Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Nine non-horror Halloween movies for not-so-scary spooky season

A jump-scare free guide to films for this fall season
Collegian File Photo

Are you looking to get into the Halloween spirit without frightening yourself out of a good time? Are you searching for a movie that’s a little less scary and a little more silly? Do you feel like fall should be about more than haunted houses and exorcisms? If any of these questions apply to you, here’s a list of nine non-horror Halloween movies to get you feeling spooky, but not too spooky.

“Labyrinth” (1986)

Starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, this cult classic is a mixture of weird Goblin King antics and a fun, adventurous plot. Featuring entirely practical effects, the film follows teenage Sarah (Connelly) as she attempts to navigate a labyrinth in order to save her baby brother, who has been abducted by Jareth, the Goblin King (Bowie). “Labyrinth” is full of enough animatronic goblins and shots of David Bowie in thick ‘80s eyeshadow to get the viewer in a campy, Halloween spirit without relying on startling them into feeling something.

“Addams Family Values” (1993)

The Addams family is one of pop culture’s most charmingly quirky clans; their comic strip, the black-and-white sitcom with its iconic theme song, and then the early ‘90s adaptation gave children from different generations the opportunity to experience the magic.  Full of such excellent one-liners as “Don’t torture yourself, Gomez, that’s my job,” this film, starring Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Raul Julia, and Jimmy Workman, is sure to make you laugh and put you squarely in the mod for the lightheartedly macabre.

“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

The guilty pleasure to end all guilty pleasures, this Disney original is full of nostalgia and fun Halloween energy. Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Omri Katz, this film follows teenage Max, a Halloween sceptic, during his first Halloween in Salem, MA. There, he accidentally resurrects the evil Sanderson Sisters. Goofy, campy and most of all spooky, this film is a not-too-serious Halloween classic.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Another cult classic, this film, directed by Jim Sharman, is as weird as it is wonderful. Starring Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as sweethearts Brad and Janet, the plot follows the two after they get stuck with a flat tire and find their way into the mysterious mansion of Dr Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). There, they meet a cast of wild characters, are bombarded with song and dance numbers, and meet Dr Frank-N-Furter’s latest creation, a sort of sexual Frankenstein’s monster meant to be the scientist’s companion: Rocky. Odd, spooky, and loads of fun, this is a Halloween classic for any movie lover.

“Practical Magic” (1998)

Starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, this film is a witchy romance full of sisterly affection and barely suppressed magical powers. This film is great for when you want to get in the fall spirit but don’t really care about a coherent plot. The power-house lead actresses carry the movie and, despite the sub-par writing, “Practical Magic” is a worthwhile way to bring a little creepy cheer into your life.

“Coco” (2017)

This Disney animated feature is a symphony of color and music that will both make you cry and get you in the spirit of the season. Set in Mexico on Día de los Muertos, the film follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young musician, when he accidentally enters the world of the dead. There, he encounters deceased relatives and learns family secrets that affect him in the world of the living. This is a beautiful and fun film for people of all ages that will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

Wes Anderson is a master of color and cinematography and this film is no exception. Full of warm orange hues, nutmeg-ginger-apple-snap cookies, and talking foxes, this is the quintessential fall movie. Starring A-listers George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Willem Defoe, this movie does not disappoint in any category. It’s a must-see for any lover of fall— watching the movie feels like throwing yourself into a pile of freshly raked leaves.

“ParaNorman” (2012)

Can’t get enough stop-motion animation? Somewhat overshadowed by the more popular “Coraline” (2009), this is a fun, spooky and heartwarming film about a socially awkward boy with the ability to see and speak to the dead. The story follows Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a town outcast, after he is tasked with the duty of stopping a 300 year-old witch’s curse from destroying his town. Set in an imitation of Salem, MA, the film tackles themes including how fear can make people do unforgivable things. As funny as it is creepy, this movie is an underrated Halloween must-watch.

“Beetlejuice” (1988)

This cult classic from Tim Burton makes light of doom and gloom in a unique way that feels typical to the director. Featuring a nice dead couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), a mischievous demon (Michael Keaton) and a goth, teenage Winona Ryder, this movie does not shy away from all things weird and creepy. Although it portrays death and dying in over-the-top ways, the movie is in no way scary, so it’s a great pick for a more low-key viewing.

Sophia Larson can be reached at [email protected].

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