It’s a shame that most not scary Halloween movies are for kids; some of us adults would like a less spooky time, too. Halloween is quickly approaching, and that means we’re currently being bombarded with horror movies. And, while that’s definitely some people’s jam, the rest of us just don’t get it. Why can’t Halloween just be about buying 18 bags of fun-sized Kit-Kats for the three trick-or-treaters who might stop by your door, leaving you to obligingly eat the leftovers? Do we have to get down with Freddy Kreuger while we’re at it?
If you’re a Halloween fanatic, but not a fan of jump scares and slashers, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got some movie recommendations that are perfect for counting down to October 31, and none of them will keep you up at night. So read on for our favorite not scary Halloween movies that are perfect for the spooky season.
“They Live” (1988)
Director John Carpenter is known for another major Halloween watch, “The Thing” (1982). That one, though, is truly frightening. Carpenter’s “They Live” is watchable for anyone; though it is rated R, so perhaps not with children around.
When the film’s unnamed protagonist discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world for what it truly is, he discovers that the world’s elite are actually a bunch of aliens pretending to be humans. They successfully influence the people of earth through the control of mass media. Now a cult classic, this action-adventure is definitely quirky enough for the lead-up to Halloween.
“Under the Skin” (2013)
One of Scarlett Johansson’s most interesting roles, “Under the Skin” follows a young woman in the desolate Scottish countryside as she seduces men. Something is clearly amiss, a surreal plot unraveling as we follow this woman. Strangely barren and muted for a sci-fi movie, this is a meditative watch that’s a bit creepy but never horrifying.
“The Nightmare” (2015)
This one is a documentary, so there aren’t any monsters present. Documenting the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, this doc engages with the stories of eight people who regularly experience the condition. Sleep paralysis is “a feeling of being conscious but unable to move.” People who experience it may also hallucinate while it occurs, leading to some strange nightmares, some of which are detailed in “The Nightmare.” While certainly not a horror movie, some of the stories told could may you a chill.
Nothing screams Halloween like otherworldly monsters. And the early 2000s hit “Underworld” is just that. A movie about a human who’s engrossed in a conflict between vampires and werewolves? Count us in.
This isn’t an action-adventure monster movie, and it is more fun than scary (which it’s not, like, at all). Plus, this is Kate Beckinsale’s best movie ever, and she makes the role of the protagonist all the more fun. Plus, the graphics on this are remarkable for the release date almost two decades ago.
Just because you’re not interested in watching something scary doesn’t mean you’re in the mood for a kid’s movie. But … sometimes, you kind of are. So to crush the nostalgia craving and get in the Halloween spirit, we recommend “Labyrinth.” When it comes to not scary Halloween movies, this is a classic pick. This movie is super weird, and David Bowie is in it. Win-win.
The weirdness just adds to its appeal, with the protagonist, Sarah, attempting to navigate a labyrinth to save her baby from the Goblin King (of course, played by David Bowie). Goblins, mazes and Jim Henson’s puppets are all reasons to tune in. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, now is the time.
Another “monster” movie without the scares? We suppose “Twilight” counts. With a host of vampires set against the gloomy backdrop of Forks, Washington, you’ll feel in the Halloween spirit for sure after this watch. Plus, the nostalgia of the “Twilight” hype and the cheesy lines will only make this more fun. So make sure to have some friends around to enjoy this pick, and maybe you can make it an entire series marathon.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
One of Guillermo del Toro’s surreal magical realism masterpieces, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is older but still holds up to his later movies. Another movie about a labyrinth, this one is definitely darker than 1986’s “Labyrinth.”
About a young girl who lives in Francoist Spain, what seems to be a film of escapism into a fantasy world is more than it first appears. A spin on a classic fairy-tale format, this is an intense watch but still on par with the Halloween theme – the animated creatures of the labyrinth are ghoulish.
“Room 237” (2012) and “78/52” (2017)
These documentaries are listed together because of their similar subject matter. Each of them is a documentary about a scary movie made in the past. “Room 237” is about the production and reception of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film “The Shining” (1980). It focuses on the fan theories behind many of the decisions Kubrick and other filmmakers involved made during its production. It gets its name from the haunted room at the Overlook Hotel. The story behind this classic is intricate and just as interesting as “The Shining” itself.
Similarly, “78/52” is a documentary about Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, “Psycho.” More specifically, it delves into the mechanisms that allowed for this film’s infamous “shower scene,” hugely influential in Hollywood following the film’s release. Modern filmmakers and those directly involved in “Psycho”’s production are interviewed on-screen as they break down how this scene came to be and what it means to film today.
Both “Room 237” and “78/52” are great for film buffs who understand the influence of the horror genre but who don’t necessarily want to sit through it themselves.
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