Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. You can dress silly and no one will judge you for it. You don't have to cook for anyone. The Spirit of Halloween store is one of my happy places. And, of course, the scary movies!
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
In case you are unfamiliar with the Tim Burton Halloween classic, it follows Jack Skellington of Halloweentown, who tries to bring Christmastime to the land of ghouls and monsters — even going as far as to kidnap the real Santa Claus to do it! "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a movie I watch throughout the year, not just Halloween, whenever I need a pick-me-up. Despite the occasionally gruesome moments, this movie is ultimately very lighthearted.
“Crimson Peak” (2015)
Like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Crimson Peak" is one of my all-time favorite movies. Edith is a beautiful young heiress from Buffalo, New York, who is on her way to becoming America’s Jane Austen, when handsome Sir Thomas Sharpe sweeps her off her feet. He takes her to his family’s dilapidated estate in England, where Thomas’s slightly unstable older sister, Lucille, also lives. Only soon Edith realizes that—you guessed it—the mansion is haunted by bloody ghosts.
“Corpse Bride” (2005)
Another Tim Burton classic, "Corpse Bride" follows Victor, a shy, awkward young man from a nouveau riche family, whose parents have arranged for him to marry sweet, quiet Victoria, the daughter of impoverished aristocrats. After a disastrous wedding rehearsal, he practices his vows in the woods, unwittingly marrying himself to a zombie bride. Like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Corpse Bride" has its gory scenes, but the music and the story ultimately pull at the heartstrings.
“Dark Shadows” (2012)
An underappreciated Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film, "Dark Shadows" is based off the premise of a Gothic soap opera from the 1970s. The movie starts when Barnabas Collins, a vampire that has been trapped inside of a coffin for centuries by his scorned witch lover Angelique, wakes up in 1976 and finds his extended family. Only Angelique is not going to let him go so easily.
As far as plots go, "Dark Shadows" doesn’t have a whole lot of substance. It’s even not that scary. But I love it for its comedic elements.
“The Babadook” (2014)
An Australian film more on the psychological side of horror, The Babadook was first recommended to me on Netflix. Amelia is a depressed widow with a young son named Sam, who has a wild imagination that causes him to believe monsters are everywhere and he even makes weapons to fight against them. After Sam convinces her to read him a pop-up book titled "Mister Babadook," Amelia’s psyche slowly starts to unravel as what she thought was a child’s nightmare starts to become a reality. "The Babadook" has virtually no gore or jump scares, but it will get under your skin like nothing else.
“Sleepy Hollow” (1999)
Another underappreciated Johnny Depp movie, this one inspired by the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. New York City Constable Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of decapitations. The townsfolk are convinced it is the work of the Headless Horseman, a mercenary killed during the American Revolution. At first, Ichabod thinks it is simply a madman praying on the people’s fears, but when he sees something not of this world, the murder investigation just got a whole lot more complicated.
“The Disappointments Room” (2016)
Despite the sad low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Disappointments Room" is similar to "The Babadook": a psychological horror of a mother’s unraveling mental state that makes her vulnerable to a frightening paranormal force. After the death of her infant daughter, architect Dana moves into an abandoned mansion she plans to renovate with her husband and son for a fresh start. Everything is fine until Dana discovers a locked room not on the house’s blueprints and starts to have horrifying visions of a terrified young girl being tormented by a man with a vicious black dog.
“The Woman in Black” (2012)
Daniel Radcliffe makes it clear he is no longer The Boy Who Lived in "The Woman in Black," in which he plays Arthur, a young lawyer in the 20th century sent to a small village to handle a wealthy deceased woman’s affairs. While residing in his late client’s house, he encounters the spirit of a woman dressed in black and several of the town’s children die under mysterious circumstances. While "The Woman in Black" might rely more on jump scares like most modern horror films, anything involving children freaks me out.
“The Orphanage” (2007)
Going along the lines of "The Woman in Black" how anything involving kids freaks me out, "The Orphanage" is a Spanish horror film following Laura, once an orphan herself, who returns to the place she grew up intending to rebuild it as a home for disabled children. When her son Simon claims to have befriended a boy named Tomas with a sack over his head and then goes missing, a horrifying tragedy from the past makes its way into the present. I have only watched "The Orphanage" once, but it will go down in history as one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.