15 Halloween-themed movies to watch this Halloween

Odd List Sarah Dobbs 30 Oct 2012 - 07:07

Fancy watching something seasonally appropriate this October 31st? Here are our recommendations...

To all things there is a season, and right now, it’s a great time to watch horror movies. But not just any horror movies (Santa’s Slay, for example, is definitely not right for October.) You need to pick carefully. Here are 15 films that are set on or around Halloween, to get you into the pumpkin-carving spirit…

Halloween (1978)

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, for starters. Often cited as the film that sparked the 80s slasher trend (even though it’s far from being the first movie of its kind) the first Halloween movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis as an innocent teenager who finds herself being targeted by a masked maniac with a knife. Most of the film feels a little dated now, especially if you’ve seen Scream and The Cabin in the Woods, which make fun of many of the tropes established here, but that opening sequence is still brilliant. If you’re only going to watch one horror movie this Halloween, you might as well make it this one.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

All of the Halloween movies are set at Halloween, but listing them all here would be pretty tedious. The third one deserves a mention, though, because it isn’t about Michael Myers killing babysitters. Instead, it’s about the mysterious Silver Shamrock company, which appears to be manufacturing evil masks. At the time, it didn’t go down well with audiences expecting a slasher, but it’s acquired a cult following since. If nothing else, the Silver Shamrock jingle will stay with you – and totally get stuck in your head every Halloween for the rest of your life.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Adults probably won’t be creeped out by this Disney comedy about a group of kids who accidentally bring some long-dead evil witches back to life, but as a kid I found some scenes terrifying. Now I just love it because it’s so much fun – watching the witches adjust to modern life is entertaining, particularly when they repeatedly fail to understand Halloween costumes, and the kids (including a very young Thora Birch) are endearing rather than annoying.

Trick ‘R Treat (2007)

A schoolbus full of dead children. A corpse turned into a scarecrow. And a grumpy old man who hates Halloween. The stories in this Halloween-themed anthology pack in all of these and more. Thanks to some bizarre studio politics, this film had its release pushed back for years before it finally came out on DVD, but it’s out now, so you might as well watch it.

Night of the Demons (1988)

Holding a séance at a Halloween party is never a good idea. Especially if you’re having a party in an abandoned morgue. So when Angela and her friends try it in this 80s-tastic horror movie, all hell breaks loose. It’s a daft movie for the most part, but it does have some distinctly disturbing scenes (the bit with the lipstick, in particular, still makes me shudder) and, hey, it’s probably a better idea to watch this than attempt to have your own Halloween séance.

Idle Hands (1999)

When a lazy pothead finds his under-used left hand has become possessed by the devil, he cuts it off. Cue Addams Family-style chaos as the severed hand goes on a killing spree. Idle Hands is more of a comedy than a horror movie, but it has some great gory moments, including the scene where The Offspring are murdered at the local high school’s Halloween party, and there are plenty of great costumes on show.

Ghostwatch (1992)

It’s not really a film but Ghostwatch is brilliant, and totally appropriate creepy Halloween viewing. Although it purports to be a live broadcast from a haunted house (and BBC studios), Ghostwatch was originally shown on 31 October 1992, which should have tipped people off that it maybe wasn’t entirely serious – but lots of people apparently really believed what they were seeing, even going so far as to call into the show with their own stories. (The phone operators clued them in, don’t worry.) Pipes, the malicious ghost, makes eight appearances during the show’s 90 minute runtime, but they’re not all obvious, so keep your eyes peeled…

Casper (1995)

Another one that’s suitable for kids – or scaredy cats – all the climactic scenes of this 90s adaptation of the classic Casper cartoons take place at a Halloween party, where guests get more than they bargained for as some real ghosts get in on the action. It’s sweet and adorable and it’ll probably make you cry, if you have any kind of heart at all.

Satan’s Little Helper (2005)

A videogame obsessed kid ends up unwittingly assisting a murderer in this low-budget comedy-horror. Dougie’s favourite game involves playing Satan’s little helper, so when he spots a man dressed as the devil he decides to play out the game for real – never quite realising that ‘Satan’ is really quite evil. Though it doesn’t entirely work, there are some impressively creepy scenes in this film, so if you’re bored of all the more well-known Halloween movies, it’s worth seeking out.

Donnie Darko (2001)

There’s so much weirdness going on in Donnie Darko that it’s easy to forget that it is, technically, a Halloween film –but of course, it is, and the iconic ‘Frank’ rabbit mask is just part of a Halloween costume (though it’s also much more than that). There’s something quite self-conscious about Donnie Darko, and it doesn’t really all fit together at the end, but it’s kind of great anyway.

