Halloween isn’t complete without its media- music, costumes, pumpkins, apple cider and of course… movies.
The horror genre is typically the go to for spooky season, but there are plenty of movies for the scaredy cats to enjoy as well. I’m not some horror movie snob by any means, although I do enjoy a good thriller; for me Halloween isn’t just about the scary but also the fun. This list is my personal picks, but honestly there are so many great movies that fit the Halloween feel, I could have made this list a top 30 or 50.
10. The Conjuring
The newest title on this list, everyone I know who has seen The Conjuring from casual moviegoer to hardcore horror fan has the same opinion- it is one of the best horror movies ever. It is the scariest one on this list, but isn’t Halloween supposed to be frightening?
There is just something about Tim Burton movies, especially in the 80’s and 90’s that is just so utterly Halloween. From the story to the setting, to the unforgettable Lydia (I myself am also strange and unusual) and that epic possession scene to the sandworm and the awesomely comedic nature of recently deceased ghosts, this one is definitely a winner.
8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Up until a few weeks ago, I had NEVER seen Rocky Horror Picture Show- even though I knew all the songs. Growing up, I heard the Time Warp played all the time around Halloween. Movie theaters play it, and stage productions perform it every Halloween season. It’s strange, campy, weird and so much fun. The costumes, the songs and Tim Curry as a sweet transsexual from Transylvania feel authentic to the holiday no matter if you have watched it a hundred times or for the first time.
7.Trick ‘R Treat
Trick ‘R Treat is a great film and captures the air of Halloween and all its traditions in an interesting way by connecting several stories together. There is something about the setting, the feel of Trick ‘R Treat and its characters that makes you both scared and intrigued by the macabre, and there is no denying it’s got one of the best werewolf transformation scenes I’ve ever seen.
6. American Werewolf in Paris
I love American Werewolf in London, but personally the remake American Werewolf in Paris is one of my all-time favorites. The soundtrack is great, it’s got just the right amount of gore, humor and sex appeal threaded in with an interesting plot (drugs that can make werewolves? How very Dr. Jekyll) and the effects aren’t perfect because they don’t have to be. American Werewolf in Paris leans into itself and doesn’t take itself too seriously which makes it entertaining to watch.
5. Ghostbusters 1984
The effects of Ghostbusters are still felt to this day- after all it was just remade 3 years ago, and Ghostbusters costumes are still popular. The title theme song is synonymous with Halloween as is played at every party, and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man is so iconic, even people who have never seen the original Ghostbusters know the design. The comedy between the actors is great, and the effects of the movie feel so much better with nostalgia glasses it’s hard to deny the fun, kick-ass attitude of Ghostbusters, which is what you want for Halloween right? Who you gonna call? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
4. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers
The Halloween theme is one of the most recognizable movie themes out there, with its melody of impending doom. Michael Meyers and his creepy suit and mask are one of the most iconic costumes still to this day and the movie itself has been parodied, criticized and over the years become one of the most popular Halloween franchises ever. It sparked so much interest that when the most recent film debuted in 2018, fans everywhere rejoiced. I saw it in 1995, when I was a kid, and could still get into rated R movies with an adult. It didn’t give me nightmares or terrify me- but it did give birth to my love for scary movies, and for many, it isn’t quite Halloween without the namesake movie.
3. Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus is seeing a resurgence. I loved Hocus Pocus since its debut in 1993. The 90’s were a weird time, and there is something about Hocus Pocus that really cements childhood Halloween for me. I watched it over and over, couldn’t get enough of Thackery Binx, or the Sanderson Sisters, and that musical number- is still one of my favorite songs. It’s a perfect setting and feels like it could be your hometown. I watch it every year, and it isn’t Halloween for me without it. In recent years, it has blown up due to memes and nostalgia glasses which the internet seems to have collectively spoken about. I’m ok with that, after all it is a great movie, and definitely a product of its time. While it hasn’t necessarily aged well, what with the changing of the times and all it has remained a favorite for many, and there’s even talks of a Hocus Pocus 2 in the works.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers may have been my first he scary movie, and the one to light my fire for horror movies, but Scream is my all time favorite scary movie. It makes fun of the horror genre, while at the same time it is a great scary movie on its own. Its spawned parodies like Scary Movie, and several sequels all of which were good, and even inspired a television show. It’s equal parts terrifying and entertaining. One of the greatest mysteries is who is Ghostface? When you finally find out who he is and his motives, it’s not something you expect- which makes it that much better. The sequels are great, but the original is the best to me.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is and will always be one of the best movies ever, and I know that sounds super biased. Perhaps, there is a reason for that- considering that it took 3 years to make and stands out due to being all done in stop animation. It’s flawless in design, and though the story is simple, it has heart. The characters are quirky, relatable. The songs are spooky, and some of Danny Elfman’s best. The richness in the worlds from the macabre to the bright, cheery colors in Christmastown is so intricate and ornate. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King is endearing as he sets out on his quest to try something new, and the inhabitants from Sally the Ragdoll to the two-faced Mayor are all the perfect blend of creepy and cute. It is the perfect movie to get you ready for Halloween, from the beginning notes of This Is Halloween all the way to the very end. 26 years later it is still popular, still bringing in revenue, and still timeless.
New or old, whichever you prefer. It isn’t just a story about banding together and bonds of friendship- it is about a creepy demon clown after all. I hadn’t seen It until the remake came out, and I do think it is a great thriller. Pennywise will always be the creepiest clown, and all other psycho clowns on Halloween have him to thank for instilling the fear in thousands.
Some don’t consider this a Halloween movie, but it does have an underlying tone to it that screams Halloween to me. The creepy neighbors, the paranoia of suburban life, and the dark comedy all feel like Halloween to me. Its weirdness lends itself well to the odd character of Halloween.
Death Becomes Her
Death Becomes her is funny and has a great cast. The fountain of youth, the eternal beauty is not something that does not have its roots in the macabre or supernatural to begin with, and I love the effects, the story and the setting. Beautiful dead people? How is that not Halloween?
I could have chosen any of the Universal Monster movies to be honest, but Dracula is my favorite. I’m sure I am not alone in stating that Dracula introduced me to the concept of vampires, and from there I fell in love. I love vampires, sparkly vampires, punk rock leather wearing vampires, vampires in frilly shirts or without souls- you name it. If he drinks blood, I’m in. I wouldn’t have my love for vampires without Dracula, and nothing is quite as Halloween as vampires. (Although werewolves and zombies are great too!)