It’s Halloween! Time for some spooky films! Here are ten good ‘uns, that deliberately won’t absolutely scare the bejesus out of you.
With Halloween incoming and the weather growing colder, now is the perfect time to sit down and enjoy some spooky films to get into the spirit of the season.
While most people consider horror movies to be essential viewing at this time of year, they certainly aren’t everyone’s preference. If, like me, you experience a mini heart attack at even the slightest jump scare and get laughed at by your horror-loving friends and family, then the films on this list will be much more to your liking. Each one embodies the fun and spookiness of Halloween, without trying to scare you out of your wits…
This charming stop-motion film adapts Neil Gaiman’s short story and is Canadian animation studio Laika’s first feature film. The creepy tale follows Coraline, a girl largely ignored by her parents, as she moves into The Pink Palace apartments and finds a strange door that leads to a parallel universe where everything is perfect. The only strange thing about it is that everyone has buttons for eyes.
This film is a classic ‘be careful what you wish for’ tale with spectacular visuals and buckets of charm. The stop-motion medium really lends itself to creating a world that is larger than life, providing both beautiful and foreboding locations in equal measure. The premise of the film, combined with the subtle suspense and uncanniness, makes this a great Halloween watch, and it’s one you can share with older children, too.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This comedic take on the zombie apocalypse is the first film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’. The film has become a staple of modern British comedy of course, and provides a hilarious take on how average people would react to the zombie apocalypse and what they would do to survive it. In this case, that involves going to the pub, having a nice cold pint, and waiting for it all to blow over.
With more laughs than screams, Shaun Of The Dead is an excellent way to watch a zombie film this Halloween. You’ll also have ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen stuck in your head for days afterwards.
Fairuza Balk gives an incredible performance as mentally unstable teenage witch Nancy in The Craft. The film follows Sarah, who recently moved to Los Angeles and transfers to the local high school. She quickly befriends Nancy and two other witches, and joins their coven. They each cast spells for their own personal gain, but this has unexpected and dangerous results.
The film provides an interesting perspective on witchcraft, showing both how magic can be used to empower the people who use it, and how that kind of power backfires and corrupts. If you’re a fan of teen horror and films about witches then this is a film you’ll enjoy.
Produced by the legendary Guillermo del Toro, The Book Of Life is a sweet tale about love, loss and the struggles of living up to peoples’ expectations.
Set on the Day of the Dead, the film provides a colourful and cute depiction of the afterlife. The films’ production design isn’t all made up of sunshine and rainbows, though. There is considerable variety created by the contrast between the two different afterlives – the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten. The latter is as bleak and gloomy as it sounds. With a unique style of animation and talented voice cast, this is yet another Halloween film the whole family will enjoy.
This supernatural horror-comedy by Peter Jackson stars Michael J Fox as holistic detective and conman Frank Bannister, who can see the dead. When people in his town start dying of unexpected heart attacks, Frank realises there’s a supernatural cause and investigates.
Jackson provides some very mild scares in this quirky film, with the ghosts that Frank befriends suffering from gross ‘physical’ ailments despite their spectral nature. These moments are usually played for laughs, however, and there’s a lot more to the film than its comedy. It also functions as a gripping supernatural detective story that’ll keep you guessing until the end.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a film directed by Tim Burton, who is best known of course for his easily identifiable gothic visuals. Corpse Bride is no different, using stop-motion animation to create a creepy yet whimsical tale of a young man who, as unlikely as it sounds, accidentally marries a corpse.
The best part of this film is its unusual representation of life and death, with the latter being infinitely more colourful and joyous than the lives of those who are still breathing. As strange as the premise of the film might be, its conclusion is unexpectedly moving. All in all this is a fun family animation, but one that addresses how we perceive death, and in doing so might just make us less afraid of it.
This is a Halloween film with a dash of romance. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as the Sally and Gillian Owens, part of a family of witches who are cursed to have their husbands die prematurely. When the two accidentally kill Gillian’s abusive boyfriend, they try to hide it from an investigating police officer while trying to stop his ghost from haunting them.
There’s a lot going on this film that makes it a lot of fun, including Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing playing eccentric aunts. The film has magic, ghosts, romance and comedy, and is generally a lighthearted and fun movie to watch for Halloween.
Yet another film by Laika studios, ParaNorman pays homage to classic zombie B-Movies. It’s set in Salem, where it’s rumoured that a witch once placed a curse upon the town. Norman, a boy who can see the dead, is the only one who believes in the curse, and the only one who can stop it once the dead start to rise.
ParaNorman provides the same wonderful mix as most of the films on this list, combining classic Halloween iconography (in the form of witches and zombies) with a generous dose of comedy. The characters in this film are hilarious and memorable, and the story imparts an important message about not judging people because of their differences. It’s more gold from Laika.
For many, myself included, this is perhaps the most iconic Halloween film (it’s certainly more a Halloween movie than Christmas). Director Henry Selick’s movie of longing for more and struggling to accept yourself continues to be extremely well-loved. Again, the eeriness of stop-motion enhances the already dark and creepy visuals, and there are a vast array of colourful characters that represent all kinds of Halloween monsters.
The memorable character design and sweet story combine with the incredibly catchy songs to make a film you won’t soon forget. Not only will you spend the entirety of the weekend humming ‘This is Halloween, you’ll also be able to watch this anytime between now and Christmas. Result!
The final film on this list is Hocus Pocus, another Halloween adventure from Disney, and another film about witches. Set in Salem, this comedy focuses on three witches who return to life on Halloween night. The trio kidnap and kill children in order to maintain a youthful appearance, and chase after Max, a teenager who lights the candle that resurrects them.
Bette Midler’s performance of lead witch Winifred Sanderson is an absolute scene stealer and is hands down the best part of the film. Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy also give outstanding comedic performances. This film fully embraces the Halloween spirit, showing us all of the traditions including elaborate parties, costumes and decorations. It’s the perfect film to get you in the mood to celebrate Halloween – and is already the most lucrative re-release of the year at the UK box office…
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