Halloween Films for the 'Horror' Haters

As holidays-where-you-don’t-get-the-day-off go, Halloween is probably my favourite (followed a close second by Bonfire night.) If only because it’s so different. Rather than family gatherings and big dinners, Halloween is about dressing up and scary stuff. It’s a bizarre thing to celebrate, but I love it. As a kid, there was something weirdly exciting about putting on a costume and going out at night, in order to get sweets and maybe join in the odd game of duck-apple.  Even though I was only ever allowed to go to the houses of people I knew, I had enough family in the area to make a proper night of it and the atmosphere on Halloween night still gives me that bit of a thrill.

The issue is that once you’ve passed the Trick-or-Treating stage – and unless you’ve been invited to a party – Halloween can be a bit boring. You feel like you should do something to mark the occasion, but there’s not a lot of options. I’ve done a haunted hayride, a Halloween themed maize maze and a Harry Potter feast (thank you Bangor uni!) and one day I might be brave enough to try Farmageddon.  Generally though, the most viable option is staying in with a horror film. But what if you don’t like horrors? Here are some of my favourite spooky or Halloween themed films, for those of us who love to love Halloween – but are wimps at heart.

Hocus Pocus

 In 18th century Salem, Thackery Binks’s little sister is stolen away by trio of witches known as the Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, and Sarah-Jessica Parker). In the present day, their legend lives on: will someone light the black-flame candle and awaken the sisters to wreak havoc on Halloween night? For a children's film, there’s some pretty scary stuff in there for young kids (children getting their souls sucked out, hangings, kids stolen from their rooms while their guardians are downstairs) but the tone’s pretty light generally and there’s lots of humour – plus a couple of songs.


Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, this is the story of a bored little girl who goes through a door to a parallel universe where her ‘other mother’ gives her lots more attention – but also wants to sew buttons in her eyes. Written and directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) Coraline is trippy and un-nerving with suitably creepy animation. It’s a good story though, and the book’s good too.

Practical Magic

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as sisters with magical powers and a curse on their family that says any man they fall in love with will die. I saw it for the first time this year, and if you’re looking for a Halloween, chick flick, this is your best bet.

Monster House

The animation might be out-dated and the premise decidedly odd, but Monster House is a surprisingly fun and spooky little film. Left with a babysitter on Halloween,  DJ and his friend Chowder are freaked out by some strange occurrences in the house belonging to the old man across the road. The main characters are likeable, and there’s lots of genuine laughs and a good few jumpy bits.

The Witches

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s scariest children’s book, The Witches follows an orphaned boy who’s Grandmother teaches him all about the Witches who still walk the earth. Their main motivation?  To exterminate all children. It’s a pretty close adaptation (minus the very end, sadly) and has a suitably creepy, Halloween feel, as well as lots of Roald Dahl’s trademark humour.

Young Frankenstein

If anyone else had that ‘Anastasia’ sing along video when they were younger (it had only two Anastasia songs, and then a really random selection of others) you might remember a version of ‘Puttin' on the Ritz’ featuring Frankenstein and his monster? Well that comes from this film. A stylised horror parody, this stars Gene Wilder as young Frankenstein (grandson of Victor). It’s more recent than you might think, despite the black and white, and is ridiculous but funny. Perfect for Halloween.

Wallace and Gromit:
 Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Wallace and Gromit’s first feature length film, this didn’t disappoint. Another horror parody, this is a lot of fun, with jokes for the adults as well as the kids. When a pest-control contraption gone wrong creates a monster bunny, the local townspeople fear for their prized vegetables as the annual vegetable show is coming up. It’s very English, with a nice Halloweeny- Hammer-horror feel.



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