Scares are inevitable at Halloween. But if you’re not a fan of the intense gore-fest of the Saw films, or just the idea of Paranormal Activity has you sitting awake, clutching a torch to your chest, then the impending prospect of being forced to endure an all-nighter of horror films is enough to have you sweating before the first film has even started. But fear not! For there exists a large number of films that will allow you to get into the Halloween spirit without the need to change your underwear. And if you’re planning to spend Halloween snuggled up and watching these softer films, then here are a few that your night should definitely not be without…
10. Casper (1995) – Right at the bottom of the pile, we have everybody’s favourite, friendly ghost. Tired of being alone, Casper lures a ghost-therapist and his daughter to the haunted house he shares with mean spirits Stretch, Stinky and Fatso. But needless to say, his three uncles are not welcoming to their new guests. Some parts are a bit on the childish side, but overall the film is a warming story with a few lighthearted scares and puns thrown in. Watch it, for the sake of your childhood!
9. Scooby Doo on Zombie Island – I admit that this one is on here for personal reasons. I can honestly say that this film haunted my childhood, and is probably one of Scooby Doo’s most frightening adventures. On the search for real monsters, Scooby Doo and the gang go to a remote island where, every night, zombies rise from the ground. And not just any zombies: proper, blank-eyed, wrinkled, moaning, slow-lumbering zombies. All the hilarity of a typical Scooby Doo movie, with a few good musical numbers to lighten the mood. But music can only lift the chill of this film so much…
8. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit – I’m not even going to pretend that this film is scary, but I’d still recommend watching it anyway. With the elements of a classic horror film, and the comedy of Wallace and Gromit, it’s a winning combination. When Wallace and Gromit becomes pest exterminators, they must solve the mystery of the terrifying were-rabbit, who is ravishing the beloved vegetables of the neighbourhood. Funny for us, but the equivalent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre for any vegetables who may be watching.
7. The Haunted Mansion – For those who have been on the Disneyland ride of the same name, expect similar scares in this scary yet hilarious film. It stars Eddie Murphy as a real-estate agent who is hired to sell a supposedly haunted house, which turns out to have a dark history. Filled with ghosts, singing heads, zombies, spiders, talking crystal balls and a spooky English butler, this film has everything you need to gear you up for Halloween. Keep you eyes peeled for a particularly nail-biting scene including zombies and a locked crypt. “Hey, honey, you know they have dead people in the backyard.”
6. The Witches (1990) – You wouldn’t expect a children’s book to make such a chilling film, but somehow this is what Roald Dahl’s novel became. While on holiday with his grandma, a little boy named Luke discovers a group of demonic witches who hate children and plan on turning them all into mice. This film will spook children in particular, and will have even adults sitting on the edge of their seats. Perhaps the most grotesque portrayal of witches outside of mainstream horror. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the witch in this picture. Yuck!
5. Frankenweenie (2012) – A remake of Tim Burton’s 1984 short film, in the style of dark humour that Tim Burton does best. The plot is the same as Frankenstein, except Dr. Frankenstein is a young boy named Victor, and his experiment involves the resurrection of his best friend and pet dog, Sparky. As if the reanimated corpses of your childhood pets wasn’t a disturbing enough idea, this film pays homage to such other horror classics as Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Gremlins, and Godzilla. The cast of creepy characters and the spooky vibe of the entire film is enough to put this recent film in the top half of my list.
4. Gremlins (1984) – Some may consider Gremlins as a non-cosy film, one which will strike fear into the hearts of the soft-lovers who watch it. I do not disagree with this, but neither would I class Gremlins as anything other than a light-hearted horror film. With no deaths, no gore, and no seriously disturbing content, I think it’s appropriate for this list. When Billy is given the insanely cute creature, Gizmo, for Christmas, he is told not to get him wet or feed him after midnight. However, he fails to follow this advice, and accidentally unleashes a plague of nasty Gremlins to cause mischief and mayhem. The Gremlins themselves are horrific creatures, and would be enough to make this film too scary for the list if not for their comedic qualities and love of the cinema.
3. Hocus Pocus (1993) – Nothing puts you in the mood for Halloween more than a film which takes place at Halloween. It would therefore seem that Hocus Pocus was simply made to be a classic Halloween film. When teenager, Max, accidentally revives three child-snatching witches on Halloween night, he must keep their spell book and his little sister, Dani, out of their clutches, or else they will be able to steal the youth of every child. The witches in this film manage to be both sinister and comedic, sending blundering, undead henchmen to do their work, and even going as far as performing a catchy musical number to hypnotise all the parents in the film. A typical kids-vs-evil film. And yes, that witch on the right is Sarah Jessica Parker.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas – Is it a Christmas film? Is it a Halloween film? Who knows! But for the purposes of this article, I will treat this work of genius as a Halloween film. I mean what could be scarier than waking up to a spooky Christmas? In a world where each holiday has its own town, Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, has grown tired of the same thing each year. After stumbling into Christmas Town, he becomes infatuated with the idea of Christmas and tries to usurp the role of Santa Claus, with disastrous consequences. In this masterpiece, director Henry Selick and producer Tim Burton create a host of spooky yet lovable characters, with a number of catchy songs which are the closest things to carols that Halloween will ever have. If you miss this out of your Halloween marathon, at least put it in the Christmas pile.
1. Ghostbusters (1984) – So at the top of the list, we have one of the most famous, most classic spooky films ever made. With an instantly recognisable tune and logo, no Halloween marathon can go with Ghostbusters. Set in New York, three blundering friends decide to set up their own ghost-extermination service, a business which becomes increasingly successful due to the impending apocalypse. A film that is both scary and side-splitting, yet still manages to keep a serious tone throughout. With comedy legend, Bill Murrey, the iconic ghost, Slimer, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Ghostbusters will appropriately freak you out just before you go to sleep, and have you wearily watching your fridge all night long. If you don’t have this film ready for your Halloween marathons, then who ya gonna call? Blockbusters!