The Best Halloween Movies of Decades Past

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

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.

Halloween as a Twentysomething

Adulting, Author: Brett Pucino

Yes, writing about Halloween as an “adult” just didn’t feel right. When I think of an “adult” Halloween, I think of parents taking their kids trick-or-treating, or a grandmother handing out caramel flavored hard candy while watching Jeopardy. I’m 26 years old, and I only graduated college three years ago. I simply cannot pretend like I have any authority to speak on Halloween as an “adult.”

Changing “adult” to “twentysomething” broke my writer’s block. I realized Halloween is distinctly different for twentysomethings than any other subsection of adults. Here’s three reasons why.

Twentysomethings have one foot in the party scene and the other in the “real” world.
Once you are an adult adult, like above 30, you cross a certain threshold that disqualifies you forever from partying in a college town. Every year after graduation, it becomes less and less acceptable to hit your old college town for a night of mayhem on Halloween weekend. I went back to my college town when I was 25, a mere two years after graduation, and I felt old in those bars.

On the flip side, you’ll feel young at the bars in your town that are hosting Halloween events. It’s like you exist in a limbo between college town life and how to go out like an “adult.”

If you’re younger than 25, I highly suggest considering one last hurrah in your college town. If you’re older than 25, you’ll probably end up feeling old and awkward. Which brings me to reason two.

Reason 2: The FOMO Fallacy
Another reason Halloween as a twentysomething is different than Halloween as an adult is what I call “the FOMO Fallacy.”

See, FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is just your id playing tricks on you. Your id is the “inner child” of your psyche, and it pursues pleasure without considering consequences. FOMO happens when your id creates a false narrative regarding the amazingness of whatever you’re missing. In the case of Halloween, your id will want you to go to a crazy party. It will make you feel like you’re missing the best time.

We may think we have FOMO if we don’t have crazy plans for Halloween, but in reality, that feeling is just the sweet sting of growing up. Twentysomethings inevitably have that moment when they realize Halloween and all of the drinking holidays from college have severely lost their appeal. It’s better to just accept the reality of adulthood rather than chase the ghosts of Halloweens past.

Settled adults in their 30s or 40s probably have a fair amount of “normal” Halloweens under their belt. What they did on Halloween five years ago was probably very similar to what they’re doing this year. For most twentysomethings, Halloween five years ago was probably one of the craziest Halloweens of their lives. I know it was for me. For us twentysomethings, we have to be aware of the FOMO fallacy. Which brings me to reason three.

There’s a struggle between the Dreamer and the Realist for twentysomethings
The Dreamer is the part of you that says you’re taking Halloween off and going crazy at some high-profile event, and the Realist is the part of you that’s saying “why even waste the sick day?”

That’s the reality of Halloween as a twentysomething. It’s a struggle between wanting to live in the past and party like its Freshman year, and accepting your place in the real world. Adult adults have long-since accepted that Halloween is watching “Freeform” (ABC Family)’s 13 Nights of Halloween and daydreaming about the glory days. Will this be the year you accept the inevitable?

What’s your favorite thing to do on Halloween? Go out and drink? DVR Hocus Pocus and watch on repeat? Stare at your black cat and wonder if there’s a Puritan boy’s soul trapped somewhere inside? Let us know in the comments below.

Call Me Scared

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Literary Mag

Peggy felt her eyes burn as she and her friends walked out of the theater and into the bright lights of the lobby. She blinked hard, several times, and readjusted her glasses as she kept pace with her fellow movie-goers. It was a typical fall Saturday, and the matinee showing of When A Stranger Calls had just let out.

“I don’t know, I think the first 20 minutes were the best part,” Joe said.

“I liked it!” Jan asserted.

“If some guy ever came after me like that, I’d think I’d end up in an asylum along with him,” Debbie admitted. “I’ll be checking my bedroom and the phone lines for the next week.”

“Don’t be such a baby!” Peggy teased. “It’s just a movie!”

