Cosplayers portray the Sanderson Sisters of “Hocus Pocus” fame. Photo courtesy of Ealasaid.

5. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”                                                                                            – The link between the generations                                                                                                                    The Peanuts gang began in the 1960s to slowly infiltrate the holiday season, and Halloween is certainly not an exception. This film contained classic tropes of Charlie Brown specials, such as Lucy’s football gag, Linus’s blanket and the all-around bad luck of poor old Chuck. Due to the simplistic nature of a group of kids celebrating Halloween, the movie remains largely relevant nearly 50 years after its creation. In this way, the movie can connect the many generations of the family in the traditions of the holiday.

4. “The Little Vampire”
– A Twilight for Kids type, but actually good
The story of loner finally finding a friend in a “vegetarian” vampire now sounds terribly familiar, but in the early 2000s, the idea of non-villainous vampires was still rather fresh. Tony Thompson moves from San Diego to Scotland and the transition really bites, until Rudolph Sackville-Baggs, in the form of a bat, flies into his life. Helping his new buddy quench his thirst via cattle and save his family from a monstrous vampire hunter, Tony and Rudolph become truly inseparable friends. The “it’s okay to be different” message combined with quality acting and age-appropriate action and thrills keep this movie on the annual track of the Halloween season.

3. “Beetlejuice”
-Humor-horror at its finest
Tim Burton scores high in dimensionalization of storylines throughout his films, and Beetlejuice is no different. The sudden deaths of Adam and Barbara Maitland lead viewers into a shockingly organized afterlife. Though dead, the couple wishes to remain in their home and kick out the new human occupants, the Deetz. The services of Beetlejuice, a boogie-man type “bio-exorcist,” are employed but almost instantly regretted due to his self-serving nature. It’s the endearing relationship between the ghostly Maitlands and alienated teen Lydia Deetz that really sells this film with the younger age demographics, because Lydia is relatable in her feelings of being out of place. The whole creepy angle remains, but there is also an element of hope in the end, which makes for an oddly heartwarming film. The uniqueness of the film for its genre makes it a refreshing addition to those typical of the holiday.

2. “Halloweentown”
-Disney’s Old Reliable
Disney hit a cash cow with this series and they just kept on milking it, but the first film was definitely the best. Marnie loves the whole Halloween scene, but her mother never seems to let her experience what Marnie feels is the full extent of the holiday. This year, Marnie’s 13th Halloween, her secretly magical grandma wants to teach her the family’s witching ways. Marnie and her brother Dylan (and unbeknownst, their little sister Sophie) sneak onto their grandma’s bus and end up in Halloweentown, where it’s Halloween all year round. Just as Marnie is having all her haunted hopes fulfilled, creepy things (beyond the typical level of the town) begin to happen, and it’s up to her family to stop them. Now, looking back on it seriously, the film’s graphics leave something to be desired and the slow spiral into madness of the sequels make the eyes roll. However, the childhood spirit within doesn’t simply fade, and we wouldn’t want it to either.

1. “Hocus Pocus”
-Perfection
This fantastically fear-inducing film opens on the three aging Sanderson sister witches of the Salem Witch Trials’ era attempting to steal the life force of young children. They are discovered in their wicked ways and are hung, but before they die, the sisters foretell their return in 300 years. In a time jump to 1993, we meet moody teen Max Dennison, recent emigrant from California to Salem, just as Halloween is rolling around. In attempting to impress his crush, Max lights a candle in the historic Sanderson house which inadvertently sets off a chain reaction that leads to the resurrection of the horrible trio. Max, love-interest Allison and little sister Dani, assisted by the enchanted cat Thackery, must try to save the town’s youth from eminent death by the Sanderson sisters. The presence of teen romance and spooky yet amusing antagonists combined with the seriousness of the threat the Sandersons pose are most pleasing in this film. It’s without compare in its characterization, acting and special effects that hit the equilibrium between quality and cheesy. In summary, the flick is truly bewitching and an absolute staple of the season.