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Films are a huge part of the Halloween experience but it's not always satisfying for the right reasons! Here we go through the Halloween films that families hate to love...
A cult hit starring none other than Oscar winner Debbie Reynolds, Halloweentown was a staple of my family’s Halloween watching for year into my teens. The premise of tree children unawares being introduced to their magical capabilities by their gran (Reynolds) but whose potential had been stifled by their cautious mother (NAME) is a great premise but the execution goes ferociously overboard and some of the production design is laughable but it’s a feel-good family film, which might not be the function of a Halloween film, really.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Definitely the most controversial choice on this list because of its legendary place in the Halloween canon is Hocus Pocus. Three astonishing actors at the helm in the form of Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker playing the resurrected Sanderson sisters put to death in the Salem witch trials does a lot to detract from the fact that it’s a bit kack and also a bit too erotic in surreptitious ways. There’s also a ran-over cat shown in it that is still too much for me at 24 years old.
The Craft (1996)
Pushing it with the family film remit with this one. The Craft is definitely a teen film and also the scariest one on the list actually, if for no other reason than showing the terror that can come from teenage angst. It’s also another one with a surprising cult appeal and is drawn upon remarkably closely by its comedy counterpart, Mean Girls because it’s basically about a newcomer (Robin Tunney) to a high school who gets in with a crowd that uses witchcraft to punish the people who get on the wrong side of them. We also see Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, both of whom starred in the same year in Scream, one the greatest horror films in history.
After she gave a top-notch performance in the angsty drama, The Hours in 2002, Nicole Kidman’s career took a noticeable nosedive where she didn’t appear on screen as much as she had once and has since and where she did, it was in projects like this. Bewitched is a legendary 60-70s sitcom about a witch (Elizabeth Montogomery) who tries to use ‘everyday’ witchcraft to fix her family and colleagues’ problems. Kidman is an actress auditioning to play the lead in a reboot of the series while Will Ferrell’s character plans to outshine her, not knowing that Kidman’s character herself is a witch irl.
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
Now, I loved the Scooby-Doo live-action feature from 2002 but its sequel in 2004 was laughable for all the wrong reasons. It plays on nostalgia by bringing back old monsters from the classic animated series and having them try to attack the gang. It’s filled with jeopardy and the hijinks you want and revel in – eyes are glued to the screen. But there’s a lot to be seen as far as any mystery is concerned.
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005)
This one I’ll keep simple. Not only is the celebration of Halloween by animals a poor premise but, moreover, why would you bring Halloween to this beloved children’s story world?!
There was enormous excitement for this reboot of the Goosebumps film. There was adequate trust in the lead of Jack Black to create some real hype but it was a bit disappointing. Nevertheless though, what’s endearing is its faith to the Goosebumps style, which really pushes horror boundaries for children and teens so it’s worth checking out.
Spooky Buddies (2011)
Dogs and Halloween make this a populist film if ever there was one. Disney’s “Buddies” franchise took a spooky turn – though certainly not scary – as the puppies get lost in a haunted mansion. They have to go through a veritable obstacle course to get out and it’s exhausting but really, really adorable.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Not a Halloween film but a more a scary bit of film trivia that I try to speak about as much as possible. Before the iconic television series, Joss Whedon’s idea was manifested in a proper feature film! However, the creative process took a turn with which Whedon was unhappy and so he departed the project, leaving the script he sold behind. The film, with Kristy Swanson acting as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s predecessor, flopped drastically, worsened by the insurmountable success of the series that Whedon went on to found a few years later. It’s still worth paying some attention as an early project for Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Donald Sutherland and even Ben Affleck!