Halloween Magic: Movies (Part 1 of 3)

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Need help picking a Halloween flick?

For some their Halloween go to movie list will be riddled with deep dark horror for others it will be peppered with children’s animation. So I have compiled lists based upon type of desired film and created my very own pumpkin scale. This is by no means exhaustive nor should it be utilized to scale whether a movie is appropriate for a child. These lists are for people like myself that know there is more to Halloween than just icky gore but may enjoy some horror flicks this season. Some titles will be sweet, some will be SCARY, and there will be things in between.

Most times lists for adults are full of pure horror titles (that usually fall on the below scale as a 4P, 5P, or P+). So you might like some horror but it’s still okay to watch the animated cute stuff too!

{Note resources have been listed at the bottom of this post for those who want more titles or a leveling system that truly informs them of the type of content and child appropriateness.}

Categories will be rated by pumpkins:

One pumpkin [1P]= Whimsical for adults. These are films that when produced they were advertised and made for children. This does not speak of their level of scariness and may frighten some children or creep out an adult or two. Most of this list will be very mild and some quite sweet. These would be a go to for me either for nostalgia or as great background whilst carving up some Jack O Lanterns.

Two pumpkins [2P]: Creepy Spooky or Silly for adults. These are titles that when produced they were advertised and made for adults, but may be considered “family friendly” by some of today’s populace. Some when originally published were considered frightening but most likely wouldn’t frighten today’s average adult whilst others were made to be humorous or quirky.  There may be some very creepy elements and some adult or mature humor.

Three pumpkins [3P]: This is where we guarantee a little bit more chill factor. These are films that may not have been made as horror films but are quite chilling. A bit more fright, suspenseful a lot more suggestive content. Creepy elements but no nudity but there may be some sexy scenes or mild adult content. For those adults who don’t like horror at all this is dipping the toe in.

Four pumpkins [4P]: The horror genre. These are horror movies I can watch over and over again with little ill affect. There may be intense suggestive content, nudity, blood, gore, demonic elements, murderous beings, etc. However the reason it’s not FIVE pumpkins, is that it falls under what I call a ‘rules’ movie. A “rules” movie is when you can affirm to yourself after watching a title that you are fine as long as you follow the rules. (These rules do not necessarily have to be clearly listed, but the antagonist of the film follows those rules. Example: don’t move to a place that was a burial ground, always hand out candy on Halloween, don’t bury your pet in the whispered about ‘evil cemetery’, and don’t go fool around in the woods when you should be watching the kids of your camp.)

Five pumpkins [5P]: The horror genre still. However these are not rules movies or if they are they are just so terrifying that seeing them once in my lifetime is enough. They are still in the realm of watchable but really creepy and may leave residual effects on the psyche. These are movies I have trouble sleeping after watching. Just like FOUR pumpkins they are frightening but this is pushing it to uncomfortable for me.

Beyond MY comfort level [P+] = These films will not be in the suggested material below, but this is as a reference to meter the rest of this pumpkin scale. P+ are films that I regret having seen, you couldn’t pay me enough to watch again, or if I have enough awareness, I will never ever watch. These are films that can mess with your head.  What will put a movie into P+ for me are any of the following (minor references to these elements may not be a problem but they are a problem if on screen): animal torture, intended human torture (beyond a basic slasher stab or broken bone), rape scenes, any type of over stimulating but equally desensitizing imagery (such as dismemberment & excessive gore), and anything that messes with the psyche/plays with sexual/mental boundaries.   [Just a few examples: Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses, Human Centipede, Hostel, the Japanese film “Audition”]

Please note that as stated above this rating system is my own feelings on the matter.

BUT WAIT! You may have noticed that the title said: Part 1 of 3.

Well, after compiling all the movies I could think to recommend and doing some research for exact release dates. I realized I have A LOT of information so I broke this post into 3 posts.

I broke down the posts into the following sections:

1st:  (this post) Explanation of my scaling system (which is utilized in part 1 and 2), list of movies set on Halloween, and my personal favorites and some resources for follow up information.

2nd: Movie Marathon Lists. So if you are the type of person who would like to watch a few of a certain type of film such as slashers, eerie slow build classics, ghosts, witches, vampires, etc. These titles are listed. I may include some titles that I personally do not love but feel like they should be included on that list. (once again I won’t list anything that would be outside of my pumpkin scale).

3rd: When fact checking dates for my favorite Vincent Price, Hitchcock, and Hammer studio films. I realized that the lists compiled are always completely opinion pieces AND/OR tend to be bogged down with lots of images, synopses, and other extraneous information, so if you were to try to print a quick list, even copying and pasting to a word doc you would have tons of pages because of all the extra information. So the third post is without rating scale but just some lists of some classic film studios, actors, and directors known for their spooky titles.

