Halloween Movies for Scaredy Cats

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with Halloween. Who doesn’t love a night where you’re encouraged to dress as someone else while eating an absurd amount of candy? Plus I love a skull motif, pumpkin everything, and look cute in black. I’m that person who, when someone says “isn’t it a little too early for Halloween” has to hide the pumpkin she’s buying behind her back before giving a fake “yeah, totally right”. In other words, for me, Halloween pregame starts mid-September.

There is one small quirk to my Halloween obsession, though… I am a giant scaredy cat. Halloween is a day for tricks and treats but I’ll stick to the treats please and thank you. No matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t get on board with haunted houses, spooky corn mazes or scary movies. I thought getting older or “knowing how the sausage is made” would quell my fear, but fear is an irrational beast and when that teenager comes at the haunted hayride group with their obviously fake chainsaw, I lose my mind… and not in a fun way. Over the years, I’ve seen enough movies through cracks in my fingers and spent enough nights – accidentally – in haunted hotels to know anything super gory or full of jump scares will have me up all night, over analyzing every unexpected sound, only able to sleep when the sun comes up and I’m safe.

This year, like everything else, Halloween is going to look really different. No costume parties. No pumpkin beer flights in bars with fake cobwebs. (Though hopefully still handfuls of 70% off candy on November 3rd!) If we’re going to be stuck at home – or at socially distant friend hangs – the best way to celebrate one of the best nights of the year is a movie night. But if you’re a baby like me who wants to watch a festive film to get you in a spooky frame of mind and can’t handle the gore of Saw 3 (a movie I saw after the world’s worst bait and switch movie invite) – I’ve curated a list of fun, semi-creepy films to get you in the mood that won’t make you want to sleep with the lights on.

Addams Family – Any version will do. Last year’s animated film was cute but I am partial to the 90s films. It’s the reason why, even to this day, whenever I see Girl Scout cookies I still think, “Are they made from real girl scouts?” Best line of the franchise.

Nightmare Before Christmas – is it a Halloween movie? Is it a Christmas movie? I don’t care! It’s both, honestly. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Pumpkin King fumble his co-opted Christmas but it’s a masterpiece that can carry you from September through January.

Practical Magic – since I saw this for the first time as a kid, I thought it was a kids film … it’s not. But it’s really, really good and resonates a lot harder now that I’m an adult – hiding the themes of how scary love can be and coming home again behind a whimsical veil of magic. Plus you can’t really go wrong with Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, and Stockard Channing as witches.

Witches – this movie scared the jellybeans out of me as a kid and I don’t think I ever really recovered. Even as an adult I find the movie clever and the practical effects cool. Plus Anjelica Houston is – as always – amazing.

Jennifer’s Body – What an under appreciated gem. This movie does not get the respect it deserves and I will always fight for more people to see it.

What Lies Beneath – more suspenseful thriller than horror, but it has everything you need for a good scare: a shady husband, missing memories and maybe a dead girl. Also fanboy dreamboat Harrison Ford.

Seven – the movie that left me wondering if you can really burn off your finger prints. It has enough gore to satisfy my horror loving friends but not so much I’ll hide in the bathroom for half the film. Plus the ending….

Shout out to my runners up for this list: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (OG soft Halloween programming), Hotel Transylvania (animated family fun with an insane cast and sequels that hold up to the original) and lastly… gay icon, The Babadook (a movie I’ve never seen but thanks to that meme I’m almost curious enough to give it a go…..in daylight… with a friend or two.)

Enjoy! And have a happy and safe Halloween!

Sarah Conrad

Sarah is an east coast based media professional. In the before times, she could usually be found at a concert (or convention) or with her nose in a book as she traveled someplace new for an adventure. These days, she can usually be found on her couch playing video games or online shopping. 

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