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Something Wicked This Way Comes…
Some Halloween films take the very essence of Halloween and run with them. Whether it be the spirit of magic, witches, or simply the film’s use of Halloween as a theme. The following is a collection for people who enjoy the spirit of Halloween and all the fun that comes with it, but don’t necessarily feel the need to watch a possessed doll butcher some teenagers. Here are the 7 best Halloween films for people who don’t like horror movies…
1. The Craft (1996)
The Craft does have its scary moments, but the film’s relevance for being a bonding sisterhood movie rather than an evil witch movie adds it to our list. Four young women (incl. Scream’s own Sidney, Neve Campbell), all outcasts at their high school, stumble onto the occult to try and make their lives better. The film’s moral message is a very heavy ‘be careful what you wish for’ story, and centres on power, having it, abusing it, and learning when to say enough is enough. While not ranking that highly upon its release, the film’s strong theme of people struggling to fit in has made it a cult classic sleeper hit in recent years and it remains 10th on the list of the highest grossing movies about witches since 1980. It also received bonus points for using what would go on to become the ‘Charmed’ theme song.
2. Hocus Pocus (1993)
From the catchy tunes and campy performances right through to the fun take the film has on the subject of being a witch, Hocus Pocus is an undeniably quintessential Halloween movie. The film’s plot revolves around a trio of witch sisters being awoken from their centuries old curse in a haunted American town by a hapless teenage boy. The story flits between teenage rom-com and coming-of-age story, with a gaggle of witches thrown in. The passion for fighting for your family – from both sides of the cauldron – makes the film especially heart-warming, perhaps enough to put a spell on you. Calls from stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker (a.k.a The Sanderson Sisters) to make a sequel can only further love for the film, making Hocus Pocus an unmissable entry on this list.
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
It’s just a step to the left…
Thematically, most Halloween films that aren’t scary are very, very camp, and Tim Curry’s turn as the sweet transvestite from Transylvania is no different. The film features a married couple who become stranded in Curry’s character’s mansion, an unfortunate circumstance that results in a lot of dream-like escapades that don’t make a whole lot of sense. In today’s times, the film seems fairly commonplace, but considering the climate of the 1970s, the film was fairly forward-thinking in terms of Dr Frank N Furter (Curry) and remains a classic all these years later. If nothing else, “The Time Warp” will definitely prime you for the inevitable repeated performances by anyone you witness on a night out around Halloween.
4. Death Becomes Her (1992)
Death Becomes Her is a classic. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play ex-best-friends in love with the same man (Bruce Willis) who each take a potion in order to live forever. After their initial deaths, the pair become walking, talking corpses. Despite Roger Ebert’s infamous displeasure with the film, which focused too much on special effects and less on plot, the film acts as a staunch lesson on what fighting with a love rival can do – especially when those fighting are essentially zombies, albeit very well put together zombies. The supernatural themes of the film push it onto this list, and it provides a welcome relief from films about slashers, nightmares, and summer camp massacres.
5. The Witches (1990)
Roald Dahl’s classic is beautifully brought to life in The Witches with a particularly grand performance from Anjelica Huston as the despicably ugly Grand High Witch. The story focuses on a grandmother (Swedish film royalty Mai Zetterling) who brings her grandson to an English hotel following the deaths of his parents. Unbeknownst to the witch-hunting pair, the national witch convention is also meeting at the hotel to discuss a diabolical plan to transform every child in England into a mouse. While essentially based on a children’s book, the actual depiction of the witches is surprisingly scary for children. For adults, it is an hour and half of whimsy.
6. The Witches (1966) [US: The Devil’s Own]
Joan Fontaine plays a schoolteacher, Gwen, who moves to a rural English village following an experience with the occult at a mission school in colonial Africa. While in the village, mysterious goings-on begin to happen and Gwen, recovering from her nervous breakdown on the continent, begins to investigate. The film would probably be a horror film if it were made today but loses a lot of the fear factor to become a watered-down occult film instead.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
One of the most important movie debates of our time revolves around this film: is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween film or a Christmas film? While it does feature Christmas in the title, and as a heavy plot point of the film, I firmly believe that it is a Halloween film. Not only are we situated in Halloween Town, but the plot literally involves Halloween taking over Christmas. While it does have its festive moments, it seems a bit macabre to watch in the season of good will. The Nightmare Before Christmas takes everyone that encompasses Halloween and wraps them up in a classic Tim Burton creation. It is simply a must-watch.
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