“Ghostbusters” (and “Ghostbusters 2”)
When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters, obviously. That’s what we learned from this timeless film about four New York men who establish a paranormal exterminator service known as “Ghostbusters” to fulfill “supernatural elimination needs.” At first, they find themselves stuck with no customers and shrinking funds, but they are eventually hired to investigate a haunting at a hotel. As paranormal activity increases in the city, the guys become celebrities and enjoy their success – until they get trapped in an apartment with a demonic spirit. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd. 1984. PG-13.
Directed by Mel Brooks (“Blazing Saddles”) and starring Gene Wilder (“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”) as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, this immortal comedy is a nonstop laugh riot complete with hilarious spoofs of the timeless creatures who haunt Halloween. Monster? Check. Haunted castle? Check. A loving parody of the classic horror film genre, this critical favorite ranks on countless lists of must-see movies, including the American Film Institute’s “100 Laughs” and ABC’s “Greatest Movies of Our Time,” to name a few. The film follows Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, an American physician and lecturer who inherits his family’s Transylvanian estate – and a bit more than that. Buckle up for the wacky hijinks that ensue as Frankenstein travels to Europe to inspect the property and learns more about his grandfather’s work. Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle. 1974. PG-13.
American family fantasy film “Hocus Pocus” stars Bette Midler (“The Rose”), Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”) and Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act”) as the Sanderson sister witches from none other than Salem, Mass. Back in the 17th century, the trio was executed for witchcraft. But in present day, teen Max (Omri Katz of cult shows like “Eerie, Indiana”), who moves to Salem from California and hates Halloween, inadvertently, uh, resurrects the Sanderson sisters on Halloween Eve. It will take all of Max’s 20th-century know-how to bring down the witches who try to regain their youth by absorbing the life force of children. The film has a die-hard cult following and is constantly rerun on channels like Disney throughout the month of October. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker. 1993. PG.
“Scream” (and “Scream 2”)
This jokey yet scary series of Wes Craven (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) slasher films is a slew of movies you can’t miss. Starring Courtney Cox (“Friends”), David Arquette (“Never Been Kissed”) and Drew Barrymore (“Charlie’s Angels”), the film focuses on teenager Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, “Party of Five”) who is attacked by the mysterious killer Ghostface on the anniversary of her mother’s murder. Credited with revitalizing the horror genre in the ’90s by combining traditional horror with humor, clichÃ©s and a crafty plot, “Scream” remains the highest-grossing slasher film ever. Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore. 1996. R.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”
And number one on the countdown is (drumroll please) the Halloween classic, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” If you haven’t watched this one in a while, add it to your list of frightful flicks. Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, this animated special follows the adventures of Linus as he sits in the pumpkin patch on Halloween night, waiting for the legendary Great Pumpkin to arrive. Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program, this charming movie is the perfect way to round out your sugary film fest. 1966. Not Rated.
– By Liza Atillasoy