Seasonally Spooky Movies
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
I love all things supernatural so much that I've started a podcast—Across the Veil—examining ghosts, spooky legends, and strange happenings. But no way can I do nightmare-inducing films. So, here I present my top six spooky, but not scary, movies for you to enjoy. Some are kid-friendly and some are decidedly adults only. Choose wisely and enjoy!
Directors: Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. (2005)
Surprisingly heartwarming for a story about death. On the eve before his wedding, Victor (Johnny Depp) ventures out into the woods and accidentally gets married to Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) who is, unfortunately, dead. Victor is then dragged to the underworld and must find a way to make it back to his living fiancée. The unique stop-motion animation style adds to the creepy factor and Tim Burton’s eerie aesthetics make Corpse Bride an iconic staple in any spooky lover’s repertoire.
Director: Jim Sharman (1975)
A cult classic for a reason, The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be watched year-round, but is perfect for any October night. Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) find themselves at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s (Tim Curry) mysterious castle and are thrust into a frightful night they’ll never forget. Singing, dancing, Transylvanians, strange experiments, and Meat Loaf (the singer-not the food) round out this wacky musical confection.
Director: Henry Selick (2009)
Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Coraline is stop-motion studio Laika’s first feature film. After moving to a new state, Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) struggles with inattentive parents and weird new neighbors. She finds herself drawn into another world through a doorway where her other mother and father are everything she’s ever wanted, but quickly learns that you should be careful what you wish for. The stop-motion animation gives the film a dreamlike quality and the story's twists and turns will definitely send chills down the spine of anyone, at any age.
Director: Griffin Dunne (1998)
Sisters Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) Owens are witches living in a small town in Massachusetts. A family curse has brought the sisters back together and they must break this spell before a supernatural forces threaten to end the Owens' bloodline. Bullock and Kidman are perfectly cast and the film is more of a love story than an occult drama, but there are definitely some hair-raising moments that involve necromancy and other black magic that may keep you up at night. If you liked Charmed you’ll appreciate Practical Magic.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld (1991)
Honestly, find me a man who loves me as much as Gomez loves Morticia, and I’ll be set for life—couple goals for eternity. The Addams are a very strange family that includes parents, Gomez and Morticia, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, their grandmother, Lurch the Frankenstein-esque butler, and Thing (literally a disembodied hand). This first film (there's a sequel that is also pretty good!) is about Gomez’s estranged brother Uncle Fester coming home after years of being lost—the only catch is that it’s not Fester, it’s someone who wants to steal the Addams family inheritance! The goth vibes are immaculate in this film, but it’s definitely more funny than scary.
Director: Henry Selick (1993)
Ah, yes. The age old question—is this a Christmas or Halloween film? I argue that it can definitely be both, but the creepy mise en scene definitely push it into the spooky film category. Jack Skellington is the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town, where everyday is spent in preparation for the next Halloween. Jack has grown tired of this monotony and longs for something new and exciting. The plot only gets wackier from there, but watching a skeleton dressed as Santa Clause is definitely the film's highlight!
Creator: Patrick McHale (2014)
Not technically a movie, but this animated show ran for one season on Cartoon Network and is ten episodes of the perfect autumnal vibe. Two brothers, Wirt and Greg find themselves lost in a strange and eerie wood and have to find their way home. Leading voices include Elija Wood (from Lord of the Rings) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future). It’ll take less than two hours to watch the entire series; I highly recommend making a night of it. The incredible artwork and shocking twists make this show a must see of mine every Fall season.