What’s better than dressing like your favorite cartoon character and grabbing as many King-Size Reese’s Cups as you can get your hands on? While my days of wandering around my neighborhood dressed as a Power Ranger or Mario Kart character for Halloween may be over, I still love to get in the spirit of the season by binge-watching my favorite movies.
Here’s my secret, though: I am a total scaredy-cat. I can’t stand horror films — I even watch most of “Stranger Things” with my fingers stretched over my eyes — and as the fog rolls in and a chill settles over our little town, I’m easily spooked. So, to get into the spirit without giving myself the heebie-jeebies, I love to watch these movies:
When you want to fall in love: “Practical Magic”
It feels like every single rom-com is set during Christmastime, but this one has a spooky-witchy twist that makes it perfect for Halloween. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman come alive as the Owens sisters from Alice Hoffman’s phenomenal book of the same name. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures because it has the right mix of romance, mystery, and magic.
When you know who you’re gonna call: “Ghostbusters”
When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you should watch “Ghostbusters.” As paranormal activity spikes across New York City, a gaggle of our favorite ‘80s comedians are there to stop it. Even though the CGI hasn’t aged well, the movie is still hilarious. Do you have the Ray Parker Jr. song in your head yet?
When you want to run amuck, amuck, amuck: “Hocus Pocus”
By far the best Disney Channel Original Movie (fight me, “High School Musical” fans!) “Hocus Pocus” remains an iconic movie for the season. With spooky spells, haunted houses, an unnecessary but amazing dance number, plus a talking cat, it’s my all-time Halloween favorite.
When you want to join another world: “Spirited Away”
Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animated film takes place in the spirit world, making it perfect to watch on Halloween. It’s got some genuinely scary moments (for me, anyway), but the gorgeous animation more than makes up for it in whimsy and detail. I love getting lost in the movie.
When you want to bring back the magic of childhood: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
When I was in third grade, I went as Harry Potter for Halloween — short, black wig and all. I eagerly knocked on the door of my best friend’s party and she gave me candy instead of inviting me in. My own best friend didn’t even recognize me!
Since I can’t speed-read all seven books straight in one evening, I capture the magic of one of my favorite fantasy series by watching the movies. The Halloween sets are particularly stunning, and the first movie reminds me that you can always find a little magic in your everyday life, too.
When you feel like an angsty teenager no one ~understands~: “Twilight”
Ok, I’ll be honest. This movie is not a good movie. But if you want to feel like a teenager again — the awkwardness, the discomfort in your own body, the obsession over your latest crush — watch vampires, werewolves, and humans clash in “Twilight,” and thank your lucky stars you’ve grown up a little bit. (But not enough that you don’t enjoy a good-bad movie like this one!)
When you want to choose your own ending: “Clue”
It’s a dark and stormy night and Tim Curry is waiting at a fancy mansion. No, I’m not talking about “Rocky Horror” (though it’s perfect for a double feature!) but “Clue,” the madcap mystery movie that has not one but three endings you can choose from. If you loved playing the board game growing up like I did, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this dramatic over-the-top movie version.
Originally published on October 25, 2019.