Nine must-see movies to watch this Halloween


"Halloween" by fabbio is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

There are many classic, spooky and scary Halloween movies to watch this season.

Luiza Loyo, news staff

One of the best things about Halloween is the endless catalogue of spooky films to choose from as you cozy up for the fall weather. Since most Halloween plans will be indoors this year, watching movies is a great way to celebrate and get into the holiday spirit. There’s nothing better than witches, skeletons, ghostly family misadventures and a good jump scare. Here are some of the season’s best, from scary to silly: 

  1. “Scream” (1996)

In the film that redefined the slasher genre, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is stalked and terrorized by a masked killer. Besides what is arguably the most iconic final-girl of all time, the movie also counts with other ’90s household names, such as Courtney Cox, Drew Barrymore and Matthew Lillard. “Scream” brought back the slasher film trope with a fresh take as it references its predecessors, like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” in an intelligent, funny, meta-approach to horror. The characters are well aware of scary movie clichés, playing off them and creating what, at the time, was an innovative way of looking at the genre. It’s a timeless classic that appeals to both die-hard horror fans and those who cannot commit to something overly scary. For newcomers and scaredy-cats, it is the perfect way to start exploring the genre. 

2. “Hocus Pocus” (1993) 

Before there was “High School Musical” and “The Cheetah Girls,” director Kenny Ortega blessed the world with the most obvious and essential Halloween flick: “Hocus Pocus.” In this movie, a group of teenagers light a candle on Halloween night and awake three witches from their centuries-long slumber. The kids must stop the witches and their evil plans, which puts them through a series of goofy misadventures.“Hocus Pocus” is everything you can expect from a cheesy Disney Channel movie, but with the incredible casting of Bette Middler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as a trio of overdramatic witches, it turns into a cultural phenomenon that must be rewatched every year. 

3. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (2019)

This holiday doesn’t have to be entirely made up of old hits, proven by André Øvedral’s take on the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” books that haunted children for generations. In the film, a group of friends sneak into a haunted house and steal a book that belonged to a family with a dark past, unleashing monsters and other evil creatures contained in the book. Although it’s aimed for a younger audience, it still manages to be frightening, mostly due to the unsettling look of the demons and monsters based on the original books’ haunting illustrations. It has a goosebumps-like quality to it, which, when mixed with some ’70s nostalgia, creates both a scary and fun time. With famous director Guillermo del Toro behind the film as a producer, the audience can feel the love and dedication for the weird and ghoulish.

4. “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

This movie might not be on everyone’s Halloween watchlist, but it definitely should. The unexpected but widely-beloved pick is a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in the prime of their careers. The story follows Edward (Depp), a man who was built in a science experiment, but when his creator dies, he is left unfinished with scissors for hands and an unsettling appearance. Edward then leaves his dark residency and has to adapt to the suburban lifestyle, where people have a hard time understanding him. It is almost a modern take on Frankenstein, with a dab of social commentary and innovation. The visuals in the movie are definitely a highlight as the pastel and cotton-candy-like aesthetic of suburbia directly clashes Edward’s gothic appearance. However, the movie is not only beautiful in its style choices. The romance between Edward and Kim (Ryder) paired with the sweet story of an outcast trying to find his place makes for an emotional and sensitive watch on Halloween. 

5. “The Craft” (1996)

Who doesn’t love a good witch movie? This woman-centered feature follows the story of Sarah (Robin Tunney), the new student at school that soons gets recruited by a group of wannabe witches. The fashion and campy-ness of ’90s teenage witches alone explains why this film has such a cult following, and when you pair it with staples of the time, Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich (also in “Scream”), it’s a guaranteed hit. Although it has fun “emo” visuals and a silly premise, the film is a supernatural and creepy mess. It does not fit into the box of funny witch movies that include  “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Bewitched.” “The Craft” is guaranteed to scare you, or at least freak you out. 

6. “The Addams Family” (1991)

The ’90s were definitely the decade of Halloween movies, and the remake of the popular ’60s sitcom, “The Addams Family,” cannot go unmentioned. The tale of the quirky and spooky family with a Frankenstein-like butler and a loose hand for a pet is so iconic that it was turned into a Broadway show and most recently, an animated film. The script of the movie is intelligently hilarious and the characters play off each other’s weirdnesses extremely well. The family’s adventures as they navigate a “normal” modern world — while being completely clueless as to their different and monster-like qualities — never fail to put a smile on people’s faces. 

7. “Us” (2019)

Jordan Peele’s successor to his critically acclaimed “Get Out” is the perfect choice for those looking for a spooky and mind-boggling watch. The film follows Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband and two children as they visit her childhood beach house. The fun vacation soon turns into a nightmare as the family is terrorized by four ghouls that look exactly like them. Just like in “Get Out,” Peele brilliantly succeeds in terrifying the audience while having some light-hearted moments of humor sprinkled here and there. In addition to his superb directing and storytelling, the film counts with impeccable performances by Nyong’o and Elizabeth Moss. At the surface, the jump scares and overall creepy theme of the movie already make it a scary watch. However, as audiences ponder over Peele’s intended commentary and what his open-ended, subjective plot choices truly mean, “Us” can get substantially more frightening. 

8. “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987)

Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer are witches in ’80s clothes and hairstyles. That should be enough to make this an iconic movie, but the absurd plot and Jack Nicholson’s deranged character make it a cult phenomenon for the ages. The story centers around the three single witches whose wishes come true when a handsome stranger comes to town. However, like any good movie about witchcraft, the stranger turns out to be an evil and manipulative monster. The events that ensue are unpredictable, insane and guaranteed to freak you out, if not make you extremely uncomfortable. With a powerful cast and a plot that mixes horror, romance and humor all in one, this is definitely a wild ride for Halloween night. 

9. “Coraline” (2009) 

It wouldn’t be Halloween without some good stop-motion animation. Although “The Nightmare Before Christmas” deserves an honorable mention, Coraline takes the cake as the spookiest and creepiest animated film to ever exist. The film follows a young girl, Coraline, as she explores her new home and finds a passage to an alternative universe that almost identically mirrors her own. In the second universe, everything seems better and her relationships are healthier, until she realizes her “second family” intends to keep her there forever. The film has a tone and visual quality similar to Tim Burton’s animated works, such as “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” but it still manages to be original and stand on its own as something far creepier. Although targeted for young children, the plot and the visuals can equally scare those who are older. You will never look at dolls and buttons the same after this.