Every year as we inch through the month of September, we revel in the excitement of football returning and the weather shifting towards the perfect time for a pumpkin spiced latte. And while both of these are great, there's something even greater about the upcoming month of October. Halloween.
Halloween brings with it many cool things—candy, costumes, fall weather, but most importantly, thousands of hours of horror-themed movies and TV shows to enjoy each day as you wait for the 31st. There are classic horror flicks like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Hocus Pocus, and shows like The X-Files, and Stranger Things, that you absolutely must watch during the Halloween season. But instead of exploring those already established shows and movies, the focus of this list will be on those you might not have seen before or have forgotten about.
So grab some popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate, relax on the couch, and get ready to enjoy some frightful delights.
Here's a movie that you can watch with the entire family. If you were born in the '90s, a very fond part of your childhood was probably watching the classic Disney Channel original movies. That's when I was born, so I can completely relate, which is why I think that Halloweentown (1998) is a must watch every October. Starring Debbie Reynolds as Aggie Cromwell, along with Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, and others, Halloweentown follows three kids as they discover the true history of their family. This coming-of-age classic is not only funny, but as is true of so many Disney channel originals, it can become legitimately scary because of the creepiness of the characters and the performance by Robin Thomas as the ain villain, Kalabar. Halloweentown might seem a bit dated to today's kids, but the charm and fun that this film provided to me when I was a kid has kept it as one of the films that I am guaranteed to watch every Halloween.
The next three flicks on this list are all based on novels by an American great, Stephen King. IT, his most commercially-known novel, was published in 1986 and has spawned both a TV mini-series and most recently a very successful film which will be the subjects of the next section of this list. The T.V. mini-series which aired in 1990 has a very special place in my heart, even if some say it isn't the greatest. I can remember sitting in the public library as my grandmother searched around for a book to read and I sat in front of a small T.V. and began to watch, perfectly timed to see the public library scene in the series. As I saw Pennywise for the first time, my child eyes widened in excitement and fear, but I was hooked. Grandma had to drag me away from the T.V. as I begged her to let me stay and watch. As I grew up and watched the series more and more I realized that it is a tale of two completely different halves with Tim Curry as Pennywise holding it together with every bit of acting strength that he could muster. There aren't many redeemable parts of the second half of the IT mini-series, but a bit of nostalgia and Tim Curry helped it survive and turn into the award-winning 2017 film, IT. The film version of IT is filled with great young actors and actresses that add to the history of horror in film. If you liked the T.V. mini-series or a show like Stranger Things, than this film is a perfect watch for the Halloween season.
This third series again comes from the world of Stephen King and was produced by the likes of J.J. Abrams. Appearing on Hulu, Castle Rock follows Henry Deaver, played by Andre Holland as he returns to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine, when he gets a mysterious phone call. This is one of my favorite kind of series because the audience doesn't figure out the underlying mystery until nearly the last episode. As we find out new things about the wonderfully written story, we are also treated with easter eggs and hints about names and places that King fans will definitely recognize. The cinematography of this show is gorgeous with a winter setting and many scenic views of the Maine wilderness. As you watch the series try to guess what each character is referencing and who they might be in relationship to King's famous creations like Carrie and The Shining. This series adds a supernatural eeriness that works wonderfully with the inner workings of all of King’s works. Grab a free week-long Hulu subscription and get hooked on this amazing series before Season Two comes out.
This last item on my list is a series that ended far too soon and, although I failed to watch it when it aired each week on Showtime from 2014 to 2016, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of binge watching the first two seasons on Netflix and can't wait to finish the third. Penny Dreadful stars Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, and many other amazing actors and actresses. Originally airing on Showtime allowed this series to go full throttle with a hard R rating, screaming past any boundaries that a non-premium channel would set. Penny Dreadful is set in 19th century Great Britain and other areas around Europe, giving it a very authentic period piece vibe, especially when the monsters come in. This series uses public domain characters like Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Dracula, and others in very interesting ways that viewers won't expect. The acting in this series is bar none the best part, with Eva Green being the standout of the cast. Her performance as Vanessa Ives is one of the most selfless and grueling performances that I've seen in any show or movie recently. She never lets up and is put through the ringer seemingly every episode, She quickly turned into one of my favorite actresses because of this show. All in all, the subject matter of this series is perfect for the Halloween season and will give you the best kind of chills.
Halloween is quickly approaching and, on those cold fall nights as you wait, make sure to enjoy all the great films and T.V. shows revolving around this great holiday.