I don’t care if it’s over a month early, I am super excited for Halloween! I love everything about it. The ghoulish decorations, the gorgeous costumes, the funky-faced jack o’ lanterns, the sweet treats, the spooky tricks, and of course all the great movies and specials to put us in the Halloween Spirit! While I’m no Elvira and I don’t have my own movie macabre, I definitely have built a lot of opinions of spooky films for kids and adults. I have decided to create my own list of movies to get everyone in the spirit this Halloween, for those of you who are also excited for the best holiday of the year! The first five movies/specials will be specifically aimed for either family-friendly or for those who get nightmares too easily. The last five will be for the adults and people who love a good scare.
- Disney’s Halloween Treat (1982)
This can be found on YouTube, and is quite a delight! This special features all spooky and Halloween-related Halloween shorts from our favorite Disney characters, and the darker scenes from familiar Disney films. For those who are huge Disney fans, this would be my first recommendation since Disney hasn’t made another episode since the sequel “A Disney Halloween” in 1983.
- Hocus Pocus (1993)
It’ll be more than easy to catch this movie on TV if you don’t own it already, following the story of how Max Dennison accidentally releases the three witchy Sanderson Sisters in Salem Massachusetts after three hundred years. Now Max, with the help of his sister, love interest, and the infamous cat Thackary Binx, have to lay the witches back to rest or else they’ll devour the life source of all the children in Salem! This is a classic Halloween movie that all ages can enjoy, and is definitely one that I still love a lot personally.
- Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
While this is technically a Christmas movie, the whole point of Halloween is you get to disguise yourself as someone different, so why shouldn’t this movie get to disguise itself as a Halloween movie? This story follows the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, who finds himself bored after hundreds of years until he finds Christmas Town and decides to try to take over Christmas for himself. Filled with fun musical numbers, fantastic stop-motion animation, and plenty of Halloween and Christmas fun, this is great to watch either by yourself or with your younger family members to all enjoy together! This is also a movie easy to find on TV at this most wonderful time of year.
- Teen Witch (1989)
This is a quirky and fun 80’s movie that while production value leaves something to be desired, makes up for in sweetness. Giving a role to the much beloved Zelda Rubinstein, who plays the witch Madame Serena Alcott in this movie, and befriends our protagonist. Louise is a fifteen-year-old girl who wishes to become beautiful and popular and also win the heart of her crush. With Madame Serena’s help, she casts spells to get what she wants and soon finds herself having unexpected results of getting everything she thought she wanted. This film is a Halloween-like twist on the story of being true to one’s self, and is definitely worth a watch this year!
- Halloweentown (1998)
This is a throwback for 90’s and early 2000’s kids alike, as we watch Marnie Piper follow her grandmother Aggie to Halloweentown, a place where all real monsters live. Except, these monsters live no differently than other people, and are very peaceful! It is also here that Marnie discovers she is from a family of witches, and Aggie offers to help her learn how to use her power. However, the mayor, Kalabar, has other plans to try to make the citizens of Halloweentown join him to take over the mortal realm. This is not only an adorable film, it also subconsciously teaches children about living equal to people who are different than ourselves and that politicians don’t always have our best interest at heart. This is a great film to watch whether you’re a young child or a grownup who can see the subtleties you were blind to at a younger age!
- Halloween (1978)
To start off with our more adult films, it only makes sense to shine a light on the movie with the same namesake on this wonderful holiday! This is the story of Michael Myers, who kills his entire family as a child on Halloween and is locked in a mental institution for fifteen years before escaping again on Halloween to finish the job of killing his sister, who’d only been an infant fifteen years before, as well as slaughtering anyone who gets in his way. Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, attempts to track down Michael’s long-lost sister in time before Michael can hurt anyone else. Definitely not for kids, this is a classic scary movie that will absolutely put you in the Halloween mindset!
- The Omen (1976)
For the religious adults out there, this one may be a bit too close to home for horror. My personal favorite movie, The Omen, is the story of a man who discovers his adopted son may be the AntiChrist as prophesied in the Book of Revelations from the Bible. This skeptic slowly comes to be a believer as he struggles to consider what he may have to do- murder a five-year-old boy he’s raised as his own. This movie takes the evil child trope to a whole new level and has a fascinating plot to go alongside a terrifying concept. This is definitely the first horror movie I recommend this Halloween season!
- Elvira: Mistress of Darkness (1988)
There was no way I would mention Elvira earlier and then not include her movie on this list! While this is more of a comedy than the other scarier movies, it is most certainly not for a child’s eyes. This horror icon, who spent the 1980’s tearing apart the worst of B-rated Horror Movies had to offer, was finally able to star in her own! (For those who don’t know, she also had a series in 2011 and again in 2014. The one from 2014 is on Hulu.) In this film, Elvira quits her cable job and decides to open a show in Las Vegas, but needs her recently deceased aunt’s money to make it happen. So, Elvira travels to Massachusetts, where she leaves everyone shocked by her sexy gothic clothing and sarcastic unladylike attitude. It also doesn’t help that Elvira’s uncle, a warlock, is looking for Morgana’s spell book to kill Elvira and take over the world! This so-bad-it’s-good horror comedy should be watched not only for the strong female protagonist but also to honor the horror icon herself!
- Scream (1996)
How would you like to take a step back in time before caller ID? This scary movie is not only smart but also funny and gives fabulous meta-jokes about scary movies. We engross ourselves into the life of Sidney Prescott, a teenage girl who has become the target of a masked killer one year after her mother’s passing. Using her sharp wit, she has to debunk the mystery of who the killer is, or risk ending up the end of another scary movie. While the sequels and spin-off TV series of Scream are all great, nothing can ever really beat the original with this franchise!
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
While this isn’t my favorite horror film, it’s hard to deny it’s made a long-lasting impact on horror movies and Halloween as a whole. This is definitely a movie that gets me too shaken to go to bed, but that’s why a lot of people love it! A Nightmare on Elm Street follows Nancy, a young girl whose friends somehow mysteriously are murdered in violent ways while they sleep. Little does she know it’s at the knife-finger hands of Freddy Krueger, a vengeful spirit who attacks the teenagers in their dreams. Now, Nancy must figure out how to stay awake long enough to be able to fight back before Freddy makes them all reach a violent end.
There you have it, folks! Ten movies and specials that can make you wonder what goes bump in the night while you eat another package of candy corn. Make sure to stay tight and enjoy yourselves this Halloween, I know I sure will!