Halloween is the time for ghosts, goblins, and ghouls – not to mention psycho killers, living nightmares, and psychological thrills, thanks to the holiday's most popular horror movies. The problem is, not everyone likes scary movies. In fact, some people are terrified of them. My wifey is one of them, so every Halloween, I scout out spooky, silly, and playfully gruesome flicks instead of the stereotypical horror picks. If you're spending Halloween with your own special scaredy cat, snuggle up with something a little less terrifying.
Table of contents:
- hocus pocus
- ernest scared stupid
- the nightmare before christmas
- the addams family
- addams family values
- practical magic
- shaun of the dead
- edward scissorhands
- my boyfriend's back
- teen witch
- little shop of horrors
- the witches
- buffy the vampire slayer
- corpse bride
- it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown
- the legend of sleepy hollow
- all of the harry potters
- young frankenstein
- the rocky horror picture show
1 Hocus Pocus
This is the most epic Halloween movie ever, and I don't just say that because Salem is my very favorite city. I say it because it is the most epic Halloween movie ever. No, but seriously, everything about it is awesome. It made me fall in love with Salem decades before I ever lived there, it's endlessly quotable, and Bette Midler's Winifred is everything. Plus, not even I was immune to the lure of Thackery Binx.
2 Ernest Scared Stupid
This movie is stupid. The title isn't lying to you. However, I grew up on Ernest movies. I don't even know if anyone under the age of 29 knows who he is – he's not quite as iconic a character as, say, Pee-Wee Herman, but the immensely talented, dearly missed Jim Varney was a legend of physical comedy. In this Ernest-driven spectacular, an old curse reawakens a monster with an obsession for children, and the inestimable Eartha Kitt helps to save the day.
3 The Nightmare before Christmas
According to the director vulture.com (finally!), The Nightmare before Christmas is officially a Halloween movie – though, yeah, it's also perfect for Christmas. Even though Jack spends most of the movie embracing Christmas, the Halloween cheer in this film is unmistakable, plus there's just never a bad time to enjoy the antics of Lock, Shock, and Barrel, or the awesomeness that is Oogie Boogie.
4 The Addams Family
The Addams Family is sheer perfection. At the risk of opening up the floodgates, I love the movie(s) even better than the TV show. It's creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky, plus Anjelica Huston's poised, macabre, lethally beautiful Morticia and Raul Julia's suave, smooth, passionate Gomez are the definition of #relationshipgoals. Add the precociously diabolical Wednesday, the goofy antics of Fester, and a delightfully engaging plot, and you've got yourself a winner.
5 Addams Family Values
I promise, this is the only sequel you'll see on this list, and that's only because it's as funny and fabulous as the first one. This one has even more comedic value, thanks in part to Joan Cusack, Peter MacNicol, Christine Baranski, and baby David Krumholtz. Christina Ricci's Wednesday really comes into her own in this movie, as well.
6 Practical Magic
Here's the movie to watch if you hate horror but love magic. And rom-coms, of course. The movie is entirely different from the book, but it's still a great flick, plus you get another taste of Salem (kind of). You get to see another side of what it means to be a witch, you can enjoy Sandra Bullock being adorable, and you can fall in love with Nicole Kidman's Gillian. Besides, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as the aunts are absolutely everything.
Before there was Harry Potter, there was Marnie Piper, a young girl who discovers she's a witch and uses her new found power to help save Halloweentown. This movie spawned several sequels as well, but although they're all fun to watch, I'm really only a fan of the first. Debbie Reynolds makes this movie, but it is a little creepy. Okay, okay, that's probably only because Robin Thomas always skeeves me out, I don't know why.
8 Shaun of the Dead
Even if you're a scaredy cat, you can still get your zombie fix. Shaun of the Dead is just … it's epic. You might start to get creeped out by all the undead, but don't worry – Simon Pegg's Shaun will keep you laughing. This is also proof that even if you're completely average, you can still survive a zombie apocalypse. So that's hopeful, right?
Before you even ask, no, you are never too old to watch Casper. I still watch this whenever I see it on and I still cry every time. Christina Ricci is precious, Bill Pullman is tragic, and Devon Sawa is, briefly, the most beautiful boy in the world. Can he keep you?
10 Edward Scissorhands
Oh, early Johnny Depp. Here's a rather tragic romance that's perfect for Halloween – or any other holiday, honestly. Edward never ages. There are just enough dark, gothic undertones to make you really feel like you're watching a Halloween movie, just without all the guts, gore, and spooks.
