sleepy hollow christina ricci

Witches and spiders and ghosts, oh my! Sure, the ’90s gave us some great movies across many genres, but if you’re specifically in the mood to watch some Halloween fare and you’re looking to expand beyond the current century’s offerings, the ’90s is a decade that boasts some great options for a creepy night in.

From family-friendly fun to dark fantasy and horror, the decade that came after the ’80s and before the ’00s birthed a number of spooktacular movies that still thrill and delight today. Whether you’re into headless horsemen, armies of the dead, vampires, or masked killers, you’re sure to find something that’ll fit your taste on the following list of the best Halloween movies of the ’90s. So, kick back with your candy corn, candied apples, and pumpkin-flavored beverage of choice, and enjoy… if you dare!

The Witches

The Witches Witch Anjelica Huston Nicholas Roeg Jim Henson

Nicolas Roeg directed a heck of a disturbing horror-thriller in 1973’s "Don’t Look Now," so he was an inspired choice by producer Jim Henson, who selected him to direct "The Witches," an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s dark fantasy children’s novel of the same name.

"The Witches" follows an orphaned young boy named Luke (Jasen Fisher), whose grandmother, Helga (Mai Zetterling), warns him about the dangers of witches. Later, Luke stumbles upon a witch convention at a hotel where he and Helga are staying. Soon, Luke discovers that the Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) plans to turn all the world’s children into mice, starting with him. With a delectably wicked performance by Huston, and delightfully elaborate prosthetics and puppetry by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, "The Witches" is a vibrant cult classic full of imagination and a playfully dark sense of fun.

Sleepy Hollow

Johnny Depp Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton

Tim Burton’s "Sleepy Hollow" has everything one could hope for in a Halloween movie, including a creepy gothic ambiance, dense, foggy woods, and a sleepy 1800s town plagued by a series of decapitations committed by an apparition known as the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken).

Based on Washington Irving’s classic tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Burton’s "Sleepy Hollow" follows Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, a police constable sent to the titular locale to investigate the aforementioned decapitations. There, he encounters love interest Katrina (Christina Ricci) whose stepmother, Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) has some dark secrets. "Sleepy Hollow" won an Oscar for best art direction thanks to the spooky production design by Rick Heinrichs ("Pirates of the Caribbean"). Gorgeous cinematography by Emanual Lubezki ("Birdman") and lively performances all around further establish "Sleepy Hollow" as a richly atmospheric ’90s Halloween staple.


Jeff Daniels Arachnophobia with shovel

Spiders are an integral part of Halloween, at least if the decorations aisle at your local drug store are any indication. Let’s face it, the little eight-legged critters are kind of freaky, and tend to creep people out, if not downright terrify them. So what could be more terrifyingly fun than watching Jeff Daniels and John Goodman battle it out with an invasive and deadly species of spider in "Arachnophobia?"

The Amblin Entertainment-produced, Frank Marshall-directed creature-feature has a lot of hair-raising fun with its premise, in which a spider-averse, city-slickin’ doctor, Ron Jennings (Daniels), moves to a small town, only to discover that killer spiders have set up camp in his barn and threaten to overrun the world. Enlisting the help of exterminator Delbert McClintock (Goodman), Jennings must face his worst fear in an effort to save humanity. Featuring tons of spiders, hot flame throwin’ action, and an endearing sense of playfulness, "Arachnophobia" is a creepy-crawly, goosebump-inducing good time.

Army of Darkness

Ash Army of Darkness Bruce Campbell Raimi fight demon chainsaw

Both Sam Raimi’s "The Evil Dead" and its sequel, "Evil Dead 2," make great Halloween movies, but neither one was released in the ’90s. Luckily, the third installment in the franchise, "Army of Darkness," came out in 1992.

This chapter sees hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) transported to the Middle Ages, where he is promptly captured by Lord Arthur, and must find the Necronomicon, aka the Book of the Dead, in order to return home. As if all that weren’t enough, he also accidentally releases and must consequently battle an army of the dead. Like its predecessor, "Army of Darkness" is a zany horror-comedy, though this one is bigger and more adventurous with its setting and its army of skeletons. With wild special effects inspired by the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen and storyline that borrows from the legend of King Arthur’s Court, "Army of Darkness" is a fantastical choice for your Halloween watch list.

Death Becomes Her

Goldie Hawn Meryl Streep Death Becomes Her

Robert Zemeckis is known for making some incredibly fun films, including "Back To The Future" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?," but he also has a taste for slightly spookier fare. One example comes in the form of "Death Becomes Her," which he both produced and directed.

