Gemma Pecorini Goodall lays down the films she believes should be viewed and celebrated every Halloween…
If you grew up in the U.K. you probably weren’t raised with all of the wonderful Halloween traditions those of us who spent our childhood in North America experienced. By Halloween films I am not referring to horror films. Don’t get me wrong, horror movies are always fun too watch – especially during the Halloween season – but Halloween films are so much more than a jump scare: they are fantastic works of cinematic art and should have just as much respect as the well-loved Christmas films. On that note, so press play on the brilliant song linked below and let’s jump right in with my selection of the top ten Halloween films.
(from LyricClassic on YouTube)
10) It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) dir. Bill Melendez
Although technically a television special lasting only 25 minutes, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is an autumnal holiday classic and plays on television screens across North America every year. This family favourite was even nominated for an Emmy back in the day so you know you’re getting top-notch entertainment if you decide to watch this Halloween classic.
(Snoopy on YouTube – Film Rights to Peanuts Worldwide)
9) Casper (1995) dir. Brad Silberling
Notable cast: Christina Ricci
Casper truly is the OG friendly ghost. With many familiar faces including that of original Python member Eric Idle, this film is a family favourite and truly heartwarming. The 1998 sequel starring Hilary Duff, Casper Meets Wendy, is just as much fun to watch and contains one of the sweetest friendships in film history.
(randomstuff4111 on YouTube – film rights to Universal Studios)
8) The Addam’s Family (1991) dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
Notable cast: Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci
Although not exclusively a Halloween film, The Addams Family has become synonymous with Halloween over it’s long tenure as family entertainment spanning numerous films and television series. Whether you’re watching the original 1970s’ television show or any of the 1990s’ films, the fun satirical stab at the perfect nuclear family will guarantee a few good laughs as well as an infectious need to snap your fingers whenever you hear the beloved theme song.
(Paramount Movies on YouTube – film rights to Paramount)
7) Coraline (2009) dir. Henry Selick
Notable cast: Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Saunders
Often attributed to director Tim Burton because of its quirky, cynical stop-motion animation, Coraline is by far (in my opinion) the most unnerving and frightening film on this list. Similarly to some other films I’ve decided to present with the honour of ‘Great Halloween Flick’ this film has grown to be synonymous with the holiday although it doesn’t contain any particular reference to the late October celebration. A strong narrative with beautiful animation and a dark, twisted fantasy makes this a great film to watch under the Halloween season.
(Focus Features on YouTube – Rights to Focus Features)
6) The Corpse Bride (2005) dir. Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
Notable cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Where I would argue any and all Tim Burton films could hold their own on this list ,The Corpse Bride is possibly one of the most heartfelt of the legendary director’s quirky and stunning stop-motion films. Featuring the voices that have grown interchangeable with the director, The Corpse Bride made many families smile and inspired many a Halloween costume back when the film first premiered.
(Movieclips Trailer Vault on YouTube)
5) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) dir. Jim Shaman
Notable cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon
If you even try to say that The Rocky Horror Picture Show has nothing to do with Halloween I will hunt you down and fight you! Although it has close to nothing to do with the holiday, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has grown truly synonymous with Halloween and has worked its way as a tradition for midnight screenings and independent cult picture houses around Halloween.
(20th Century Fox on YouTube – Film Rights to 20th Century Fox)
4) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) dir. Henry Selick
Notable cast: Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara
Contrary to popular belief, Tim Burton did not actually direct this seminal and bi-Holiday classic. Possibly the most popular and well-known stop-animation film, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect film to totally encompass the full Holiday season giving you the perfect excuse to start watching a Christmas film in September. The hauntingly beautiful music and imagery are guaranteed to make anyone reminisce on a time before Johnny Depp’s voice flooded every Tim Burton film.
(Movieclips Trailer Vault on YouTube – Film Rights to Touchstone Pictures)
3) Beetlejuice (1988) dir. Tim Burton
Notable cast: Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder
I don’t even know how to explain this. Uhm…it’s Beetlejuice. The poster is basically under the Halloween entry in the dictionary. I can’t even begin to think of a film that has inspired more Halloween costumes.
(Eddie2418 on YouTube – film rights to Geffen Company)
2) Halloweentown (1999) dir. Duwayne Dunham
Notable cast: Debbie Reynolds
I am sorry if you’ve never seen the Halloweentown films. They are possibly the best example of the brilliance of Disney Channel Original Movies. Screened on Disney Channel every year for Halloween, Halloweentown encompasses everything that is wonderful and magical about the best of Fall holidays. The film has also inspired a series of films that are all just as good as the original. If you can’t get enough of the original Halloweentown also check out Halloweentown II: Kalaber’s Revenge (2001) and Halloweentown High (2004) as long as you stay away from the soul-crushing attempt at a remake that is Return to Halloweentown (2006).
(Midnight Music on YouTube – Film Rights to Disney)
1) Hocus Pocus (1993) dir. Kenny Ortega
Notable cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker
Need I say more?
(Jake Rutigliano on YouTube – Film Rights to Disney)