Arts and Entertainment

Flicks to Spice Up This Halloween Season

Here are some must-watch Halloween movies to enjoy the holiday at home.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Halloween in quarantine doesn’t have to be boring. Though most of our typical spooky season traditions aren’t CDC-approved, and a lot of us may find ourselves stumped when it comes to deciding what to do this Halloween, we still have a lot of options. Here are nine movies that can keep you occupied this Saturday, so pull up a bowl of popcorn—or candy corn if you’re feeling festive—and prepare to binge.

1. “Coraline” (2009)

If you haven’t seen this childhood staple, you’re missing out. Luckily, this animated film is one you'll never outgrow. When 11-year-old Coraline (Dakota Fanning) moves to a new town, she discovers a secret door in her home that leads to an alternate dimension. The alternate dimension is essentially a “perfect” version of Coraline’s bleak reality—until Coraline’s “Other Mother” (Teri Hatcher) tries to trap Coraline there forever. With the help of her only friend, Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.), and her eccentric neighbors, Coraline tries to escape her “Other Family” and make it back to her old life. Unlike most scary movies, “Coraline” is disturbing for its storyline rather than gore or violence. Everyone can empathize with Coraline: her feelings of isolation, wishes for a perfect life, and need to escape (all of which are especially relevant to us in quarantine). Don’t be fooled by the PG rating; the film touches on dark themes that are relatable whether you’re six or 16. Even in 3D animation, “Coraline” manages to tell a grim tale that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “be careful what you wish for.”

2. “Us” (2019)

“Us” has quickly become a quintessential psychological thriller since its recent release in March 2019. One summer, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o), along with her husband (Winston Duke), son (Evan Alex), and daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph), returns to her old home in Santa Cruz. Traumatized by an experience from her childhood, Adelaide grows increasingly anxious about the trip. Her fears come alive when four strangers approach the Wilsons’ house, ensuing in a battle for survival. Upon closer inspection, the Wilson family realizes that the four strangers are all too familiar. While it isn’t a classic by any means, “Us” has climbed to the top of horror movie rankings across numerous publications. Despite only being director Jordan Peele’s second film, he plays masterfully on suspense, utilizing every detail and every moment to create a twisted story. “Us” will keep you hooked with every scene and give you plenty to think about even after the credits conclude. Unlike most horror movies, which are reliant on suspense, “Us” is made for rewatching. The immaculate detail layered into every scene makes the movie feel like a never-ending puzzle. If you require a movie with a conclusive ending, “Us” may leave you dissatisfied because of its multifaceted and abstract meaning. The true terror of “Us” is that it forces viewers to confront ourselves and realize that the real monsters exist within us.

3. “Psycho” (1960)

Though it’s the oldest movie on this list, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is timeless. The iconic black-and-white thriller takes place in 1959 Phoenix, Arizona, when a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), steals $40,000 from her boss in order to run away and start a new life with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). On her way to her boyfriend’s house in California, Marion decides to spend the night at the Bates motel, where she meets the owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Over dinner, Norman tells Marion about his mentally ill mother and their strained relationship. Shortly after going back to her room and stepping in the shower, Marion realizes “like mother, like son.” Among Hitchcock’s list of masterpieces, “Psycho” is stands out because of its immeasurable effect on cinema, as it gave birth to numerous horror subgenres and is arguably one of the most famous scenes of all time. The film shattered the censorship guidelines of the ‘50s and ‘60s, telling a story that has been imitated to this day. “Psycho” is a captivating film and will always remain relevant to us because it taps into fears just about anyone has, whether that be committing a crime, being victim to one, or disappointing our mothers.

