10 Best movies to watch on Halloween
Halloween, with its atmospheric allure, has long captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. As the leaves turn amber and the nights grow longer, there's a tangible sense of mystery and magic in the air. This enchanting season is not just about costumes and candies; it's an invitation to immerse oneself in tales that thrill, chill, and mesmerize. Cinema, as a medium, has embraced this allure, gifting audiences with movies that range from spine-tingling horror to heartwarming tales, all set against the backdrop of this bewitching holiday. Over the decades, filmmakers have tapped into the collective fascination with the supernatural, the unknown, and the eerie beauty of fall, creating a plethora of movies tailor-made for Halloween viewing. Some films send shivers down the spine, while others induce bouts of laughter, yet they all share a common thread – an indelible link to the Halloween spirit. As we gear up for another Halloween season, it's worth revisiting these cinematic gems that not only entertain but also encapsulate the essence of this age-old festival. Whether you're a horror aficionado or someone seeking light-hearted spooks, there's a Halloween movie that's bound to resonate with your cinematic sensibilities. So, as the witching hour approaches, let's dive into the realm of films that celebrate, and sometimes satirize, the myriad shades of Halloween.
1. Hocus Pocus (1993)
- Directed by: Kenny Ortega
- Plot: After moving to Salem, Massachusetts, teenager Max Dennison inadvertently resurrects three witches, the Sanderson Sisters, from the dead. Max, his sister Dani, and their new friend Allison, with the aid of an enchanted cat named Binx, must prevent the witches from becoming immortal before sunrise. As the trio tries to thwart the witches' plan, they encounter a series of comedic and magical challenges.
- Why Watch: A cult favorite, "Hocus Pocus" offers a bewitching blend of humor, fantasy, and a touch of spookiness. The film boasts memorable performances, particularly from Bette Midler as the lead witch, Winifred Sanderson. The film's catchy songs, particularly "I Put a Spell on You," and its nostalgic 90s charm make it a must-watch every Halloween season.
2. Halloween (1978)
- Directed by: John Carpenter
- Plot: The story begins with a young Michael Myers brutally murdering his sister on Halloween night in 1963. Institutionalized for 15 years, Myers escapes on the eve of Halloween and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield. Unsuspecting teenager Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut, becomes the target of his stalking, setting the stage for a night of terror.
- Why Watch: A pioneering film in the slasher genre, "Halloween" is celebrated for its atmospheric tension, iconic score, and the introduction of one of horror cinema's most enduring characters, Michael Myers. Its impact on horror cinema is undeniable, spawning numerous sequels, remakes, and inspiring countless other films in the genre.
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- Directed by: Henry Selick; Produced and Conceived by: Tim Burton
- Plot: Jack Skellington, the beloved Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, stumbles upon a portal to Christmas Town. Mesmerized by the concept of Christmas, he decides to take over the holiday, resulting in a whimsical mash-up of Halloween scares and Christmas cheer. As Jack's plans unfold, they lead to unintended and humorous consequences.
- Why Watch: This stop-motion animated musical is visually stunning with its unique character designs and intricate set pieces. The film beautifully blends the eerie aesthetics of Halloween with the joyous atmosphere of Christmas. With music by Danny Elfman, including the iconic "This Is Halloween," it's a festive treat that appeals to both children and adults.
4. The Exorcist (1973)
- Directed by: William Friedkin
- Plot: The film revolves around the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan MacNeil. As her behavior becomes increasingly disturbing and unexplainable, her desperate mother seeks the help of two priests to perform an exorcism. Father Damien Karras, who is grappling with his faith, and the experienced exorcist Father Merrin confront the malevolent entity in a chilling battle for the girl's soul.
- Why Watch: Widely regarded as one of the most terrifying movies of all time, "The Exorcist" delves deep into the psychological and spiritual aspects of possession. The film's groundbreaking special effects, combined with its haunting score and outstanding performances, especially by Linda Blair as Regan, create an atmosphere of palpable dread. Its impact on the horror genre is immeasurable, and its chilling scenes remain iconic in cinematic history.
5. Coraline (2009)
- Directed by: Henry Selick; Based on: Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name
- Plot: Coraline Jones, an adventurous girl, discovers a hidden door in her new home. This door leads to a parallel world that mirrors her own but with attentive and doting "Other" parents with black button eyes. Initially charmed by this seemingly perfect world, Coraline soon realizes that this alternate reality harbors dark secrets and that her "Other" parents intend to keep her there forever.