"Death Becomes Her" stars Meryl Streep as actress Madeleine and Goldie Hawn as writer Helen. The two women are bitter rivals who both end up fighting for the attention of Helen’s husband, plastic surgeon Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis). Their rivalry eventually leads them to both drink a magic potion that promises eternal life and beauty, even in the event of "death".

The macabrely comedic "Death Becomes Her" won an Oscar for best visual effects, and has become a cult classic, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Vanity Fair called it "gloriously queer" and described it as "’Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ meets ‘Tales from the Crypt.’"

The Crow

The Crow Brandon Lee face paint

If you prefer your Halloween movies on the grittier, gothier side, "The Crow" is a perfect, if solemn, choice. Alex Proyas’ dark fantasy noir, based on the comic by James O’Barr, is set in Detroit on October 30th, aka Devil’s Night, during which a gang of thugs assault and murder Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his girlfriend, Shelley (Sofia Shinas). One year later, a mystical crow brings Eric back from the dead, leaving him free to exact revenge upon the perpetrators.

The film’s dark, gothic, visual aesthetic along with its grungy soundtrack and action-packed sequences all add to its brooding appeal. Sadly, the film’s legacy is marred by Brandon Lee’s tragic death during filming, which invariably haunts the finished product, but his dramatic and sensitive performance as the heartbroken Eric Draven is worth paying tribute to, and renders the long-considered remake generally unnecessary.

The Craft

the craft witches fairuza balk neve campbell robin tunney

"Now is the time. This is the hour. Ours is the magic. Ours is the power." Yet another ’90s movie about witches, "The Craft" zeros in on teen girl power as it follows the misadventures of a burgeoning coven of teenage witches led by the charismatic but troubled Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk).

When Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) moves to a new high school, she finds friendship among a group of outcasts, including Nancy, Robin (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True), who soon discover that they can conjure up powers by worshipping a deity called Manon. As their powers grow, the teens use them to exact revenge upon their abusers, but discover that their gifts come with a price. Soon, Nancy’s thirst for power threatens them all. With excellent performances and its centering of troubled teen girls, "The Craft" has become a cult classic, one whose themes of empowerment have been especially popular with young women.

Hocus Pocus

Bette Midler Sanderson Sisters Hocus Pocus read book

Critics might not agree, but audiences of all ages have made Disney’s "Hocus Pocus" something of a cult Halloween staple.

The campy comedy directed by Kenny Ortega centers around two young siblings, Max and Danni Dennison (Omri Katz and Thora Burch), who have recently moved to Salem, Massachusetts. On Halloween night, Max inadvertently reincarnates the Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimi), a trio of witches who, three centuries prior, had been hanged after murdering a girl in order to steal her youth and turning the girl’s brother, Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), into a black cat. The only way to stop the wicked witches is to steal their book of spells, which is exactly what Max, Danni, Thackery the cat, and Max’s crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw) set out to do. Lots of hocus pocus ensues.

Despite being critically panned, "Hocus Pocus" has only grown in popularity over the years, with an upcoming sequel in the works at Disney+. All three of the original Sanders Sisters are slated to return.

The Addams Family and Addams Family Values

Addams Family Fester Wednesday

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, and they’re the perfect company for Halloween. "The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values" both follow the spooky exploits of the titular family, including Morticia and Gomez Addams (Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia), their children Wednesday and Pugsley (Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman), Gomez’s brother Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd), Grandmama (Judith Malna), the Thing (Christopher Hart), and Lurch (Carel Struycken).

Sure, their plots vary a little bit; the first film focuses on whether Fester is really Gomez’s brother or an imposter bent on defrauding the family, and the second sees Fester marrying a gold-digging serial killer (Joan Cusack) while Wednesday and Pugsley are sent off to summer camp. But the unapologetically macabre family and their eccentric yet loving ways make both films winners. "The Addams Family" was a hit at the box office, and while "Addams Family Values" didn’t do quite as well, critics praised its satire and new characters.


Drew Barrymore Casey Becker Scream Wes Craven

"Do you like scary movies?" If so, Wes Craven’s meta horror flick "Scream" makes for a terrifically scary and fun Halloween watch. "Scream" revitalized the slasher genre in the ’90s with a smart, snappy, darkly comedic script about a mysterious costumed killer known as "Ghostface" who terrorizes the teens of Woodsboro, California, all of whom seem hyper aware of horror movies and their various cliches.

The iconic opening scene featuring Drew Barrymore receiving a phone call from a threatening stranger is an homage to films such as "When a Stranger Calls" and "Black Christmas." It’s just one throwback that screenwriter and horror fan Kevin Williamson incorporated into his script, which was also inspired by a real-life killer known as the Gainesville Ripper. Other cast members include Neve Campbell as the grieving Sidney Prescott, Courtney Cox as reporter Gayle Weathers, David Arquette as Deputy Sheriff Dewey Riley, Skeet Ulrich as Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis, and Matthew Lillard as fellow teen Stu Macher. "Scream" spawned several sequels, including an upcoming fifth entry.

