Welcome to the end of October: sweaters are on, leaves are multicolored, stores are filled with pumpkins, and we are counting down the hours until the spookiest day of the year. While dressing up in costumes and participating in other traditions may not be possible this year, there’s still time to cozy up with a movie and get in the Halloween spirit. There’s something for everyone, whether you thrive off of jump scares and paranormal activity or prefer to live nightmare-free.
For no tricks and only treats:
The Witches (2020) (HBO Max)
This new movie, coming out Oct. 22, is based on a Roald Dahl novel and stars Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer. The film is set in Alabama and tells the story of a young boy who gets sent to live with his grandmother. Together, they come face-to-face with an evil woman known as the Grand High Witch and are forced to fight against her and her followers. Despite the intense plotline, the movie’s PG rating renders it family-friendly.
Halloweentown (1998) (Disney+, Hulu with Live TV add on, Sling, Rental)
In the first installment of this four-part movie series, Marnie and her siblings follow their grandmother home on Halloween night and discover that she is a witch and that she lives in Halloweentown, a haven for supernatural creatures. Marnie soon discovers that she is also a witch and begins training, but before she can really get a handle on how to use her powers, she must try to help save the town and all of the creatures in it. “Halloweentown” is perfect for anyone who wants an adventure movie with amusing characters.
Ghostbusters (1984) (FX Now, Hulu with Live TV add on, Rental)
“Ghostbusters” is centered around three scientists at Columbia University played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. After being fired, the trio starts a business finding and catching ghosts around New York City. Despite its initial success, the group soon begins to battle increasingly stronger paranormal creatures as government officials try to shut them down. It’s a comedy that incorporates all of the key elements of Halloween—ghosts, specifically—without making you scream in fear.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) (Disney+, Rental)
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a classic Tim Burton stop-motion film about a magical world with towns that are holiday-themed. Jack Skellington, voiced by Danny Elfman, is usually in charge of Halloween Town and its celebrations, but, after finding out about Christmas Town, he becomes enamored with the holiday and decides that he and the rest of Halloween Town will run the next Christmas. Of course, with such a drastic change in leadership, trouble is bound to ensue.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) (Apple TV+, free from Oct. 30-Nov. 1)
This Peanuts special was made for anyone who wants a taste of Halloween. The half-hour long story stars Linus is convinced of the existence of the Great Pumpkin, a supernatural creature who gives gifts to children on Halloween, and waits around all night to catch its appearance. Meanwhile, the rest of the kids trick-or-treat and celebrate the night at a party. Cute, quick, and nostalgic, the special is bound to get you in the holiday mood.
Hotel Transylvania (2012) (Amazon Prime, Rental)
Starring Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez, “Hotel Transylvania” is about Mavis and her father Count Dracula, who owns a hotel for monsters free of any humans. That all changes when a human named Jonathan comes to the hotel and Dracula must both work to save the hotel’s reputation and to stop Mavis from falling in love with Jonathan. Though a kids film, the father-daughter relationship is heartwarming ,and the lighthearted plot keeps you smiling.
For a horror-able time:
It (2017) (Hulu with Live TV add-on)
Adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, “It” tells the story of a couple of outcasts who form “The Losers' Club” and uncover a shape-shifting creature that preys on one’s darkest fears. In a town anxious from unresolved cases of missing children, tension builds. Starring Finn Wolfhard, Bill Skarsgård, this tale will definitely haunt those who’ve never found the circus or clowns a childhood treat.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (Netflix)
A thrilling psychological horror film, “The Silence of the Lambs” is truly a classic. Clarice, a top FBI student, is pushed to interview Dr. Hannibal, an accomplished psychiatrist who also happens to be a psychopath. Zombies and vampires may sufficiently scare most viewers, but this movie is perfect for the ones who want lasting, nail-biting fear this Halloween.
The Shining (1980) (Sling)
Selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry for its cultural and historical significance, “The Shining” has racked fear in the heart of many over the years. The film follows a troubled family who have agreed to be off-season caretakers for a Colorado hotel. The son slowly has disturbing visions while the father, failing to make progress on his writing, explores the hotel’s secrets and descends into psychosis. Haunting, eerie, and suspenseful, this movie is perfect for a family movie night this season.
Annabelle: Creation (2017) (Youtube)
A couple’s daughter, Annabelle, dies tragically at an early age. Years later, while housing a nun and several orphans, one of the children enters a forbidden room and discovers a creepy doll hidden in the deceased child’s closet. “Annabelle” is sure to make viewers take a second look at the stuffed animals and dolls in their house. Though centered around a child’s toy, this story will definitely bring paranoia and chills.
The Exorcist (1973) (Sling)
One of the highest grossing horror movies made, “The Exorcist” follows 12-year-old Regan and her mother, played by Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn. Regan begins to behave oddly, and her mother urgently seeks medical help to no avail. A local priest deems the girl possessed and decides to perform an exorcism on her. Based on actual events, “The Exorcist” preys on seemingly mundane everyday experiences and adds a twist.
These selections will surely bring some spice to your home cinema this October. With something for the horror junkie and the scaredy cats, everyone can enjoy both laughter and screams. Grab your family and friends, dim the lights, and get ready for a thrilling hour or two.
Aliza Rabinovitz can be contacted at email@example.com. Unfortunately, she scares easily (even at horror movie trailers) so she’ll be exclusively watching movies from the first half of this list. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.
Staff writer Charlotte Wu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.