10 of the Best: Movies Set During Halloween

Posted October 31, 2013 by Jake Morris in Movies

After a weeks hiatus, 10 of the Best is back, and with its return comes a theme of ghouls, nightmares and frightening sights. With it being Halloween and all, what better way is there to show appreciation for the creepy night where the supernatural run wild than to have a countdown for 10 of the best movies set around All Hallows’ Eve?

So, as the title suggests, this weeks top 10 will be directed towards a wide range of films that just so happen to be either themed or set around Halloween… Does that mean mass bloodshed or relentless screaming? Not necessarily. Halloween is as much about fun, friends and family as any other holiday, but that isn’t to say we don’t love a good ol’ spooky film as well. So before any of the entries are given away, let’s end this bunch of babble and introduce you to the list.

So without further ado…

 Ed Wood

10. Ed Wood

Probably the least likely choice on the list to be selected for a Halloween viewing, but a long with a comedic trick ‘r treat scene, the film focuses on the ghastly movies directed, produced and scripted by Ed Wood. Some Halloween movies are frightening, but Ed Wood delivers a horror of a different kind…. As opposed to the countless movies you might watch this Halloween, where Ed Wood lacks in hulking, mysterious and gruesome monsters, it makes up for it in its focus on the director’s scarily atrocious C-movies. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of charm, including Johnny Depp’s performance. The film may not be an instant choice when it comes to essential Halloween viewing but the inclusion of Bella Lugosi as a central figure, one of the original Universal Monsters, should be enough to grab horror fans’ attention.

Monster House

9. Monster House

Where live-action movies show strength in the gore department, animated movies capitalise on the outlandish comical effects found in horror themed films. Monster House presents that in an almost parodying setup for a Halloween based movie. Playing on the old idea of a haunted house, Monster House pushes the boundaries and truly makes the house in question a living entity. In doing so, the film bridges the gap between haunted houses and comedy in an over the top way. The end result is a flurry of clever horror tropes done in an animated and child friendly manner.
The Halloween setting is not particularly necessary but it allows for some extra visuals and themes that bring the film full circle.

The Crow

8. The Crow

So there is a slight catch… The Crow focuses on the 30th of October rather than the 31st, but it is about as Gothic as a film based around Halloween will get (without having Tim Burton attached to it). Perhaps the most haunting film on the list due to the deeply saddening loss of Brandon Lee’s life while shooting the movie, The Crow is a dark affair full of action, beautiful dialogue and a killer soundtrack. It is the Halloween movie that you can watch across the whole year but one that will also feel extra special come All Hallows’ Eve.
You could do much worse in choosing a film to watch on the 31st of October, and you might not find a better costume to dress up in on Halloween than Brandon Lee’s Crow visage..

The Nightmare Before Christmas

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Although ‘Nightmare’ is not directed by Tim Burton, it most certainly feels like a Burton film. The man did write and produce the animated feature after all… The Nightmare Before Christmas blends the two favourite events of the calendar year; Halloween and Christmas. So much so, that some consider it a Christmas movie more than a film to be enjoyed and interrupted by Trick ‘r Treater’s. Yet, the whole feel of the movie is clouded in the haunting atmosphere of Halloween. That may be down to the majority of the animated cast being residents of Halloweentown but the clever execution ensures that even as the transition from Halloween to Christmas happens, the feel of the 31st lingers on and overwhelms the festive period.

The American Scream

6. The American Scream

With millions, maybe billions, crazy for the one night of the year where everyone dresses to impress by embracing the many varying looks of the undead, it is a wonder why there are so few documentaries focusing on Halloween.
Many people have a mighty passion for the night, and for some, it is a year long passion. The American Scream follows three families who create haunts for kids, parents and anyone else in the neighbourhood to enjoy on Halloween. By normal standards you could say they just create haunted houses, but the culture and varying dedication to it all from each creator makes it more of an experience.
A slow build but infinitely quirky and equally stressful on the family’s part, The American Scream offers a side of Halloween that you never really get a glimpse at, unless you are neighbour to one of the families that bring jumps, chills and laughs to you each year.

