Writer’s Picks: Halloween Movies


Photo illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Charles McLaughlin, Senior Journalist

While the pandemic has put an end to traditional Halloween plans and trick or treating this year, there is another option for how to spend the evening. No prizes for guessing what, because the answer is the same as always with me—watching a good movie. So, for all of those who plan to take it easy tonight, here are some solid recommendations for Halloween movies, each at a different level of scariness—although admittedly, there won’t be anything extremely scary on here.

First and foremost, the 1984 comedy classic, ​Ghostbusters​. Directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring an all-star comedy cast led by Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Harold Ramis, this is the easiest recommendation on the list. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Ghostbusters​ follows a group of recently fired scientists in New York City, who choose to pursue and contain the paranormal forces running rampant in their city.

The odds are high that you have already seen this movie, but this is good for a rewatch or any younger audiences. It definitely holds its own. Maybe give the sequel a pass though, and stick with the original.

For a slightly scarier option, you can’t go wrong with ​Poltergeist​. With a story written by Steven Spielberg, and directed by all-time horror legend Tobe Hooper (perhaps most well known for the ​Texas Chainsaw Massacre ​series), this is another easy recommendation. Although some of the special effects have dated from their once cutting edge status, as a whole, the movie still looks pretty darn good.

The movie is far more of a haunted house film than a thriller, so it is light on jump-scares and other cheap techniques, if that is something that bothers you. With some mild language and a few great scares, this movie is a good choice for a slightly older audience than ​Ghostbusters,​ but still enjoyable for just about everyone.

For the scariest choice on this list, there is the 1996 slasher classic, ​Scream​. Directed by another horror legend, Wes Craven, who also made The ​Nightmare on Elm Street​, Scream​ is the original self aware horror movie. Again, while some effects look a little rough around the edges 24 years later, ​Scream​ is still perhaps the most genre defining slasher since John Carpenter’s ​Halloween.​

Since it’s definitely heavier on the language and scarier bits, this classic piece of campy horror is a good choice for more mature audiences, along with anyone else looking to watch a piece of horror history.

So, if you celebrate it, have a Happy Halloween! Remember to enjoy yourselves and also to stay safe.