The Crow (1994)

Technically, the events of The Crow take place on October 30th (“Devil’s Night”) rather than Halloween itself, but for the purposes of this list, it seemed close enough. It’s a basic revenge story, really: Eric and his fiancée Shelley are killed on the night before their wedding, and one year later, Eric returns from the dead to torture and kill their murderers. It hasn’t really stood the test of time very well, but that’s still one hell of a Halloween costume.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Jack Skellington decides he’s had enough of being the Pumpkin King and sets his sights on another winter holiday instead in this amazing stop motion musical. (Naturally, his talent for the disturbing and creepy doesn’t go down too well with the folk of Christmas Town.) So is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween film, or a Christmas film? I say: both. If only because I spend the entirety of October singing “This Is Halloween”, much to the distress of my boyfriend, who insists that song can only be sung on October 31st. Spoilsport.

May (2002)

May finds it hard to make friends. She’s a very strange woman, with very strange interests, and no matter how interesting and quirky people find her at first, her weirdness always scares them off in the end. But her loneliness eventually pushes her to find a way around all that… Angela Bettis is amazing as the tragic title character, and despite the gore and creepiness, it’s ultimately kind of heart-warming. And, of course, the climactic events all take place on Halloween.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

The Fitzgerald sisters don’t need Halloween to be spooky – they’re into wearing bird’s skulls around their necks and faking their own deaths all year round – but when Ginger gets bitten by a werewolf, her transformation and the approach of Halloween coincide. Handy, really, since most people assume her fangs and claws are just part of a costume. Ginger Snaps is a fascinating take on werewolf mythology, and it’s actually pretty scary, too.

Mean Girls (2004)

Alright, it’s not a horror movie, but it does have a Halloween scene, so if you’re not in the mood for anything truly scary, you can still get into the spirit with this teen comedy. Lindsay Lohan stars as the new girl trying to navigate the social complexities of an American high school, and the Halloween party really shows up how clueless she is – while every other girl has gone for some kind of flattering/’slutty’ costume, she’s the Bride of Frankenstein, complete with hideous yellow fake teeth. But honestly, do you really need an excuse to watch Mean Girls again? Thought not.

Want something creepier? Check out Sarah's list of 50 genuinely creepy horror movies here...

Disqus - noscript

Come on... what about E.T.? That's got a proper trick or treat scene unlike the vast amount of hoodies who are going to be p***ing through everyone's letterbox tomorrow night. Ginger Snaps is a quality movie - nice one!

Glad you put Halloween III on here - as part of the Halloween series it's an oddity and more than a little bit out of place but as a stand alone horror film I've always liked it. It has a special place in my heart as it was the first adult horror film I ever saw.

I watched it taped from the TV one day when I was off sick from school and my nan was round looking after me. She was downstairs in the kitchen and she thought I was upstairs watching cartoons but I thought I'd see what was in the video player and that had been on the previous night and my folks had recorded it.

As a 9 year old it scared the living daylights out of me but I got one of my first experiences of the adrenaline rush one gets from being scared. My only other comparable experience up to then was watching Ghostbusters in the cinema earlier that year.

Wot, no American Werewolf In London?

... Is it set at Halloween?

Why should it be on the list? American Werewolf is set during the summer, which is why students David and Jack are in the UK (they are on a hiking holiday in the UK while their university is closed for the summer).

It does not have any link with Halloween whatsoever apart from being a scary film. All the films in the list are either set during or heavily refer to Halloween.

No - David and Jack are on a backpacking tour of Europe during summer break.

That's what I thought! I was running the entire movie in my head looking for any reference to Halloween and coming up blank; thought I'd massively missed something.

The White lady.

I love the Ginger Snaps-movies, the wolf in the first one looks really stupid, tho. Nevertheless the atmosphere it creates is great and it goes back to the "teenager going through changes"-theme.

I think Owen must have misread it as "General scary films to watch this Halloween"

Hocus Pocus? Hell no!

Two Hallowe'en films if you just feel like being depressed rather than scared:

IRONWEED with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep follows the sad lives of a group of homeless men and women on Hallowe'en night during the Great Depression.

UNDER THE VOLCANO - Albert Finney copes with the loss of his wife to a younger suitor, alcoholism, impotence, and the rise of Nazisim in Mexico on El Dia de los Muertos on the eve of WWII.

So glad you included Hocus Pocus! It really is a classic now. It came out when I was little and i remember everyone in school would play it on the play ground.
I watch it every year and so do most of my peers.
so glad Disney had the balls to make it back then, I really couldn't imagine them making something like it these days. Unless it starred Hannah Montana

Would love a tv episode list! Their are some great one off Halloween episodes in Buffy, Freaks and geeks and Sabrina the teenage witch.

Also thumbs up for trick r treat! Amazing film. It was the goosebumps and are you afraid of the dark of the naughties.

Usually every year I go to a friend's house and watch horror flicks to uphold tradition. This year with the addition of blu-rays, I will check out Halloween original, The Frighteners, The Cabin in the Woods, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing's Carpenter version and ending the night with The Shining newly released cut in the cinema. Can't wait.

I agree. I tried watching it when my friend had it on and it was just too stupid to be funny.

Why not add a few to the list that are a little more... non-conventional. As in "Practical Magic" or one that, while not theatrically released, I very much enjoyed, "The Good Witch" series.

Personally, I think the classic 80-90's horror movies were the scariest!!


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