Now, dear readers, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that I like scary movies. If you don't believe me, check out the enormous lists that I made of every classic horror movie since 1942. Well, one list, divided into Part 1
and Part 2
. (Oh shush, like you didn't think I'd put thought into this.)
ANYWAY! Since it has become increasingly clear to me in the past few years that a lot of people don't like scary movies, I've put together the wuss's dream list of Halloween flicks. Movies that will have you tense without involuntarily diving into your hooded sweatshirt; that smell more like pumpkin spice than rotting corpses.
So, in order of creep-factor, here we go!
The more festive half of this movie is the tale of Ichabod Crane, but if you're renting/buying/watching this legally this you'll probably have to sit through Mr. Toad's Wind in the Willows tale first. Just a heads-up. Anyway, this is the classic New England story of a superstitious school-teacher who hears a story about a Headless Horseman and then disappears. Did he run away? Was he taken? Who knows. But this half-hour cartoon is full of fun songs and Bing Crosby's lovely crooning so who cares?
Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin is bound to appear, doling out gifts to neighborhood kids, as he sits in a pumpkin patch waiting. Another 1960s classic that Schultz wrote himself. If you want some smooth jazz with your cartoons, Great Pumpkin delivers the same kind of music that comes with its Christmas counterpart.
Really just adorable. Overprotective, single father Dracula has made it his life's purpose to host all manner of ghosts and ghouls at his monster-centric hotel. But when his teenage daughter starts to fall for a human, he has to do his best to protect her while keeping up appearances. Really funny, and Sandler's Dracula is better than you'd expect. The sequel's on Netflix!
Louise Miller is a total nerd. But when she finds out that she's a witch on the cusp of realizing her true power, she decides to go for the hottest guy in school and become the most popular girl. Come for the hokey plot, stay for the insane late-80's outfits.
Anyone in their mid-20s probably saw this movie on the Disney Channel when it first came out. Marnie and her two siblings learn that their family hails from an alternate world called Halloweentown, and their grandmother (played by the still-incredibly-spry Debbie Reynolds) takes them there. But all is not well in Halloweentown, and the kids have to take it upon themselves to save the town and their mom before the night is over.
Such an underrated vampire flick for little kiddies! After Tony Thompson moves to Scotland, he makes friends with a young vampire named Rudolph. Together with Rudolph's family, Tony helps them search for an amulet that could turn them human -- while also trying to dodge resident vampire-hunter, Rookery. Great performances from the cute little actors and the setting keeps this one spooky without getting too scary!
Before Sarah Michelle Gellar there was Kristy Swanson. And before Buffy was a bad-ass, she was a damn good cheerleader. When Buffy is visited by a strange man (who, for whatever reason, is played by Donald Sutherland), she learns that it's up to her to keep her family's legacy and hunt vampires. A few creepy moments, but it's mostly just delightfully cheesy. Look for a hilarious performance by Paul Reubens (who you might know better as Pee-Wee Herman).
Aw, remember when Bill Pullman was in everything? Ahhh, the 90's. While the special effects might not have held up, this is still a Halloween classic. And who didn't think that Human Casper was super cute when they were like 12?
Okay, not super Halloweeny, but it takes place in fall and it's about ghosts, right? It can stay. Who doesn't know the story of the four guys who saved NYC from a spectral apocalypse? Who you gonna call!?
10. Hocus Pocus
I doubt that Disney had any idea how big a hit this would be among millennials. Two kids move from L.A. to Salem, Massachusetts and accidentally free three notorious witches, who come back to suck the lives out of children to sustain their own youth. (Jeez, when you summarize it like that, it sounds like it should be a lot scarier than it actually is...) I still can't think of another movie where I find any of these three leading actresses more hilarious and I dare you to not get "I Put a Spell on You" stuck in your head.
11. The Witches
An underrated movie adapted from Roald Dahl's chapter book of the same name, this one is a little creepier than most of the other kids' movies. A child and his grandmother go to the English coast for a vacation, only to find that the hotel is full of witches. After the little boy stumbles upon their plot to get rid of all the world's children, it's up to him, his grandma, and his friend Bruno to save the day. Creature effects from the Jim Henson lab could cheese it up for adults, but, if I remember correctly from my childhood, could also be a little scary for little ones!
12. Nightmare Before Christmas
Ah, every emo kid's favorite movie. Jack, the Pump-kin King (c'mon, you sang it too), is a little jaded with living his life for each Halloween. After he stumbles upon the holiday of Christmas, he makes it his mission to switch things up a bit -- to the horror of Santa Claus and the world's children. An amazing soundtrack and perfect clay-mation make this one worth seeing.
13. Corpse Bride
Another Tim Burton clay-mation classic. When Victor and Victoria (hm. never noticed that before.) are arranged by their parents to be married, they are relieved to find that they are both willing to make it work. But when Victor accidentally weds a corpse bride, he then needs to find out how to leave his undead wife for his original intended. Some sweet tunes and sentiments despite the morbid setting.
In my opinion, Chris Butler takes Burton's clay-mation to the next level. Butler's incredibly detailed film follows Norman, a nerdy outsider who can see ghosts, and who lives in a town notorious for its hanging of a witch in the 1700s. Visited by his dead uncle, he's given the task of keeping the witch's spirit at bay on Halloween night but botches it. As the witch's spirit is unleashed on the town, we learn that things are not always what they appear.
One of my faves! And, coincidentally, another clay-mation movie. Coraline Jones has just moved into a new house and is not happy about her parents' lack of sympathy. After finding a secret door in her living room, however, she discovers a world of wonders, and parents who seem to understand her. But everything isn't as it appears, and it's up to Coraline to figure out the true intentions of her Other Mother before it's too late.
16. What We Do in the Shadows
This mockumentary of the lives of three vampire roommates is just what you need to keep festive without getting scared. Camera crews follow these three undead guys as they deal with trying to get into clubs by asking to be invited in, the travesty of not being able to see your own reflection, and the insanely annoying habits of their newly "turned" friend Nick. And the dialogue is amazing. "What are we?" "Werewolves, not swearwolves."
17. Shaun of the Dead
Classic zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead
really set the bar for off-beat creature features. Shaun must lead his group of friends to safety after their English village becomes infested by zombies. You'll never hear Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" the same way again.
18. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
A couple gets lost on the road and takes shelter in quite the off-beat mansion. As a crazy transvestite doctor, his human creation, and his off-beat posse teach Janet and Brad their ways, things start to get pretty weird. Let's do the time-warp again!
19. Practical Magic
Two sisters happen to come from a long line of witches. After one of them gets in trouble with an abusive boyfriend, it's up to them how to figure out how to clean up their own mess and use powers they didn't know they had. A nostalgia trip from the late 90s -- velvet tank tops and maxi skirts never looked so good!
20. Children of the Corn
When a couple gets lost on the road, they stumble on a town that is complete devoid of adults. As they try to find their way out, they uncover that it's run by a cult of children, and that they aren't so happy to find adults in their midst. Nowhere near as scary as the original story from Stephen King, and cheesy enough that it's pretty free of serious scares.
"They're all gonna laugh at you!" I mean, her insane mom warned her. Who hasn't felt like an outsider? But when Carrie White fully hones her psychic powers, her fellow classmates get to learn the hard way that they should've been a little nicer to her.
Spielberg at his finest. This is probably my favorite of all of his films, honestly. A family starts getting tormented by a power that lives inside their home. After it takes the youngest child into its own dimension, it's up to the rest of them to get her back. The best part of this movie is how strong the family is and how much they love each other. Great acting. Those who are afraid of clowns be warned -- I'm sure you've heard of this scene already.