vampires – stars Jonathan Lipnicki, who was still adorable four years after his scene-stealing turn in 1996’s Jerry Maguire.
*Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2016. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
In this third movie of the franchise, Harry & Co. discover their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a werewolf!
*The Witches, 1990. Directed by Nicolas Roeg.
Because this movie was based on a book by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” author Roald Dahl, even grown-ups can appreciate the dark humor in this wickedly good film.
*Ghost Busters, 1984. Directed by Ivan Reitman.
This classic 80s comedy might be a little too much for littler kids, but children about 8 years and older will get a kick out of Slimer and the cool Ghostbusters’ gadgets.
*Casper, 1995. Directed by Brad Silberling.
A sweet and fun movie starring a young Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman.
*Blade, 1998. Directed by Stephen Norrington.
Wesley Snipes stars as the title character, a “daywalker” half-vampire who hunts Stephen Dorff and his crew of modern, sadistic vamps in 1990s L.A.
*Interview With the Vampire, 1994. Directed by Neil Jordan.
Director Neil Jordan followed up his surprise sleeper hit, The Crying Game with this adaptation from the Anne Rice best-selling novel. Rice also wrote the screenplay, which explains the movie’s faithfulness to the source material. Tom Cruise provides some controversial but wickedly thrilling casting as vampire “Brat Prince” Lestat across from Brad Pitt’s smoldering and brooding Louis.
*An American Werewolf in London, 1981. Directed by John Landis.
All of the music in this sexy and funny 80s send-up of werewolf movies are about the moon. A little bit of trivia for your Halloween party: the more decomposed Jack becomes, the darker the circumstances have to be when he visits David because the special effects become more and more fake. By the last visit in a movie theatre, “Jack” is simply a puppet.
*Night of the Living Dead, 1968. Directed by George A. Romero.
The original is still the best in this classic zombie-fest, which employs the old black and white staple of using chocolate syrup as blood.
*The Mummy, 2016. Directed by Stephen Sommers.
This silly action movie might be too much for smaller children, which is why it’s on the Adults-Only list. But if you need sexy people chasing a (sexy, when he’s complete) mummy for your Halloween party, this movie is lots of fun.
Modern Monsters Theme
*Monsters, Inc., 2016. Directed by Pete Docter and David Silverman.
This sweet, Oscar-winning Disney-Pixar animated feature about monsters that learn to make children laugh, not scream with fright, is perfect for the little ones.
*Shrek, 2016. Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson.
Another Oscar-winning animated feature, but this is one packed with enough “inside” jokes that even the grown-ups will enjoy it. An instant classic when it was released, and still very funny.
*Labyrinth, 1986. Directed by Jim Henson.
When he was little, my younger brother was scared of this movie because he thought I was going to send him away to the Goblin King. (It wasn’t for lack of trying that I didn’t.) The friendly, helpful “monsters” in this movie are classic Jim Henson. If your kids haven’t seen this yet, now’s as good a time as any to introduce them to the magic of David Bowie and Jim Henson.
*Edward Scissorhands, 1990. Directed by Tim Burton.
These days it’s hard to imagine a time when Tim Burton and Johnny Depp didn’t work together constantly, but this darkly charming and fractured suburban fairy tale showcases their first collaboration as director and actor. This film is rated PG-13 for some mild foul language and intense themes, but I think that older or more mature-minded children will love it.
*Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno), 2016. Directed by Guillermo del Toro.
A fantastic, but definitely NOT-for-kids movie about a young girl and her dark adventures in the midst of 1940s Spain. Whether the adventures are real, or all in her mind, is entirely up to the viewer, but there is no doubt who the real monster is in this little girl’s sad world.
*A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984. Directed by Wes Craven.
Of all the schlocky 80s slasher-movie monsters, my personal favorite was always Freddy Krueger because he’s just so funny. Because he haunts the dreams of his victims, they tend to die in ridiculous, ironic ways that in this age of Eli Roth gore-fests seem almost quaint.
*The Ring, 2016. Directed by Gore Verbinski.
Seven years after seeing this movie in theatres, I’m still scared. Based on the 1998 Japanese film, Ringu, this terrifying movie cranks the scare factor up to 11. You’ll never watch TV the same way again.
*The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975. Directed by Jim Sharman.