Hocus Pocus

5. Hocus Pocus

When thinking of Halloween, the thing that comes to mind for most people is probably something frightening (or maybe chocolate and candy), but for others it’s that feeling of family-fun, and that’s exactly what the people behind Hocus Pocus had in mind.
In the vein of past films, Disney struck out with the idea of a comedy lined with some startlingly dark moments, yet as usual, it meshed to create a wholly fun film for all of the family. Devoid of blood and guts, Hocus Pocus did a splendid job of showcasing Halloween for what it rightly is; a night of adventure with your friends and/or family. Three witches intent on stealing the youth from children is not the most pleasant premise, but seeing witches from the 18th century become confused at the sight of trick ‘r treater’s and the use of modern technology is exactly why Hocus Pocus is a Halloween must.

Donnie Darko

4. Donnie Darko

Not much can be said of Donnie Darko without this becoming a rather verbose entry. It is a truly thought provoking film, and it’s entirely aware of that. The setting for the movie borders on surreal, with moments played off as if they were a dreamlike sequence wrapped in 80s pop. Even though the film is set around the 31st of October, it is the feel of the movie that is most Halloween-ish. As Donnie, the title character, goes about the events of the film, everything becomes more and more nightmarish, with the inevitable end almost seeming like a welcome option.
However, the Halloween setting offers a nice element to the film with the horrific events happening on the night that the ghouls come out to play. Donnie Darko simply would not work during another holiday period, and it is due to that fact that the film has become a mainstay of Halloween movie nights.


3. Casper

If you are looking for a film that covers all of the bases in relation to what a Halloween film should have, look no further than Casper. A big haunted house? Check. Supernatural beings? Check. People dying? Check. A massive party? Check. A favourite for the whole family, Casper brings the classic cartoon to the big screen with a lot of laughs and a jug full of paranormal activity that will make you melt at the sight of sunlight.
The essence of fun that is found in Casper is the interaction between both the ghosts and the humans, with the jokes and quips cancelling each other out as they deliver tongue in cheek dialogue. Much like Hocus Pocus, Casper is a classic that the whole family can enjoy on Halloween. Full of sentimental moments and laughs to satisfy a crowd, it is a film that should be watched around Halloween by all bone bags.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Although a film that is more associated with its Sci-Fi elements, E.T. has ever since its release, become famous for the moments focusing on Halloween. To this day Amblin Entertainment continue to use the iconic E.T. and Elliot scene in the bike as a staple of their company; a homage that pays tribute to how great and memorable the film is.
The hilarious moments of seeing and hearing the little extra terrestrial look on in amazement at the fellow trick ‘r treater’s are only topped by the play on the idea of disguising someone in a white bed sheet. Everyone is fooled of course, and that adds to the hilarity of it all.
Maybe not everyone’s go-to Halloween film, but definitely one that lives on in the memory as a movie that embraces our weird culture and attempts to answers the question, “what would aliens think if they observed us on Halloween?”


1. Halloween

When it comes to ranking Halloween based films, number one is nothing if not predictable. Although the list lacks movies from a hardcore horror genre, Halloween is the one film that cannot be ignored. Taking place on the 31st of October, 1978, Halloween focuses on Michael Myers’ murderous rampage on the anniversary of his first murder.
It is a slasher movie, possibly the finest, but what it delivers in suspense and scares makes it a horror classic. The Halloween setting lends the film an eerie tone, especially when you consider the almost laughable concept that Michael Myers commits murders while wearing a William Shatner mask. The idea of safety is key for a community when allowing children to walk the streets and knock on the doors of strangers asking for candy. John Carpenter turns it all on its head though as he delivers a film where a maniac offs one person after another while the neighbourhood remains blissfully unaware.
All Hallows’ Eve has never been more horrifying, or as perfectly portrayed as it is in this movie

So that is your lot for this week. Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check back next week and head on over to the main page for more nerdy goodness.
Also, as always, the comment section is right at the bottom so do not be afraid to leave your own lists or thoughts on what makes a great Halloween film.

From all of the good folk at We The Nerdy, have a happy Halloween. And as an added bonus, here’s a Batman horror film parody from the guys at Pistol Shrimps:

About the Author

Jake Morris

When is Deadman going to get a film? Never, you say? Well, I'm just going to sit here and sulk. Comics, films, stuff... I like it aaaaall.