/Answers: Your Favorite Movie to Watch on Halloween

halloween movies

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. With this week’s edition arriving on October 31, today we’re asking “What is your favorite movie to watch on Halloween?”

Ben Pearson: Trick ‘R’ Treat

In the hands of a lesser writer/director, Trick ‘r Treat might be slightly off-putting. After all, it seems practically engineered to enter into your annual Halloween movie rotation, and sometimes a goal like that can come off as desperate or presumptuous. But there’s nothing calculated about Michael Dougherty’s movie, and you can feel his passion for the material leaping off the screen in every frame. It’s obvious he loves this holiday and relishes in crafting his own mythology around it, and one of my favorite aspects of Trick ‘r Treat is how effortless the film’s mythos seeped into my association of All Hallow’s Eve. When I think about Halloween, shots from this movie are some of the first images that come to my mind. From the moment I first saw it in a special theatrical screening in 2009, Trick ‘r Treat instantly became my favorite film to watch on Halloween.

Instead of tracking a deranged serial killer or a monster on the loose, this film is about traditions – ones the public no longer remembers or respects. It’s a story caught in the throes of nostalgia for a different era, but that seems especially fitting for Halloween, a holiday that was birthed through ancient traditions that most of us have either forgotten or never knew. It’s cliche to say, but Halloween itself is as important a character in Trick ‘r Treat as any of its human protagonists (or the spooky Sam, with his jagged lollipop and creepy mask). The film plays with genre tropes and expectations in a fun and unexpected way, and like the best holiday films, it actually earns its spot in the annual rotation instead of limping in based on the power of its name alone.

Vanessa Bogart: Practical Magic

The Stevie Nicks-heavy soundtrack and themes of feminism and sisterhood in Practical Magic don’t immediately make it stick out as a Halloween film. But every year on Halloween, I like to start the day with a hot cup of coffee and the story of the Owens family.

Halloween isn’t all about horror. There is a lot of sentimentality involved, especially when you grow up in a household that goes all-out for the holiday. Halloween can be just as much of a family holiday as any other. My childhood memories of Halloween make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Like settling into watch Muppet Christmas Carol or It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas morning, starting Halloween with Practical Magic is a way to embrace the holiday cheer instead of the holiday fear. 

Practical Magic is the Ya-Ya Sisterhood of Halloween. It fills you with hope and love and a strong appreciation for the women in your life. I grew up in a family of very strong women. From my mother and grandmothers, to my aunts, and my sister, the bonds of sisterhood were ever-present. I remember watching Practical Magic with my mom and my sister when it was released in 1998, and we immediately fell under its spell. Our love for the film spread to my cousin, and just like that, this little storybook film became a family classic…but just for us girls. Separated by hundreds of miles in our adulthood, a quick “Watching Practical Magic, miss you,” text is not uncommon between us.

Practical Magic wasn’t always a go-to Halloween film for me. It may have always been on my short list of go-to chick-flicks, but Practical Magic didn’t become a Halloween tradition for me until I moved away from the nation of my birth four years ago. Living in a foreign country, I woke up Halloween morning completely alone for the first time in my life. I sat down with my coffee and a heavy feeling of, “Now what?” But when I saw Practical Magic sitting on my shelf, something clicked. I put it on, smiled from ear-to-ear, and the rest is history.

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