Or should this one go under the “Aliens” category below? Hope I didn’t just give anything away, there. Watch a cross-dressing, bi-curious Tim Curry vamp it up as mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who creates a perfect man for his own pleasure. A very young and singing Susan Sarandon also stars as naïve, and then not so much, Janet Weiss. Get your guests shivering with antici…..pation with this audience participation classic!
*Lilo & Stitch, 2016. Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders.
Disney somehow managed to dial down the saccharine with this one, yet the story remains strangely sweet and touching. Extra points here for the beautiful (yet still animated) Hawaiian setting.
*Men In Black, 1997. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Will Smith followed up his 1996 blockbuster alien summer hit, Independence Day (see below) with this government-conspiracy comedy. The violence is all cartoonish, with lots of green goo that kids will love.
*Transformers, 2016. Directed by Michael Bay.
Director Michael Bay brings his trademark explosions and mega-action to this 2016 summer hit based on the 1980s toys of the same name. Kids will dig the epic battle between the robot aliens, and adults will dig the blast to their past.
*E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
As a child I cried my eyes out when I saw this movie, but still begged my mother to take me back to see it again, which see did. And I cried my eyes out again. But no list of family-friendly alien-themed movies would be complete without Spielberg’s classic, and one of the top grossing and most critically acclaimed movies of all time.
*Alien, 1979. Directed by Ridley Scott.
Not nearly as action-packed as its sequels, but the payoff comes in a now-legendary scene that made John Hurt an instant hero among fans of sci-fi.
*Independence Day, 1996. Directed by Roland Emmerich.
This movie is now almost a throwback to a time when we thought our biggest threat to the planet would come in the form of hostile aliens. A little too violent for children, this Will Smith summer blockbuster is chock-a-block full of quotable lines and fun action sequences.
*The Faculty, 1998. Directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Ah, Robert Rodriguez. He is probably the saving grace of this movie, which is more of a parody of scary alien movies than what could be considered a proper horror movie. Who didn’t at one point think that their high school was run by evil aliens?
*Predator, 1987. Directed by John McTiernan.
Now, my brother used to love this movie when he was just a kid, but it is rated R so I have to put it in the grown-ups section. This is exactly the type of 80s action movie Arnold Schwarzenegger became famous for.
*Legend, 1985. Directed by Ridley Scott.
As children my brother and I were obsessed with Tim Curry’s awesome – and I mean that in every sense of the word – horns as part of his “Darkness” makeup. Tom Cruise stars opposite fairies, unicorns, and Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend.
*Bedazzled, 2016. Directed by Harold Ramis.
Rated PG-13 for Elizabeth Hurley’s sexy outfits and some drug references, this is exactly the type of comedy so often described as “offbeat.” It’s really more silly than funny, but still worth watching.
*Fantasia, 1940. Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe, Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, and Paul Satterfield.
Disney’s epic ode to classical music is more famous for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” sequence than for the demonic, scary-ish “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence, but still a favorite of children and adults alike.
*The Exorcist, 1973. Directed by William Friedkin.
Any movie that can withstand the test of time and be just as frightening in the 21st century as it was back in the 1970s is a scary movie indeed. This one is popularly considered the scariest movie of all time. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to find out why.
*The Omen, 1976. Directed by Richard Donner.
It is entirely a coincidence that this movie was released the same year that I was born, I swear! You’ll think twice about having kids after watching Damien do his thing.
*Rosemary’s Baby, 1968. Directed by Roman Polanski.
Shot at The Dakota, site of John Lennon’s real-life murder 12 years later, and starring Mia Farrow, this is another one you might consider “natural birth control.” Sweet little Ruth Gordon, who later plays “Maude” in Harold and Maude, plays the Satan-worshiping neighbor. “He has his father’s eyes!”
*The Devil’s Advocate, 1997. Directed by Taylor Hackford.
I’m married to a lawyer, so it’s too easy for me to make a “lawyers are the devil” joke here. Instead, I’ll simply say “Al Pacino” and “Keanu Reeves,” and leave it at that. Also: LAWYERS ARE THE DEVIL!!!
*Dogma, 2016. Directed by Kevin Smith.
This deceptively brilliant movie pokes fun at pretty much everyone and everything, yet somehow manages to actually encourage belief in a higher power. Brilliant casting here of real life buddies Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as fallen angels who have been hanging around each other for, literally, eternity.
You can even choose a movie from each theme category for a well-rounded, full-circle Halloween movie theme! Your guests will love the thrills, chills, and laughs of these pop-culture staples!