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The Best Movies To Watch On Halloween

By: Richard Reitzfeld

With Halloween only a day away, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of the best Halloween-themed movies to watch if you’re in that aged sweet spot where you feel too old to spend your precious money on a costume to go out to yet another Halloween party, and are too young to have your own kids to go trick or treating.

Halloween is the perfect movie night. Gather friends of a similar mindset, get some party favors, and put a bucket of candy outside your door. Your movie marathon begins now.

Halloween (1978)

Photo: Compass International Pictures

Halloween is kind of a no-brainer to watch on Halloween. You’ve got to get your horror movie quota filled on a day/night that celebrates terror, and what better way to do so than by watching a creepy stalker movie that takes place on the same night you happen to be viewing? Halloween is also packed with scare-inspiration. There are so many ways you can eerily watch someone, staying just far enough out of sight that they’re unsure if they can really see you, but still feel the presence of something weird. I highly recommend you do this to small children, or their parents, or your friends.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Photo: Touchstone Pictures

I know, technically The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas movie. So what? If you really break it down it’s just as Halloween-themed as it is Christmas-themed, and it’s a great movie in general. If you’re feeling anything other than nostalgic, I implore you to re-watch Nightmare Before Christmas and pay special attention to Tim Burton’s bizarrely unique animation style that he implements in the film. He’s a weird, creepy guy, and there’s plenty of unnerving animated gems in this one.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

I’m including Hocus Pocus on here purely for the nostalgia factor. When you were a little kid and had to stop trick or treating at sundown – at least that’s how it was for me in New York City, where strange things start to happen at sundown – odds are at least one year you went home and your parents threw this on for you. It’s one of the quintessential children’s Halloween movies, and even though it’s relatively campy and childish, there are one or two genuinely funny moments in there.

Poltergeist (1982)

Photo: MGM

Poltergeist is a really unique brand of horror movie in my opinion. It’s rated PG for starters, which is a huge departure from the current graphic shock and awe brand of horror. And it’s deservedly PG – that’s why it’s so cool. Spielberg uses a kid friendly set of tools to craft a movie that is genuinely eerie and honest to god frightening. I think Poltergeist is a great Halloween movie, because unlike most horror movies where you get the scare and then laugh about how it caught you, this movie creeps up on you and leaves you feeling unsettled. When it’s done it’s less of a “That was good, what’s next” and more of a “Let’s just make sure all the doors are locked one more time.”

The Exorcist (1973)

Photo: Warner Bros.

The Exorcist is one of those movies that has its place in history. While it may not stack up to your current standards of gross out horror, the fact remains that it was a pioneering horror film. I don’t know if you’re aware of the legend surrounding it, but rumor has it that at the time of its release, movie theaters actually handed out vomit bags to patrons should their stomachs prove too weak to handle The Exorcist‘s innovative brand of disgusting. As I mentioned earlier, Halloween is a day on which terror is celebrated – what better way to celebrate terror than by paying homage to one of the most – relative to the time of its release – terror-inspiring movies ever made?

  • Hocus Pocus seems like a fun children’s movie but not a horror movie.

    • No arguing there. But who says Halloween movies need to be horror movies? It’s certainly Halloween themed; the film itself takes place on Halloween night.