Some Not-so-Scary Halloween Suggestions
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
I’ve had plans to make this list every year but every time I forget or I run out of ideas/time but this year I’m starting this post over a month early to make sure I have time to get it done!
Within recent years I’ve gotten better however I spent the majority of my childhood being a scaredy cat therefore had to improvise with other ways to get into the Halloween spirit.
So, in this post I’m going to be sharing the things I used to do/still try to do every Halloween for all my other fellow scardey cats out there.
The Simpsons – Treehouse of Horror Episodes
Something that I know a lot of people like to do around this time of year is watch The Simpsons’ Halloween specials which are creatively titled ‘Treehouse of Horror’. The clip that I’ve featured above is by guest Simpsons couch gag creator and horror movie expert: Guillermo Del Toro! I don’t think I’ve seen every single Treehouse of Horror episode but some of my favourites include: Homer³ (VI), House of Wacks (XII), Bad Dream House (I) War and Pieces (XXI), In the Na’Vi (XXII), Unnormal Activity (XXIII), Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh! (XXIV), School is Hell (XXV) and finally, Coralisa (XXVIII). The Treehouse of Horror episodes are my favourite Simpsons episodes as they contain so many movie and cultural references!
Halloween Town Movies
I used to watch this all year round as a kid but it was always on Disney Channel around the Autumn season. The Halloween town series is made up of 4 Disney Channel Original Movies: Halloweentown (1998), Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001), Halloweentown High (2004) and Return To Halloween Town (2006). I mostly remember the final film as I watched it a lot back in the day. The films are all filmed on large sets which are full of practical effect and follow the story of a family of Witches in our world with roots and business to deal with in the fictional Halloweentown where it is Halloween all the time! I’ll be honest I haven’t watched these films in a while but regardless, they always get me in the spooky mood.
Halloween Specials of Cartoons
Similar to The Simpsons, pretty much every animated series that I watched as a kid had a Halloween special. The one that sticks out most vividly to me is the Recess Halloween special: The Terrifying Tales of Recess from Season 6 of the series. The episode is comprised of 3 spooky stories starring the main characters of Recess. Much like many of the entries on this list, my sisters and I would always make time to catch this specific episode each year. In this Recess special, kids from 3rd Street School encounter, a werewolf, zombies and haunted bicycles? Laugh all you want but that last one is actually the scariest!
Other animated Halloween specials which hold a special place in my heart include:
Halloween from season 4 of Lloyd in Space
Candy Bar Creep Show from season 1 of Rugrats
October 31st from season 1 of Kim Possible
Nightmare on Wilson Way from season 5 of Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends
Boogie Frights from season 1 of The Powerpuff Girls
Halloween Bash from season 1 of American Dragon: Jake Long
Summerween from season 1 of Gravity Falls
I Spy a Witch from season 1 of As Told By Ginger
Scary Godparents from season 2 of Fairly Odd Parents
…and probably so many more!
Scooby-Doo 90s Animated Films
Each fan of every long running franchise will have a favourite iteration of the TV/film series. For me, my favourite Scooby-Doo phase was the straight-to-dvd films that were released during the late 1990s and early 2000s. These films include: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost (1999), Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000) and Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001). These aren’t specifically Halloween related films but considering it’s Scooby-Doo all of these films have spooky themes anyway.
The Addams Family Films
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky, The Addams family!”. Here is another not so spooky, Halloween movie, there are many iterations of this famous family from TV series’, animated series, musicals and movies. Any of these will do nicely for Halloween time but in this case, I’m talking about the 90s live action films. There are two films for you to pick from The Addams Family (1991) and The Addams Family Values (1993) both have copious amounts of references to gothic, death and torture themes with enough humour to take the edge off. These films were a staple to my childhood and perfect to get you in the spooky mood.
