Let’s get one thing out of the way: This is a scaredy-cat-friendly zone. This is not a trap. We’re not hiding any gore-fest slasher flicks behind an innocuous description so that you can be jump-scared into oblivion. You can trust us.
Why? Because we’ve been there. We understand the feeling of having a friend tell you a movie “isn’t that scary,” and then needing to keep the lights on at night for the next week after watching it.
But now, we’re taking back Halloween. After all, shouldn’t we be able to enjoy a holiday that is predominantly celebrated by children with some PG-rated fun? Whether you’re looking for a family favorite, or just some horror lite, we’ve got you covered. Don’t worry. The coast is clear.
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Two words: Twin. Witches. The two sisters, played by Tia and Tamera Mowry, who were separated at birth reunite on their 21st birthday and discover who they truly are.
It’s hard to beat Clue when it comes to comedic whodunnit films, but Knives Out comes fairly close. And it has major fall vibes. Featuring a stacked cast including, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis, the movie seeks to find out what happened to a wealthy novelist after dying at his 85th birthday party.
Admittedly, this movie is a tad scary, but not in a gory, violent way. A widow and her two children experienced odd encounters in their home. The mother became suspicious they might not be the only ones in the house. The Others is well-suited for those that are ready to experience a little more fright. Be warned, there are a few jump-scares.
Eddie Murphy stars as Jim Evers, a realtor closing in on what might be the biggest deal he has ever landed. Jim brought his family on a visit to a mansion he could be entrusted to sell, and they end up getting stuck at the haunted estate by a gnarly thunderstorm.
Gonzo and Pepe decided to do something different for Halloween. Rather than attending the Muppets’ annual celebration, they took on the challenge of staying at the haunted mansion where Gonzo’s favorite magician went missing a century ago.
So, a plot that involves Megan Fox playing a possessed high schooler might seem frightening, but the scare factor behind this flick is actually more from teenaged cringe than any demonic spirits. Not to mention, Fox and Amanda Seyfried’s hot girl and dweeb duo are iconic.
Another family-friendly watch, this stop-motion film provides all of the beloved creepiness guaranteed by a Tim Burton-directed film. Burton takes a childlike spin on Mary Shelley’s classic tale by reframing the story to be about a boy who resurrects his deceased dog with electricity. (Don’t let your kids get any ideas about unearthing your deceased furry friends.)
Nothing says classic cinema quite like a Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder-created comedy. Wilder stars as the grandson of Victor Frankenstein who receives word that he has inherited his estate in Transylvania. He travels there to inspect the property, and the film quickly unravels into a nonstop trip of parody and hilarity.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Call it a Christmas movie, call it a Halloween movie, but just don’t miss out on watching The Nightmare Before Christmas this holiday season. A perfect buffer into the end-of-year festivities, the animated film offers a nice mash-up between creepy and festive as it follows the pumpkin king of Halloweentown on an unexpected trip to Christmastown.
Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep give two of the most hilarious Halloween-level performances in Death Becomes Her, a dark comedy that’s all about death and some weird special effects that sees Meryl Streep’s head do things that even Meryl Streep is incapable of.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
If the name The Addams Family doesn’t immediately make you want to sing along and snap your fingers, then you clearly haven’t seen the movie. The reimagining of the old TV classic is a must-see for any Halloween enthusiast.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Believe in something. Remember that you don’t always get what you want. Don’t fall asleep in a pumpkin patch. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the lesson-packed film that you need in life, and it’s 100 percent the official hallmark of the holiday season.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Childish? Sure. Absolutely wonderful? You bet. Halloweentown is a Disney Channel original movie, but it’s also a super staple of Millennial adolescence, so if you’re looking for something a bit out of the norm, check out Marnie’s adventure with her grandmother (Debbie Reynolds!!) into Halloweentown.
Justin Kirkland is a Brooklyn-based writer focusing on television, pop culture, food, and the South; he is from East Tennessee.
Chantal Vaca is a writer living in New York City.
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