As soon as the first cool breeze blows a few crispy leaves from their branches, horror fans crawl out of the woodwork to indulge their love for every film that is about a chainsaw, massacre or chainsaw massacre. In the meantime, people who’d rather celebrate Halloween without having to sleep with the lights on are returning to some surefire favorites – classics like Hocus-pocus (1993), Beetle juice (1998) and The Addams family (1991). While your steel-nerved friends are busy with slashers and scream queens, here are 15 gently creepy movies to watch.
1. Halloween city (1998)
What Bette Midler did for Hocus-pocus, Debbie Reynolds does for Halloween city (Unfortunately, Reynolds has no chance of showing her singing chops beyond the weird incantation). The Sing in the rain Star plays a crazy, friendly witch whose three grandchildren follow her to Halloweentown – the home of all imaginable magical creatures – and use her newly discovered powers to fight against evil forces. The film was first released as a Disney Channel Original Movie and quickly became a fan favorite among the kids of the ’90s. Unsurprisingly, Disney happily took advantage of this success: three sequels had been made by 2006.
2. What we do in the shadows (2014)
2014 Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clements Mockumentary – the basis for the equally hysterical FX series of the same name – follow some wacky vampires who try to deal with roommate conflicts, nightclub dynamics, and other modern day situations without going back to their more grueling ones Draw attention to preferences. Not only will the film make you scream for mercy (through laughter, not pain), but it will also make it impossible for you to ever fear a vampire again. Warning: While the film is undoubtedly a comedy, there is a lot of blood in it.
3. The young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks’ 1974 mock horror film stars Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, a doctor who has spent his life distancing himself from his embarrassing older relative. The younger Dr. Frankenstein reluctantly takes a trip to Transylvania to explore his ancestral castle, and gets caught up in experiments involving several creepy servants (from Cloris Leachman and Marty Feldman, among others) and, yes, an undead monster. Wilder is wild-eyed, wild-haired, and hilarious throughout the film, making this a must-have for anyone who thinks that all horror films should really just be comedies.
4th The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical has been a play for more than 30 years. But not enough people appreciate Joel Schumacher’s 2004 film adaptation, in which Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson and Gerard Butler (plus Minnie Driver in a supporting role who deserves to play a standing ovation) perform seriously. It’s not exactly a ghost story as the title phantom is a real man, but there is tons of eerie organ music, secret passages, and possibly the best underground camp ever.
5. Applied sorcery (1998)
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star in this large-format adaptation of Alice Hoffman’s beloved novel as spirited sister witches with a cursed love life (literally – their Beaus always dies young). An accidental murder and ill-advised resurrection spell later, the two are examined by a dashing, steely-eyed detective played by Aidan Quinn. think Gilmore Girlsbut with magic.
6th Death becomes them (1992)
Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play aging enemies who throw back questionable cocktails from the enigmatic Lisle Von Rhuman (Isabella Rossellini) who promises them a wrinkle-free eternal life. They quickly discover that “alive” and “not dead” are not exactly the same state, and the plastic surgeon turned undertaker Ernest Menvill (Bruce Willis) tries to stop them (literally ) to fall to pieces. It’s campy and macabre in equal parts, complete with creaky old mansions and dark stormy nights.
7th Little shop of horror (1986)
Some films may have a bloodthirsty intercom, a sadistic dentist, or Rick Moranis, but the 1986 1960s remake Little shop of horror is the only one with all three. The dentist is played by Steve Martin, by the way, and Levi Stubbs gives the plant its bluesy baritone. Bill Murray and John Candy both make memorable cameos, and Tisha Campbell leads a ’60s trio that narrate the action in Greek choral style. Did we mention that everyone is singing all the time?
8th. Mary and the witch’s flower (2017)
Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children’s book, this enchanting film by a former Ghibli filmmaker tells the story of a girl who stumbles on a magical flower and is carried to a witch’s school in the sky. She has to fight a few evildoers, of course, but the film, overall, exudes the same healing charm as Ghibli projects Howl’s Moving Castle (which could easily have ended up on this list as well).
9. Scooby Doo (2002)
Everyone’s favorite inarticulate Great Dane and their meddling friends head to a theme park called Spooky Island to investigate possible demon activity. The mystery itself is slightly compelling, but the cast’s commitment to their cartoonish roles is what makes the heavyweight for this goofy film: Linda Cardellini as Velma; Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne; Matthew Lillard as Shaggy; and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred. And in case you forget in the middle of the movie that this is happening in the early 2000s, Sugar Ray’s Beach Concert should help you remember.
10. Van Helsing (2004)
This cheesy monster mash features Dracula, Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde, some werewolves and Kate Beckinsale’s Transylvanian accent. The connecting factor is Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing, a high-level monster assassin with the boast of Robin Hood and the general vibe of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. It’s almost like writer / director / producer Stephen Sommers (best known for 1999) The Mummy) challenged himself to see how many monsters he could fit into a movie the same way you could fill your cheeks with marshmallows. The result is just as entertaining.
11. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
A devilish stranger named Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) shows up in a small town on Rhode Island and immediately begins seducing three local friends, played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. As women get closer to their mysterious new man, they discover some latent powers of their own. (Her hair also gets noticeably larger, which seems like a stylistic clue that magic is going on.) The movie isn’t scary, but it will teach you not to have a polygamous relationship with a man who keeps suggesting that he is the devil.
12th Corpse bride (2005)
The one produced by Tim Burton The nightmare before Christmas (1993) has all the obvious features of a Halloween movie – pumpkins, skeletons, monsters, a town called “Halloween Town”, etc. – but its 2005 fantasy Corpse bride is just as scary. Almost through no fault of his own, a spindly young groom is married to a dead Maggothic girl who leads him through the underworld to help him return to his real bride. It’s very Gothic, vaguely Orphean, and a lot quirkier than scary.
13. Beautiful creatures (2012)
In what is now South Carolina, a youthful “caster” (as in Spellcaster) runs to break a curse that will determine whether she is good or bad once she turns 16. Hearing from Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons with syrupy southern accents is a good reason to watch this box office flop, and the fact that a giant spellbook is spilled in shadowy ink on its pages (along with other seasonally appropriate special effects) justifies it Halloween.
14th The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
When a young doe-eyed woman (Susan Sarandon) and her fiancé (Barry Bostwick) get into trouble with their car, they come across a creepy old lock that they hope has a working phone – pretty predictable so far. What follows is anything but. Inside, a self-described transvestite named Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) various creepy punks for the annual Transylvanian Convention, where he introduces a glittering, muscular boy toy of his own creation. Innocence is lost, Time Warp is staged with gusto, and this film (which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year) is not for young children. However, it is suitable for Halloween.
fifteen. The witches (1990)
If 1991 The Addams family and its 1993 sequel made Anjelica Huston a Halloween icon in the ’90s The witches put them on this path in the first place. It’s an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, produced by Jim Henson, and Huston plays an elegant, cackling witch with big plans (namely, to turn all children into mice). Over next year’s vacation, you can compare Huston’s performance to Anne Hathaway’s – as she repeats the role in a remake that’s slated for 2021.