Young boys and girls turn their thoughts to ghouls, ghosts and candy this time of year. But kids of all ages, even those of us too old for trick-or-treating, can also have a little fun. There are plenty of gory horror films to help celebrate the holiday, but nothing beats the Halloween classics. We’ve collected some of the fun and spooky stories, songs, cartoons and movies to get you in the mood.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
One of the all-time classic holiday specials, Charlie Brown and the gang’s trick-or-treating adventures are almost half a century old now. But some things will never change. Charlie ends up with a bag full of rocks. And Linus believes in the power of the Great Pumpkin. It’s a touching display of naive stubbornness that speaks just as well for kids today as it did back then.
Trick or Treat
The first-ever trick-or-treating on screen happened with none other than Donald Duck. Nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie try and get candy from their uncle, who decides to prank them instead. In turn, the boys get help from a friendly witch and payback with interest on their stubborn uncle.
Modern horror movies rely on the gruesome, but shock, blood and gore don’t necessarily make for more chills. In this 1963 classic horror, four people spend a few nights in a house to determine if it’s haunted. Scary sounds, a woman losing her sanity and only one special effect make this movie’s creepiness pretty timeless.
This classic collection of stories is comprised of familiar tales, or new spins on old concepts. While Alvin Schwartz does a terrific job with the phrasing, it’s up to you (or whoever is brave enough to be the storyteller) to really get the whispers, the long pauses and the big scary shouts just right. Stephen Gammell’s extra scary pencil drawings add another layer of terror for your audience.
There’s plenty of tired old music choices for you to listen to. Thriller? You know the moves by heart. “Monster Mash“? Not again! But Danny Elfman’s terrific score for The Nightmare Before Christmas stands the test of time.
The Pumpkin King Jack Skellington’s discovery of Christmas and his completely distorted take on it make for a great musical concept. “What’s This” combines a Christmas tune with spooky lyrics like “there’s children throwing snowballs/instead of throwing heads/they’re busy building toys/absolutely no one’s dead!” Danny Elfman adds new life to the Halloween song.
Dan Morgridge is a writer from Chicago. He has switched to pumpkin butter and jelly sandwiches for the fall.