I do not like the usual horror franchises that keep coming out with sequels. Maybe the first installments were good, but there's only so many ways to keep a basic serial killer story interesting. For any season, I like movies that make me think and feel. So if you're like me and want to ditch the usual staples like Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, Halloween, etc. in favor of better picks for Halloween viewing, I made this list. There's nothing wrong per se with the big hit horror franchises, but there are good horror movies that are overlooked because they're overshadowed by the big guys. And I have on here some comedies, animated movies, and musical movies that have Halloween themes. Because who says you have to just watch a gory slasher flick that takes itself way too seriously? So here is my personal list of favorite movies to watch on Halloween.
This classic comedy makes fun of the Frankenstein story with the wit that still charms no matter how many times you re-watch the darn thing.
- Watch If: You're a fan of Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, or his style of spoof.
- In a nutshell, it's: a classic work of horror lampooned in a hilarious way.
- Kid-friendly? Some of the humor is sexual, but it's mild, those jokes went over my head as a kid. Definitely teen-friendly, but little kids would probably find it dull.
While not technically a Halloween or horror movie, the gritty feel of this movie and the scariness of Heath Ledger's Joker means it's a good movie to have to play in the background of a Halloween party.
- Watch if: You like gritty action movies that make you think.
- In a nutshell, it's: The best Joker that's ever been on the big screen.
- Kid-friendly? Two words: pencil trick.
This movie shocks you with over-the-top violence like many other movies, but then it asks, can we cure violent people? And if we can, should we?
- Watch if: You want to watch a morbidly violent, erotic movie and still feel intellectually superior about it.
- In a nutshell, it's: Murder porn with some philosophical and political intrigue, meaning it appeals to the cheap seats and the elites.
- Kid-friendly? Not remotely.
In this wacky 90's comedy, Adam Sandler plays Nicky, the youngest and weakest son of the Devil, as he goes to Earth to stop his brothers' evil plans and save his dad.
- Watch if: You like other Adam Sandler movies.
- In a nutshell, it's: Every other Adam Sandler movie, but hell-themed.
- Kid-friendly? No. Acceptable for teenagers, depending on your standards.
Glenn Close looks so hot in this movie, you won't even care how crazy she is.
- Watch if: You love that right combination of hot and crazy in a woman.
- In a nutshell, it's: Actually kind of funny watching how insane this lady gets. She almost puts Yuno Gasai to shame.
- Kid-friendly? If you want to scar them for life.
What Halloween is complete without a visit from the most mysterious, spooky, and altogether ooky sitcom family? Ugh, I can't believe I just wrote that. Anyway, in a world that feels like a tsunami of reboots, here's one that's actually pretty good!
- Watch if: You want a family-friendly comedy with Halloween atmosphere.
- In a nutshell, it's: Wish fulfillment for artistic introvert types.
- Kid-friendly? Yes. Although some say it might be better for ages 12+.
Originally a musical, the movie adaptation makes serial killing in Victorian London seem very sexy. While still capturing the grim, dark, gritty feel of the story.
- Watch if: You are very sexually attracted to Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, or both. Or you just like musicals about barbers who kill their clients and have them baked into meat pies.
- In a nutshell, it's: Kind of over-the-top with the violence, but a good guilty pleasure to enjoy at Halloween time.
- Kid-friendly? Not really, there's a lot of bloodshed. Maybe 13+ is ok though.
Probably one of the scarier kid's movies out there, Coraline is a classic "be careful what you wish for" cautionary tale.
- Watch if: You're a whiny girl who hates her parents and has a raging case of angst and first world problems.
- In a nutshell, it's: Basically like a Stephen King style horror story, for teens/kids.
- Kid-friendly? Depends on the kid. It may be too scary for younger or overly sensitive children.
In this suspenseful Stephen King classic, an injured novelist is taken in by one of his fans and nursed to... well uh... not exactly to health.
- Watch if: You prefer gradually-building-suspense horror to slasher horror.
- In a nutshell it's: Probably Stephen King's actual worst fear.
- Kid-friendly? It's Stephen King so uh yeah, no.
"You will die in 7 days." In this movie, a scary urban legend turns out to be true.
- Watch if: You want to see a scary horror villain who's female. Or you wondered what it would look like if one of those "you will die if you don't copy and paste this" memes were real. But in a pre-internet era.
- In a nutshell, it's: A basic horror movie that's not that great, but has suspense, an interesting premise, and a chilling feel to it that makes it one of the more memorable titles out of many similar movies.