4. The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

No one can call themselves a horror movie aficionado without having seen “The Silence of the Lambs.” The film stars FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who is requested to apprehend a serial killer named “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine). Attempting to create a psychological profile of the killer, Starling looks to Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a renowned psychiatrist who had been imprisoned on several accounts of murder and cannibalism. Lecter agrees to help her in exchange for personal information about Starling. Clarice must navigate through the psychological games Lecter plays, at the risk of exposing herself to him. Beware—this movie is not for the faint of heart, but it is the essential crime horror film. From the acting to the cinematography to the immaculate storyline, “The Silence of the Lambs” is an excellent movie in every aspect.

5. “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

If you’re looking for a non-horror Halloween movie, “Edward Scissorhands” is the way to go. One of Tim Burton’s most iconic films, “Edward Scissorhands” tells the story of an artificial humanoid—Edward (Johnny Depp)—who is taken in by the Boggs family. Edward’s inventor passes away before he could finish him, leaving Edward with scissors for hands. In the Boggs’ neighborhood, Edward is ostracized and vilified, despite his being uncommonly gentle. Edward falls in love with the Boggs’ daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), but his nonhuman nature keeps them apart. The movie is a wonderful mishmash of genres, and Burton manages to tell a comedic, romantic, and tragic tale all in one. Though “Edward Scissorhands” is a whimsical fairytale, the ideas it explores are all too real to many of us.

6. “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Wes Craven’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” is an essential horror movie, introducing one of the most infamous characters in modern film: Freddy Kreuger (Robert Englund). The film features several teenagers in a midwestern small town who fall prey to a disfigured murderer in their sleep. These gruesome nightmares become a reality, leading Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) to investigate their friends’ deaths further. Without a doubt, “Nightmare on Elm Street” is one of the most terrifying movies on the list for both its classic horror movie tropes and its exploration of the relationship between dreams and reality.

7. “Get Out” (2017)

As various as I want this lineup to be, another one of Jordan Peele’s movies makes the must-watch list for this Halloween. The movie follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a Black man, and his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), taking a trip to upstate New York to meet Rose’s family. Chris is apprehensive of Rose’s approach to his “meeting the parents” and worries about her parents’ reaction to their being an interracial couple. As the weekend progresses, Chris grows more wary of Rose’s family and their acquaintances, later uncovering the horrifying truth about the Armitage family. Peele skillfully uses racial tensions to create a horror movie without taking away from the social commentary of the film. Just like in "Us," Peele seamlessly blends thought-provoking elements into a comedic and horrific tale. Watching the movie is mind-boggling as you analyze every scene and decipher each detail. “Get Out” tells an important story in an extremely unique and thoughtful manner that will keep you on the edge of your seat every step of the way.

8. “The Corpse Bride” (2005)

Though this list is dominated by horror movies, Halloween movies span just about every genre. Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride” is a lighthearted animated movie that is a must-watch every Halloween. In the film, Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) prepare for their arranged marriage. Though they both fall in love with each other, Victor’s nerves get the best of him, and he ruins their wedding rehearsal. Mortified, Victor runs to a nearby forest to practice his vows. He places his ring on a tree root, unbeknownst that the “root” was the finger of a dead woman named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). Emily whisks him away to the Land of the Dead, and Victor must choose between his fiance Victoria or the Corpse Bride. In contrast to the doom and gloom we often associate with death, Burton paints the Land of the Dead as lively and colorful, while the Land of the Living as gray and dreary. For a lot of us, quarantine has become dull and monotonous, similarly, to the Land of the Living in “Corpse Bride.” So if you're looking for an escape this Halloween, this movie ought to be on your watch list.

9. “Halloween” (1978)

As the name may signify, “Halloween” is a pretty classic movie to watch this fall. “Halloween” revolves around Michael Myers (Nick Castle, Tony Moran), a psychopathic killer who violently murders his 17-year-old sister, Judith (Sandy Johnson), at the age of six on October 31, 1963. After being sentenced to 15 years in a sanitarium, Myers escapes on October 30, 1978 to his quaint hometown, Haddonfield, Illinois, to find his next victims. With 11 movies in its franchise, it can’t be debated that “Halloween” is a textbook horror movie. You can always rely on Michael Myers for a good scare.