Classic Halloween Movies for a Scary Evening In

by Kelly R. Smith

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Halloween movies -- a timeless, spooky genre
Halloween movies — a timeless, spooky genre

In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as a day to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the Irish traditions of Samhain (Oíche Shamhna). The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

Today, of course, Halloween is known as a secular holiday. Trick or treating is one of the biggest forms of hoopla for kids but as far as adult parties go, this is one of biggest nights of the year. CBS News, in 2014, said, “One new survey says the typical American will shell out over $250 this Halloween, and another says the total will be a cool $7.4 billion, with the bulk of it going toward costumes, candy, decorations and either throwing or attending a Halloween party.”

This year will be a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing. In a sense, we are already in costume, what with the face mask mandate. This year, many of us will be staying in (please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page). That is not such a bad thing, since we have so many Halloween movies to watch. Let’s look at some of the best. Don’t forget to wear your blue-light glasses.

Scream (1996)

A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game. You’ll Scream.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice is Tim Burton’s horror/comedy classic. It follows a ghostly couple who haunt their prior residence, alongside a devious poltergeist named Beetlejuice. Get ready for the laughs and the famous striped suit.

Get Out (2017)

Chris Washington is a talented young black photographer who prepares to meet his Caucasian girlfriend Rose Armitage’s parents during a weekend in their Lake Pontaco home, a secluded estate in the woods. Why is there an off-limits, locked room that leads to the basement? The question is, can he Get Out in time?

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

An artificial man, who was incompletely constructed and has scissors for hands and is quite adept with power tools, leads a solitary life. Then one day, a suburban lady meets him and introduces him to her world. Brought to you by Tim Burton.

Halloween (1978)

The name Halloween says it all, doesn’t it? This slasher flick stars the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis and follows a mental patient and murderer who has fled from a sanitarium and returns to his hometown to stalk innocent people.

Carrie (1976)

Nobody does horror quite like Stephen King. If you don’t find the prom scary, you soon will. The novel adaptation has become a cult classic, and Carrie really is one of the all-time creepiest teen movies of all time.

The Exorcist (1973)

Regan, who had been an average child, is showing signs of unusual behavior, such as hyperactivity, swearing, lying, and lack of concentration. Things go from bad to worse until the decision is made to have her exorcised by Father Damien Karras who is a psychiatric counselor for the Catholic church. In The Exorcist, it’s going to get ugly.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

OK, Hocus Pocus is more of a comedy, from Walt Disney of course. It stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. They are three Salem, Massachusetts witches who are resurrected just in time for Halloween.

Child’s Play (1988)

For his sixth birthday, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) requests that his mother, Karen (Catherine Hicks), buy him a Good Guys doll that he wants. When a peddler has one for a reasonable price, Karen buys the doll. Mayhem ensues.

Mother! (2017)

This psychological thriller features a young husband and wife. Their lives are disrupted by the unexpected arrival of a strange and mysterious couple. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Casper (1995)

Casper is voiced by Malachi Pearson. He’s a kindly young ghost who peacefully haunts a home up in Maine. When James Harvey (Bill Pullman) shows up to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat (Christina Ricci). Casper falls in love with Kat, but their relationship is complicated not only by his ghostly state, but also by his trouble-making apparition uncles and their mischievous goings-on.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest running theatrical release in history and is a cult-favorite musical. Why? Because of its frequent, interactive showings around Halloween in particular and every week in some places. Feel free to karaoke.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This horror movie served as the inspiration for countless films that followed, like Paranormal Activity. The movie revolves around three hikers who go to find the legend of Blair Witch and disappear—the movie entirely consists of “found footage,” supposedly recovered from the hikers.

The Craft (1996)

A new girl moves to a new city with her family to embrace a new life. There she meets up with other girls who are very drawn to the occult and together the four of them have seemingly unstoppable power. They can do anything, from getting their dream guys to like them to… the possibilities are limitless.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

This is the initial movie in the hyper-successful Paranormal Activity franchise. It uses “found footage” to follow a couple being haunted in their own home. If you like the movie, you’re in luck: there are six films in the franchise.

Halloweentown (1998)

This one is great for the whole family so if you’ve got little ones… go for it. When a young girl living with her good-witch grandmother learns she too is a witch, she must help her grandmother save Halloweentown from evil forces.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Very few movie lines are as well known as The Sixth Sense‘s famed, “I see dead people.” This psychological thriller centers on a young boy who can communicate with the dead, and the psychologist who tries to help him. One of Bruce Willis’ finest performances.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Another offering from Tim Burton, this film is equal parts Halloween and Christmas movie, so you can just keep watching this animated feature from October through December. Who can resist following the King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, as he makes his accidental journey into Christmas Town? Kids and adults alike will love the animation and the musical score.

So there you have it, a great lineup of movies for a Halloween video-binge with family and friends. We may have to forego trick n’ treating this year but we can still have fun and prank out favorite people.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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