“That’s easy for you to say, there’s always someone at your house,” Jan said. “Some psycho can’t just waltz in with six people watching 60 minutes in the living room.”

“Not to mention your brother’s dog,” Joe said.

“Benny!” they all shuddered in unison.

“Do you need a lift home, Peg?” Debbie offered.

“No thanks, my dad’s picking me up,” Peggy replied. “I’ve got to babysit Keri and Amy and my sister’s working second shift tonight.”

As the group arrived at the movie theater’s glass doors, Peggy spotted her father’s station wagon parked out front. He waved her on impatiently.”See you guys later!” she called.

“Bye!”

It took nearly 20 minutes for the family car to turn onto the wood-lined street where Peggy’s sister Ellen – a nurse – now lived with her husband and two daughters. Peggy reached for her school bag beneath the front seat as the car came to a stop.

“You’ve got a ride home?” her father asked.

“Ellen said she or Wayne could give me a ride.”

“Your mother’s at work tonight, but you call if you need anything.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

“Have fun!”

Peggy’s niece Amy was there to greet her at the door, her blonde hair in two thick pigtails. Amy’s older sister Keri rushed down the stairs at the sight of her aunt, screaming her name as she went. Ellen’s husband Wayne left for work shortly after her arrival, with the promise that he or his wife would be home sometime before midnight.

After a rousing game of Candy Land, an epic Barbie fashion show and a fine meal of macaroni and cheese, it was finally time for the girls to be put to bed. Peggy read them a story, tucked them into their beds and with the house finally quiet, settled in for her date with her chemistry book.

The living room sat at the front of the house and was connected to a large gourmet kitchen, with a slider opening up to a sizable backyard. Peggy set up her study space on the couch, facing the front door with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and a Coke sitting on the coffee table. She readied her flashcards, scribbling furiously as she leafed through the hefty volume.

Peggy took generous handfuls of her popcorn as she scanned the materials in front of her, her crunching the only sound that could be heard until…

…the sound of the phone ringing broke through the calm silence and Peggy paused to roll her eyes at the rotary’s round numbers.

“Hello?”

“Hi Peg, just calling to see how you and the girls are making out.” It was Ellen, probably on her coffee break at this hour – just past nine o’clock.

“We’re fine, the girls are in bed.” Peggy said flatly.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’ve got a lot of studying to do for my midterm on Monday.”

“Well, I won’t keep you, and thanks again.”

“Bye.”

Peggy sighed, struggling to refocus her efforts on her schoolwork, but her mind kept drifting off to other places and things she had done that weekend.

Maybe I can get a pair of pants like Debbie’s at the department store next weekend. That movie theater sure was crowded, she thought, chewing on her pen absentmindedly. Do they still have looney bins like that nowadays? What really happens if some lunatic escapes? Would an escapee run around town with his arms tied up in a straight jacket? It’d probably be pretty easy to tell…

She had just put her pen back to a blank notecard when she heard a small voice call out to her.

“Auntie…Auntie?” came her niece’s urgent call. Peggy snapped her book shut and scampered halfway up the staircase, her heart rate increasing for some unknown reason.

“What is it, Amy?” she asked from the first landing.

“I’m thirsty,” came the reply.

“I’ll be right up, stay in bed,” she instructed.

Peggy flicked the lights on in the kitchen, enveloping the room in a yellow glow, a bright glare reflecting off the sliding glass doors. She searched the newly organized cabinets for a glass and ran the tap to fill it, her eyes drawn to the woods beyond the window above the sink. It was not until that moment that she had a chance to look out onto the bare backyard with the half-finished deck.

The night was so dark, Peggy could barely make out the planks of wood stacked in piles ready for construction. She had the creeping sensation that she was being watched, but with no blinds or curtains on the slider to shut out those eerie thoughts (and possible watchful eyes), Peggy took a breath to steady herself.

You’re being ridiculous! she thought. Get a grip! She turned to leave the room only to be met with not one, but two pairs of eyes!

