Poltergeist (1982)

It’s Halloween, and that means the orange leaves are falling as fast as the temperature itself. At least, that’s what we’ve heard happens, here in Tucson it’s business as usual. 

If you’re having a tough time getting into the spirit, here are a few great movies to get you carving a pumpkin in no time. Some are spooky, some are funny and some you maybe haven’t even heard of before. 

Poltergeist (1982). What kind of Halloween list would this be without a good old fashioned haunted house movie? Let’s go down the checklist of what should put this on everyone’s to-view list: a house built on a forgotten burial ground? Check. Fantastic pre-computer effects? Check. A spooky toy clown? Check. A scary-looking tree tapping on the window at night? Check. That ‘80s Spielberg charm? Double check. It’s fun, but has some genuinely creepy moments as well, just like a proper Halloween party.  

Carnival of Souls (1962). While not explicitly a Halloween movie, this black-and-white horror is certainly chilling enough for the season. Set to a hypnotic and creepy church organ soundtrack, this movie has campy filmmaking techniques, lumbering ghouls, and enough dreamy sequences to put it right up alongside the classic Halloween canon. Horror filmmakers like David Lynch and George Romero have both cited it as an influence, how’s that for spooky? 

Troll 2 (1990). Known for being outright one of the worst movies ever made, you might go into “Troll 2” with a bit of hesitation. But don’t worry, if you know it’s awful, and are willing to laugh at the ridiculousness, you’re going to have a great time. Basically the entire plot revolves around the characters not realizing the town they’re staying in, Nilbog, is just “goblin” backwards… yeah. Full of cheesy monster effects, laughable acting and a goofy atmosphere just charming enough to make it fit into the Halloween spirit, this flick is an accidental classic.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Now I know you’re thinking this is just as much of a Christmas movie as it is a Halloween movie, and you’re right! The plus side is, it simply oozes so much from both holidays that it works well for either occasion. The great Danny Elfman music dazzles your ears and the iconic claymation dazzles your eyes. If you somehow haven’t seen this yet, there’s really no better time of the year. It could even work as a transition into the Holiday season for you. It’s Tim Burton on Halloween after all, what more could you ask for? 

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966). We’d have to close the list off with a movie near and dear to just about everyone on the planet. Yes, it’s only about half-an-hour long, but it’s jam-packed with as much Halloween spirit and fun as a movie five times its length. Kids can enjoy it for its relatable sense of humor and childish point of view, adults can enjoy it for Charlie Brown’s listlessness with the world, artists can enjoy it for the supremely beautiful watercolor backdrops, who can’t enjoy this? This should be mandatory viewing for anyone hoping to get as in-the-season as possible! 

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