- Kid-friendly? I watched it as a teenager, but I'd have to say it's probably not good for kids under 14.
This oddly cheery and comedic serial killer movie is, as the title suggests, about a suburban soccer mom type who manages to sneak murder in between gardening, shopping, recycling, and PTA meetings.
- Watch if: You want a campy, comedic feel in your scary movie, kind of like Rocky Horror Picture Show, but not quite as dramatic or cheesy.
- In a nutshell, it's: A serial killer, who's a mom. It's kind of like American Psycho or Clockwork Orange, but with a killer protagonist who seems on the surface much less likely to be a killer.
- Kid-friendly? Well, it's very violent but probably ok for teens.
Like Serial Mom, this movie explores the concept of a protagonist serial killer who maintains a facade of normalcy to cover up their love of murdering people that annoy them.
- Watch if: You want something that really gets into the mind of a sick person.
- In a nutshell, it's: What Occupy Wall Street thought the rich are like.
- Kid-friendly? No.
Bruce Willis plays a psychologist trying to connect with a child who claims he can see the dead in this 90's classic. Everybody might know the twist, but the journey to it is interesting enough even if you go into this movie knowing how it ends.
- Watch if: You know the ending but your friends don't and you want to watch them be surprised by it.
- In a nutshell, it's: The most compelling example of the " special psychic child" cliche that permeates the horror genre.
- Kid-friendly? Eh... It's a little gory in some parts. It might be okay for older kids or teens.
No one who has seen "them" is allowed to live.
While I will probably do a separate list just for horror anime, this lesser-known short film is one of the best horror anime films out there. Vampire schoolgirl Saya has to hunt her own kind, which is the case in many horror anime. But what sets this movie apart from other anime stories like it is the depth of characterization and emotional expressiveness. Saya is pretty soulful for an undead person.
- Watch it if: You want that combination of suspense, action, and psychological depth in a horror movie.
- In a nutshell, it's: The best example of the "monster/half-monster fighting their own kind" sort of anime.
- Kid-friendly? Probably best for teenagers.
In this chilling psychological thriller masterpiece, a young FBI agent has to seek help from imprisoned serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to hunt down another killer.
Watch if: You want something that's actually scary, not just startling.
In a nutshell, it's: Like a really good, long episode of Criminal Minds.
Kid-friendly? I'm gonna have to say "no" on this one. Sorry.
"Ethereal" is the word that comes to mind to describe this eerie animated film about a, er, grave misunderstanding.
Watch if: You want a romantic musical with a happy ending and a lot of sentiment, but need it to be Halloween-flavored.
In a nutshell, it's: Well-written and charming, a musical with the right Gothic atmosphere for Halloween.
The spirits in haunted Overlook Hotel possess a frustrated writer and drive him crazy, causing him to attack his family.
Watch if: You want to be intellectual, but not enough to actually pick up a book.
In a nutshell, it's: Stanley Kubrick at his best, still not as good as Stephen King.
Kid-friendly? It doesn't have explicit adult themes, but is still probably too scary for younger children. Parents should watch it first, to decide if their children can handle the violent imagery in this movie.
This classic parody of the slasher horror genre, Scary Movie is a good laugh at the expense of a lot of horror tropes and cliches.
Watch if: You read TV Tropes and have an immature sense of humor. And possibly if you were around to watch the actual movies they reference, like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
In a nutshell, it's: Like I said, a parody of slasher horror movies.
Kid-friendly? No. It's very much targeted at older teenagers.
What Halloween party is complete without doing the Time Warp again? While this movie's cheesy acting and silly lines make it technically a bad movie, it became a cult classic over time because fans liked yelling out lines in the movie theater that made fun of just how bad it is. Then, people started dressing up in costumes and using certain props, making the theatrical experience of this movie unique and participatory. But thanks to the magic of home video or the internet, people can make their Halloween parties Rocky Horror parties too!
Watch if: You're a veteran, and can show off your knowledge of the joke lines to say to a friend who is a "virgin".
In a nutshell, it's: Almost an unintentional spoof of sci-fi horror.
Kid-friendly? It has a lot of sex.
What's this? When Halloween town's top scarer Jack Skellington gets bored with his same old routine, he wanders off on his own and stumbles upon Christmas town. Not sure what to make of Christmas, he sets out to try to investigate it scientifically to figure it out.
Watch if: You want a kid-friendly movie that is still entertaining for adults.
In a nutshell, it's: A Christmas special with a Halloween twist.