Top 13 Movies to Put You in the Mood for Halloween
Updated: Oct 26
All Hallows' Eve, Hallows’ Evening, or Halloween—no matter how you refer to the autumnal holiday, the last day of October of every year is dedicated to ghost stories, tricks and treats, goblins, and spirited costumes. It’s a day, or a season, to carve pumpkins, watch scary movies, and delight in the celebration of worlds in-between.
As with many festivities this year, Halloween 2020 is being celebrated a bit differently in most places, but that doesn’t mean that the festivities are ceasing entirely. Outdoor ghost tours are still happening and there are lots of driving tours to consider when making your Halloween plans.
If you’re anywhere near the Kentucky area (as I am this year), I highly recommend setting aside an afternoon to take John Carpenter’s Reel Sites, Real Scary Driving Tour in Bowling Green, KY. It’s free, covid-safe, and hints at Carpenter’s childhood experiences that informed some of the themes he explores in, not only the Halloween franchise, but also The Fog, and even the ambient soundtracks composed by Carpenter himself.
The tagline for The Fog, Bolt Your Doors. Lock Your Windows. There’s Something in The Fog!, conveys the feeling we long to experience every Halloween. Something about human nature craves suspense, thrill, excitement, and awe, especially as the temperatures drop and
gilded leaves hang cautiously from trees. Scary movies continue to bring moviegoers back to theaters year after year.
This year, thrill seekers are heading to old school drive-ins around the country, as many theaters are still closed and drive-ins offer a covid-safe way to see classic films on the big screen. For instance, the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles is hosting Spooky Sundays at the Hollywood Roosevelt Drive-In Theater from now until Halloween. Time Out curated a list of options for Los Angeles moviegoers who may be a bit tired of regular pandemic-induced-Netflix-and-chill evenings, but you can find a list of drive-in options near you with a simple google search, as the gates are opening as if it’s the 1950’s all over again.
If you happen to be near the college town of Bowling Green (anytime of year), download the Visit Bowling Green app hosted by the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for a detailed map or visit their website for Reel Sites, Real Scary Driving Tour information. Both offer a bit of movie trivia with time stamps alluding to specific points in Carpenter’s films where local landmarks are referenced.
In Halloween II about 18 minutes into the movie, “...meet me at the ByPass” is referring to 31W ByPass. I’m personally very familiar with the reference, as my family and I used to stay at the Holidome (an enclosed Holiday Inn) on the ByPass annually for holidays (I remember playing putt putt golf for the first time, swimming, and watching MTV music videos in the hotel room with my sister. In fact, it’s highly likely that I even watched Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking music video for Thriller on a Holidome television in 1982. While the Holidome is no longer on the Bypass, my memories of all the family vacations to Kentucky for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and summer break, are still very vivid).
Whether you’re traveling this year for Halloween, or staying close to home, I hope you make some seasonal memories of your own. And don’t forget to download the UPJAUNT app to share your scary Halloween stories with family and friends. Be sure to include the hashtag #Halloween so that your jaunts can be featured in the app. And by adding your city hashtag, for example #Bowlinggreen, jaunters in the area can easily find your Halloween jaunts. From the John Carpenter driving tour I did with my mom, I created a covid-safe jaunt—A John Carpenter Halloween in Bowling Green—and you can check it out here if you need some inspiration.
If you’re in search of some seasonal flicks to watch at home or at a drive-in near you, check out these suggestions…
The Shining (1980) The Overlook Hotel is not on my list of "places to stay"
Get Out (2017) Weekend getaway gone horrifyingly wrong
Interview with the Vampire (1994) 'Tis the season of vampires
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) The master of giallo, Dario Argento
Hocus Pocus (1993) The year of the meme and Hocus Pocus is killing it
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) Warning: VERY scary
Sleepy Hollow (1999) Best tagline goes to..."Heads will roll"
Beetlejuice (1988) Moira from Schitt’s Creek!
Alien (1979) Ripley!! Do you know her birthdate?
The Thing (1982) Arguably, one of the best movie posters of all-time
Nosferatu (either Murnau’s silent version or Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake)
The Witch (2015) "Black Phillip, I conjure thee to speak to me..."
Us (2019; was that just last year?!) How amazing is Lupita Nyong'o in this?! "Be careful..."
And of course, John Carpenter's Halloween!
If you’re curious about the history of the horror genre, here are a few books to read for a deeper dive…
Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman
A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon
The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History by Stephen Jones
“The Psychological Reason Scary Movies Are Sometimes Oddly Comforting” by Bustle
Happy Halloween!! =^^=