As you read our list of great Halloween-centric features, keep in mind that they’re not all scary, or even horror movies for that matter, but they do take place on the most spectacular of all holidays!
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie’s auspicious and blood filled gore loving directorial debut is a Halloween-set riff on ’70s era grindhouse classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, with a group of attractive young people roped into the perverse and brutal world of the evil Firefly family. It was followed by the tonally disparate sequel The Devil’s Rejects.
The Crow (1994)
One of my favorite movie, During Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween in Detroit) a young man named Eric (Brandon Lee) and his girlfriend are brutally murdered by gang members. A year later Eric comes back to life aided by supernatural powers in order to gain vengeance. Although the film will always be overshadowed by the on-set death of Lee, the comic book adaptation is still a powerful gothic fable with a music video edge to it.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Richard Kelly’s directorial debut juggles existential angst with time travel elements to produce a heady cinematic cocktail. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a star-making performance as the title character, a troubled teenager who narrowly escapes death thanks to an imaginary rabbit named Frank. A strange investigation into the accident as well as a budding high school romance dominate the story.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Okay, so in an article that bills itself on not including Halloween is it fair to include the third movie in the series? Yes, so long as you remember that it’s essentially an unrelated entry in the franchise with nary a Michael Myers to be found. Instead, it follows a town doctor (the great Tom Atkins) as he investigates a Halloween mask company with an evil plot to murder millions of children using black magic!
Hell Night (1981)
Alpha Sigma Rho president decides to take four new pledges on an initiation to spend a night on a “haunted” estate. Only problem is it’s not haunted in quotation marks, as a homicidal maniac starts picking them off one-by-one. Linda Blair leads the cast of pretty young things to the slaughter.
Lady in White (1988)
Building off Rochester, New York legends, filmmaker Frank LaLoggia crafted a haunting and sentimental look at life during Halloween 1962 when a small boy named Frankie (Lukas Haas) is cruelly locked in a school storeroom. When he is attacked by a mysterious force the town rushes to scapegoat an innocent black janitor, implying that he is involved in the mysterious deaths of 11 children.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton and director Henry Selick crafted a modern stop-motion animated masterpiece with this story of an overzealous grandmaster of Halloweentown named Jack Skellington decides to take on Christmas as well. Turns out ol’ Jack doesn’t quite have the knack for it that Santa does.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy play three witches resurrected in modern-day Salem in order to cause untold mischief on Halloween night. It’s up to a group of teens, a young girl and an immortal cat to send them back where they came.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
Charles Durning puts in a disturbing performance as a malcontent small town postal worker named Otis who murders an innocent mentally-challenged man. When his friends start getting picked off, Otis slips deeper into desperate paranoia that may or may not be grounded in the supernatural.
Monster House (2006)
Deliriously fun animated movie follows a trio of middle school kids on the cusp of being too old for Halloween as they discover a real-life horror story right on their suburban block. The film features Kathleen Turner as the voice of a giant, possessed house.
The Karate Kid (1984)
While it’s not usually thought of as a Halloween movie, The Karate Kid‘s major instigating scene takes place during a Halloween party when Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is beaten up by members of the “Cobra Kai” dojo dressed as skeletons.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Michael Dougherty directed this anthology film set entirely and gloriously on Halloween. The interrelated segments, involving poisoned candy, a school bus accident, female werewolves and a ghostly little boy, all form together to make one giant mega-narrative that celebrates the holiday like no other movie, including John Carpenter’s masterpiece. a must watch!