A Halloween movie guide for dummies

Gretchen Lee—Staff Writer

Beyond the world of Hallmark, only a few holidays are consistently the focus of themed movies. While Christmas, in my opinion, still reigns as king of holiday films, Halloween certainly comes in at a close second. With such a wide variety of quality films to choose from during the spooky movie season, it can be difficult to choose which ones should make your marathon list. Below, I have listed a variety of films for movie-watchers of any sensibility to choose from so you can prioritize the best of the best.

Hocus Pocus – In this classic Halloween movie, three sister witches rise from their graves to fulfill a curse from long ago. Filled with humor, hijinks, and Halloween spirit, this is a family-friendly film that you and your roommates will be quoting into the off-season. 

What We Do In The Shadows – This mockumentary by Taika Waititi is a hilarious and meaningful look into the lives of four vampires living together in New Zealand. Filled with wonderful turns of phrase, off-the-wall humor, and quirky characters, The Shadows provides a unique look at a popular Halloween trope. It’s hilarious, gruesome, and surprisingly relatable. Above all, however, it is extremely quotable and a wonderful film to experience with your college roommates. 

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns – Is The Mummy (1999) strictly a Halloween movie? Absolutely not. Is the scene with the scarab beetles crawling under people’s skin traumatizing enough to make it fit on this list? 100 percent. This double feature follows Rick O’Connell, Evelyn Carnahan, Ardeth Bay, and Johnathan Carnahan as they unleash curses, wrangle mummies, yell a lot, and invent romance in 1920s/30s Egypt. These movies have mummies, found family, and some of my favorite one-liners of all time.

Ghostbusters – If you watch this 1984 icon for no other reason, at least watch it for the soundtrack. In this classic piece of pop culture, a group of friends hunt down slimy ghosts and become revered heroes. It’s a highly referenced and spoofed film that rounds out any Halloween movie marathon.

The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values – The Addams family, in any format, is a foundational corner of Halloween movie watching. Follow along with this surprisingly functional group of people as they deal with the arrival of suspicious relatives, nosy neighbors, petty girls from summer camp, an overly-normal newborn, and a series of explosions in a double-feature that is fit for the whole family; cooky, creepy, or otherwise.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – A classic film for the whole family to enjoy. The Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween as Linus waits for the arrival of “The Great Pumpkin.” It’s got all of the classic Peanuts’ humor and quotable lines, as well as a healthy serving of Halloween fun. 

The Conjuring – These movies are properly scary. If you want to dislike looking in mirrors, walking down dark hallways, and looking at the ceiling or under your bed for a few months, this is the film series for you. Beyond the ability for The Conjuring to keep delivering unique and unsettling frights, however, is an interesting over-arching storyline and fascinating lore that will keep you interested throughout the entire saga.

The Nightmare Before Christmas – It’s a Christmas movie. It’s a Halloween movie. It’s the perfect movie to get you in the Halloween and Christmas spirit at the same time. Follow Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween, as he upends two worlds and learns the importance of Christmas. This Tim Burton classic has a unique design and storytelling format that makes for an excellent viewing experience. It also has an ideal Halloween soundtrack that you can sing in the car with your friends on the way to a corn maze.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep – If you’re a fan of Dutch angles, psychological horror, music in the minor key, and creepy children, this is the double-feature for you. From the mind of Stephen King, the Overlook Hotel corrupts the mind of Jack Torrence, a writer hired to care for the building in the off-season. After he fails to defeat his demons, his son, Danny Torrence, returns as an adult to attempt to slay them himself. Overall, it’s an excellent series for anyone looking to never feel safe in a hotel again.

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