Some of us just don’t do horror movies. You can have your “Exorcists” and your “Shinings,” your “Its” and your “Screams.” Those of us with slightly less-robust constitutions prefer our scary movies without so much, well, scare. So what are we supposed to watch at Halloween? “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”? Well, here are a holiday-befitting films, to get you in the Halloween mood…
1. Fright Night (1985, Rated ‘R’)
The original 1985 version is a classic, offering suspense, genuine scares and plenty of understated humor. Be warned that there’s also a fair amount of gore — hence the R rating — but overall it’s a fun, mildly scary horror flick. The film was remade in 2011, starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell and Toni Collette.
2. Hocus Pocus (1993, Rated ‘PG’)
Arguably the greatest family-friendly Halloween movie out there. This Walt Disney film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson sisters, witches who were executed 300 years earlier and come back to life thanks to a virgin who lights a candle.
3. The Ghost & Mr Chicken (1966, Rated ‘G’)
Don Knots was nothing less than comedic gold. And he was never better than in this silly tale of an aspiring journalist for a small-town newspaper who gets his big break when the editor assigns him to spend the night in a haunted house. Think Barney Fife with a reporter’s notebook.
4. Ghostbusters (1984, Rated ‘PG’)
The original ghost-hunting team leads us on a fun and funny romp through the world of spirits and ectoplasmic slime. It stars Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis. The film was remade in 2016 with actors Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
5. The Lost Boys (1985, Rated ‘R’)
When a family moves to a beachside town, the two brothers discover that it’s a hotbed of vampire activity. Another mildly frightening film, with plenty of comedy thrown in. It stars Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest and Kiefer Sutherland, but it’s the vampire-hunting Frog brothers — played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander — who basically steal the show.
6. Practical Magic (1998, Rated ‘PG-13)
It’s Halloween night. You want to watch a scary movie, but your significant other would prefer a love story. What do you do? Check out this endearing little film starring Sanda Bullock and Nicole Kidman as two witches looking for love in all the wrong places.
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Rated ‘R’)
The laughs come even harder and faster than the gore in this film starring Simon Pegg as a man whose boring life is suddenly disrupted by the zombie apocalypse. It’s about as funny as zombie movies come.
8 Zombieland (2009, Rated R)
Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg are hilarious in this sendup of the zombie apocalypse. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin aren’t bad, either. And the scene with Bill Murray is absolutely priceless. Plus which, with the sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap” now in theaters, it’s a good time to revisit the original film.