We watch Halloween Wars like its our job – often critiquing the creations more harshly than the judges and picking a favorite team to root for throughout the competition. If you’re unfamiliar with Halloween Wars, you are truly missing out! It’s a Food Network show that pits teams of sugar artists, cake designers and pumpkin carvers against one another to create the most spectacular halloween scene – all out of edible elements. You should check it out on Sundays at 9:oo pm during October.
We get into the spirit of Halloween as soon as the calendar turns to October. In addition to watching Halloween Wars we also love to read scary books all month long, create Halloween playlists and have a monster-movie night (or two). So, in honor of one of our favorite holidays, I thought I’d share some of our favorite books and movies of the season:
These were some of our favorite Halloween stories when my kids were small. They are not too scary, but are delightfully “frightful” for little ones. I love to rotate our books (and activities) based on the season and we always looked forward to reading these halloween stories.
- Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson
- The Night Before Halloween, Natasha Wing
- Skeleton Hiccups, Margery Cuyler
- Inside a House that is Haunted, Alyssa Satin Capucilli
- Frankie Stein, Lola M. Schaefer (teaches a great lesson about being comfortable in your own skin)
- The Best Halloween Ever, Barbara Robinson (simple and fun chapter book for Grades 2 and up)
- Halloween Friday-Cat, Abby Klein (for fans of the Ready-Freddy! series)
Top 5 Scary Books for Grown-Ups:
These “sleep with the lights on” picks are some of my personal favorites. I am an avid reader. I read everyday, sometimes more than one book at once. And while I’m not sure I could pick one favorite genre of books to read, I do love a good scary story. And I am not too particular – I can get caught up in books about serial killers, vampires, ghosts, etc…. Basically give me any kind of psychological thriller and I will be up all night. It was actually really hard for me to narrow this list down to just five books – I mean I could have filled the list entirely with Stephen King, but I tried to pick a variety of genres from a number of different time periods. I guarantee there is at least one book on this list for you.
- Dracula, Bram Stoker
- Ghost Story, Peter Straub
- Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Paul Tremblay
- Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
- The Shining, Stephen King
Just like with the books, once October dawns we watch Halloween movies and shows almost exclusively. There are so many to choose from. Obviously, my family definitely has a thing for cute dogs, two of the movies on list feature four-legged heroes. And of course I had to include the classic Halloween show, as well as a couple of oldies but goodies. These movies are sure to entertain the entire family. Just be aware, Monster Squad does have some slightly more mature themes.
- The Dog Who Saved Halloween
- It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
- Spooky Buddies
- BONUS: Ghostbusters
- BONUS: Monster Squad (for older kids)
Top 5 Classic Horror Films:
Okay, caveat – these films are “classics” to me. While not every film on this list is truly a “classic”, I remember each and everyone of these movies terrifying me in my teenage days. Although some of them might be lacking in “maturity”, they all deliver spine tingling terror – in their own way. I encourage you to check them out.
- Pet Sematary
- Nightmare on Elm Street
- Honorable Mention: Poltergeist – I first watched this movie back when I was about 9 years old and as my first foray into the hour genre it was absolutely terrifying. Despite having watched many, many more horror movies in the years since I still think this holds up as one of the scariest movies of all time.
Admittedly, I am not up to speed on modern day horror movies. The last hour movie I saw in the theater was “The Ring” and I think I was pregnant with my almost 15 year old son when that was released. So, most of the movies on this list come on his recommendation. Since he is pretty much the target audience for horror movies, I was wiling to defer to his judgment. However, I still consider the original “Blair Witch Project” one of the scariest movies I ever saw. Granted, we live in a different world today and a similar “mockumentary” would not be nearly so captivating today, that movies was exceptionally well-done and one of only 3 movies in my entire lifetime to give me nightmares. (One of the others is on this list, but the other is not since I don’t consider it a traditional horror movie). I also added the last movie, because I found it spectacularly disturbing.
- It (2017)
- Hush (2016)
- The Strangers (2008)
- Babadook (2014)
- The Blair With Project (1999)
- Witch (2016)
Please remember, the Classic Horror Films and Modern Day Scary Movies are intended for mature audiences only. Only my oldest son is permitted to watch these movies. My daughter is terrified of even the thought of a horror movie. And while my youngest would definitely tough it out – he would never sleep again. So neither would I. At least not until he moved out. In addition to blood, guts, gore, violence and psychological fear, many of these movies also feature adult language and theme and so are not appropriate for children.
But, Halloween just ins’t Halloween without a horror movie.
What’s your favorite scary movie? Do you like scary books? Do you have any special traditions for Halloween? Let me know in the comments.