October is considered by many the best month of the year. It’s 31 days of nicer-than-summer weather, horror movies, cinnamon, and it's all capped off with Halloween. Freeform (or if you were born before 2010, ABC Family), is hosting its “31 Nights of Halloween” movie marathon, which is exactly what it sounds like. Each day until October 31, at least four movies will be shown back-to-back beginning on October 1 with ParaNorman at 5 p.m. local time. (Scroll to the bottom for a link to the full schedule).
We know you most likely won’t have the time to watch all 31 days of movies, so here are the must-watch films that will be shown on this Halloween-binge, and why you should definitely try to catch them during their multiple screenings in October. Although, we recommend watching as many of them as possible.
This beautiful 3-D stop-motion film from LAIKA is one of the best animated films distributed by one of the most-underrated animation studios today; LAIKA is in a league with Disney Pixar and Studio Ghibli after only just four films under its belt. ParaNorman, although not the studio's first film, is a wonderful introduction to the types of movies you see from the studio. It follows a young, misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead. It has zombies, ghosts, witches, curses, and worst of all, parents who just don’t seem to understand. The script and voice cast (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Alex Borstein, and John Goodman) make this a must-watch.
When you think Halloween movie, if this isn’t one of the first three that pop into your head, you need to rethink your life choices. This movie is the most classic Halloween film for '90s kids, but it still holds up today, and works for people of all ages. It stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimi as the Sanderson sisters who have returned after their execution 300 years prior in Salem, Massachusetts, and it’s a hokey family comedy that will make you happy Halloween has returned.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Along with Hocus Pocus, this fits under the category of “first three to pop into your head” (the third is Halloween). Coincidentally, this and Hocus Pocus were both released in 1993. Running at only 76 minutes in length, this movie is a blink-and-it’s-over film. The music will get stuck in your head. The characters are so wonderful and memorable: Jack Skellington, Sally, the Mayor (the definition of two-faced), the villain Oogie Boogie, and his henchmen Lock, Shock, and Barrel. It’s a perfect film for its originality, its gorgeous visionary elements (it was the first animated film nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars), and it’s something to show the people who are insistent to say Christmas is better than Halloween. It’s okay to like both.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Speaking of musicals … You may be thinking, “This isn’t a Halloween movie,” but you're wrong. It has candy (tons, actually), a scary dude (Mr. Slugworth), and tricks to equal the treats. Sing along to the songs, watch Gene Wilder do his thing, maybe eat some Wonka candy while you watch. This movie is perfect all year ‘round. The good news is you don’t need a golden ticket to watch, only a cable provider.
The Addams Family
If the theme song is in your head just from reading the title, then you are living your best life. This movie is the funniest option you will get on this list, but it also has a little of everything. Classic characters? Check. Romance? Check. A few frights? Check. There really isn’t anything else you could want here. Gomez and Morticia are couple goals. Wednesday is maybe the most quotable young girl character in film, and this movie has a wacky, bald Christopher Lloyd. (Bonus: Watch The Addams Family Values, too).
Now, I would most likely agree here that this isn’t really a Halloween movie. But I will watch this movie any chance I get. It will also make you jump – either out of pure adrenaline, or because seeing the giant Tyrannosaurus rex or velociraptors chasing the humans is pretty terrifying. This movie is so much fun and that’s what Halloween is all about. Plus, it helps that Jurassic Park is probably the most re-watchable movie of all time.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The movie does not seem as long as the title, plus it has the benefit of being Johnny Depp’s last good role (fight me over this). For a while there, when you paired Tim Burton with Depp and sprinkled in some Helena Bonham Carter, you would get an entertaining film. Add in a dash of music, blood, gore, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman? Oh boy, do you have a wonderful two hours of film to watch. Written by John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall, and Penny Dreadful), and under the creepy, macabre direction of Burton – you would think they have done a musical together before.
For the full schedule of Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween, head over to their website.
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