Now break forth the LISTS!!!! (Alphabetical order by title)


These are movies that take place on Halloween (not included will be films that overall aren’t Halloween but may throw Halloween briefly into their plot line such as Mean Girls with their Halloween Party ). Also note, these are only films I have seen there may be many more that fit this category and if it doesn’t have a note in {} then the entire movie is set on Halloween night :

  • Addams Family (1991) [2P] {ends on Halloween night}
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) [2P] {set on Halloween, but more about the nutty family}
  • Casper (1995) [1P] {Ends with a big Halloween party}
  • The Crow (1994) [3P]
  • Donnie Darko (2001) [3P] {odd ball film about time travel sort of, but is set around Halloween}
  • Gingersnaps (2000) [4P/5P] {Honestly I don’t remember much, but I know it ends on Halloween}
  • Halloween (1978) [4P]
  • Halloweentown (1998 ) [1P]
  • Halloweentown II: Kablar’s Revenge (2001) [1P] {there is also a 3rd which is cute, and a 4th that I don’t like}
  • Hocus Pocus (1993) [1P]
  • Idle Hands (1999) [4P] {ends at a Halloween Party}
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966) [1P]
  • Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949) [1P] {This is usually titled as “Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”}
  • Mickey’s House of Villains (2001) [1P]
  • Nightmare before Christmas (1993) [1P] { The beginning is the end of Halloween night and set in Halloween Town with Halloween characters}
  • Once Bitten (1985) [2P] {ends on Halloween night}
  • Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular (2003) [1P]
  • Scary Godmother: Revenge of Jimmy (2005) [1P]
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999) [3P] {The original story is set on Halloween, and they do have a party but it’s not exactly clear that this is set at Halloween from what I recall}
  • Tales of Halloween (2015) [?] {I actually haven’t seen this yet, but felt I needed to include this, sorry if it’s completely terrible!}
  • Trick r Treat (2007) [4P]

A little bit of everything, monsters, killers, paranormal etc.:

  • Cabin in the Woods (2012) [4P]
  • Creepshow (1982) [4P/5P] {Honestly I know I watched this but remember very little, I do recall it had multiple stories}
  • Goosebumps (2015) [1P]
  • Trick r Treat (2007) [4P]

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES (My Annual Must Watch for Halloween titles):

THE ESSENTIALS…. It’s Not Halloween Time if I don’t watch:

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [2P]
  • The Crow (1994) [3P]
  • Elvira Mistress of the Dark (1988) [2P] {Elvira is the Queen of Halloween}
  • Ghostbusters (1984) [2P] {I also enjoy Ghostbusters 2 but not as much}
  • Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) [3P] {This the female Ghostbuster team}
  • Halloween (1978) [4P] {I personally don’t love the sequels, H2O was okay, but I’m looking forward to the 2018 one!}
  • Hocus Pocus (1993) [1P]
  • Mickey’s House of Villains (2001) [1P]
  • Monster Squad (1987) [2P]
  • Trick R Treat (2007) [4P]

ROOM FOR MORE…. If I get to watch around Halloween time that’s cool:

  • Addams Family (1991) [2P]
  • Cabin in the Woods (2012) [4P]
  • Comedy of Terrors (1963) [2P]
  • Evening with Edgar Allan Poe (1970) [2P] {This is just Vincent Price by himself reading the classic Poe stories and it’s amazing}
  • Goosebumps (2015) [1P]
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959) [2P]
  • House of Wax (1953) [2P]
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) [1P]
  • Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949) [1P] { This is usually titled as “Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”}
  • Mad Monster Party? (1967) [1P] { That question mark is part of the title, I use this one primarily as background to carving or answering the door to trick or treaters since the animation is great but plot is long and blah}
  • Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) [1P] {Okay I LOVE THIS FILM, however the reason it’s not listed in my essential Halloween List, is that to me this is more of a Christmas movie than Halloween, so I usually watch this after Halloween but before Christmas, I call it my Holiday transition movie}
  • Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular (2003) [1P]
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999) [3P]



Note I made these lists from my own memory and only did research of movie dates from IMDB.com.

Where to Watch:  Hulu, Netflix, DVD from Local Library, rent from your cable provider, or purchase on Amazon.

What’s the plot, who are the actors, etc.:   IMDB.com

But is it okay for my family, child, or me?: Commonsensemedia.org

But I want more movies!! :

BOOK: Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies for Halloween by Nathaniel Tolle ISBN-13: 978-0764347238 (I haven’t gotten my hands on this yet but looks awesome)

Also see my future posts: Halloween Magic: Movies (Part 2 & Part 3)!!!

2 thoughts on “Halloween Magic: Movies (Part 1 of 3)

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