Devon's Movie Picks for: Halloween
Halloween is fast approaching, kiddies, so how will prepare yourself for the spookiest day of the year? Besides the family size bag of candy and some sort of clown repellent, you’re definitely going to need some scary movies to get in the holiday spirit. Here’s a list of my personal favorite Halloween films to complement your candy corn and roasted pumpkin seeds. So settle in, grab your best ghouls (and, of course, all your candy) and prepare for maximum spookage.
This film is essential to your Halloweekend movie binge, if not just for all the nostalgic Disney magic, then for this film’s witty sense of humor and memorable characters. This is one of the few Disney channel original movies that shines though as raunchy, relatable, and tremendously fun all at the same time. Viewers fall in love with the authentic Massachusetts setting and genuine Halloween atmosphere. I also adore this film for its strong female cast. Although villains, the Sanderson sisters are unforgettable characters. Needless to say, they are played by exceptional actresses, and even through the hilarity of it all, their talent shines. I especially love the scene where Bette Midler covers Screaming Jay Hawkins famous tune, “I Put a Spell on You.” Another reason why I love this film is for all the sex jokes and pop culture references. For example, just as the protagonist’s mother dresses up “Like a Virgin,” the main character is consistently bashed for being one. Personally, I like my childhood films dirty and realistic, so I live for the all the adult humor hidden underneath the bright Disney charm. Those who haven’t watched this flick since childhood may be in for a few surprises. All the while, this film has very strong family undertones, sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside just as hot cider might. This film is sure to get anyone in the holiday spirit, without too many frights and with plenty of laughs.
Spooky Factor: 4/10
Watch if you like: Practical Magic, Twitches, Beetle Juice, Halloweentown
Halloweentown is another Disney original that exudes holiday spirit while also spotlighting a strong female cast. Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown), a headstrong young witch determined to follow in her Grandmother’s footsteps, serves as an unforgettable lead. Like Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown builds an immersive holiday world around the characters, complete with skeleton taxi drivers, a magical town square, and supernatural creatures of all kinds. The costuming in this film is another one of its strong suits, and I am forever floored by its special effects makeup. I have also found that this film combines a family oriented, feel-good plot with a chaotic and colorful world quite seamlessly. Although sometimes Disney movies tend to drown their audience with a whole moral message, Halloweentown hones in on female empowerment and strong family ties. I also adore the film’s uplifting score, as it is extremely cheerful while at the same time staying true to the essence of the holiday. If you’re looking for a dose of nostalgia or just some light hearted Halloween fun this film is for you.
Spooky Factor: 3/10
Watch if you like: Hocus Pocus, Quints, Don't Look Under the Bed, Twitches
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This short animation has always had a foothold in my heart, so obviously I would it recommend it to anyone who craves a fun holiday special this weekend. Watching this film every October is a family tradition in my household, so obviously I am very attached to the classic. For me, it is not only because it leaks nostalgia, as most Peanuts episodes do. It’s because of the show’s engaging characters and iconic theme song that put me in the fall mood like nothing else. This episode in particular captures the magic of the autumn in a way no other animation does. If you've never seen this episode, or any Peanuts episodes for that matter, it’s lovable because all the characters are extremely relatable. I would liken myself, as well as most self-deprecating college students, to the loveably mopey Charlie Brown. This short also holds some of the most iconic Peanuts moments. For example, the famous football scene and Snoopy’s imitation of the Red Baron are both featured in this episode. It also includes one of my favorite scenes in all of cinematic history, the trick or treating scene. I resonate with nothing more than Charlie Brown’s whining as his friends call out the candy they’ve received when poor little Charlie has only gotten rocks. Personally, I can’t let an October go by without viewing this iconic Peanuts feature and would recommend it to anyone who craves empathetic characters, adorable animation, and some Halloween spirit.
Spooky Factor: 0/10
Watch if you like: other Peanuts features, feel-good holiday cartoons
Does it even need to be said that this film is a Halloweekend essential? I love Halloween for its undeniable effectiveness in its simplicity. The film’s theme, while only consistenting of a few different notes, can never be forgotten once heard and genuinely strikes fear in the heart of the listener, much like the Jaws theme does. Although most of the film’s aspects are ridiculously simplistic, it works with the well-developed pacing to create a real sense of suspense and terror. I’m always impressed with the way this movie always ends up freaking me out, even though I’ve been watching it on the 31st for as long as I can remember. Although sometimes the kill scenes may be unbearably cheesy, for me, it’s a big part of the movie’s charm. As a true fan of early horror camp, I live for the little things like Michael Myers unrealistic pacing or quick zooms on the ridiculous faces of the slain. And who could forget that this was the breakout role for the original Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. This movie and its villain are just so classically Halloween that it’s almost blasphemous to not watch this iconic film this holiday weekend.
Spooky Factor: 7/10, very suspenseful
Laughs: 4/10, accidentally funny/ kinda cheesy
Watch if you like: Friday the 13th, Prom Night, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Trick ‘r Treat
This is a film consisting of four separate story lines, so it’s extremely entertaining as much as it is intricate. I not only adore this film for its beautiful cinematography, but its brilliant story telling. Some films with multiple plots only serve to allow audiences to not be bored by singular, simple plots. This is not the case with Trick ‘r Treat, and I find the subplots complement each other fantastically. I also love the dark humor that fills in a truly gruesome plot filled with the true miseries of Halloween. I am a huge fan of the film for its style as much as it’s well constructed plot lines. Trick ‘r Treat utilizes a comic book style editing approach and I think it really adds to the dark, sarcastic tone that the film exudes. I also adore the main antagonist, Sam, a cute but sinister creature with deadly intentions. I would recommend this film to anyone who loves good gore, comic books, and a fresh take on familiar horror movie tropes.
Spooky Factor: 8/10, very gorey and pretty damn scary
Laughs: 5/10, sarcastic and dark comedy
Watch if you like: Creepshow, Trick or Treat, Tales from the Crypt
Over The Garden Wall
Anyone looking for a more modern cartoon this Halloween should try out this recent Cartoon Network miniseries. Over the Garden Wall is a great pick for anyone who enjoys animations with a dark sense of humor and lots of hidden emotional depth. I would highly recommend this particularly for people who enjoy lots of Easter eggs and secret themes in their media. Visually, this animation is gorgeous, with an antique, harvest time kind of feel that fully submerses the viewer into the world of the Unknown. This miniseries also features an extraordinary jazz centered score with an old-timey feel and a surprising diegetic source. I also love this work for its complex, awkward, and adorable characters, who, although animated, jump out as extremely relatable and understandable. Believe it or not, the protagonist, Wert (voiced by Elijah Wood), is even more of a sad boy than Charlie Brown. Finally, I love this miniseries most when it seems to capture the essence of Halloween football game. I felt Wert’s social anxiety like I was still in the 10th grade. Overall, I would recommend this film for anyone who wants something a little different and a bit deeper than the typical holiday special.
Spooky Factor: 7/10, definitely gets pretty creepy
Laughs: 7/10, silly and dark at the same time
Watch if you like: creepier cartoons such as Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack