How to Curate the Perfect Halloween Movie Marathon

Whether it's your first time, or you consider yourself a consummate professional, a lot of work can go into planning the perfect horror movie marathon on Halloween.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

So, you’ve decided that this Halloween you’re going to put on a movie marathon, but you’re not sure where to start. Or maybe you’ve got an inkling, but there are so many different factors involved that your head hurts just thinking about them all.

Don’t stress, take some deep breaths. We’re here to help!

Setting the Mood

We are still living with COVID-19, and no matter how many times we’re told that things are going “back to normal” there are very real dangers that we should protect each other from. Holding a group Halloween movie marathon online can be just as fun, but if you’re considering inviting people over this year please do so as safely as possible.

If you are choosing to gather inside with friends and family, it’s probably a good idea to think about how long your Halloween movie marathon is actually going to be, and how many guests are coming – that way, it’s easier to plan what kind of food and drink to serve. But also, you need to be realistic about what kind of host you are.

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Are you gonna go full scream ahead and decorate your place to the rafters with spooky tat, or are you gonna roll with some cheap basement vibes? Some people love planning and organizing everything down to the last detail; baking Halloween-themed cookies and cupcakes, maybe knocking up some old school pranks, etc, but if you think the mood is going to be more “chips, dips, popcorn, and pizza,” that’s perfectly fine.

Don’t overwhelm yourself if you don’t have the energy or time for all the trimmings. And, hey, if your marathon is simply a creepy evening alone, make sure you have all your favorite snacks in stock. This is your night!

Picking a Theme

Picking a theme for your Halloween movie marathon can be tricky, so a lot of people prefer to mix it up and choose a bunch of new stuff from the horror genre, sight unseen, so they can at least have a unique experience. If you’re personally drawn to a theme, though, it involves a bit more planning and thought.

In the streaming age there are plenty of platforms to select movies from when you’re curating, including the genre-specific Shudder, but you may need to hop between them to fully realize your vision.

Is your marathon going to be all-out 80s? How about the classic Universal monsters movies? Maybe you’re going to choose something like the John Carpenter or David Cronenberg catalog. Will you pick films from different sub-genres, like body horror, psychological horror, supernatural horror, etc? You could have your eye on a specific franchise and feel like it’s time to hit every Hellraiser installment in order of release.

If these kinda thoughts already have you sweating, here’s a different tactic that’s worked for us in the past: ask your guests to turn in their favorite horror movie, or one they’ve been meaning to watch for a while. That way, everyone feels like they’ve added something personal to the night.

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To Ween or Not to Ween

In the smorgasbord of possible themes, one often tends to stand out from the crowd: a line-up of movies that are actually set on Halloween. You may find it a little too limiting in terms of inspiration, but it’s possible to still have fun with that theme and not just pick slashers or trashy gore all the way down!

For example, sticking to films that are set around Halloween means you can warm up with a few lighter options when the sun’s still out (or when the kids are still awake) like Mean Girls, Scooby-Doo, Hubie Halloween, Hocus Pocus, or E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, before moving on to some of the more spine-tingling possibilities. And make no mistake, those are plentiful.

Along with the Halloween and Night of the Demons franchises, there are some absolutely solid seasonal movies to opt for if you’re not particularly familiar with the genre, including Donnie Darko, The Guest, Flatliners (not the remake), May, Trick ‘r Treat, or Boys in the Trees. You can also pepper in Halloween-themed episodes of classic TV shows as palate cleansers.

Know Your Audience

If you’re doing a Halloween solo marathon, you’ll be aware of your own limits when it comes to horror movies. Maybe you’re not overly enamored with the possibility of sitting through the likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death, or A Serbian Film, so you’ll naturally pick films that are more in tune with your taste. Or maybe you ARE enamored with that very possibility – may God have mercy on your soul.

But inviting other people to join you means understanding their limits, too. Ask your guests what their favorite (and least favorite) scary films are before you start curating to give yourself an idea of what kind of movies they’ll enjoy sitting through and what movies they absolutely won’t. Please get to know your audience, and don’t be the person who scars a sensitive person for life just for the hell of it. We promise you it’s not worth it in the long run.

Go With the Flow

Once you’ve planned your Halloween movie marathon down to the last detail, it can be tempting to try and micromanage everything on the night, but if you’ve gathered people together who want a looser energy to the evening that might not always be possible.

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Although it’s hard to change plans when you’ve put so much thought into an entertaining schedule, sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow and let your guests suggest and vote on the films you’re about to watch. The important thing is to not get trapped in a dreaded “forever scroll” where you spend most of the night arguing about what to check out next as you jump from one streaming service to the next.

Good luck and stay safe!