I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that witch... who’s absolutely terrified of horror films. Many of you probably find yourselves in the same camp as me, absolutely love Halloween but can’t stand horror, guts and gore. I’m so bad that I’ve always found the full plot online before watching one. This way no murderous spooks hiding in shadows of a haunted house will ever catch me unawares. So me? I like to keep my Halloween watching a little on the PG side. If you also love the spooky aesthetics but hate the horror that goes along with it, here are my 10 favourite Halloween films for scaredy cats.
SISTEEEERS! It simply isn’t Halloween until a virgin has lit the black flame candle. Max and his family move from Los Angeles to Salem and when he accidentally awakens the Sanderson Sisters things run amok.
This is an absolute Halloween classic starring the queens Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and is directed by the legend that brought us High School Musical, Kenny Ortega!
Show me someone that doesn’t like Hocus Pocus and I’ll show you a liar.
Okay, so technically Halloween Town is a film series but only one and two are worth watching in my opinion.
Halloween Town follows Marnie and her siblings as they discover the family secret their mother has been hiding from them, they’re witches.
It’s a quintessential Disney TV movie classic and just an overall wholesome watch.
The first of the many Tim Burton films to feature on this list. The Batman Returns has a neo-noir aesthetic. Considered more dark and campy than dark and gritty like the Nolan Batman trilogy.
I will always consider The Batman Returns up there as one of the supreme Batman films solely because it gave us Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman is simply iconic, to this day she remains the best to play this role.
Whilst The Batman Returns isn’t scary, Danny DeVito as The Penguin is definitely what my sleep paralysis demon looks like.
Beetlejuice…. Beetlejuice…. Beetlejuice.
Newly-weds Barbara and Adam find themselves, unceremoniously, no longer in the land of the living and their dream home now taken over by the Deetz family. They call in the help, bio-exorcist Beetlejuice and chaos ensues.
Much like many cult classics of the ’80s, the cast is iconic. Arguably, Beetlejuice is also the film that put Winona Ryder on the map.
Beetlejuice is a riot and a good fun watch for all. In the last few years, it was also made into a musical and the soundtrack is incredible. I highly recommend giving it a listen if musicals are your thing.
The Lost Boys
Out of my 10 favourite Halloween films for scaredy cats, this is one of two listings which could be considered maybe a little ‘scary’. I first watched The Lost Boys as an early teen, on one of those school holiday nights where you would try to stay awake to see the sunrise.
This cult classic follows a family as they move to a sleepy town in California…overrun by vampires. This film introduced us to The Coreys, a gift in itself.
As a teen, I had the biggest crush on Michael. I think between this and Wayne’s World, I developed a weird thing for the long hair glam-metal type. Don’t judge me.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I see you shiver in antci…..pation. Even if you haven’t seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, there’s a good chance you’ll have danced to The Time Warp at some a Halloween disco before as a child. (Despite the film subject matter being entirely inappropriate for a child but that is beside the point.)
A flat tyre on a stormy night makes newly engaged, straight-laced couple Brad and Janet turn up on the doorstep of Frank-N-Furter’s castle. Things get…weird.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has reached cult status as the pinnacle of camp, kitsch and fluid glam-rock. This was one of the first examples of queer representation I took in (the very first definitely being H.I.M from The Powerpuff Girls). It opened my eyes at a young age to a different perspective and made me appreciate the culture.
To this day, Tim Curry as Dr Frank-N-Furter is one of my all-time favourite antagonists.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
What’s This? What’s This? It’s another list about Halloween movies which inevitably features The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington has grown tired of his life in Halloween Town and stumbles upon a door which takes him to the new and enchanted land of Christmas Town. Enamoured by what he’s witnessed, he forms a plot to kidnap the ‘Sandy Claws’ and make a Christmas of his own.
Surrounding this film is the age-old question. Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? The movie director, Tom Selick has gone on the record to say it’s a Halloween film. Personally? I think this makes perfect viewing from September to December – showcasing the perfect blend of my two favourite times of the year.
Where do you stand on this long argued debate? Is it a Christmas film or Halloween film?
The Addams Family Values
The Addams Family Values is one of those rare occasions where the sequel is better than the first. Not that the 1991 film isn’t great but I just feel the 1993 follow up was just… mwah *chef’s kiss*.
The Addams Family unwittingly invite a gold-digging serial killer into their fold and she has her eye set on Uncle Fester and his inheritance.
This film is the perfect blend of camp, hilarity, spookiness and style. With atmospheric sets, magical costumes, witty repartee and the most perfectly cast cast known to man – it’s hard not to fall absolutely in love with The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values. Not only are Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia iconic as Morticia and Gomez, but they’re frankly goals. If marriage doesn’t look like theirs then I don’t want it! This is also the film where Christina Ricci is quintessential Wednesday Addams. She steals the show every shot she’s in and delivers some of the most memorable lines. The Thanksgiving Play is always the scene that comes to mind when thinking of this film.
Fun fact: my nickname from multiple unrelated sources is Wednesday Addams. Probably not meant as a compliment but I’m going to take it as such!
The Corpse Bride
Is Tim Burton the king of Halloween? I think so.
Meek and awkward Victor is arranged to be wed to waifish Victoria but ends up with his very own corpse bride, Emily, when practicing his vows in a graveyard. The Corpse Bride is set in gloomy Victorian England, a grey drab background which comes alive with vibrant greens and purple upon entering the underworld.
I absolutely love the stop-motion cinematography of The Corpse Bride. This is a style in which Tim Burton became known for but The Corpse Bride was the first he directed himself. Previous classics, such as The Nightmare Before the Christmas, were conceptualised and produced by Burton but were in actual fact, directed by Tom Sellick.
Not only visually stunning, but The Corpse Bride also has one catchy soundtrack. Listen to The Remains of the Day once and it will live rent-free in your head for the rest of the week.
This is the second listing from my 10 favourite Halloween films for scaredy cats which could be considered scary. I think I became desensitised to the scares after repeat viewings at childhood sleepovers.
Sleepy Hollow is a beautifully haunting, gothic masterpiece which follows Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a detective sent to the small town to investigate the murders carried out by the Headless Horseman. Based on the story by Washington Irving, this adaptation is eerie, gory and breathtaking.
As a child, I used to have a real fear of the Headless Horseman. Which actually all stemmed from Scooby-Doo. I had a recurring nightmare in which he would come into my childhood bedroom and take my head, only to throw it away when he found my wee child-sized head did not fit. And to be honest with you, I still find myself more creeped out by the Headless Horseman with a pumpkin for a head rather than a ghoulish Christopher Walken.
Sleepy Hollow is yet another masterpiece by the king of Halloween, Tim Burton. I would love to see him return to making films like this rather than some of his more recent work.
Coming up with this list of my 10 favourite Halloween films for scaredy cats, one thing quickly became apparent. Any goth-aesthetic films from the ’80s and ’90s which had Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman or Christina Ricci attached have become cult classics. The unholy quadfecta.
Halloween 2020 may be shaping up to look like something out of a zombie apocalypse movie but it doesn’t have to be cancelled. Grab yourself some of your favourites from the ‘trick or treat’ pile and settle yourself in for a night of fun movies.
If Halloween isn’t your thing, here is a list of my favourite films to watch in Autumn.
What are your favourite films to watch at Halloween? Let me know!
Until next time,