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I love spooky season. Like, I really love spooky season. It’s hard to decide whether I enjoy Halloween or Christmas more, but I have one common tradition throughout both seasons: watching lots and lots of movies. I may not be a film expert, but I know enough to confidently decide what some of the best movies are to watch around Halloween. Here are my top five favorite Halloween movies as we get closer to the spookiest day of the year.

Disclaimer: Yes, I watch these movies year round, definitely not just in October. All I’m saying is that these ones hit a little differently when you’re carving pumpkins and eating candy.

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20th Century Fox

5. Jennifer’s Body

There are few films in the world that can compare to Jennifer’s Body. It definitely changed me when I first watched it, its take on what it’s like to be a teenage girl was so captivating to younger me. It follows two girls in high school, best friends Needy and Jennifer, after Jennifer gets possessed by a demon and begins a killing spree. It isn’t exactly very spooky, but it is technically horror. It has a cult following that is very understandable — after all, who doesn’t want to watch a boy-killing Megan Fox? It definitely awakened something in me.

4. Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride is, in my opinion, Tim Burton’s cutest movie. There simply aren’t words to explain how much I love this movie. The blurring of the spirit world and living world when Emily wants to steal Victor away from Victoria makes for such a sweet movie about love and loss. There are few movie characters that I adore more than Emily, and I vow to dress up as her for Halloween one day. Until I can, I will be content watching this movie plenty of times every spooky season. If nothing else, just watch the wedding scenes towards the end — absolute masterpieces.

The Corpse Bride
Warner Bros. Pictures

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Yes, I know, the Tim Burton trend. But can you blame me? The man never disappoints. The Nightmare Before Christmas should be an absolute must on everyone’s Halloween movie list. It’s the ideal movie — it’s appropriate to watch from October 1st to Christmas. Trust me, I take advantage of this. The Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, taking over Christmas — what could be better? Danny Elfman provides the perfect spooky soundtrack (as always). You can enjoy spooky season while also getting excited for the holiday season coming soon. With characters like Sally and Zero, who wouldn’t want to watch?

2. Beetlejuice

I myself am strange and unusual. Nothing is more iconic than Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz — black hat, spiky bangs, camera, and all. When the Maitlands die and the Deetzs move in, the house soon gets crowded with all the ghosts and humans taking up space and trying to get rid of one another. This is definitely one that I watch all year long. My family regularly quotes this film, almost daily. We even gave our dog Max a middle name because of this movie — “I’m on the phone with Maxie Dean!”. One of my favorite Tim Burton films, you can’t go wrong with Beetlejuice. Perfect balance of spooks and laughs that come together to make the perfect Halloween movie night. Just don’t say Beetlejuice three times.

1. Poltergeist

In my opinion, Poltergeist is one of the best classic horror movies. Everyone knows the scene of the little girl sitting in front of the staticy television, eerily telling her parents “They’re here”. The slow build up of subtle spooky things happening around the family’s new home is perfect, leading to a great payoff at the film’s climax. There’s not much I can say other than this film brings me immense happiness. It was one of the first thrillers I fell in love with, and remains my favorite to this day. The evil tree, the scary clown doll, and the many spirits wandering around the house — it all adds up to one of the most haunting films of all time. I definitely recommend adding it to your list of movies to watch this Halloween. 

This is a very short list, and I had to leave out a lot of my other favorite films. Some honorable mentions: Carrie, Halloween, The Witch, Psycho, and The Addams Family. The best part about Halloween is movie nights with friends and family — sitting in a dark room, lots of candy and popcorn, and getting spooked by all the same jumpscares. Try one of these films out this Halloween, maybe you’ll discover a new favorite.

Caroline Lopez

Cal Lutheran '23

My name is Caroline and I’m an English major at California Lutheran University. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, I love spending time going to the beach and traveling around the state. I am a passionate book nerd who spends all her free time reading the classics. I also enjoy watching old movies as often as I can. But my biggest love is, of course, writing!
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