11 My Boyfriend's Back
You may not have heard of this little gem, but the premise is cute: boy meets girl; boy falls for girl; boy dies before confessing his feelings to girl; boy comes back from the dead to woo girl. It's an adorable movie, plus it features baby Andrew Lowery, Matthew Fox, and even Philip Seymour Hoffman!
12 Teen Witch
This little movie is based on a bewitching series of young adult books. It's a great way to get your magic fix without the worry of any villainous witches. The movie stars Robin Lively, big sister to none other than Blake Lively, and it's a fun romp when you're looking for a fluffy kind of film.
13 Little Shop of Horrors
Between Audrey II's insatiable hunger and Steve Martin's batshit insane dentist, Little Shop of Horrors is … well, it's actually a little scary. However, Rick Moranis as Seymour is maybe the cutest thing ever, the music is phenomenal, and it has Bill Murray. Who can say no to anything that involves Bill Murray?
Speaking of which, watch Ghostbusters on Halloween. There are some scary moments, but they're typically tempered with hilarity, usually courtesy of Murray and Dan Aykroyd, and every scene with Rick Moranis and Annie Potts is epic. Don't miss the real star of the movie – the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – or his tragic end. Also, always remember: there is no Dana, only Zuul. (And for the record, since I promised not to include any other sequels, see Ghostbusters II, too – it's as fantastic as the first.)
15 The Witches
Full disclosure: The Witches is slightly terrifying, although it's not nearly as bad when you watch it as an adult. What charmed you as a child will charm you now, but there's a deliciously morbid layer to both the movie and the story that inspired it. Plus Anjelica Huston is just as flawless in this as she is in everything else she does.
16 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before it was one of the most popular shows ever, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a cheesy masterpiece of goofy, hilarious cinema. Frankly, Buffy on TV is ten times more gruesome than the movie, which is lighthearted with just enough vampire-staking to satisfy your horror-lite cravings. Better still, there's an epic cast that's even more enjoyable now because you'll recognize the big names who were small-time in 1992. That includes Ricki Lake, Seth Green, and Ben Affleck, all three in uncredited roles! Kristy Swanson's Buffy is ... not like the Buffy we know and love and Luke Perry's Pike (lol) is no Angel, but pay more attention to Donald Sutherland and Paul Reubens (of Pee-Wee Herman fame).
Frankenweenie is just … it's just adorable. Adorable and kind of sad, honestly, but I'm always a sucker for movie dogs. It's a Tim Burton joint and the story is spooky sweet. Naturally there's an incredible voice cast, which makes the movie that much more enjoyable. Just promise me you'll give Sparky a chance, okay?
18 Corpse Bride
Okay, I just realized that I have a glut of Tim Burton movies on this list, but what can you do? He does funny/spooky very well. Corpse Bride is a beautiful movie – I mean, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. It's the creepy love story that makes it appropriate for Halloween, however, greatly helped by the fact that it stars Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp, who make a gorgeously gruesome twosome.
19 It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The title speaks for itself, doesn't it? This is the quintessential wholesome Halloween movie. It's an institution. You won't possibly get scared … I mean, unless you're like Linus, in which case, best of luck.
20 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Many, many years ago, Disney came up with an animated version of the Washington Irving classic and it is maybe the best version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow that I've ever seen. There are just enough shivers and thrills to keep you on the edge of your seat, mostly thanks to the narrator, and it has an amazing soundtrack. If you haven't seen it, just trust me. It's beyond excellent.
21 All of the Harry Potters
I can't pick just one, I'm sorry. I almost didn't include these because they seem like such obvious picks, but I simply can't resist mentioning them – mainly because they are obvious. Of course you should go to Hogwarts for Halloween. Bear in mind that things start to get a bit dark in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (“HARRY, DID YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIRE?!?) so if you're very easily spooked, stick to the first three.
22 Young Frankenstein
Gene Wilder is life. This movie is hilarious, yet it's made for Halloween so even if you're sharing the couch with a horror fan, you'll both be happy. Don't be put off by the fact that this is a black and white movie, please. I'm serious, you'll never view the story of Frankenstein the same way again.
I knew a kid in grade school who was terrified of Beetlejuice so maybe it's not for scaredy cats after all. However, it's the best. Of course it's perfect for Halloween, it's all about the afterlife! Michael Keaton is at his best in this, so even if you have to hide your eyes during some scenes, it's worth it.
24 The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Now you're all set for the safer side of Halloween horror movies. Even couples consisting of scaredy cats and scary movie fans can enjoy the Halloween edition of Netflix and chill. What's on your trick-or-treat must-watch list? Did I miss any of your not-too-scary favorites?
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