No really, is it ok for me to start putting out decorations now that it’s officially the first day of fall? I’ve had generic fall decorations at my desk for the past two weeks but I’m itching to put out some jack-0-lanterns and ravens. I’ve been informed by management that one of our bosses frowns on overt Halloween displays so I’m going to have to keep things subtle. *sigh*
Halloween specials hold a special place in my heart and it’s just not Halloween if I haven’t watched some of my favorite not-s0-spooky films. Most of these era 90’s era classics that we’ve all seen plenty of times but I hope that you’ll join me on the re-watch or trying one you’ve never seen. Most of these are family friendly but I’m including ratings and descriptions to help you steer clear of the more adult-themed stories. Without further ado, here are my top 15 favorite films to watch around Halloween (in no particular order). Happy watching!
The Addams Family Rated PG-13: I love the Addams Family in every incarnation but this film is my personal favorite. The casting is perfect and it has a few more laughs than the sequel. Summary: Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.
Hocus Pocus Rated PG: The best of the best when it comes to family-friendly Halloween movies, in my opinion. Summary: After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror once and for all.
Scooby-Doo and The Witch’s Ghost Rated G: Scooby-Doo + Witches + Tim Curry = Awesome! To quote Forrest Gump “That’s all I have to say about that”. Summary: Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang visit Oakhaven, Massachusetts to seek strange goings on involving a famous horror novelist and his ancestor who is rumored be a witch.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Rated G: The ultimate Halloween classic that’s brought families together for the past fifty years. Campy, fun, and sweet. Summary: The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin.
Practical Magic Rated PG-13: Can you tell I might have a thing for witch stories? Based on the Alice Hoffman book of the same name, the film deftly balances love, loss, and magic. Warning: this film will make you seriously consider witchcraft…or at least trying to fly. Summary: The wry, comic romantic tale follows the Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian, as they struggle to use their hereditary gift for practical magic to overcome the obstacles in discovering true love.
Bram Stocker’s Dracula Rated R: (NOT FOR THE KIDDOS!) Dark, sexy, and oh-so deliciously over the top, this version of the classic horror story is perfect for watching after dark. Gary Oldman’s Dracula is second only to Bella Lugosi, in my opinion. Summary: The vampire comes to England to seduce a visitor’s fiancée and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Rated PG: Does the fact that I have a photo of Jack autographed by Chris Sarandon on my bookcase count as an obsession for this movie? Not going to lie, this movie was the cornerstone of my Hot Topic-loving teen years. Summary: Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.
Halloween Town Rated G: I remember when this movie first premiered on the Disney channel in 1998 and have watched it at least once every Halloween since. I hope I can be an awesome witchy grandmother like Aggie one day. This film is perfect to watch with the kids on Halloween night. Summary: After learning she is a witch, a girl helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures.
Sleepy Hollow (1999) Rated R: Did I mention that I’m a complete Washington Irving fangirl? I’ve seen every adaptation of this story (including the rare Jeff Goldblum made for tv version The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) but Tim Burton’s take on this class tale take the cake for cinematography and all around vibe. Summary: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein Rated R: Another Halloween classic, everyone has their favorite adaptations (and yes, Young Frankenstein counts as a favorite!). This version is over-the-top in the best way. Robert Deniro delivers a wonderful performance as the creature and Kenneth Branaugh compensates for his sometimes campy portrayal of Doctor Frankenstein with plenty of shirtless/sweaty scenes. Summary: When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.
The Halloween Tree Rated G: Pretty sure if you blinked in 1993 you missed this cartoon based on the Ray Bradbury story of the same name. I only saw it twice during my childhood but the story really stuck with me. I always re-read the story or watch the cartoon even October. Summary: Four children learn the origins of Halloween customs while trying to save the life of their friend.
The Phantom of the Opera Rated PG-13: Not exactly a Halloween movie but there is a masquerade ball so that counts for something, right? There’s something truly magical about rooting for the villain. Summary: A young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House.
Something Wicked This Way Comes Rated PG: Yes, I’m Ray Bradbury trash! Something about his writing style (particularly when it pertains to anything Autumnal) curls around my mind in the best possible way. I love this movie so much. Random bonus: Jonathan Price (aka Elizabeth Swann’s dad from Pirates of the Caribbean) is a stone cold fox…and by fox I mean weirdly hot villain. Summary: In a small American town, a diabolical circus and its demonic proprietor prey on the townsfolk.
The Skeleton Key Rated PG-13: Ok, this one’s not overtly Halloween-themed but it has a creepy, suspenseful, vibe. There are some unexpectedly humorous moments in this movie (not sure if they’re really intentionally) that keep it from being truly scary. Perfect for fans of Southern Gothic/voodoo. Summary: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Rated R: I see you shiver with……….anticipation. Everyone’s favorite after midnight musical! Raunchy, weird, and oh-so right. The perfect way to end your Halloween and ride out that sugar high. Summary: A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.