I’ll never forget the first time I watched Halloween: I watched the underside of the blanket that was covering me up more than I actually watched the movie. I was terrified. When my dad attempted to sneak up behind me and scare me, I unleashed a full blow attack, on him and then started crying. It’s safe to say that scary movies make me dangerous. To this day, I can’t watch it without being terrified and unable to sleep in the dark for a week. That being said, this list is still the perfect amount of scary and fun to make your Halloween enjoyable and keep the nightmares away.
1. Hocus Pocus (1993)
This is a personal favorite of mine because it is an all-time classic. The overall atmosphere of the movie encompasses the traditional fall theme fit with color-changing leaves and plenty of Halloween decorations. In this classic movie, suited for all ages, three sister witches are awoken from the dead after 300 years in the town of Salem. Their only mission is to steal all the lives of all the children in Salem, but they must get at least one to live past the sunrise after Halloween, if not they will be gone forever. Sounds a little morbid for a children’s movie right? Can you believe how much Disney has changed? Despite the creepy plot, the story is rather corny, along with its jokes. The witches are more foolish than witty and it makes for a fun tradition to watch every year.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
If I told you that I have a very close friend who is very creeped out by both this movie and all Tim Burton movies in general, you probably wouldn’t believe me. After all, what could be so creepy about animated skeletons and witches? Apparently, a lot. However, this is one of the very first movies I play at this time of year.
Tim Burton’s talent in creating these creepy characters and stories, while still keeping them humane enough to be kid-friendly, is actually quite impressive. Watching the movie, one would never guess that this in fact claymation and that Jack Skellington has about 400 versions of his face just to create each scene and expressions. The main character, Jack Skellington is the King of Halloween but is tired of the same thing. This invites him to discover all of the doors to each holiday and their individual worlds. Choosing the door for Christmas, Jack becomes lost in its magic and decides to take over. In this artistic and unique film, Tim Burton outdoes himself in creating truly wondrous characters.
3. Corpse Bride (2005)
Another Tim Burton film; he is the king of eerie character creation. I’m truly curious how he is so creative, I want his tips! Anyway, this film features human characters this time, except, they’re mostly dead. I know, there’s always a catch. The movie is about a man named Victor, who is betrothed to Victoria, to better their family’s financial status. While practicing his vows, he accidentally proposes and marries a dead woman, whom he assumed was a twig in the ground. Watch out for twigs everyone, you never know. With his new wife, he must decide between breaking her heart to go back to Victoria, or sacrificing his life to stay in his marriage. It seems like an easy choice, right? Maybe not. But the usage of black and white versus color in this film sets a dim view on life and bright future for death–creative and creepy.
4. The Addams Family (1991)
Even if you have never seen the movie, the family is immediately recognizable. If you can relate to this movie in any way, I am slightly concerned for you and your family. Their relationship is undeniable respect and love for their own blood. However, their bond is a little out of the ordinary, including torture techniques. The movie has an overall dark, grim tone that is brought to life with the humor of this dysfunctional family. In the film, the father, Gomez, is greeted by his long lost brother, Fester. Things quickly turn sour when Gomez’s wife, Morticia, becomes immediately suspicious of him and his claims. Another classic, I know, but they’re necessary. These movies are like your initiation into Halloween.
5. Scream (1996)
The Scream series, well-known because of the famous mask, could be described as starting at a peak and then sharply declining with each new movie in the series. Although I enjoy bad scary movies, they remind me they aren’t real. In case you don’t already know the plot, and only have some idea because you watched Scary Movie, the film is surrounding a high school student named Sydney, who is still recovering from the brutal murder of her mother one year ago. Suddenly, after believing the killer was locked away for good, the killings begin again, this time the targets are students. It’s the perfect balance of sinister and humorous. After you watch it once, it won’t scare you again, if it even does the first time.
6. Halloweentown (1998)
I’m pulling one out of the Disney books, and if you’re judging me, you know you loved the Halloweentown movies at one point too. I am keeping it very much alive. The overarching theme is the wish for humans and creatures to live together in peace–a really interesting issue of acceptance of people of all kinds. Sound familiar? Disney was always teaching us big lessons. Marnie, our protagonist, learns from her grandmother that she is from a family of witches and that the stories of Halloweentown she grew up hearing from her grandma are very real. To learn her craft, she follows her grandmother back to Halloweentown and learns about the impending trouble that has slowly been spreading through the town. The creative creepy creatures and Halloween theme really gets you in the spirit of the season.
7. Halloween (1978)
If you love the creepy feeling of tension building, this movie is the right fit for you. The fact that the movie also took place in Illinois only built up my fear more for this movie when I was growing up. I grew up in Illinois and it really put me on edge, I was always terrified Michael Myers would be lurking in a corner somewhere. I guess I’m not building the case for it not being scary, am I? Well, I’m grown up now, and I can get through the entire movie without looking away or jumping. This means you probably can too. Our antagonist, Michael Myers, was sent to an insane asylum before the age of ten for murdering his sister. One night, about twenty years later, he escapes and is back in his hometown for Halloween. There is no real motive for why he chooses the students he does, except that they were babysitters like his sister. Everyone has to have at least one scary movie they enjoy.
8. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)
Charlie Brown is a classic, it was the very first movie my mom would play growing up when we started decorating for the season. It’s ancient but if you haven’t seen it, it’s time to get literate in Charlie Brown. Maybe you will even be able to get some pumpkin carving ideas too.
9. Beetlejuice (1988)
Another Tim Burton, can you tell I love him? In this gloomy film, a young married couple is driving into town when they are suddenly forced to swerve, throwing them off of the bridge to their death. When they awake they are back in their home, but they are unable to do the things they once could, like lift objects. They are left with a book on how to be a proper ghost. When a new family moves into their home, they attempt to haunt them to force them to leave. But, of course, this family has a flair for the dramatic and become automatically enraptured with the ghosts, attempting to use them for profit. This is where Beetlejuice comes in. While its age has made the effects and acting fairly average, the movie is classic to Burton and his love of combining creepy with silly ideas to create a fun paradox for the audience.
10. Casper (1995)
Okay, so this is definitely a kid’s movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it still. After all, we are talking about movies that aren’t scary, what better than children’s movies? When James Harvey and his daughter, Kat, go to a mansion to learn more about Casper, they are also confronted by his obnoxious uncles who are stirring up mischief. Meanwhile, Casper finds himself taking interest in Kat, though he is disturbed by his ghostly shape, knowing it prevents any possible relationship. A love story and a Halloween movie, I am there.