The Scaredy Cat’s Guide to Halloween Movies

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By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes movie marathons. But for so many, those marathons will not include horror, gore, or jump scares. They want to stick with the holiday theme, but prefer lighter fare. Those people are called scaredy cats, and while no fall is complete without watching Halloween movies, scaredy cats prefer their seasonal offerings with a little less screaming.

So before the tricks, treats, candy, hayrides, bonfires and pumpkins, cozy up and watch a not-so-scary movie. From one scaredy cat to another, here is a guide to a few of the essentials to watch this Halloween season.

Hocus Pocus




Seriously, is any Halloween movie list complete without Hocus Pocus? It’s hard to believe this classic is already over 20 years old, but no matter its age, it will always remain a fan favorite. Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson sisters who run amok (amok, amok, amok) in Salem on Halloween and is the perfect concoction of humor, nostalgia, and magic.

Halloweentown




Ask any millennial to name their favorite Halloween movie and they’re likely to say Halloweentown. This Disney Channel Original Movie was everywhere in 1998…and 1999…and 2000…and every Halloween since. Seriously, does it get any better than Debbie Reynolds as a witch and an entire town devoted to Halloween?

Practical Magic




Practical Magic is full of girl power, as Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock play sister witches who learn about magic and the curse that kills off the men in their lives, and who are eventually haunted by one sister’s boyfriend whom they killed. So, you know, an old-fashioned family story. But it’s much more than that. It’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s got sisterhood, and it’s got a killer (get it?) soundtrack. Go watch it now!

Ghostbusters




It doesn’t matter if you choose to watch the original from the 80s or the all-women remake from 2016, you can’t go wrong either way. It’s not every day the descriptors “feel good” and “Halloween movie” are used together, but both Ghostbusters movies are just that. Plus, they’re as funny as all get-out. Pro tip: Watch the remake with a little girl and marvel at her reaction in learning about these women in STEM fields and how they can serve as an inspiration to future generations. Wow, who knew Ghostbusters was so deep?

Tower of Terror




Tower of Terror is another Disney movie that repeated over and over and over. It ushered in Disney’s decision to make films based on their theme park rides and tells the story of an investigative reporter and his niece who explore an abandoned haunted hotel on Halloween and who must help the ghosts stuck in the hotel get to the 12th floor to break the curse on the elevator. While it is a kid’s movie, there are definitely some suspenseful moments and a fun plot that makes it one to check out this Halloween.

The Haunted Mansion




The Haunted Mansion is the second based-on-a-Disney-ride film on this list. In it, Eddie Murphy just wants to be a good realtor, but ends up being trapped in a haunted house with his family. Just like the ride, panic and hilarity ensue, and in the end, Murphy learns a valuable lesson about not taking his family for granted. Awww.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown




This Halloween classic first premiered in 1966 and has been a holiday tradition ever since. It’s a simple film, harkening back to a simpler time, and not a scare in sight. Will the Great Pumpkin visit Linus? If you’ve never watched this movie, I won’t ruin it for you. Bonus: it’s only 25 minutes long, and I know you have 25 minutes to devote to the Peanuts gang!

Goosebumps




A recent entry to the Halloween rotation is Goosebumps. Released just two years ago, Goosebumps follows Jack Black as young adult horror author R.L. Stine and tracks what happens in the aftermath of the characters in his books being released in his town. Some of Stine’s most famous characters are highlighted in the film, and Slappy the Dummy is enough to make you never want to go near a puppet ever again.

Beetlejuice




Beetlejuice is ridiculous, over-the-top, quirky, darkly funny, and one to watch again and again. The film is Tim Burton at his best (and only his second film!), and the cast is second-to-none – including Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, and Michael Keaton as the titular Beetlejuice. And I’ll bet if you said “Beetlejuice” three times to any 80s or 90s kid, they’d look around, expecting him to appear.

The Addams Family




The Addams Family is quintessential Halloween. Based on the short-lived 1960s TV show, the film takes all the best elements of that incarnation, builds upon them, and makes them better. Though untraditional, the marriage between Morticia and Gomez is goals. So is that house. And deadpan Christina Ricci is a true breakout star, inspiring Halloween costumes and memes for years to come. And though this one is a classic, honestly, when is the remake with her and Oscar Isaac happening?


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