I am really not a fan of horror.
That is, most of it just doesn’t manage to appeal to me (usually). I hate tragedies and love happy endings. I dislike stories about everyone dying, and the more horrific those deaths are, the more I dislike them. And that’s not even going into such things as scream queen stupidity, shock for the sake of shock instead of for the sake of the story, and the absurd amounts of blood in slasher films. It just doesn’t appeal to me.
If it appeals to you, of course, more power to you. It’s just not my thing, ya know?
And yet, I love monsters. I love spooky stories with ghosts and ghouls and goblins. I love a good, well-crafted scare, and everything humans can imagine as we contemplate existence beyond this life. The dreams and nightmares of the supernatural, of magic and mystery, have always fascinated me.
…and, really, what kid ever grew up in America that didn’t love a good Halloween movie, eh? It was the magic of Halloween, of costumes and candy and scaring each other, on the screen! What’s not to love?
So, in the spirit of Halloween this year, I thought I’d share a countdown of my favorite Halloweeny movies! These are my favorite spooky, scary, fun movies to watch this time of year, excellent for the season or for the night itself! I mean, we are about to be inundated with happy Holiday cheer for at least two months, so we might as well get our scare on while we have the chance!
Thus, without further ado, I present my Thirteen Movies for Halloween! And if you have any favorites of your own to add, sound off in the comments below, please! I’d love to hear from you, my wonderful audience! 🙂
13) Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2
Who can ever forget these two comedic classics of our childhood? I mean, they made the phrase, “Who ya gonna call?” forever unusable.
Yeah, I put the both of them into one slot to start off this list, because they’re pretty much the same movie twice. I favor the second one a bit more, but I couldn’t not pick the original.
In another classic from my childhood – that’s a recurring theme for most of my picks, I notice – a man is murdered but his spirit doesn’t quite manage to pass on. He lingers, hoping to solve his murder and protect the woman he loves, with the help of a reluctant medium. It’s tender and sweet, thrilling and suspenseful, hilarious and exciting, both tragic and triumphant at the same time. It left quite an impression on me as a child. (though, as a child, I hated when my parents would make me turn around while they fast-forwarded through the kissing scenes… of course, then I grew up and understood that there was a lot more than just kissing going on there!)
11) The Canterville Ghost
This classic story has had a few iterations over the last century. My personal favorite is the 1986 version, starring Alyssa Milano.
It follows an American family as they move into an estate in England. Upon arrival, they find it to be haunted by a ghost which is far more real than the adults realize at first. But the ghost is not evil, merely stuck and unable to move on. That is, not until a surprising bond forms between him and the young daughter of the family, and within that bond, there is hope for a soul filled with regrets.
10) The Brothers Grimm
Not a childhood favorite, but decidedly scarier than most of my picks, and proof that I do not got what it takes to get into more horrific movies.
This movie delves deep into the darkness of fairy tales – which, actually, really were quite dark – turning the titular brothers into charlatan monster hunters who have to become real monster hunters when they’re sent to deal with what turns out to be the curse of an evil witch-queen.
9) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Ah, the mystery of what happened to Ichabod Crane, as told by Walt Disney. This was one of those shorter animated movies that I watched so many times as a kid, along with all the rest of Disney’s Halloween adventures. I usually sat through the whole thing, enjoying the comedy but just waiting for when they would sing about the headless horseman and get to the chase!
8) The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, has grown weary of all the screams and scares, with no variety anywhere in his life. So, when he stumbles onto Christmas Town, he is bemused and delighted and soon hatches a scheme to enter the Christmas scene himself! It’s one of those ideas that he really should have thought through a little more, as he nearly destroys Christmas instead, but if he acts quickly enough, he can save it instead.
I heard a couple of the spooky songs from this movie a number of times before ever watching the movie. Based on Oogie-Boogie’s song, I thought it was about how the Bogeyman had eaten Santa so Jack had to bring Christmas back. Fortunately, it turned out to be a little more benign than that!
7) Young Frankenstein
The grandson of Victor Frankenstein is a respected surgeon and professor who wants little more than to just forget all about his famous ancestor. But when he inherits the estate of his great-grandfather, he finds himself walking in the halls, and footsteps, of one of the original mad scientists. Before long, he finds himself embarking on the endeavor of not only making a monster from dead bodies, but of making the monster into a feeling, thinking, speaking man.
I was in high school the first time my friends and I watched Mel Brooks’ comedic contribution to the story of Frankenstein. The more explicit innuendos went straight over my head at the time, but I still laughed and laughed and laughed. How many classic scenes are there? I could hardly begin to count!
I grew up on stories of Casper the Friendly Ghost, and I was delighted with the live-action movie they made about him. (the sequels, less so) This is more of a drama than anything else, albeit with some spooky elements woven in.
The titular Casper has three uncles who love to scare people away from their mansion, but he’s just a kid who wants a friend. When a nasty, rich woman inherits the mansion he lives in, and thinks there is hidden treasure within, she is willing to do anything to get rid of the spooks barring her way. When nothing else works, she hires a therapist for ghosts, and he comes with his lovely young daughter, whom Casper is instantly smitten with. A bond forms between the living and the dead, one which brings more life to both.
5) The Haunted Mansion
Yes, Disney nabbed several spots on this list, for good reason. Inspired by the theme-park ride of the same name, this zany, hilarious movie follows a man as he learns to truly value every living moment he has with his wife and children. What’s not to love about that, eh? 😉
(…did I hear they’re doing a reboot?… I already prefer the original)
4) Hocus Pocus
Heh, it occurs to me that this is the second Disney movie in a row, on this count, which is about properly treasuring one’s family while one has them. This one follows a young man as he learns how much he loves his annoying little sister, which happens when, in an attempt to impress a pretty girl, he inadvertently brings three of Salem’s worst witches back from the dead.
3) Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
“This time, the monsters are real!”
Come on, you had to know my favorite Scooby movie was going to be on this list! 😉
2) Van Helsing
And likewise, my most favorite Halloween movie of all! 😉 Which, of course, begs the question: if this pulse-pounding adventure of the most famous vampire hunter in history, colliding with the most famous vampire in history, did not nab the very top spot on this list, then what did?
Well, first, just a few…
Warm Bodies: it’s Romeo and Juliette, only Romeo is already dead at the start!
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: a love story between a dead sea captain and the woman who moves into his house with her daughter.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken: an absolutely hilarious mystery and adventure
Harry Potter series: …because duh! Witches and monsters and magic!
Watcher in the Woods: a young lady and her sister are caught up in a ghost story, one which certainly proves that “scary” does not necessarily need to involve “bloody.” This one always gave me the chills as a kid, and the Watcher still does!
1) Fantasia: Night on Bald Mountain
Yes, I know it’s not a movie. It’s just a clip, featuring what Disney’s animators imagined to the music of the classic song. In my opinion, though, it is so spooky and fun that my Halloween has never been complete without it! 😀
And that’s my top picks for what to watch for Halloween! What are some of yours?
As always, this time of year, have fun, stay safe, and have a Happy Hoooowloween!