Hi! I love spooky, scary Hallooweenie stuff, but I hate horror movies! I know horror movies are cool and hip and really having a moment but they’re not for me. Iff I wanted horror and gore, I’d just read my checking account statement every month, HI-YO. The problem with being pro-Halloween but anti-horror is whenever you Google the best Halloween (or even scary movies) to watch, they’re all horror movies! I believe in being part of the solution, not the problem, I decided to come up with my own list of perfect Halloween movies, none of which are horror, at least I don’t think they are… you may disagree but that’s the beauty of living in America.
Misery 1990 Amazon, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix
If you know me, you know I love Misery. It’s not just one of my favorite scary movies, it’s one of my all time favorite movies. And I know I said no horror on this list but this movie might make you want to throw up? If you know what scene I’m talking about you know, if you don’t, don’t worry I’m sure you’ll be fine. Based on a Stephen King novel, Misery tells the (cautionary?) tale of author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who is rescued from a car wreck by his number one fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Since it’s based on a Stephen King novel I’m sure you can imagine this ain’t no Bridges of Madison County. Annie brings Paul home to nurse him back to health, but once she reads his latest book she turns on him. No ghosts, no zombies, no killer viruses, no aliens, nothing supernatural or otherworldly, just a good old fashion nut-job terrorizing all of us for an hour and a half. Misery is consistently ranked as one of the best Stephen King books turned movies, and won Bates an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Bram Stroker Award (no idea what that even means). PS If you like Kathy Bates in Misery give Delores Claiborne a watch, Ms. Bates considers this Stephen King role, not Misery, her best performance.
The Birds 1963 Amazon Prime
As a kid ,The Birds scared the bejesus out of me, now as an adult I marvel at the boldness of one Miss Melanie Daniels. This woman takes a sojourn to a small coastal hamlet just to ATTEMPT to cozy up to a man she had a 20 second interaction with at a pet store. Shoot your shot, Melanie! Aside from the stalking, the birds go crazy and attack everyone. That’s it, that’s the whole plot of The Birds, and it’s awesome and terrifying.
What Lies Beneath 2000 Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime
I remember when What Lies Beneath first came out and we were all like “whaaaat? Harrison Ford, a bad guy?” He has since, crashed like 37 planes, so now it’s a little easier to see him in a different light, but back in 2000 this was wild stuff. What Lies Beneath is a crime story, a cheating husband story, a ghost story, and possibly a women supporting women story (if you’ve seen the end you know). Imagine cheating on Michelle Pfeiffer? The woman from Grease 2 (which is leagues better than OG Grease) and Married To The Mob (movie, not Real Housewife of New York clothing line)? Well, bad guy Harrison Ford has done more than just imagine it, and when we watch What Lies Beneath we get a front seat to watch Michelle Pfeiffer putting it all together.
Coco 2017 Disney Plus
Searching for a Halloweenie movie and also a cathartic cry? Look no further than Coco! Coco follows a boy named Miguel who accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead (I hate it when that happens) and needs the help of his deceased (duh) great-great-grandfather to make it back to his family. Coco is heartwarming, visually stunning, has fantastic music, and you don’t need to be a kid, have a kid, or even like kids to watch it. For the record nothing about this movie is scary, it’s just inspired by the Day of the Dead.
Clue 1985 Amazon Prime
Have I recommended Clue to you before? Yes, yes I have. Am I ever going to stop recommending Clue to you? No, no I will not. Clue is easily the best film ever made based on a board game, take that Battleship! Like the game of the same name, Clue is a murder mystery that takes place in mansion with a cast of colorful characters (that’s a joke because everyone is given an alias with a color in the name), unlike the game it’s a master class in comedy. Clue was light years ahead of its time, with iconic performances by a stacked cast – hello, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Lesley Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Ellen Brennan, and of course Tim Curry. In a true stroke of genius (that was not properly applauded in 1985) the original theater release had three different endings, so if you and your friend saw it at the same theater on different days you could each have a different killer. The version we watch now has the three endings cobbled together in what I’m pretty sure is the funniest ending of a murder movie.