The Blair Witch Project

Blair Witch Project

Witches and Halloween go together like eye of newt and toe of frog, which is why there are multiple witch-centric movies on this list. "The Blair Witch Project” focuses on a folksy sort, "an old woman whose feet never touched the ground" who leaves ominous stick figures strewn around the woods in the Black Hills outside of Burkittsville, Maryland.

The fictional film is presented as the "recovered footage" of a trio of student documentarians, played by Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard, who had come to the Black Hills in October of 1994 to investigate the Blair Witch, which includes tales of ritualistic murders. The footage documents the trio’s harrowing last days as they become lost in the woods, and are drawn closer to the titular witch. With help from a viral marketing campaign and a super creepy ending, "The Blair Witch Project" became a huge hit, and is credited with reviving the and popularizing the "found footage" genre.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

bram stoker's dracula lucy vampire

Vampires are another hallmark of Halloween, and the granddaddy of all vampires is, of course, Count Dracula, who first came to life (or to the undead, if you will) in 1897 via Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation, "Bram Stoker’s Dracula," is a lavish, gothic romance that’s equal parts sexy and terrifying.

Gary Oldman plays Vlad the Impaler, who renounces God and vows to use the powers of darkness to avenge his slain love, Elisabeta (Winona Ryder). Centuries later, Vlad is now known as Count Dracula, and he’s "crossed oceans of time" to find Mina Harker (Ryder), who looks like she could be his beloved Elisabeta reincarnated. Easily morphing between a seductive Count and a rather nasty looking bat-like monster, Dracula attempts to woo Mina, and her unfortunate friend, Lucy (Sadie Frost), but both Mina’s fiancé, Jonathan (Keanu Reeves), and the charismatic Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) intend to put a stop to that.


flatliners kiefer sutherland julia roberts

The ’90s was apparently a popular time to harken back to Gothic literary classics, as director Joel Schumacher did with "Flatliners," which evokes shades of Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" with its tale of five medical students who decide to play chicken with the line between life and death.

Set during Halloween, the students, led by Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland), decide to explore the moments that occur just beyond death by "flatlining," which involves killing then quickly resuscitating the volunteering individual. As the students take turns flatlining, they experience their own unique visions, making them want to remain on the other side longer in order to figure out what’s happening to them.

In addition to the Frankenstein-esque themes about playing God, Schumacher also infuses the psychological horror film with a cool modern Gothic aesthetic. Featuring a stellar cast of ’90s stars that includes Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, and Oliver Platt, "Flatliners" is the sexy ’90s Frankenstein ode you never knew you needed.

The Frighteners

the frighteners

These days, Peter Jackson is best known for directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but back in the ’90s he got his start directing zany horror comedies like the bloody zombie movie "Brain Dead" (aka "Dead Alive") and the more ghost-centric "The Frighteners," which was his first big-budget Hollywood film and the second film, after "Heavenly Creatures," to utilize the special effects of his Weta Digital company.

"The Frighteners" stars Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, whose wife is killed in a car accident, after which he gains the ability to see ghosts, including three that live in his house, Judge (John Astin), Cyrus (Chi McBride) and Stuart (Jim Fyfe). Frank begins charging people in a con to rid their home of spirits, but soon encounters a ghost posing as the Grim Reaper who is actually killing people, leaving it up to Frank to save the day. Produced by Robert Zemeckis, "The Frighteners" is a true relic of the ’90s with unusual special effects that were state of the art at the time. It’s worth watching for its commitment to the bit, and its general sense of spooky fun.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

ll cool j halloween h20

It may not be the best film in the series, but "Halloween H20" has its charms. The seventh installment of the "Halloween" franchise, "Halloween H20" ignores the storyline of the prior three movies, and brings back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.

Directed by Steve Miner ("Friday the 13th Part 2," "House," "Lake Placid"), "H20" finds Laurie Strode working as a headmistress at a boarding school, where she lives under an assumed name in order to hide from her brother, Michael Myers (Chris Durand). But, being the determined slasher that he is, Michael raids Dr. Loomis’ old house, steals Laurie’s file, tracks her down, and, of course, does some killing along the way. "Halloween H20" is elevated by its colorful cast, which includes Adam Arkin as Laurie’s boyfriend, Josh Hartnett as Laurie’s son, Michelle Williams as his girlfriend, and LL Cool J as a security guard. "Halloween H20" also has the distinction of being the second and final horror film Jamie Lee Curtis would appear in with her mother, Janet Leigh, the other being 1980’s "The Fog."