One of the best things about the Halloween season is that it’s the time of the year when everyone decides to take an interest in the things we love all year round. Sometimes, this translates to mainstream genres as well. Not every movie set on Halloween is a horror film.
Of course, there are tons of good movies set around the Halloween season that cast aside the element of horror for the sake of family friendly entertainment. Animated TV classics like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Halloween Tree are perfect examples of this.
And then you’ve also got movies that remove the element of horror completely, movies that just happen to be set on or around Halloween. Whatever the case, there are many films that take place around this time of year that we don’t classically define as horror, but might make an interesting part of your yearly marathon.
Ernest Scared Stupid
So, the Ernest movies were always dumb, charming fun. In his many exploits he went to camp, jail, and even Africa. But luck would have it that his best movie by far happened to be a Halloween-themed entry that honestly terrified me as a child. Ernest Scared Stupid sees him go toe-to-toe with a troll, expertly realized by the Chiodo brothers.
Honestly, Casper is one of the most underrated kids movies of all time. It looks good, it’s genuinely funny, but most importantly, it has heart. My God, does this movie have heart. It’s completely built upon the idea that Casper is a ghost, making us have to think about the fact that he was once a little boy until something really terrible happened. It’s a genuine story about loneliness and friendship that more people need to see.
Yeah, I didn’t expect to see this one on the list either. But after reflecting back on it, Batman Forever definitely counts as a movie set around the Halloween season. It was by far the most, over-the-top and flamboyant Batman flick up to that point, which sort of makes it work for Halloween in a Hocus Pocus kind of way. That doesn’t make Riddler and Two-Face trick-or-treating at Wayne Manor any less bizarre, though.
Despite being a film from the same duo that brought us A Horrible Way to Die and You’re Next, The Guest is not a horror movie in any traditional sense. It has more in common with Terminator than anything strictly horror-related, but it is drenched in Halloween atmosphere from the first frame to the last. It’s an interesting and excellent juxtaposition.
This cult classic that barely anyone could even wrap their heads around is also great Halloween viewing, especially the last half hour or so. A tale of teenage nihilism and time travel, Donnie Darko will be one that I’m sure much of the high school/college crowd have on their viewing list this year.
E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
E.T. is one of the most iconic motion pictures ever made. It also just so happens to have some memorable scenes set on Halloween, making it perfect for inclusion on this list. Fans have also picked apart whether E.T. recognizing a trick-or-treater dressed as Yoda means he originally hails from the Star Wars universe.
There’s some debate still about whether The Crow really counts as a horror film. It’s a supernatural revenge/action/thriller/drama that hinges upon being cross-genre, but there’s no debate that it is truly a crucial Halloween movie. Even if it technically takes place on Devil’s Night, it’s about a couple tragically murdered the night before their Halloween wedding. There’s something about its gothic atmosphere that’s a nice counterbalance to the seasonal charm of Hocus Pocus and other more upbeat holiday features.