13 Not-So-Scary Movies to Watch On Halloween
I really like Halloween. The decorations, people dressing up, jack-o’-lanterns; I love all kinds of ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and all different monsters. In contrast, I really don’t like being scared. I dislike it so much, I once faked a stomach ache at a friend’s birthday party so I didn’t have to go into a haunted woods attraction (I was six, give me a break). I was recently watching the teenage drama series Teen Wolf and heard a howl outside and was convinced a wolf-type man was on the prowl. Note that I am a 31-year-old man at this time (I don’t know if I’m more embarrassed about the being scared part or how much I’m enjoying Teen Wolf).
So, I find myself facing a bit of a conundrum during Halloween. I like movies and shows with all kinds of these creepy things but I would rather not be scared; I don’t like loud noises or things jumping out at me. So, here is a list of 13 not-so-scary movies to watch during Halloween.
1. An American Werewolf in London
I know I said I don’t like scary things and this is probably the scariest movie on the list. An American Werewolf in London has some pretty good jump scares and visual horror in it, but it boasts a lot of dark humor as well. This is director John Landis’s second movie; he directed it right after Animal House, so the comedy roots are there. Werewolves happen to be my favorite spooky creature and this is the best werewolf movie to this day (I will legit fight about it; I have serious opinions about werewolves).
The transformation scene still holds up as the best put on screen, and the comedy is what solidifies this as not-so-scary. Yeah, it has some good horror, but it balances it out with some truly laugh-out-loud scenes and wonderful music cues throughout the movie.
Jack: David, you are hurting my feelings!
David: Hurting your feelings? Has it occurred to you that it might be unsettling to see you arise from the grave to visit me?
2. Bubba Ho-Tep
A lot of famed B-movie actor Bruce Campbell’s works could be put on this list, from Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, and a host of others, but I am going with a little lesser known commodity in Bubba Ho-Tep, a movie that focuses on a mummy sucking souls from people in a retirement home (check out the trailer here). It is up to an aged Elvis Presley (who switched places with an Elvis impersonator in the 60’s-70’s to get out of the limelight), played by Campbell, and Jack, played by Ossie Davis (who believes he is JFK and the government dyed his skin black to hide his identity) to save the nursing home.
This movie caught me off guard with how funny and kind of cripplingly emotional it is, with great acting by Campbell and Davis. The mummy effects are good and it has a creepy undertone as well that fits the Halloween spirit.
Elvis: Get old, you can’t even cuss someone and have it bother ’em. Everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing.
3. The Lost Boys
What’s not to love about The Lost Boys? The tagline says it all: “Sleep all day. Party all night. It’s fun to be a vampire.” This movie is drenched in 1980s goodness; from having “the Coreys” in the cast, the shirtless saxophone rocker, and vampires wearing sunglasses, to fantastic one-liners and eccentric scenarios, The Lost Boys is just a lot of fun. At least, until the vampires feast on some punks at a beach bonfire. That scene adds just enough horror to the mix to take the movie into a little more frightful feel. It has the right mix of action, comedy, and just a touch of horror that is the perfect mix for me.
One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach; all the damn vampires.
4. The Crow
Look, I wrote a whole article a while back on why I love The Crow so much. I am not going to rehash all of that, but The Crow makes the list of Halloween movies for a couple of reasons. The movie takes place the night before Halloween, aka “Devils Night.” It is about a guy coming back from the dead to seek revenge with some creepy makeup. You can also add in the sad/creepy element of lead actor Brandon Lee actually dying on set while filming. Add all those up and you got yourself a non-scary Halloween movie!
Here’s to Devil’s Night, my new favorite holiday.
5. The Monster Squad
In the past ten years or so, The Monster Squad has garnered a cult following. Heck, there is even a documentary about it! I have vague memories of watching this movie as a child. I remember the kids making friends with Frankenstein’s monster, the Gillman coming out of the water, and the Wolfman getting blown up (dynamite is surprisingly easy to come by in this movie). It scared the crap out of me as a kid and I had never watched or remembered what it was until it caught the cultural zeitgeist a few years back.
Rediscovering the movie as an adult has been a treat. Having this group of kids go up against the Universal Monsters is a fantastic setup and perfect for Halloween. The costumes are still great (we won’t talk about the special effects) and the whole concept is just a lot of goofy fun!
Sean: Look, Wolfman doesn’t go to work, he’s not like a guy!
Patrick: What are you talkin’ about, he walks around, he wears pants.
Sean: He had to wear pants; those movies were made in the 40’s! He had to wear ’em so you wouldn’t see his…wolf-dork.
6. The Wolf Man (1941)
For some reason I have always gravitated toward werewolves; they have always fascinated me and they seem to always get the shaft around Halloween. Tons of vampire, zombie, bats and other ghoulish things but hardly any werewolf stuff. Anyway, the classic Lon Chaney Jr. flick makes the list just by being a classic. It is a pretty solid story, even though the werewolf doesn’t seem too formidable when you can beat him with a cane. Still, it’s a great one to put on during the season and these classic black and white movies have a creepy vibe all of their own.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
7. Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Ah, Leslie Nielsen, how we miss you. I have a bit of nostalgia for Dracula: Dead and Loving It. First, my parents took me to see this on a school night, which rarely ever happened; and second, I had no clue it was a comedy. When the movie opened I thought it was going to be scary (apparently I didn’t understand the title). Then the slapstick started happening and I fell in love. Dracula: Dead and Loving It is a Mel Brooks classic, filled with his oddball humor and classic lines!
