The horror movie connoisseur's guide to the best Halloween movies by state

For many, Halloween is the perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa, hide behind a cushion, and “watch” a scary movie or two.

But which films have given which states the biggest frights in recent years?

This year, we’ve compiled a list of the top-rated horror movies (based on IMDb ratings) to see which of the best-ever scary movies people are finding most spooktacular. These movies might not be the most-watched of all time but they’re where the discerning horror movie fans are getting their thrills.

So which flicks are the scary movie fanatics within each state finding the most frightful?

Some states are getting their frights from freaky foreign films, some are digging into the horror archives to give themselves the creeps, and others are finding thrilling true stories a total scream.

Most popular Halloween movies by state

Creepy classics are a Halloween treat for these states

Sometimes, the best movies are the classics and this is no less true when it comes to a scary movie. The graphics might not be up to today’s standards but the edgy filming, sinister music, and bone-chilling plots all add to the atmosphere. That’s perhaps why, when it comes to IMDb’s top 75 horror movies, the average year is 1983.

So are the classics the best movies for Halloween night?

Residents in these states think so:

  • Maine for Nosferatu: The oldest movie to make the list (released in 1922), Nosferatu is a silent German movie about a vampire. It follows a man named Hutter who is sent to meet Count Orlok in a bid to finalize a deal for his master. However, once there, Hutter realizes the Count is a vampire–and one that seems to have taken a worrying interest in Hutter’s wife, Ellen.
  • Arkansas for King Kong: There may be numerous movies within the King Kong franchise but it’s the 1933 classic that viewers, particularly in Arkansas, favor. Rated 7.9 on IMDb, King Kong sees a giant ape that’s discovered on a tropical island by a film crew being brought back to New York where it wreaks havoc across the city.
  • Michigan for Diabolique: This French film from 1955 scores a huge 8.1 out of 10 on IMDb thanks to its thrilling suspense. A loathed principal, Michel Delasalle, is murdered by his wife and her lover who think they’ve created the perfect alibi. But after his corpse goes missing, is Michel really dead?
  • Florida for Eyes Without a Face: Eyes Without a Face is another French film and was released in 1960. After a surgeon’s daughter, Christiane, is left disfigured from an accident, her father, full of guilt, tries to restore her beauty by giving her a new face. But what lengths will he go to in order to do this?
  • Minnesota for Peeping Tom: Also released in 1960 but filmed in London, Peeping Tom sees Mark, a filmmaker-come-serial-killer, murdering women and capturing their dying moments on camera.

These are just five of the oldest movies within IMDb’s top-rated horror movies. Out of all of the states (and the District of Columbia), only 15 opted for a movie from the year 2000 or later.

Stephen King-inspired movies are a must for horror fans

When it comes to classic horror movies, there’s one writer that stands out for many fans–Stephen King.

  • Arizona and Connecticut for Carrie (1976): After discovering she has telekinetic powers at her high school prom, 17-year-old Carrie unleashes them on her fellow classmates after they humiliate her.
  • Colorado for The Shining (1980) – Produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, this Stephen King novel is brought to life by Jack Nicholson who plays the central character, Jack Torrance. He and his family head to the isolated Overlook Hotel where Jack is the winter caretaker. A sinister presence takes over Jack, while his psychic son begins to see horrifying snippets of the future and past.
  • Montana for Doctor Sleep (2019): A follow-on from The Shining, Doctor Sleep sees Jack Torrance’s grown-up son, Dan, trying to protect a young girl who possesses similar powers to him. Can he protect her from The True Knot–a cult capable of remaining immortal and who preys on children?

Some states are getting their scares from terrifying true stories

There were a few states whose favorite movies are based on true stories. These include:

  • District of Columbia for Stree (2018): Stree portrays a story about the ghost of a woman that preys on men. While Stree is based in a fictional town (Chanderi) in Madhya Pradesh, the plot is based on an urban legend. In it, a witch would knock on people’s doors and put on the voices of their family and friends to encourage them to open the door. If they did, the witch killed them. Residents took to writing ‘Nale Ba’ (come tomorrow) on their house walls. The witch would read the inscription, turn away and return again the next day.
  • Rhode Island for The Conjuring (2013): The Conjuring follows the story of paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they try to help exorcise the demons that are possessing the Perron family. And the scariest bit? While the film may seem far-fetched, Lorraine herself was actually involved in the making of the film and maintains that she didn’t allow for any over-dramatization of the events.
  • New Mexico for The Exorcist (1973): Still regarded as one of the best horror movies ever made, The Exorcist sees a 12-year-old girl become possessed by a demonic entity after playing with an Ouija board. But did you know that the film (and novel by Peter Blatty) are based on the true story of a 14-year-old Maryland boy (known by the pseudonym, Ronald Doe) who underwent a month-long exorcism in 1949?
  • Colorado for The Shining (1980): Although this film is based on Stephen King’s novel, King did experience the haunting effects of the real-life hotel in which the book and film are set. With numerous tales of hauntings, King and his wife stayed the night at the Stanley Hotel in room 217. It was there that King had a nightmare that his son was being chased through the hotel by a possessed fire hose. At the time, King was also battling alcoholism, thus forming the central character of his novel.
  • Texas and Mississippi for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): Released in 1974, the film was based on real-life serial killer, Ed Gein, aka the Butcher of Plainfield. Renowned for snatching dead bodies from graveyards so he could turn them into mementos made up of their bones and skin, Gein was also found guilty of murder and was eventually deemed insane.

What’s clear, then, is that horror films based on true stories add to the popularity and fright factor, especially for those living in the state in which they’re set.

Methodology

Using the top 75 films on IMDB’s list of the highest-rated movies within the “horror” category, we searched each film individually on Google Trends to find which state scored the highest. This was then the designated film for that state. If any state came up twice, we used the film that ranked higher on Google Trends. If a state didn’t appear top for any of the movies, we searched through all of the 75 films to see which was most popular in the state according to Google Trends.

Movies where no data was available on Google Trends or have only been released recently in cinemas were omitted (new titles released on streaming channels, i.e. Netflix, were not omitted).

Data researcher: George Moody