- Why Watch: "Coraline" is a masterclass in stop-motion animation with meticulously crafted sets and character designs. While it's visually enchanting, the story offers a darker, more mature narrative that delves into themes of desire, identity, and the dangers of wish fulfillment. It's a haunting tale that combines elements of fantasy, horror, and fairy-tale caution, making it a unique watch for both kids and adults.
6. Beetlejuice (1988)
- Directed by: Tim Burton
- Plot: After a sudden accident, the recently-deceased Maitlands find themselves haunting their former home. When an eccentric new family moves in, the Maitlands try to scare them away but to no avail. In desperation, they enlist the help of Beetlejuice, a mischievous and unpredictable spirit. However, they quickly realize that Beetlejuice has his own chaotic agenda.
- Why Watch: A dark comedy with a whimsical touch, "Beetlejuice" showcases Burton's signature gothic aesthetic and offbeat humor. Michael Keaton's energetic and zany portrayal of the titular character is a standout, and the film boasts a memorable score by Danny Elfman. Its unique blend of the macabre with comedic elements makes it a beloved classic that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
7. The Addams Family (1991)
- Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
- Plot: Based on the characters created by Charles Addams, this film follows the macabre yet lovable Addams family. When a man claiming to be the long-lost Uncle Fester reappears after 25 years, the family is overjoyed. However, as events unfold, it becomes apparent that he may be an imposter with ulterior motives.
- Why Watch: This film captures the quirky charm of the Addams family with a modern twist. With memorable performances by Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, and Christina Ricci, the movie brilliantly balances dark humor with heartwarming family moments. The mansion's elaborate set designs and the catchy theme song make this a delightful Halloween treat.
8. Trick 'r Treat (2007)
- Directed by: Michael Dougherty
- Plot: Set on Halloween night, this anthology film weaves together five interrelated stories: a high school principal with a dark secret, a college virgin seeking the right man, a woman who despises the holiday, a group of teens who carry out a cruel prank, and an old man who confronts a mischievous trick-or-treater named Sam.
- Why Watch: "Trick 'r Treat" is a celebration of Halloween traditions, with each tale embodying different aspects of the holiday. Sam, the mysterious child with a burlap sack over his head, serves as a symbolic guardian of Halloween's rules and customs. The film's unique structure, atmospheric settings, and unexpected twists make it a modern Halloween classic.
9. The Conjuring (2013)
- Directed by: James Wan
- Plot: Based on true events, the film follows real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they are called to assist the Perron family, who are experiencing increasingly disturbing events in their Rhode Island farmhouse. Together, they confront a powerful demonic entity intent on tormenting the family.
- Why Watch: "The Conjuring" revitalized mainstream horror with its tense atmosphere, solid character development, and chilling scares. The film avoids relying on cheap jump scares, instead focusing on building a sense of dread through its storytelling. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson deliver compelling performances as the Warrens, adding depth to the narrative.
10. Ghostbusters (1984)
- Directed by: Ivan Reitman
- Plot: When three parapsychologists lose their academic positions, they set up a unique business in New York City: ghost extermination. Calling themselves the "Ghostbusters," they tackle various supernatural disturbances, but things escalate when they face Gozer, an ancient and powerful deity intent on destroying the world.
- Why Watch: With a mix of comedy, action, and supernatural elements, "Ghostbusters" became an instant classic. The ensemble cast, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, deliver memorable performances. The film's iconic theme song, unforgettable one-liners, and innovative special effects make it a must-watch, not just for Halloween but for any movie night.
In the tapestry of film, the allure of Halloween-themed movies holds a unique and timeless charm. They transport us to realms where the ordinary mingles with the extraordinary, where shadows come alive, and where the line between reality and the supernatural blurs. The ten films we've explored offer a panoramic view of Halloween's multifaceted spirit, from the hauntingly eerie to the hilariously quirky. Each film, in its distinct manner, captures the essence of the season and serves as a testament to the diverse ways Halloween can be celebrated on screen. Whether it's the relentless pursuit of Michael Myers, the whimsical antics of the Sanderson sisters, or the gothic charm of the Addams family, these movies cater to a myriad of tastes and moods. As the October chill sets in and pumpkins glow with mischievous smiles, there's no better way to embrace the Halloween fervor than by delving into these cinematic masterpieces. They remind us that Halloween is not just a day, but a feeling, a mood, a fleeting moment in time where anything seems possible. So, light a candle, grab your favorite snacks, and let these films whisk you away on a cinematic journey that encapsulates the very heart and soul of Halloween. After all, movies, much like this beloved holiday, have the power to bewitch, beguile, and bewilder, leaving indelible imprints on our hearts and minds.