Back when the pandemic made celebrating St. Patrick’s Day off-limits, we had little reason to believe Halloween would suffer the same fate. And then two weeks of shutdown became two months became who knows. And now it’s mid-October, and Halloween is just the latest in a long series of days we’ve had to sacrifice.
Given this doom and gloom, you might be looking for small ways you can still celebrate the holiday. I now have a bowl of pumpkin-shaped candy corn sitting on my table and plans to make a spooky gingerbread house over the weekend. While constructing that confection and designing gingerbread ghosts, I’d like to have a Halloween movie playing in the background.
Searching on Netflix for Halloween movies brings up a lot of kids’ fare such as something called “Spookley the Square Pumpkin.” But the service does have a few options for older ages, like the new “Hubie Halloween” or 1991’s “The Addams Family.”
Below, I’ve rounded up a few of the Halloween movies worth streaming to bring spookiness into your social isolation.
A couple of the movies, such as “Silence of the Lambs” and “Sleepy Hollow,” actually leave Netflix at the end of October, so you have extra incentive to check them out now.
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“Hubie Halloween” (Netflix)
Premise: In this comedy, a man (Adam Sandler) living in Salem, Massachusetts, has a habit of crying wolf on perceived misdeeds. The cops are fed up with him and think he’s wasting their time. This man particularly loves Halloween and tries to make sure it goes smoothly every year. When he discovers that a deadly monster may be in the town as Halloween approaches, the man must figure out how to save Salem (and the holiday) when almost nobody will believe him.
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
“The Addams Family” (1991)
Premise: This spooky comedy is based on the cartoons of Charles Addams. In the movie, the titular Addams family goes about their creepy lives. They deeply care about maintaining the family, despite their propensity for evil. Given this love of family, an imposter (Christopher Lloyd) tricks the heads of the family (Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia) into believing he’s related, all to try and steal their riches.
“The Addams Family” earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
“Sleepy Hollow” (1999)
Premise: Tim Burton directed this supernatural horror movie based on an 1820 story by Washington Irving. In the film, police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) travels from New York City to the small town of Sleepy Hollow in 1799 to investigate decapitations. A narrative has taken hold in the town that the ghost of a headless Hessian soldier from the Revolutionary War kills people at night while searching for his head. The “ghost” wears a jack-o’-lantern as a head. The big-city constable doesn’t believe in ghosts but has a hard time explaining the paranormal activity.
“Sleepy Hollow” earned three Academy Award nominations, with one win for Best Production Design.
Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes
“Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Premise: This psychological drama is based on a novel by Thomas Harris. In the movie, an FBI student (Jodie Foster) takes on the weighty task of interviewing the imprisoned former psychiatrist and cannibalistic murderer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). The student tries to get Lecter to help her in the investigation of a gruesome serial killer who is still at large. Lecter acts as if he’ll help, but surprises the agent with his own game.
“Silence of the Lambs” earned seven Academy Award nominations, with five wins: Best Picture, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.
Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Premise: This spooky family comedy is based on a 1983 Roald Dahl book and co-produced by Jim Henson. The movie tells the story of a kid who stumbles upon a witch convention while staying at an English hotel. The lead witch (Anjelica Huston) reveals a plan to turn all children into mice and then captures the kid to try it out. As a mouse, the kid must try to figure out how to save himself and all the other children in the world.
Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes
“A Ghost Story” (2017)
Premise: In this supernatural drama, a man (Casey Affleck) dies but stays in the Texas house he shared with his wife (Rooney Mara) as a ghost. His representation as a ghost is just a bedsheet with holes, a sheet he “received” when his wife pulled it over him in the hospital. The bedsheet ghost lingers at house’s location unseen, only occasionally causing disturbances such as lights flickering to alert others to his presence. His wife moves away, but the ghost sticks around to see what else will happen in the space.
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
“Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein” (Netflix)
Premise: This short comedy tells the fake story of real actor David Harbour as he looks into his father’s past creating a televised play of the Frankenstein story. Harbour uncovers nefarious information about his father (a character he also plays in the special) and must decide how that affects his self-conception.
A couple of these movies (such as “The Addams Family”) feature Victorian houses, an architectural style that is now considered inherently creepy. This short Vox video explains how a once-ubiquitous design became spooky: