Halloween Movie Guide – American Film Institute


Halloween Movie Guide

Spooky season is here! From alien invaders and monsters on the loose to psychological thrillers and supernatural horror, get ready for some scary movie suggestions. This Halloween, check out these hair-raising, blood-curdling films named to our AFI lists, honored with AFI AWARDS and selected for AFI Movie Club.

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver in her first leading role in a feature film, this iconic sci-fi horror takes us aboard the Nostromo as the crew battles a deadly extraterrestrial invader in an epic story named one of most thrilling American films by AFI. Learn more about ALIEN (1979) in the AFI Catalog.

Based on the 1991 novel of the same name, director Mary Harron’s satirical exploration of the white-collar world of “murders and executions” is pitch black and red all over – with an iconic performance from Christian Bale as the titular AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000), who just has to return some videotapes. Learn more about AMERICAN PSYCHO in the AFI Catalog.

This avian thriller set in the small town of Bodega Bay pecked its way onto AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills. Directed by AFI Life Achievement recipient Alfred Hitchcock, THE BIRDS (1963) stars Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Tippi Hedren in her first credited appearance in a theatrical feature. Learn more about THE BIRDS in the AFI Catalog.

This supernatural horror film – with one of the most memorable prom scenes in cinematic history – was selected by AFI as one of the most thrilling American films of all time. For her masterful performance as a sheltered teenager turned telekinetic murderer, Sissy Spacek received her first nomination for a Best Actress Academy Award®. Learn more about CARRIE (1976) in the AFI Catalog.

Director Tod Browning’s timeless adaptation of Bram Stroker’s macabre masterpiece stars the alluring Bela Lugosi as the iconic immortal – earning him a place on the American Film Institute’s list of the cinema’s greatest villains. DRACULA (1931) also appears on AFI’s list of the screen’s most heart-pounding thrillers, and among the great quotes of the movies – “Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make!” Learn more about DRACULA in the AFI Catalog.

Starring Ellen Burstyn (who was part of the inaugural AFI DWW class) as a mother whose young daughter is possessed by the demon Pazuzu, THE EXORCIST (1973) is director William Friedkin’s terrifying adaptation of the bestselling novel by William Peter Blatty and appears on the American Film Institute’s list of cinema’s most heart-pounding thrillers – with Linda Blair’s young Regan MacNeill ranked among the greatest screen villains of all time. Learn more about THE EXORCIST in the AFI Catalog.

“It’s alive! It’s alive!” Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” this science fiction horror film was brought to life by director James Whale with Boris Karloff playing Frankenstein’s monster – and was named to three of AFI’s lists, including greatest movie quotes and most thrilling films of all time. Learn more about FRANKENSTEIN (1931) in the AFI Catalog.

Both a psychological thriller and a deft social satire on racism in America, writer/director Jordan Peele’s GET OUT (2017) was nominated for four Academy Awards®, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture, and won for Best Original Screenplay – which landed Peele in history books as the first Black writer to win in the category. Learn more about GET OUT in the AFI Catalog.

A pioneering prototype of the enduring slasher genre, HALLOWEEN (1978) established many of the tropes and conventions that course through even the most contemporary films, while also building a distinct iconography all its own. One of the most heart-pounding films ever, AFI included the film on its list of cinema’s greatest thrills. Learn more about HALLOWEEN in the AFI Catalog.

The film that brought “pod people” into our lexicon, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) stars Kevin McCarthy as a doctor who comes to the terrifying realization that aliens are taking over the bodies of the people in his small town. Shot in black and white, this terrifying film noir snatched a spot on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. Learn more about INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS in the AFI Catalog.

Co-written and directed by AFI Conservatory honorary degree recipient Kathryn Bigelow, NEAR DARK (1987) upends traditional vampire narratives in favor of nomadic vampires feasting on victims in small Oklahoma town. Marking the solo directorial debut of Bigelow, who would later go on to become the first woman to win an Academy Award® for Best Director, the film has since gained cult status for its haunting and blood-filled exploration of true love, lust and eternal life. Learn more about NEAR DARK in the AFI Catalog.

“I’m your number one fan.” Torment, torture and an infamous sledgehammer scene, MISERY (1990) – a psychological thriller and dark comedy based on the Stephen King novel – was brought to the screen by writer William Goldman and director Rob Reiner and starred James Caan and Kathy Bates. The character of Annie Wilkes – chillingly portrayed by Bates in her Academy Award®-winning performance – is recognized by AFI as one of the greatest villains in cinematic history. Learn more about MISERY in the AFI Catalog.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” Director George A. Romero unleashed an iconic, unholy terror upon an unsuspecting movie-going populace with the zombie horror classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea. The frightening film has shambled its way inexorably and pervasively into the public consciousness with AFI ranking it one of the most thrilling films of all time. Learn more about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in the AFI Catalog.

Directed by horror legend Wes Craven, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) first brought the razor-gloved dream demon Freddy Krueger to life to terrorize the neighborhood on Elm Street. The evil entity, portrayed by Robert Englund, was ranked one of AFI’s 100 greatest screen villains of all time. Learn more about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in the AFI Catalog.

Director Richard Donner brought the horror classic THE OMEN (1976) to the silver screen, casting newcomer Harvey Spencer Stephens as the Antichrist, Damien Thorn, and two of the biggest names in Hollywood at that time – Lee Remick and AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and founding chairman Gregory Peck. This demonic box office hit won an Academy Award® for Best Original Score and landed on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. Learn more about THE OMEN in the AFI Catalog.

“They’re heeere!” The highest-grossing horror film of 1982, POLTERGEIST tells the chilling tale of a family whose home is invaded by malevolent spirits that kidnap their daughter. The supernatural horror film was co-written by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Steven Spielberg from his own original story and was ranked by AFI as one of the most thrilling films of all time. Learn more about POLTERGEIST in the AFI Catalog.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, PSYCHO (1960) appears across six of AFI’s lists celebrating excellence in the art form – including the greatest films of all time, cinema’s greatest thrills and movie history’s most iconic scores. The film stars Janet Leigh as Marion Crane and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, who AFI ranked as the second greatest film villain ever to terrorize audiences. The character also earned a place on AFI’s list of the greatest movie quotes, with the chilling line “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Learn more about PSYCHO in the AFI Catalog.

Stunning visuals, creepy performances and blood pouring out of an elevator – THE SHINING (1980) has it all! Based on the iconic horror novel by Stephen King and brought to the silver screen by the incomparable Stanley Kubrick, THE SHINING features the talents of Shelley Duvall and AFI Life Achievement Award winner Jack Nicholson and appears on three of the American Film Institute’s lists, including Nicholson’s terrifying Jack Torrance ranking as one of cinema’s greatest villains ever. Learn more about THE SHINING in the AFI Catalog.

An intoxicating thriller starring two artists at the top of their game – Anthony Hopkins and AFI Honorary Degree recipient Jodie Foster, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) was named to six of AFI’s lists, including AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list of the greatest films and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, with both Foster’s Clarice Starling and Hopkins’ Dr. Hannibal Lecter counted among AFI’s ranking of the greatest heroes and villains onscreen – with Lecter appearing as cinema’s most iconic villain of all time. Learn more about THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the AFI Catalog.

This supernatural thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan stars Haley Joel Osment as a terrified, young child who can see and talk to dead people. With co-stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist determined to help and Academy Award®-nominated actress Toni Collette as his concerned mother, THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) – which has one of cinema’s most iconic lines – was honored with a spot on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list of the greatest films. Learn more about THE SIXTH SENSE in the AFI Catalog.

Set in a desolate arctic outpost, this black-and-white sci-fi horror film follows a crew of scientists and U.S. Air Force officials who discover a flying saucer and are hunted down by its bloodthirsty occupant. Directed by Christian Nyby and produced by Howard Hawks, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) – which paved the way for 1981’s THE THING directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell – was ranked by AFI as one of the most thrilling films ever. Learn more about THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD in the AFI Catalog.

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