The Best Halloween Movies of Decades Past

Psycho. Beetlejuice. Hocus Pocus. And even more! Here’s our list of best Halloween movies of past decades.

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I have a confession to make — I don’t really like Halloween. I know, there’s so many people who love it. But, despite not being a fan of the holiday, I do love some Halloween movies. And if I like them, as someone who doesn’t even want to celebrate this holiday, you’ll be sure to love them as well.

Prepare to be scared:

Psycho (1960)
This movie is the reason I refuse to shower at night without the bathroom door locked. When a woman on the run decides to stay at Norman Bates’ motel and later becomes a murder victim, it is up to her sister and boyfriend to find out what happened to her. Featuring one of the great plot twists of classic cinema and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho was a new kind of horror movie in 1960 that still frightens people 50-plus years later.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
When a mob of parents band together to kill a child murderer, they believe they have saved their children from danger. Years later, it is discovered that Freddy Krueger, though not alive, is seeking revenge by killing children in their dreams. Armed with a glove full of knives, Freddy’s burned appearance and witty remarks terrorize the teenagers until one of them decides to fight back. Just as Psycho made people afraid to shower, the possibility that your dreams could be just as deadly as any evil you might encounter in your waking hours make this horror movie truly unique. Be sure to keep an eye out for Johnny Depp’s first film role!

The Lost Boys (1987)
This is the movie that made vampires look edgy and rebellious — a marked difference from Bela Lugosi’s (cinema’s most famous Dracula) interpretation of those that walk the night. Upon moving to Santa Clara, California, Sam begins to notice strange changes in his brother after hanging out with a local motorcycle-riding gang. Sam also befriends two vampire-hunting brothers who break the bad news to Sam: his new home is crawling with the undead! Featuring Kiefer Sutherland and “the two Coreys” (Corey Feldman and Corey Haim), The Lost Boys is a classic ’80s flick with a dash of horror and plenty of suspense.

Interview With the Vampire (1994)
As the title suggests, this is the story of the vampire Louis (Brad Pitt) told through his interview with reporter Daniel (Christian Slater). It begins with the tale of Louis’ transformation into a vampire by the powerful and often ruthless Lestat (Tom Cruise) and ends 204 years later during that very interview. Part drama, part horror movie, Interview With the Vampire went on to become one of the most popular vampire movies ever and cemented the careers of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and 11-year-old Kirsten Dunst.

Creepy comedies: 

Beetlejuice (1988)
Michael Keaton has never been creepier or funnier than in this film about a ghostly couple longing to reclaim their home, who collectively enlists the help of the offensive, grotesque Betelgeuse, who attempts to drive out the house’s new owner. Betelgeuse, of course has his own agenda and is generally disliked by all who encounter him. This film is charming yet scary in a way that only Tim Burton could make it.

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Not only is this my favorite Halloween-themed movie, as a child this was easily one of my favorite movies to watch regardless of the season. When Max’s family moves to Salem, he is unimpressed with the locals’ fascination with the Sanderson sisters, who were hanged during the witch trials of 1692. That is, until he unwillingly summons them back from the dead by lighting a special candle. It is adventurous and funny in all the right amounts and is chock-full of jokes that (thankfully) went way over my head. The special effects and costuming may be outdated but this family-friendly VHS hit still makes me laugh and sing along.

Casper (1995)
Another ’90s VHS classic, Casper made children believe ghosts could, in fact, be friendly. Casper, the ghost of a young boy and child of an inventor, is desperate to be friends with sarcastic and independent Kat, the daughter of a widower and therapist to the dead, Dr. Harvey. Kerrin trivia: the last song played at my senior prom was Remember Me This Way— the song that Kat and human Casper dance to at her party. Clearly, Casper was a very important film to kids who grew up in the 1990s.

Scary Movie (2000)
Who has not watched a scary movie or TV program and found themselves yelling at the screen, cursing the characters for their utter stupidity? Sure, splitting up and walking into a darkened basement alone sounds like an excellent plan! I’m sure there’s no sinister reason for the phone line to be dead! Why worry about the whereabouts of your friends when you can make out with your boyfriend/girlfriend? What better way to celebrate being scared than with a movie that pokes fun at all the ridiculous motifs popularized by the gory movies people can’t help but watch? Though there have been various sequels and many movies like it, the first in this series is the best for my buck.

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