You've probably already got your Halloween classics lined up for spooky viewing tonight, and if not, our suggestions of underrated modern horror movies or Netflix Instant recommendations have given you even more to consider. But the whole group of us here at Cinema Blend has something broader in mind this Halloween. We don't just want you to pick the right spooky movies to watch this year; we want you to pick one you've never considered a Halloween movie before.
From comic farces to animated classics to the world's creepiest superhero movie, these are all picks that don't necessarily scream "Halloween!" but have a place on this holiday anyway. Check out our picks below, and let us know your own unconventional Halloween picks in the comments. And of course, most important, Happy Halloween!
The Crow Comic book movies are often painted with a broad brush as being almost exclusively part of the summer blockbuster season, but there is one hero in particular who is far more at home in the waning days of October: The Crow.
Though the movie was a May release when it first came out back in 1994, the dark tale of post-mortem vengeance is a perfect one to watch unfold on Halloween – and not just because it happens to be set on Devil’s Night. While the autumn holiday is typically celebrated with a hefty dose of horror movie scares, Alex Proyas’ adaptation of James O'Barr’s graphic novel series takes all of those thrills and deftly mixes them into a deep story that is lined with great characters and awesome action (not to mention a behind-the-scenes story filled with tragedy and mystery). You may have to resist the urge to go screaming into the night causing chaos and screaming "Fire it up!" loudly and often, but ultimately it’s all just about getting into the Halloween spirit.
Sleepy Hollow It isn’t one of Tim Burton’s benchmark films. When discussing the director's oeuvre, it’s often trumped by Beetlejuice, Batman or a bevy of other collaborations with Johnny Depp. But the duo’s retelling of Washington Irving’s nightmarish folk story balances history, mystery and Burton’s Gothic wit – enough so that it deserves an annual revisit around Halloween time.
Sleepy Hollow has all the trimmings of a vintage ghost story, starting with ominous haunted woods cursed by a headless spirit (played by none other than the inherently creepy Christopher Walken!). Burton’s often mistaken as a peddler of the macabre. Sleepy Hollow, though, might be his only legitimate stab – or axe swing – at traditional horror, and the mood of this movie creates a skin-crawling chill. More violent and legitimately terrifying than the bulk of Burton’s work, Sleepy Hollow should find a much larger audience – even if it can lure half of the audience currently devoting time to the weekly television drama of the same name. Grab a flaming jack-o-lantern, saddle up on a pitch-dark stallion, and enjoy!
Trick 'r Treat After playing at a string of genre-specific film fests, this 2007 anthology from writer-director Michael Dougherty was inexplicably robbed of a proper theatrical run. Which would explain why you may have never heard of it. But this deeply creepy feature's reputation has been steadily growing among horror fanatics thanks to its pitch-perfect scares and twisted sense of humor.
Set on Halloween, Trick 'r Treat is a frightening fable that offers a terrifying tale for each holiday rule broken. Learn why you should keep your jack-o-lanterns lit all night, why you should always check your candy, never smash a jack-o-lantern, and never, ever mock the dead. Spoiler alert: the answer to all of the above is you will end up dead!
This is hands down one of the best horror movies you've never seen. It's an homage to the rule-establishing horror of the 1980s while being something fresh and uniquely disturbing. Aside from boasting a cast that includes Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Leslie Bibb, and Dead Like Me's Britt McKillip, there's gore, nightmarish thrills, and a twisted sense of humor at its core. What more could you want?
The 'Burbs Back before Tom Hanks was an Academy Award winner, he was fronting some wild laffers, including this totally deranged horror-comedy from 1989. Directed by Gremlins helmer Joe Dante, The 'Burbs plays on the gossipy nature of the suburbs to build the perfect setting for a family of merciless killers to hide in plain sight. On a quiet cul-de-sac, the arrival of a reclusive and strange-looking new family inspires their neighbors to speculate about their identities and swap urban legends, building paranoia to a fevered pitch. Ray Peterson (Hanks) thinks he's too smart to get caught up in all this idle talk, but as the evidence stack up--that is people go missing and bones begin to surface--he can't help but join forces with his gun nut neighbor (Bruce Dern) and garrulous best friend (Rick Ducommun) to investigate what could be a killing spree in the making.
Suggesting the scariest stories are the ones going on right under your nose, The 'Burbs is a perfect movie for a quiet Halloween night in. It's not as nightmarishly scary as some of the other picks on this list, so it's a solid choice if you want something freaky but not too frightening. Watch it in full here.
Warning: This video is very unsettling and NSFW! But hey, it's Halloween. Audition The trick-or-treating is done, and half of the candy has been devoured while watching the more lighthearted fare on this list. As the hour draws late and the need to watch a really scary movie presents itself, there is never any reason to look past Takashi Miike’s modern classic Audition, a film so layered in atmospheric mystery that it loses almost nothing from one viewing to the next.
