It’s that time of year. Time to break out the fall decorations, mountains of candy and favorite spooky movies. Because atmosphere and aesthetic are important.
However, if you’re like me, the requisite slasher/horror movies aren’t exactly to your taste (i.e. you are a baby bunny who is far too easily frightened by scary things, OK, no thank you).
So I have put together my own top 10 list of what I would call more family friendly Halloween movies. Keep in mind, some of these won’t be suitable for young children. This would be more for the teens and up crowd. I’ve also ranked them in an entirely subjective way of least likely to watch to most likely — No. 1, however, is non-negotiable, and you can fight me on that.
(I’m also going to be showing my age on some of these, but you kids could use a little blast from the past. And we had some good movies back in the day!)
10. “Interview with the Vampire” (1994). Based on the Anne Rice book of the same name, it was peak Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Arguably Tom Cruise’s best work. Just eerie enough to give you chills now and then, but dramatic and entertaining.
9. “The Mummy” (1999). This one jumpstarted my obsession with ancient Egypt. I watched it so many times as a kid I could recite the ancient Egyptian. Clearly it wasn’t too scary for me, despite a couple jump scares. It was a great action/adventure with just the right amount of humor and romance. My kind of scary movie.
8. “Ghostbusters 1 &2” (1984 & 1989). Nothing makes ghosts and interdemensional demons less scary than throwing Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd at them. “Listen, do you smell something?” is a classic.
7. “Young Frankenstein” (1974). Speaking of humor, no one quite does it like Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. In nostalgic monster movie black and white, this one feels like a scary movie on the surface, until you’re taught the correct way to say Frankenstein (FRONK-en-steen) or you meet the ever faithful servant Igor (pronounced EYE-gor). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (because you’re laughing so hard) and you’ll enjoy it.
6. “Sleepy Hollow” (1999). A quirky retelling from Tim Burton, it has a touch of humor, some romance, and a decent amount of blood and gore. Lopping the heads off the local villagers is messy business. But Johnny Depp is utterly charming and awkward and the movie as a whole is just spooky enough for me.
5. “The Village” (2004). The first time I watched this one, I was completely freaked out. It reminds me a little of the Alfred Hitchcock quote, “Nothing is more frightening than an unopened door.” Because for a while you don’t know what it is that has everyone quite so terrified. You don’t get a full glimpse of what haunts the village until late in the movie. And in true M. Night Shyamalan fashion, there’s a fantastic twist.
4. “Signs” (2002). Another Shyamalan favorite. I’ve watched this one more times than I can count. The opening music alone will creep you out from the start and it recurs throughout the film. There’s a real jump scare in this one that gives just about everyone a heart attack, no matter how many times they’ve seen it. Great story to this one with characters you can’t help but love.
3. “Harry Potter 1-7” (2001-2011). Wizards know how to do Halloween up right: floating candles, live bats fluttering around the ceiling and far too many sweets. And who’s to say you can’t also dress in your favorite Harry Potter costume and sit to watch the films with a veritable buffet of candy, baked goods and popcorn. They don’t call it the Halloween feast for nothing.
2. “Practical Magic” (1998). Based on the Alice Hoffman novel of the same name, it’s about two magical sisters who are sent to live with their eccentric, witchy aunts and grow up to be witches themselves. The whole witch thing is only a minor detail when it comes to the other craziness in their lives, a love curse, an evil ex and a brave detective who’s pretty easy on the eyes. It’s drama and magic and all things dreamy. And it feels like the embodiment of a Fleetwood Mac song. None of which is a bad thing. It’s a movie I insist on watching every October.
To no one’s surprise the No. 1 Halloween movie is …
1. “Hocus Pocus” (1993). You can’t get more quintessential Halloween than this. Bette Midler as the cackling Winnie is sheer delight. The whole cast of characters is fun and crazy and hilarious. Gary Marshall’s cameo as The Devil just made the movie. Like the cherry on top. It’s just a little creepy in spots, Billy Butcherson in particular, but it’s far too much fun to be scary. And if you say you don’t sing and/or dance along to “I Put a Spell on You” when Winifred sings it, then you’re lying.
And that wraps up my list. Clearly, I’m not a horror movie person. But I do love me some Halloween and all the fun that comes with it. Happy Spooky Month!
Reach KATELYN ADKINS at email@example.com or (606) 326-2642.