10 Halloween Films That Still Cast a Spell on you

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

You know the story well. The Peanuts gang goes trick-or-treating, Charlie Brown comically gets a rock at each house. You can recall the sound bite of Linus exclaiming, “it’s the Great Pumpkin!” Violet’s Halloween party pretty much set your standards for Halloween party must-haves. It may not be the most action-packed film on this list, but it always fills me with a warm fuzziness that goes really well with some hot apple cider.

Casper Meets Wendy

The most popular ghost-boy you’ve ever known is at his best in this movie. Wendy and her three aunts flee to a resort to escape the goons of Desmond Spellman – an evil warlock who thinks Wendy will eventually become more powerful than him. Casper and his three uncles travel to the same resort for vacation. Like a platonic Romeo and Juliet, Casper and Wendy become friends despite the sworn hatred between ghosts and witches. There is nothing to hate about this movie and everything to love – cheesy special effects, buffoon henchmen, and a young Hilary Duff. Plus who doesn’t envy Wendy’s ability to change outfits with the snap of her fingers?

The Halloween Tree

This movie is severely underrated. Jenny, Wally, and Tom must embark on a journey with devil-like Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (the name itself deserves its own spot on this list) to find the ghost of their friend Pip, who is in the hospital with appendicitis. Along the way, Moundshroud stops in Egypt, the old Celtic world, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and Mexico’s Day of the Dead to explain different cultural traditions for death and demons, which is really interesting both to child me and adult me. The friends ultimately give up a year of each of their lives to save Pip from dying, which I still think is pretty heavy. This movie not only teaches you about cool traditions, it also teaches you about the Power of Friendship, all while keeping it spooky.

Young Frankenstein

You might remember Young Frankenstein as “Willy Wonka gone nuts.” And that’s saying something, since Wonka was pretty wacky in his own right. But Gene Wilder definitely takes it to the next level in Mel Brooks’ sometimes raunchy Frankenstein spoof. After arriving at the Transylvanian estate he recently inherited from his late great grandfather, Dr. “Fronkenstien” begins to accept his identity as Dr. Frankenstein and attempts to compete his grandfather’s work of re-animating the dead. Misfortune and hilarity ensue. The jokes about Igor’s hump (what hump?) and Frau Blücher’s name alone will send you rolling year after year.

Corpse Bride

This stop-motion masterpiece is filled with twists and turns that might skim a little over the heads of younger audiences. Young Victor and Victoria (is it fate?) are arranged to marry despite both their misgivings at never having met each other. While practicing his vows in the woods, Victor accidentally sets the wedding ring upon the uncovered finger of dead Emily, making her his wife, and so the party begins.

The Land of the Dead is jazzy and bright, which adds a lightheartedness to the corpses that are in varying degrees of decay. Emily, the Corpse Bride herself, is beautiful and spooky. Tim Burton’s dark humor meshes perfectly with the especially dark themes of heartbreak and murder. The ending, however, is hauntingly bittersweet. I cried the first time I watched it. Ok, sometimes I still cry when I watch it.

Beetlejuice

“Beetlejuice” was one of those movies that simultaneously terrified me as a kid but kept my eyes glued to the screen. Betelgeuse (yes, that’s how it’s actually spelled) himself is creepy, not just in a spooky way. He’s a total sleaze ball. And the recently deceased Maitlands figure that out a little too late after summoning him, which leads to a variety of problems. With characters – and style icons – like Lydia Deetz, practically the entire movie is ripe with quotable one-liners (“my whole life is a darkroom”). The final scene is so inexplicably joyous that you can’t help but jam along.

The Little Vampire

Forget Twilight. Forget Dracula.

“The Little Vampire” is the only vampire film worth watching because it’s that good. American boy Tony moves with his family into a Scottish castle and soon befriends Rudolph, Boy Vampire. Tony sets out to help Rudolph and his family find an amulet to turn them mortal before time runs out, and they are chased by an evil vampire hunter who literally has no qualms closing a small child in a coffin. The movie is packed with friendship and adventure. But what is so special about this film is that you really feel part of the vampire clan. You almost feel sad when they (spoiler alert) turn mortal at the end.

Halloweentown

If the opening song from “Halloweentown” doesn’t make you smile, I really question the existence of your soul. Right from the title you know this movie is going to be filled with campy, Halloween goodness. Thirteen-year-old Marnie discovers that she is a witch and follows her grandmother back to the otherworld of Halloweentown, where she and her siblings must team up to save the day from the “Bad Thing.” The whimsical Halloweentown is anything but scary, with goofy skeleton taxi drivers and werewolf hairdressers, but that’s all part of its charm.

It’s fun to see typically scary monsters participating in the same activities as mortals.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This film is Tim Burton’s crowning achievement in creepy. The song “This Is Halloween” alone still sends shivers down my spine. It made my friend’s little sister cry until she was ten years old. Unlike Disney’s sunny Halloweentown, the Halloween Town of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is downright awful, but in the best kind of way. Vampires, monsters, a two-faced politician (how realistic), and a ghost dog are a few of the many ghoulish inhabitants of the eternally overcast Halloween Town.

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, goes through a bit of an existential crisis and stumbles upon a door leading to Christmas Town. Jack discovers the joy of Christmas and tries to adopt the holiday as his own, leading to disastrous consequences. The sheer terror of a skeleton in a Santa suit is just short of nightmare-inducing, which makes this movie the perfect combination of horrific fun.

Hocus Pocus

I think this movie is on the top of every Halloween list, and for good reason. Bette Midler has stated that this is one of her favorite movies she’s ever filmed, which tells you all you need to know about the pure greatness behind this cinematic masterpiece. New kid on the block Max Dennison tries to impress his crush, Allison, by lighting the notorious Black Flame candle – essentially announcing he’s a virgin – and in doing so resurrects the three Sanderson sisters; legendary Salem witches. Max, his little sister Dani, Allison, and the cursed boy-turned-immortal-cat Binx must find a way to kill the Sanderson sisters for good. This movie is cult-status.

The script is full of classic quotes executed flawlessly by the likes of a sassy little girl and Sarah Jessica Parker. The music flips from all-out jams to eerie child-luring spells. You had a crush on Max, Allison, or the human version of Binx. Every time you watch the movie you find another line that you missed the first time, or a joke that you didn’t understand as a kid. You laugh. You (maybe) cry at the end. It’s fun and it’s scary which is why it’s the best Halloween movie of all time.

headshot12Hanna Greenblott is a sophomore English language and literature major and can be reached at hanna.g13@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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