Seven Nostalgic Movies and Specials to Binge During Halloween

Illustration by Savannah Larsen

Natalia Hernandez

Copy Editor

Once September hits, spooky season officially begins: Starbucks brings out the pumpkin spice drinks, Trader Joe’s stocks up on pumpkins, and the autumn leaves deliver the full autumn aesthetic we anxiously await for each year. 

The array of Halloween-themed movies and television specials are what make the fall season so enjoyable because they bring out the childhood nostalgia in everyone. And in the midst of a pandemic, what’s a better way to spend the endless void of quarantine than binge-watching the Halloween specials that make autumn a special time of year. 

Grab a bag of assorted candy or your pumpkin cream cold brew and enjoy this guide of Halloween movies and TV specials guaranteed to make your October spooktacular!

1. “The Addams Family” (1991) and “Addams Family Values” (1993)

If you haven’t already fallen in love with this crazy family, this double-feature will easily become a must-watch for your Halloween season. Starring Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd from the “Back to The Future” franchise, the Addams are a peculiar family that deals with “outsiders” trying to take advantage of their family’s fortune. This film series charms audiences with the unconditional love between Gomez and Morticia Addams, Fester’s goofy uncle personality, and Wednesday Addams’ iconic stone-cold — yet amusing — personality.

2. “Beetlejuice” (1988) 

Tim Burton remains the king of tasteful Halloween horror classics. “Beetlejuice” is an older horror-fantasy film starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Alec Baldwin. The two main characters, Barbara and Adam Maitland cross over to the great-beyond but find themselves confined to their house. As time goes on, Lydia, played by Winona Ryder, and her family move in to find themselves being driven out by the ghosts of Adam, Barbara, and the wild-card mogul Betelgeuse who relentlessly haunt them from the land of the recently deceased. Not only is the Beetlejuice costume a fan favorite, but the satisfying visuals and aesthetic of the film make it a must-watch every year. 

3. “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” (1966) 

The Charlie Brown shorts are a nostalgic staple in the ABC Halloween TV specials. The Peanuts gang is an iconic group of children who continue to remain relevant across generations. In this episode, everyone is getting ready for Halloween night. As Charlie Brown gathers his supply of rocks from trick-or-treating, Linus and Sally wait in the pumpkin patch for an appearance by the mythical Great Pumpkin. 

4. “Frankenweenie” (2012)

If you’re looking for a real tear-jerker of a Halloween movie, “Frankenweenie” is the perfect fit for you. Another film that makes Tim Burton a master of Halloween, “Frankenweenie” is an animated film about a young boy whose dog is run over by a car and brought back to life. Despite the creepy aesthetics and strange characters, it is sure to have you in tears by the end of the movie. 

5. “Halloweentown” (1998)

Disney Channel is notorious for the Halloween specials they air every October. If you remember watching Disney Channel late on autumn nights, chances are you have likely come across one of the “Halloweentown” movies. This film series is a classic amongst Disney Channel original movies. With the creation of a fantasy Halloweentown full of spooky beings, the Cromwell family of witches must switch back and forth between worlds in order to save both from the forces of evil. 

6. “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: The Ghost in Suite 162” (2005) 

Both Gen Z and Millenials can never get enough of old Disney Channel holiday-themed episodes. The start of “Monstober” meant that everyone’s favorite shows were going to have a fun Halloween twist. In this episode, the Sprouse twins and the rest of the Tipton staff spend the night in the haunted suite, and supernatural forces seemingly meddle in their evening plans. If you have a DisneyPlus subscription and are feeling a little nostalgic, this is a go-to Halloween special that will make you feel like your six-year-old self fearing for your life after watching it. 

7. “Coraline” (2009)

Last but not least, “Coraline” is arguably the most terrifying animated movie for children ever produced. With Dakota Fanning voicing the character of Coraline, the film follows the story of the titular character moving to a new home with her neglectful parents. While exploring the strange house,  she finds a small door hidden into the wall. She crawls through it to find herself in an alternate utopian universe where everything is perfect. Her “other” parents have buttons for eyes and give her anything she wants – every kid’s dream right? With the warnings of a stray cat, her normal neighbors, and the ghosts of dead children, she soon makes a frightening discovery about this supposedly wonderful world. Although this movie may have traumatized a good portion of Gen Z, it’s the perfect film to watch during Halloween if you’re looking for some terrifying vibes.