As with all of my lists, I have organised the following films in order of release. Each of them are great in their own right, and pitting them against each other feels unfair to me. There are plenty of wonderful movies to watch during October, but 10 seems like a decent number to begin with. When concocting this list, I kept it as child friendly as possible, though the following movies are enjoyable at any age.
10. Ghostbusters (1984)
The only 12 rated film on this list, but nobody really pays close attention to age ratings these days anyway. Even if they did, Ghostbusters was rated PG until around a decade ago and it is important enough to the history of cinema that it should be shared as early as possible. One of the spookiest films there is, but also one of the funniest. Ghostbusters II or the 2016 reboot Ghostbusters are also acceptable.
9. Labyrinth (1986)
The late David Bowie, and the ever glamorous Jennifer Connelly frolic through sets brought to us by the one-of-a-kind Jim Henson. If that doesn’t sell you then perhaps the spectacular soundtrack will, or the message of familial love contained within. This is the 1980s at their best.
8. The Witches (1990)
Another from the world of Jim Henson; based on the classic tale by Roald Dahl. There is the possibility of the special effects being too grotesque for much younger viewers (particularly the unmasked witches themselves), but it’s rated PG. There’s a certain level of charm here and just a hint of terror.
7. The Addams Family (1991)
The pinnacle of spookiness from a family known for their kookiness. Based on the classic comics and the early 1960s TV show, it is perfectly cast and the set design is stunning. The sequel Addams Family Values is just as good, if not a little better – and if you can find any of the earlier material it is also worth doing so.
6. Hocus Pocus (1993)
A firm favourite of my best friend and his family, and for good reason. It’s endlessly entertaining with possibly the best cover of I Put a Spell on You that you’ll ever hear. Dripping in both halloween aesthetic and the 1990s with the acting and effects to boot. New to my yearly routine, I look forward to revisiting it.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The question of whether this is a Halloween or Christmas movie are irrelevant here, because it is simply saturated in the design of the former. As a part-time Christmas film, there is also a certain level of whimsy that you won’t find in other Halloween capers. A marvellous soundtrack and excellent use of stop motion animation, this is a true classic.
4. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Aardman Animation Studios has been instrumental in the development of stop-motion and it’s at its best here. Faux fur for the Were-Rabbit and some peak British comedy (which is the best form there is). One of my personal favourites.
3. Monster House (2006)
An entire feature length motion picture made using motion captured CGI. The story itself is impressive and fresh enough on its own, but it’s the look that makes this film so unique. Also by far the closest to a ‘horror’ film on this list. Drastically underrated, and worth your time.
2. Hotel Transylvania (2008)
The first part of what has become a delightfully entertaining trilogy. Adam Sandler’s comedy matches the fast paced animation style beautifully, and the caricatures of classic Universal Monsters are one of a kind.
1. ParaNorman (2010)
Laika Studios have built upon Aardman’s groundbreaking work with their own techniques. Their hit film Coraline could just as easily have made it onto the list, but it may be a bit much for younger viewers. ParaNorman also comes with a refreshing message about judging people on more than just their appearance.