. And that movie with Bruce Willis -- I think that was his last really great performance -- can still give you the chills.”

Bruce Willis stars as a child psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, and Haley Joel Osment (L) stars as Cole Sear who has a dark secret in "The Sixth Sense."
Getty Images

Travers added, “Then of course there was ‘The Ring,’ which Naomi Watts was in when it was the American version. But all of you Japanese horror fans know that the best one is called ‘Ringu.’ I don’t want to say anything [more] because if you’re going to watch it, you’ve already seen Naomi Watts do it. Watch the Japanese version of it.”

Watch the “Ringu” movie trailer:


There's still another horror flick category that seems to have found a cult following.

“For the new world, we have a bunch of ‘Conjuring’ movies now, ‘Conjuring 1 and 2,’ which are actually quite good if you want to see a haunted house movie. ‘Amityville Horror’; never liked it, never will like it," Travers said. “But ‘The Conjuring’ gets what we need to get. “


Over the years demonic figures like Jason Voorhees have become all the rage. And they've found a solid place in the scary movie lineup.

“You should all have this argument at home,” Travers said. “Which one of these demonic figures is the scariest? Freddie Krueger always got me because he had those slicy Edward Scissorhands kind of things going and haunted your dreams. But then there are all those ‘Halloween’ movies with Michael Meyers in it. He had that mask and it was, ‘Ooh’. And then we have a bunch of ‘Friday the 13th’ movies which has Jason Voorhees. The only one worth watching is the first one."

Freddie Krueger, from the movie "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and Michael Meyers in a scene from the movie "Halloween."


Travers said there are some great scary movies most people have never heard of.

“There’s one called ‘Frailty.’ It’s with Bill Paxton and he basically is telling his sons that demons are roaming the earth and that they have to grow up and learn to kill them,” Travers said. “The man is crazier than anything I’ve ever seen in a movie.”

Actors Jeremy Sumpter, Matt O'Leary and Bill Paxton in a scene from the Lions Gate Films movie "Frailty," circa 2001.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“Don’t Look Now” and “Martyrs” also made it on the list.

“This is a dare to you. If you can sit through all of ‘Martyrs’ and not need some kind of bucket to throw up in, you get an award from me,” Travers joked. “If you really want to test yourself, that’s the one to do it.”

Watch the “Martyrs” movie trailer:


So what are really the best movies of all time that will work and that will still get you, the true classics? You may have guessed that “Carrie” makes the list.

Be sure to watch the video above for Peter Travers’ full list of scary movies, including his Top 10 Classic Halloween films of all time.

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