The two girls let out shrieks of surprise as the water from the glass sloshed all over Peggy’s blouse and the hardwood floor. Peggy held her hand to her heart as she felt it beat erratically in her chest.

“Auntie, Keri said there was a monster in my closet and that if I didn’t give him some leftovers he’d eat me instead!” Amy cried. Her sister scowled at the accusation.

“Did not!” Keri said, shoving her sister a little.

“Girls!” Peggy chided. “Enough.” She shook her head as if to clear those foolish thoughts from her mind. “Both of you, get a drink and a snack and go back to bed.”

Since her return from the kitchen, Peggy had become increasingly aware of the strange sounds in and around her sister’s new house. She could hear the furnace whistling as the heat pulsed throughout the home, but she felt shaky and cold. She seemed to notice a dripping noise, but she was certain she had turned off the faucet before she’d left to mop up the spill on the floor.

She hadn’t realized there had been so many trees when she’d walked through the yard, but their branches scraped angrily against the windows and threw long shadows in the moonlight. She almost wished her brother Jimmy’s stupid wiener dog was there to bite at her feet. At least then, she would not be alone in the living room. Surely he would be able to give off some kind of warning of an intruder…

What is the matter with me? Peggy scolded herself. Letting a stupid movie scare me.

Peggy jumped again when she heard the door of the first floor lavette slam shut. It’s just the wind…just like those shadows…it’s only the wind…it’s probably going to rain, she rationalized. Still, she didn’t dare leave her spot on the couch or the living room where all the lights gave her a sense of comfort.

She nearly choked on her own breath when the phone rang again.

“Hello?” she asked, her voice dry. She cleared her throat, breathing steadily in through her nose and out through her mouth, It was Kara, her younger sister, calling to settle a bet with their older brother Jimmy. Peggy was only half listening, distracted by a sudden surge of electricity that left the lights flickering.

“Kara, I’m babysitting! I’ll be home later!” Peggy hung up the phone with a bang. She was angry with herself for getting so worked up and she felt guilty for taking it out on Kara.

It’s just a little storm, I can find some candles if the power goes out. I’m safe. There is nothing to worry about. Everything’s fine…

The phone rang again but when Peggy went to respond to the caller, there came no answer. What could be so important? she wondered. The phone rang again but as soon as she picked up the receiver, the dial tone alerted her that the call had been disconnected. The phone rang again…

“Kara, put Jimmy on the phone now!” Peggy yelled, her breath hot against the receiver’s mouthpiece. There was silence, then heavy, labored breathing. Then a muffled, raspy voice that said…

…”Have you checked the children?”

Peggy screamed!

She was still screaming when Wayne came rushing in to rescue her. She’d flung the phone down on the floor and could hardly form a sentence, hysterical as she was. She was sure something terrible was about to happen, just like in that movie. She had visions of a struggle, an open window, a figure shrouded in darkness, a weapon in his enormous grip. She thought she and her nieces were in mortal danger!…

…until she heard a familiar laugh. She snatched up the phone with vengeance.

“Joe?!” she demanded, straightening up and slamming the phone back onto the side table.

For his part, Joe could hardly contain himself, coughing and wheezing in between fits of laughter. “I hate you!” Peggy cried, her hands still quaking violently. “How did you get this number?” It took Joe several seconds before he could properly say Kara’s name. “I hate you!” Peggy said again, hanging up the phone without another word to her friend.

“Are you alright?” Wayne asked concernedly. Peggy felt waves of embarrassment wash over her as she attempted to fix her her hair, using the tears she hadn’t realized were there to smooth the fly-aways.

“I’ll never see another scary movie as long as I live,” she swore.

Peggy returned to the house she shared with her two sisters, her brother and her parents, all of who were fast asleep by the time she came through the door. Benny growled at her disapprovingly, seemingly annoyed at her very existence. She trudged up the steep stairs, exhausted by the night’s adventure. For once in her life, she was all too happy to be sharing a room with her younger sister. It should be said that Kara did not feel the same way about her roommate…at least for the next few days that followed…