It’s fairly well known to anyone who knows me, in person or through my movie watching, that I am a scaredy cat. Just listen to the upcoming episode of the Reel Insight podcast and you’ll hear Rachel mock my scared nature – I kept the light on for 3 days after watching Silence of the Lambs. But I enjoy Halloween with the best of them. So here are my top 5 alternatives to being scared on Halloween.
5. Hocus Pocus
I have no idea why this one aged as well as it did. Perhaps it’s just ridiculous enough with over the top Bette Midler, young ingenue Sarah Jessica Parker, and slightly ridiculous Kathy Najimy (my favorite). It will likely scare small children – there are some pretty big teeth. But for everyone else, it’s silly fun.
4. One True Thing
This is kind of cheat. There are scenes at Halloween, and scenes at Christmas, so it could fit. But I can’t forget Meryl Streep dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and hosting a party. It’s a perfect kind of scene. It sets up the personalities of each of the main characters and we instantly understand their relationship dynamic (if not the people beneath it). This movie has a bad rap because it’s pretty sad, but it’s a set of really moving performances from Streep, Hurt, and even Zellweger.
3. Cabin in the Woods
I suppose this is a cheat too, because there are some very odd and potentially scary moments in it. But since it’s told through a very odd mystery and very tongue-in-cheek about its own awareness as mocking the horror genre, I choose to include it as not that scary. If you’re able to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and seriously, who isn’t) then this will be fine – with a moment or two covering your eyes. But they have a really solid story to back it up, and unlike most horror movies, you don’t feel like there’s something right there in the room with you.
2. The Worst Witch
This is also kind of a cheat because it’s a TV movie from the 80s. But it stars Fairuza Balk, so I don’t really care if it doesn’t count. Basically, she’s the female Harry Potter before there was a Harry Potter. She’s sent to school to be a witch, and the title tells it all. But of course she saves the day, and Tim Curry arrives as the Grand Wizard and rewards her and sings. It’s the nostalgia and woman power movie for Halloween for me.
1. Practical Magic
This was easily the first movie that I thought of when making this list. The story of a family of witches that produce twins that don’t choose to be witches. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are sister. Bullock has tried to live a normal life and has twins of her own now. But they’re all cursed in love – and saving Kidman from that curse (she killed Goren Visnjic) brings Aiden Quinn to town. It’s a sweet romantic comedy that uses witches, sue me.