October is here, which means only one thing for us: a long list of Halloween films to watch. Not specifically horror movies – you can watch them and give yourself trouble sleeping at any time of year. No, Halloween calls for spooky movies: movies that have all the ingredients of a scary movie, made with far more comedy and self-awareness than horror. A spooky movie can be watched by the whole family, and reawakens the inner child in us. It’s Tim Burton rather than David Cronenberg. It’s Sleepy Hollow rather than The Babadook.
So we’ve made a list of seven quintessential Halloween movies to watch throughout October, to get you in the festive spirit before the big night comes round!
And yeah, most of them are 1980’s-90’s nostalgia-fests. Bite me.
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver, this one’s been a pop culture staple since its release in the mid-80’s. When three oddball university professors lose their jobs, they set up shop as a one-of-a-kind ghost removal service, and quickly wind up in over their heads as an ancient evil attempts to take root in New York City. Who ya gonna call?
This surreal, creepy offering stars the voice talents of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and shows us an unhappy young girl who discovers a new world. A seemingly ideal version of her own life, the other world begins to show a sinister side and slowly turns into a nightmare that Coraline must escape if she wants to get home – and keep her eyes.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Putting a new twist on the Salem Witch Hunt, Hocus Pocus brings the devilish Sanderson Sisters back to life in the town of Salem in 1993, where they set about stealing the life force of all the children in the town. They have only one night – Halloween – to do it, and two brave kids standing in their way. An especially kitschy, silly take on Halloween that is perfect to watch with young kids.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005)
When a shy young man practices his wedding vows in the woods to get ready for his big day, he does so unintentionally close to a dead woman – who rises from the grave believing he has married her. Meanwhile, in the land of the living, a new suitor appears to try to win his actual betrothed’s love. A funny, emotional and engaging film from animation master Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
If Tim Burton had a holiday dedicated to him, that holiday would be Halloween. In this cult classic, he tells the story of a perfectly normal ghost couple who attempt to scare off the obnoxious new human residents of their haunted house. When that backfires, and the new owners begin making money off the haunting, our intrepid ghost couple enlist the services of a “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice to remove their problem. Starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Michael Keaton as the eponymous human-exorcist.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A romantic comedy with zombies, or “romzomcom”, Shaun of the Dead marks the beginning of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead shows us a man who decides to get his life together – winning back his ex-girlfriend and reconciling with his mother, in a city that just happens to be being consumed by the ravenous undead at the time.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
As far as we’re concerned, this is the big one. The bookend to October. The ultimate Halloween classic. In it, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, has become bored with his eternal duty to scare the world, and discovers Christmas Town. He falls in love with the idea of Christmas, but doesn’t quite understand the concept, so when he tries to usurp Santa Claus and throw his own Christmas, everything gets a little scarier than he intended. We saved this one for last not just because it’s essentially distilled Halloween goodness – we saved it for last because it so perfectly segues into Christmas. October will pass after all, and after that, it’s time for mistletoe and wrapping paper!
Until then, there’s still plenty of spooky films to fill the month.
All the films on this list are available on Blinkbox, so get watching! Did we leave off any perfect Halloween film material? Anything that calls to you from your trick-or-treating childhood or from amidst your pumpkin-carving and party-throwing? Let us know!