Staff Picks: Top Horror and Halloween Movies for the Holiday Season

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Staff Picks: Top Horror and Halloween Movies for the Holiday Season

The movie poster for the film

The movie poster for the film "Orphan"

The movie poster for the film "Orphan"

The movie poster for the film "Orphan"

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Halloween is just around the corner, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy this time is watching horror movies. I compiled a list of my top ten favorites, so turn off your lights, grab a snack, and find a buddy to comfort you as you watch these fear-inducing films:

  1. The Others” (2001)

A woman with two young kids fears her house is haunted. The apparitions are called “The Others,” and they terrify this woman and her family. Other than describing this movie as anything but a typical haunted house film, I can’t say much without spoiling the best parts. Just know that you’re in for a great plot twist by the end. 

  1. Sinister” (2012)

A man moves with his family into a house where multiple murders took place in order to write a book. Strange things begin happening, and he soon discovers a series of tapes in his attic that depict these murders. The thing that connects them all? A hooded figure standing in the background. Writing his book turns into researching this mysterious being with a soft spot for kids. 

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (2011)

What’s creepier than a haunted house filled with malicious beings who want children’s teeth? Not much. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” follows a young girl who moves in with her father and his girlfriend while they restore an old house. She struggles to not only come to terms with her new surroundings and her father’s relationship, but also the terrifying voices that haunt her. I’m usually not one for creature films, but “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” delivers a great story and quality scares. 

  1. The Boy” (2016)

“The Boy” takes the classic creepy doll trope and turns it into so much more. A young woman takes a job nannying the son of a wealthy couple. When she arrives she discovers that their “son” is actually a doll that they treat as a human being. Although she finds this odd, the woman goes about completing her duties. However, things take a terrifying turn when the boy begins misbehaving. You may think you have things figured out, but “The Boy” succeeds at delivering a solid plot twist. 

  1. Us” and “Get Out” (2019, 2017)

I listed both movies here because they were both directed by Jordan Peele and are thematically similar. “Get Out” follows a man who is meeting his girlfriend’s family for the first time, and her family takes racism to a whole new level. I can’t say much more without spoiling things, but I can promise you’ll enjoy it. “Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o as a mother of two on vacation with her family. One night, they notice some figures standing outside of their house, and those figures turn out to be doppelgängers of each family member. They then must fight off their lookalikes, which proves complicated when your enemy thinks just as you do. 

  1. It” (2017) 

As someone who absolutely hated the original “It” movie, I was thrilled when I discovered it was being remade. “It” follows a group of middle school kids who are stalked by a terrifying clown. Making matters worse, the clown changes its appearance based on each kid’s worst fear. Dubbing themselves “The Losers Club,” the kids decide to take matters into their own hands after the clown kills numerous kids in town. The movie earned itself a sequel this year, so check that out as well!

  1. The Evil Dead” (2013)

“The Evil Dead” is the first movie in a long time that scared the living daylights out of me (and that’s a difficult feat now since I consider myself desensitized to most horror movies). The overall premise is a guy traveling to a remote cabin with his friends and sister in order to help his sister detox. His sister begins rambling on about strange happenings, but none of them believe her because of her history of drug abuse. Long story short, they wish they believed her. Few horror movies that dabble in a bit of everything (gore, possession, etc.) do well, but “The Evil Dead” incorporates many of the best horror movie tropes, and it does it well. 

  1. The Conjuring” (2013)

A solid take on the overdone possession narrative, “The Conjuring” follows a family of seven as they settle into their new home. They soon realize something is amiss, so they seek help from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. “The Conjuring” is the first haunted house tale in a while that I genuinely enjoyed, and it quickly garnered a huge fanbase. It is now the first movie in “The Conjuring” franchise, inspiring other movies such as “The Conjuring 2,” “Annabelle,” and “The Nun.”

  1. The “Saw” series (Beginning in 2004)

This series follows a deranged man who puts numerous people into precarious, and often deadly, positions. He crafts intricate traps that force his victims to make a choice: will you live or will you die? The answer seems simple, but in order to live they must engage in gruesome and painful acts. For those who haven’t seen the series, it appears like it’s nothing but gore. Gore does make up a lot of the series, but this franchise earns #2 on my list for its elaborate and compelling storyline that encompasses all eight movies. A ninth film was announced in May.

  1. Orphan” (2009)

A couple decide to adopt a young girl named Esther after experiencing a terrible miscarriage. Esther appears normal, if not perfect, at first, but her behavior soon begins to concern and scare them. “Orphan” is not the typical horror flick about a disturbed child; you may think you know Esther’s secret, but I can guarantee you won’t see this one coming. The plot twist is the best from a horror movie to date, and that is why this movie earns #1 on my list. 

-Christine Wieder


If you aren’t looking for a good scare this Halloween and just want a night of fun Halloween movies, here are some frightfully fun Halloween movies. 

  1. “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

A Disney Halloween classic, “Hocus Pocus” connects both the witchcraft history of Salem, Massachusetts with modern day elements. “Hocus Pocus” tells the story of three evil witches who were released into the modern world from a spell. The witches become upset that Halloween has become a holiday and try to accomplish their original plan of sucking the souls out of all of Salem’s children. Relating the movie back to the Salem Witch Trials is a great way to bring awareness to the history of the trials while also adding a fun and modern spin.

  1. “Halloween Town” (1998)

Another Disney Halloween classic, “Halloween Town” follows three siblings that find out that their grandmother and mother are witches. Their family is originally from Halloween Town, a place where supernatural creatures can live their lives in peace. However, the oldest child Marnie has to use her newfound powers in order to help her grandmother defeat the evil that is trying to take over Halloween Town and the world. While “Halloween Town” later became a movie series, I think the first movie was the best because it had an intriguing mystery, likeable characters, and an interesting storyline.

  1. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)

The Peanuts characters will forever be considered as being some of the most iconic and beloved animated characters. While they have numerous TV specials, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will always be my favorite. The special is based upon the comic strip and details the Peanuts’ gang preparations for Halloween and their search for the Great Pumpkin, a holiday legend that Linus strongly believes in. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is a Halloween classic and is fun to watch for all ages. The characters are extremely likeable and it’s fun to watch how their adventures unfold. 

  1. “Frankenweenie” (2012)

A great spin on the classic Halloween tale, “Frankenweenie” takes “Frankenstein” and turns it into a story about a boy named Victor Frankenstein and his beloved dog, Sparky. Unfortunately, Sparky passes away due to a tragic accident, and Victor is crushed. Using his interest in science, he jolts Sparky back to life, turning him into the dog version of Frankenstein’s monster. The movie continues to detail their adventures and the disastrous results after a couple of Victor’s classmates steal his machine and resurrect other animals. Personally, I enjoy the modern take on the classic “Frankenstein” and think the direction the filmmakers took it in is very unique. I also enjoy how it is completely in black and white, which is a nod to old classic horror movies.

1.“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

A Disney cult classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is an animated dark-fantasy musical that details the adventures of Jack Skellington, who stumbles into the portal of Christmas Town from Halloween Town, and his grand plans to celebrate the town’s holiday. Unfortunately, these plans go awry as the citizens of Halloween Town kidnap Santa Claus and wreak havoc on society. Based off of Tim Burton’s 1982 poem, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has captivated audiences since its release in 1993. Personally, I find the movie to be a perfect balance between a fun Halloween movie while also capturing the spooky aspects of the holiday. 

Regardless of if you are interested in just horror or Halloween movies, hopefully one of our suggestions will be of interest to you this holiday season.

-Kaitlyn Furst

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