Ryo Ishibashi’s smitten and clueless widower is perfectly paired against the sadistic timebomb Asami (Elhi Shiina), caught in a cycle of betrayal and exploitation. And if Audition were solely a slow crawl toward abject revenge, it still couldn’t be faulted for much, but it’s the absurd eccentricities and the ways in which Miike delivers information about Asami that keep comfort levels wavering throughout. It’s one of the few films that gives you a clear beginning and ending but allows viewers to create their own middle from the pieces given. And more so than any other malicious being in horror cinema, the thing in the bag bores holes into my nightmares and pours itself inside. Not to mention the piano teacher and the legendary climax. Audition is the film "midnight on Halloween" was meant for.
Monsters Inc. Everyone always gets hung up on scariness when it comes to Halloween movies, but the end of October can also be a great time for celebrating the weird quirkiness of the holiday. More than anything else, that’s what Pixar’s beautiful Monsters Inc does. It takes the more outlandish and colorful creatures that go bump in the night and gives them their own fears, eccentricities and desires, all while offering children and adults a seemingly endless backdrop of imaginative scenescapes filled with larger than life characters.
For one day a year, we put on costumes and have fun parading around as someone else. Try as we might, however, none of us is ever able to have as much fun as the perpetually upbeat and wide-eyed Boo who gallivants through Monstropolis calling ferocious-looking monsters Kitty and generally behaving as if she’s having the time of her life. The only thing more fun than being her is watching her, and following our parties and Trick or Treat excursions, there’s no better movie to sit down and enjoy as a family than Monsters Inc. It’s a great time for everyone in the room, and if the last decade is any indication, it will hold up for the rest of our lives.
Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands plays like a fairytale, in which a man with scary-looking scissor hands is lured from the isolated environment of his dark, creepy mansion by the friendly local Avon lady, who offers him an opportunity to live among the regular people and find his place among society. Edward’s efforts to acclimate himself to suburban life, which includes sculpting hedges and hair with his hands, eventually backfire as people begin to take advantage of him, which backfires even further when the neighborhood turns on him, exploiting Edward’s innocence. It’s a sad, strange, twisted tale, and one perfectly suited for Halloween.
Of course, that can be said for just about anything Tim Burton does, but what makes Edward Scissorhands so creepy isn’t the pale man with the messy hair, black clothing and giant scissors for hands, it’s the predatory suburbanites, who live in their colorful candy-coated houses as seemingly good people, but whose figurative claws prove to be far more dangerous than Edward’s scissors. Between its cast, which includes Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest and Anthony Michael Hall, its dark and eventually violent story and the general tone of the film — thanks in part to Danny Elfman’s excellent score--Edward Scissorhands is the perfect film to watch during the Halloween season.
The Monster Squad For some of us, The Monster Squad is an 80s classic, mashing monsters with a Goonies-like plot involving a bunch of kids who set out to save their town from an invasion of classic horror monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the wolf-man included. This under-appreciated gem of a film puts kids into a scary adventure, blending horror with a bit of humor — "Creature stole my Twinkie" — and still managing to include some genuinely scary moments, like when Dracula lifts Phoebe up by her face ("Give me the amulet, you bitch!").
Is The Monster Squad a bit dated? Sure, but the film still manages to hold up for all the reasons it was great in 1987, including a thrilling score and a story about a group of kids, aided by the "Scary German Guy," who fight the forces of evil in their town, armed with their knowledge of classic horror monsters and a determination not to let these villains take over their town. A Halloween classic in the making, you can buy The Monster Squad here.
Clue The board game Clue isn't one bit scary, and neither is the movie inspired by it for that matter. But if your idea of a perfect Halloween involves costumes, mayhem, fake blood and twist endings galore, you can't do better than this 1985 cult classic, which continues to inspire filmmakers to this day. The movie was a famous flop when it opened, and people who paid to see it in theaters probably still resent those three endings, each of them playing in different theaters. But now that it's streaming on Netflix, you can watch all of the endings-- including the one above-- all at once, and appreciate the screwball comic genius going on through the whole thing.
It's got basically every type of comedy, from absurdist nonsense-- Madeline Kahn's legendary "Flames on the side of my face" speech-- to classic slapstick, and familiar faces like Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry and Michael McKean getting in on the nonsense, as eager as kids in Halloween costumes. Every murder mystery dinner party since then has failed to live up to the example set by Clue, and especially if you're inviting friends over for some Halloween hijinks without kids to gum up the works, Clue is how a perfect Halloween should go-- fancy clothes, a bit of suspense, a lot of laughter, and a cavalry rescue in the end. Now I'm going to go home and sleep with my wife.