Dr. Seward: Count Dracula, allow me to introduce Professor Abraham Van Helsing of London University. He’s a doctor of rare diseases as well as theology and philosophy.
Van Helsing: And Gynecology.
Dr. Seward: Oh, I didn’t know you had your hand in that, too.
8. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Look, I am going to confess I have never seen the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show. It seems like something I would like, but there is only so much time. I am going to get around to it sometime. That being said, the original movie is a classic vampire romp. Having valley girl/cheerleader Buffy becoming a vampire slayer extraordinaire is a great set-up. Much like The Lost Boys, it has this nice quirkiness to it that mixes horror and humor. It switches out the ’80s for the ’90s and you can feel, while taking the story seriously, it knows not to take itself too seriously at the same time.
Buffy: I have something that the other girls didn’t have.
Merrick: And what might that be, pray?
Buffy: My keen fashion sense!
Merrick: Oh, vampires of the world beware.
Ghostbusters is another movie I didn’t realize was a comedy until I watched it during my teenage years. Again, this movie scared me as a kid, but it was also a lot of fun. Catching ghosts caught my imagination and I was hooked. It wasn’t until many years later that I would catch all the humor packed in this delight of a movie. You really can’t go wrong with this movie for Halloween; it has got your ghosts and ghouls, and some great laughs to go along with them!
Dr. Raymond Stantz: Gozer the Gozerian… good evening. As a duly designated representative of the City, County, and State of New York, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.
Dr. Peter Venkman: [Sarcastically] That oughta do it. Thanks very much, Ray.
This is the most recent movie on the list, which hit theaters in 2016. Like most people around my age, the Goosebumps novels and subsequent television show played a big role in my life. My mom actually made me stop reading Goosebumps books after I woke her in the middle of the night after a nightmare due to this book. The new incarnation casts Jack Black as R.L. Stein and features a group of teenagers setting his creations loose on a small town. It is a movie made for kids and if you take it at face value it is a fun story. There is a sequel coming out October 12 of this year that looks like a lot of fun as well.
R.L. Stine: [introducing himself to a classroom] “Hello. My name is Mr. R.L. Stine. Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts. The beginning. The middle. And the twist.”
11. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
This is going to be an odd one for the list and the only animated feature on it. I have a big soft spot for Scooby-Doo; once on Halloween, I stayed up all night watching a Scooby-Doo marathon on Cartoon Network and enjoyed every second of it. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island brings the gang back together to the Louisiana swamp, where zombies and “were-cats” lurk (I usually don’t like other “were” animals but I give this a pass). Shocker: the monsters are real! The main reason this makes the list is it is classic Scooby-Doo, with hijinks, traps, tricks, and little scares along the way. “It’s Terror Time Again” gets stuck in my head more than it should.
12. From Dusk Till Dawn
My best friend and I used to love nothing more than watching From Dusk Till Dawn in college. The Robert Rodriguez flick starts out as a story about two brothers robbing a bank, kidnapping a family, and escaping to Mexico to hide out in a bar. It quickly switches as it turns out the bar is full of vampires! The twist toward the middle of the movie is fantastic. I would love to see people’s reactions to the movie if they didn’t know that the whole vampire thing was coming. George Clooney has also never been cooler as Seth Gecko.
It’s funny, scary and action-packed. Really, there is not much to not love about this movie.
Carlos: So, what, were they psychos, or...
Seth: Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don’t give a f*$# how crazy they are!
13. Ernest Scared Stupid
It wouldn’t be a list of classic non-scary Halloween movies without Ernest Scared Stupid. If you say “who is Ernest?” then you obviously didn’t grow up in the ’90s, or had a terrible childhood! In all seriousness, actor Jim Varney is a gem and his gift as Ernest is the gift that keeps on giving. Okay, so maybe the Ernest movies are not the high end of cinema, but Ernest Scared Stupid is a Halloween tradition in my life. The story of Ernest waking a troll and having to save the town on Halloween sets the story for a classic tale.
Sometime before “All Hallows Eve” I watch Ernest Scared Stupid. It used to come on tv all the time in my childhood, so I continued the tradition. Mainly, I started back in 2005 in college and it has continued from there (I have a great story of a friend pooping himself while watching it that will live in infamy). Now, my wife and I watch it while carving pumpkins every year. It’s classic Ernest low-brow humor and geared toward kids, but the troll costumes are actually superbly well done and hey, it makes me laugh, so there is that.
Ernest P. Worrell: Nuh-uh, ain’t no trees in Botswana, nuh uh, I know, I AM a Botswanian lumberjack, and I ain’t never had a job…
So there you go, 13 Not-So-Scary Movies to watch for Halloween. I know I missed a ton of different movies so feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
Or you might have a story of yourself being scared of something stupid you want to share!
Hey, one time I watched an exorcist movie with friends and returned to an empty house, where we had a new puppy at the time; I made it sleep on my chest because I figured the dog would be alerted if some demon tried to sneak up on me. I was 17 at the time…Happy Halloween!