I know I’m not alone in saying that this film was actually pretty scary to me as a kid. Monster House was released in 2006 and had some pretty frightening themes for a children’s movie, themes including: a living haunted house which eats trespassers, death by cement and cannibalism? Yikes. This film kind of gives me a Steven King’s IT vibe what with children working together in an attempt to fight a supernatural force and all. It’s definitely a film that everyone should see at least once, especially if that once is on Halloween.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog premiered on Cartoon Network in 1999 and ran up until 2002. The show was pretty weird at times and often crossed the line of what was and wasn’t appropriate for children’s programming, much like a lot of Cartoon Network shows at the time. The show was mainly made up of 2D animation however often blended live action footage, claymation & questionable CGI which gave the show an even creepier feel. The general premise of Courage the Cowardly Dog is the story of a small, strange looking dog named Courage who lives with his elderly owners Muriel and Eustace in the middle of nowhere. Each day Courage finds new things in which to be afraid of, however it’s with good reason! The house/farm is usually invaded by the paranormal, extraterrestrial and down right frightening. To get a real sense of this show you’ll have to watch a few episodes. I rarely watched it as a child as I was too afraid of it! But even now in my 20s I get an uneasy feeling from re-watching the episodes.
Here are some of the scariest episodes that I can remember:
The Demon in the Mattress – Season 1 – Episode 4a
Freaky Fred – Season 1 – Episode 4b
The Great Fusilli – Season 1 – Episode 13b
Courage in the Big Stinkin’ City – Season 2 – Episode 2b
The Mask – Season 4 – Episode 7
Coraline is close to being my favourite film ever, regardless of Halloween. This spooky story was released back in 2009 and is based on the children’s novel by Neil Gaiman, which is even creepier and worth a read by the way. If you’ve never heard of Coraline, let me round it up for you. Coraline is a pre-teen girl who has just moved to a new home in a new town with her workaholic parents. Only child Coraline is sick of the mundanity of her life and finds her new surroundings even more boring. So, when she finds a small door in her new house which leads to an ulterior dimension, Coraline’s curiosity consumes her. Which leads to some pretty sinister outcomes. If that summary or the trailer still hasn’t sold you on this film then you may be interested to know that director Henry Selick also directed another Halloween film;The Nightmare Before Christmas! That was released back in 1993. I watch Coraline any time of the year but I think that it’s a great film to watch during Halloween.
If you liked the look of Coraline, let me introduce you to her production brother; Paranorman. Paranorman was released in 2012 and was created by the same studio as Coraline, Laika. A thing I forgot to mention in the entry above this one is is that all films that Laika studios produce are entirely made using stop-motion animation. In this film, Norman a young misunderstood boy has the ability to talk to the dead, most of the time he speaks with his deceased Grandmother and feels that he fits in with them more than living breathing humans. After a strange encounter with his estranged Uncle, Norman is warned of an age old curse which was bestowed upon the town many years ago and how the dead are set to rise as Zombies very soon. Therefore it is up to Norman to stop the curse and save the town. Paranorman is a really good film for Halloween as it features ghosts, zombies and witches, what more could you need!
Speaking of witches, here is The Witches (1990). The film was adapted from the children’s novel by admired children’s author: Roald Dahl, but who doesn’t already know that. The film tells the story of a society of women who are actually Witches in disguise. When a young boy named Luke is on holiday with his grandmother, he accidentally finds himself in the middle of a Witches conference where he accidentally gets involved with the Witches’ latest sinister plot . The scariest thing about this film is definitely the visual aspects, when the Witches unveil themselves by taking off their shoes, wigs and prosthetics, it really is a sight to see. As a child I was terrified at the painting scene, it still gives me the creeps today!
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
You’ve heard of Werewolves, now get ready for… Wererabbits?! Wallace and Gromit who were created by animator Nick Park are now a staple to British animation and culture. The pair started out in a series of short films before appearing in their very first movie; Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005. The film sees the pair in their latest endeavour, pest control. Wallace, being the inventor that he is, comes up with an invention that’ll brainwash the rabbits who are terrorising the town by munching on everyone's prize vegetables into thinking that vegetables are disgusting. There is a mishap however and Wallace manages to switch psyches with a rabbit. This results in some hilarious but also monstrous happenings. The film is full of old school horror references from Frankenstein, Werewolves, Jaws and even The Exorcist. Perfect for very young children or especially scared scardey cats this Halloween.
That’s all for my Halloween suggestions folks! I know that there’s a lot missing that some of you were expecting to see here like Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, Toy Story of Terror, etc. however I stuck to the films/shows that I personally watched at Halloween growing up. If I have enough time around December I’d love to make a follow up to this post about the stuff I used to watch at Christmas too!
I hope you all have a safe and spooky Halloween!