Scream 1996 Amazon Prime
You know how old I am? I’m “I saw Scream in the movie theater” years old, which is the exact same age as “everything gives me heartburn now” years old. Scream turned the horror movie genre on its head. A slasher movie that makes fun of slasher movie clichés! A film killing off its biggest star in the first 10 minutes! Oh, and did you know that was Drew Barrymore’s idea? She was originally cast as the lead, but then suggested switching parts. Clever girl. For those unfamiliar, Scream tells the ballad of Sidney Prescott, a typical suburban teen with typical suburban teen problems, like getting stalked by a deranged killer. Scream was a bigger success than anyone could have predicted, and spent almost six months in movie theaters. Yes, six months! Even pre-Covid films barely lasted six weeks in theaters. A still untitled fifth installment of the Scream franchise is in the works, with a few of the original cast members attached (I won’t say who because that in itself would be spoiler-ish).
Little Shop Of Horrors 1986 Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu
Another one I’ve recommended multiple times! What happens when a man-eating plant from outer space in taken in by a meek florist’s assistant? I’ll tell you what happens, a fantastic soundtrack, outstanding performances by a killer cast, and cameos from comic royalty. Oh, and unlike the off Broadway performance I saw just before the world shut down, you don’t get covered in spit…sorry Jonathan Groff, I still love you. Also, after Rick Moranis getting randomly punched in the face a couple weeks ago is incredibly upsetting, so it’s nice to see him in his prime.
Death Becomes Her 1992 Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu
If Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Angelica Houston aren’t enough to pique your interest, I don’t know what to tell you. Though Death Becomes Her wasn’t a critical success, it’s grown into a cult classic over the last almost 30 years. The ultimate “be careful what you wish for” cautionary tale, Death Becomes Her tells the story of former schoolmates Helen and Madeline who are now fighting over a very milquetoast Ernest/Bruce Willis, as well as both fighting the offensive side effects of aging. In the original cut of the movie Bruce Willis runs away with Tracey Ullman, but the ending was cut and completely changed after it tanked with test audiences. What I wouldn’t give to see the Tracey Ullman ending, and the Eric Stoltz Back To The Future, speaking of Robert Zemeckis edits.
Gerald’s Game 2017 Netflix
Have we talked about Gerald’s Game before? I think maybe we have but I’m not sure? It’s tough to keep track, guys! Another one based on a Stephen King story, Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) and his wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) go on a romantic weekend getaway to recapture the magic in their relationship. Things go off the rails QUICK. Maybe this is such a scary one to me in particular because as a gal who prefers the company of an elder statesman, being left handcuffed to a bed after a Viagra heart attack is a very plausible situation. And I’m not even being spoilery; he bites in it the trailer. Fun fact: Mike Flanagan also did The Haunting of Hill House for Netflix, starring Gerald’s Game cast members Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel AND Bruce Greenwood who as a cameo as one of the hidden ghosts.
The Witches of Eastwick 1987 Amazon Prime
Listen, any movie from the 80s is going to feel at least a little dated and have a couple problematic moments. The Witches of Eastwick is far from perfect, but it’s still a ton of fun! And when I tell you this film is worth the watch just for the fashion alone? And as Bostonians you get to play “hey, I know that place” throughout the movie. The lobby of Jack Nicholson’s mansion is the Wang Center, principle photography was done in Cohasset, and filming was done on both the North and South Shore. The Witches of Eastwick is loosely based on a John Updike novel of the same name, and takes place in the fictional Rhode Island town of Eastwick, where three friends, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon, conjure the perfect man, who just happens to be maybe be the devil. The special effects heavy ending is a bit weird and out of place, but over all it’s a light enjoyable movie and I would kill you all for Cher’s body.
BONUS Love Fraud 2020 Hulu Showtime
Ok, this is not technically a scary movie, it’s a true crime (?) docu-series, but if you know me, you know one of my biggest fears is getting Dirty John-ed. The only thing that keeps that fear at bay is knowing I’m broke as hell, so not really worth it for Dirty Johns. Love Fraud took that away from me. Instead of a big score, this guy scams multiple women who aren’t rich, so he’s always plotting and scheming for the next paramour. I’m a prime target for this particular type of Dirty John; I mean what am I, if not Connie Britton without the hair, money, looks, or talent?
Alright, alright, alright, so those are ten of my favorite non-horror scary movies. Do you have a favorite non horror Halloween time movie? Did I include it? Either way, I would love to know your fave non horror scary movie* and why you love it so much. Till then, don’t say “I’ll be right back!”
*Don’t you dare ask, “What about Hocus Pocus?” The plot of Hocus Pocus hinges on a child being a virgin. It’s bad and weird.
Image of The Birds