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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—once and for all. 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. (Seriously, Coco won't hurt you! We think.) Don’t worry. The coast is clear.
Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire
I’ll say it: My Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire is the best Disney Channel Original (at least of the early aughts). The movie follows the grounded Hansen siblings,who plan to sneak out of the house while their mom is on a date. But their night takes a turn when they suspect their mom's new boyfriend is a vampire.
Despite the name Scary Movie, this flick isn't scary at all. This spoof is a comedic take on Wes Craven’s slasher, Scream. If you were nervous about watching that, start here—and see how you feel afterward.
If you’re a fan of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels, odds are you’ll love this movie. The film adaptation is a fun play on the original series, in which a young man named Zach Cooper learns his neighbor, Hannah, is R.L. Stine’s daughter. When Zach accidentally unearths the monster from each book (it happens!), he’s tasked with sending them back where they belong.
Men in Black
Will Smith, aliens, and men fighting crime in well-tailored suits. What more do you need? If you haven’t seen Men in Black already, Halloween is the perfect time to catch up. It’s a classic for a reason.
Twilight may not seem like an obvious choice, but hear me out. It has vampires, werewolves, and a naive girl whose curiosity nearly destroys world peace. What’s spookier than that?
Alright, technically this is a November 1st movie. But considering its ties to the dead, Coco can still be enjoyed during the spooky time of year. Don’t forget to have tissues on hand for this two-time Oscar-winning animation.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Getting to see a baby-faced Drew Barrymore is enough of a reason to watch E.T. The petite, charming alien just wants to return home! Luckily for the extraterrestrial, it met a boy set on helping it find its way back.
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.
Tim Burton works his stop-motion magic again with this early 2000s film. After Victor accidentally married a corpse bride, he is faced with a decision: should he stay or return to the woman he was originally supposed to marry?
Neglected prodigy child Matilda is gifted beyond this world. She discovered her telekinetic abilities when her foster parents enrolled her in a school with a headmaster that has absolutely no chill. Her newfound talent became essential to her day-to-day survival.
What do you do when the house across the street looks like it's living, breathing, and gobbling up your neighbors? Instead of staying as far away from it as possible, three kids get together to find out what’s going on inside.
Norman seems like a loner to the naked eye, but he isn’t always alone. He can speak to the dead, so he spends time with spirits. His gift became especially useful in helping save his town from a centuries-old curse.
A figure in a creepy bunny costume named Frank told Donnie, an unstable teenager, the world would end in 28 days. Things get.. weird.
In this live-action movie, the gang traveled to Spooky Island to investigate why spring breakers aren’t acting like themselves after arriving at their tropical destination.
Teen Wolf (1985)
An all-American high school boy in the ‘80s notices some changes in his body. He grew (a lot of) hair in new places, then happened to unlock a whole new way of life after undergoing a transformation that runs in the family.
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.
The Haunted Mansion
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.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
High-schooler Buffy Summer's life is forever changed when a mysterious man by the name of Merrick tells her that she is “The Slayer” and destined to kill vampires.
High school isn’t going how Louise planned. As she’s on the verge of reaching her breaking point, she discovers she comes from a long line of witches.
Muppets Haunted Mansion
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.
This heartwarming rom-com is a perfect middle ground for kids and parents to enjoy. The film follows a post-apocalyptic forbidden love story between a zombie and a human who quickly realize their fates are more intertwined than they could have ever imagined.
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.
If nothing else, you should stick around for the singing telegram. It's honestly explosive. Loosely based on the game of the same name, Clue is a cult classic that is a mandatory watch.
Woody Harrelson in a big hat. Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg pre-Oscar films. It's a surprisingly well-made gore fest that doesn't feel like a gore fest? As one of the most underrated zombie comedies (is this a genre?), Zombieland leads the pack.
If there's one fail-proof Halloween movie, it's Hocus Pocus. The end.
You know when your sister's boyfriend dies and then you use your witchcraft to resurrect him, but accidentally possess him with an evil spirit? Classic! Practical Magic is a new-school favorite and a solid Halloween choice that gives you both Sandy B and Nicole Kidman.
Happy Death Day
Imagine if Groundhog Day ended in murder every single time. That's Happy Death Day: a constant retelling of a college student's murder that ends with an unexpected twist that reveals a surprising murderer.
Death Becomes Her
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.
You know when you're dead and someone crashes your home, and they just won't go away? Well, sometimes you have to call on someone more equipped to deal with it than you are. Sometimes you have to call on him three times... you know, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.
Speaking of dealing with ghosts, these guys practically invented the job. The '80s classic is one of the ultimate not-scary, scary movies out there.
Part horror, part fairy tale, Edward Scissorhands strikes a balance between creepy and sweet. When an inventor's creation is left unfinished with blades for hands, he is taken in by a kind girl and her family.
The Witches of Eastwick
Like the best of us, things can go awry when you're looking for love. In The Witches of Eastwick, the three "witches" in question just happen to stumble upon Satan himself in their pursuit of something a bit spicier in a town full of bland suitors.
Shaun of the Dead
One thing is true: Simon Pegg always delivers. In Shaun of the Dead, lazy guy Shaun is tasked with taking out some zombies to protect his loved ones. It also doesn't hurt that it's one of the most critically acclaimed comedies of 2004.
The Addams Family
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.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
In one of the most underrated musicals ever, Seymour discovers that the flower shop he works in has something a bit more interesting than he originally thought. The problem is, the plant that's drawing everyone's attention might cause as many problems as it does good.
In the most important film of Christina Ricci's career (jokes, but also, seriously), the live-action 1995 version of Casper is the greatest Casper of all time, and this is not up for debate.
When an 11-year-old girl goes on an adventure, she discovers that the world she stumbles into is similar to her own, but it's also laden with its own set of secrets.
Honestly, Labyrinth is a lot. But in the David Bowie fantasy mindbender, a girl is tasked with saving her brother after he ends up in a world of her own imagination. Also, fun fact? It was directed by Jim Henson.
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.
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