A Scaredy-Cat’s Guide To Halloween Films

Rachel Elphick

The nights are getting darker, the days are getting colder, and there’s a distinct hint of something spooky in the air. Halloween is on the horizon, and I am well aware that this time is one of thrills, chills, and scaring yourself witless with horror movies for many of my fellow students. As a self-confessed Absolute Wimp, however, here is my list of spooky, funny, and deeply nostalgic Halloween movies for those people who want to still be able to sleep at night. Read on for Rachel’s recommendations. 

Hocus Pocus (1993, Disney+)

has it put a spell on me? Yes

It is the ultimate spoopy 90s classic, the movie that all Halloween movies aspire to be. Deliciously camp with an excellent soundtrack, Hocus Pocus remains funny and engaging to this day, as long as you can look past all the 90s special effects. I may even go as far as to say that this is one of the best live-action films that Disney has ever made. Has it put a spell on me? Yes. Is anything else on this list really even half as good? No.

10/10, simply because I want to ride a flying vacuum cleaner so badly.

Beetlejuice (1988, Amazon Prime Video)

If you thought Hocus Pocus looked dated, Beetlejuice is practically an antique. It spends the first 20 minutes of its runtime easing you in gently to a sweet little story of a happy couple in the 80s, before slapping you with a headless woman in a closet and careening off into the realms of the creepy, cheeky, and downright insane. Part of how this film works as a spoopy and not a scary experience is how all of its effects are so practical (and so aggressively 80s, it kind of takes the edge off). But don’t go into it expecting anything other than 90mins of richly coloured insanity.

6.5/10, cos being dead honestly just seems like too much hassle.

The Scooby Doo Movie (2002, Amazon Prime Video)

it has spooky Halloween party vibes by the bucket-load

Speaking of brightly coloured insanity, the 2002 live-action adaptation of the Scooby-Doo franchise is exactly that, and more. It is excellently cast, which is one of the few genuinely positive things I can say about it, but as a film it falls down most of the pitfalls which cartoon to live-action adaptations usually fall down. That being said, it is also an action-packed riot of a film, and it has spooky Halloween party vibes by the bucket-load, if you can get past the generous helpings of cringe.

7/10, mainly because I was introduced to this film as a kid and that means it gets bonus nostalgia-points.

The Addams Family, (1991, Netflix)

As someone who has literally dressed as Wednesday for Halloween, this film was not something I could leave off my list. It is, in my opinion, the best iteration of the Addams Family to date (except for perhaps the musical). The deadpan humour is kookily clever, and the vibes are spooky yet inviting. The casting is iconic in its own right, and it is about as close as anything gets to being my ‘comfort Halloween movie’ if such a thing could exist.

9/10, and why they decided to make a mediocre animated movie series after this masterpiece, I shall never know.

BONUS ROUND: Anything by Tim Burton. And I mean anything.

If there is one director who sets the tone for the spooky-but-not-quite-horror style of movie, it is unquestionably Tim Burton, and honestly, any of his most famous classics would undoubtedly fit the bill for anyone looking to get into the spooky mood without genuinely terrifying themselves. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Disney+), or perhaps The Corpse Bride (2005, Amazon Prime Video) are both eerie and entertaining bets. Sweeney Todd (2007, Netflix) can be a bit frightening and bloody at times, but the gore and the menace is slightly offset by the fact that it’s a musical, and everyone spends half their screen time singing. It is quite difficult to be genuinely disturbing whilst battling your way though some of the hardest musical theatre music out there.

Rachel Elphick

Featured Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article trailer 1 for Hocus Pocus courtesy of Movieclips Classic Trailers via @youtubecom. No changes were made to this video.

In-article trailer 2 for Beetlejuice courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

In-article trailer 3 for The Scooby Doo Movie courtesy of Movieclips Classic Trailers via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

In-article trailer 4 for The Addams Family courtesy of Movieclips Classic Trailers via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

In-article trailer 5 for The Nightmare Before Christmas courtesy of Movieclips Classic Trailers via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

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