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  • Writer's pictureVariant Magazine

Top 10 Movies You Have to See Before Halloween

By Libby Evans

1. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Taking place in Salem, Massachusetts, this family-friendly favorite has all our classic Halloween essentials: three fashionable, eccentric witches, a talking black cat, teen romance, and a perfectly disastrous Halloween night. It might not be your first choice for an adrenaline-rushing scary movie, but you can’t deny the nostalgia of Halloween night these witches bring.

2. Halloween (1978)

When an iconic horror film has the same name as our spookiest holiday, it has to be on the must-watch list. Michael Myers pushes past kids dressed as witches and astronauts, and no one bats an eye. Even the screams are ignored since the night encourages a harmless scare until it’s not so harmless. After this movie, you might think twice before trick or treating, with the risk of running into this infamous white mask, and you’ll never know whose face is hidden beneath.

3. BeetleJuice (1988)

BeetleJuice this, BeetleJuice that—all I care about is seeing Winona Ryder in the 80s with her choppy bangs and cute, messy updo. Tim Burton takes a unique perspective on a haunted house when teen Lydia Deetz finds herself haunted by the former owners of her house and winds up working with a looney spirit, BeetleJuice, who does more harm than good. This coming-of-age fantasy horror is the perfect representation of retro-gothic pop culture.

4. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

Almost everyone watched this Charlie Brown film at school before Halloween, and if not, then you at least know who Charlie Brown is. The yellow shirt with the black stripe? The nearly bald head and sappy smile? Even if it’s just playing in the background, this is an important, complex film for every Charlie Brown connoisseur and pumpkin lover.

5. The Shining (1980)

One of the most recognizable, appreciated horror films, The Shining will scare you to your core without any cliché zombie or vampire. Newly crazed, former writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) leads the Stephen King classic made even more frightening by director Stanley Kubrick. The fall landscape of Colorado will catch your eye for just a moment before you start biting your nails to the haunting of the Overlook Hotel.

6. Poltergeist (1982)

Think of the perfect prank. Now, think of 20 more, and make them all terrifying. Poltergeist has a scare for every flare, turning one’s house into a supernatural amusement park without consent. This film’s a classic, but it’s not too scary, so tag along with your beginner horror experiencers and spook them when you see fear in their eyes.

7. Coraline (2009)

9-year-old Coraline Jones fights to escape the Other Mother to save her family. As a family-friendly claymation film, you might not think Coraline will reach your horror standards, but the spooky fall ambiance and magic of the other world leave Coraline investigators with an abundance of spooky easter eggs and mysteries to solve.

8. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Taking place in Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota, Megan Fox stars as Jennifer Check. This stereotypical high school cheerleader gets possessed and resorts to devouring men, taking “maneater” to a whole new level. Her best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is tasked with dealing with her monster bestie. If you're feeling the revolution of the early 2000s, this is the movie for you. It’s the perfect amount of scary and iconic with just a dash of high school clichés. “She's evil... and not just high school evil.”

9. Scream (1996)

You’ll think twice before picking up the phone to a mysterious number after Drew Barrymore’s flirtatious phone call winds up with a caller on the other side. There’s just something so romantic about a late-night call when they’re watching you through your window. Unfortunately, you have to watch the original before moving onto the marathon, it’s the law. The most exciting is Scream VI, which came out in March of 2023, featuring Jenna Ortega.

10. Twilight (2008)

The eternal fall gloom of Forks, Washington, along with the “Ooah ooah” soundtrack, sets the perfect ambience for every Halloween main character. There’s nothing more Halloween than falling in love with a vampire who wants to drink your blood. In addition, you can take it as satire and make fun of Bella’s angst or Edward’s emo-boy charisma. After you watch the first one you might find yourself bloodthirsty for a Twilight marathon, and who are we to judge? Hold on tight, spider monkey!

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