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Tricks and treats: Movie recommendations for a classic Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, many of us find ourselves in the mood for a movie which — scary or not — reminds us of the holiday.  In that spirit, I am recommending six Halloween-themed movies and TV episodes perfect for spooky season. Between horror classics and waves of nostalgia, this list has something for everyone.

“Halloween” (1978)

Set on Oct. 31, 1978, this classic slasher movie follows escaped killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) as he returns to his hometown and carries out a murder spree, foccsing on Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Cartis) attempt to survive Michael’s rampage.  Well-shot, scary, and with a fantastic score by John Carpenter, this movie is suited for those who want a more horror-centric Halloween film.  And for those who enjoy this movie, it is the first in a very long line of sequels, prequels, and other adaptations — perfect for a movie binge.

“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Set in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween 1993, this Disney movie follows Max (Omri Katz), who accidentally awakens a trio of witch sisters originally killed on Halloween 1693 for murdering a young girl.  He then must protect his younger sister from the witches, as they need to steal a child’s life to survive.  While not as scary or well-scored as “Halloween,” this movie is a lot more fun, which makes it perfect for anyone who’d like to sleep soundly at night and who is looking for a horror-light Halloween.

“Halloweentown” (1998)

 Set on Halloween, this other Disney movie follows the three Piper Children —Marnie (Kimberly Brown), Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) and Sophie (Emily Roeske) — as they discover Halloweentown, where monsters live peacefully, free from the persecution of the mortal world.  While there, they learn about their witch heritage and have to save the town from a spell which has frozen their mother, grandmother and the town’s residents.  This movie is another light-hearted Halloween movie, and while the low budget shows in the special effects, the silly moments make it perfect for everyone’s inner child.

“It’s A Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)

This short Charlie Brown Special follows the Peanuts as they celebrate Halloween, with a special focus on Linus’s belief in the Great Pumpkin (a Halloween-themed take on Santa) and Snoopy’s daydreams of aerial dogfighting.  The movie also has plenty of classic Peanuts moments, including the traditional Lucy tricking Charlie Brown with the football kick gag.  At only 25 minutes long, this special is perfect for those who want to get into the Halloween spirit with a hit of nostalgia but are too busy costume planning and trick or treating to sit down and watch a full movie

“Monster House” (2006)

The second animated movie on this list, “Monster House” follows a trio of friends who discover the house owned by the mean old man Nebbercracker is haunted.  When the house begins to abduct children and terrorize the neighbhordhood, they must work to unlock the mystery of why it is haunted and stop the house before it is too late. Definitely the scarier animated movie of the two on my list, it is a perfect middle ground between fun and terrifying, and is great for people who want slight scares and great entertainment. 

“The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror” (1990-)

 This is different from the rest of the list as rather than being a single movie or episode, this is a yearly event, with a total of thirty two episodes released so far.  Each episode is a mini anthology which parodies popular Halloween and horror media but starring the Simpsons characters, usually with a comedic spin.  While not every episode is great, there are a lot of good ones (I recommend “Night of the Dolphin” and “It’s a Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse”) — and even the bad episodes have their funny moments. And with each episode clocking in at around 20-24 minutes (without commercials), you are able to watch as few or as many as you want, making this a perfect Halloween viewing experience for anyone.

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