Once summer rolls around and it is hellishly hot outside, I prefer staying in my cool cave and watching movies to create a fall environment, dreaming of crispy orange leaves and lit-up pumpkins while I sip a PSL. How do you create that feeling when it’s not quite October yet? Movies!
It goes without saying that movies like Trick ‘r Treat, Halloween, Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, Trick or Treat, and even Goosebumps are tried-and-true Samhain screeners, but what are some other films that inspire that magical Halloween vibe? Here are some of my year-round fall faves.
Satan’s Little Helper
If you haven’t seen this cute cult flick, now is the time to remedy the situation. A young boy befriends a costumed Satan on Halloween and follows him around town as Satan “kills” people in broad daylight. While the impressionable kid thinks it’s all a joke, real-life mayhem ensues. Hilarious and fun, Amanda Plummer (Needful Things 1993) highlights the cast of this underrated gem. (Screambox)
The Witching Season
Not technically a film but still the perfect fall backdrop to your smoldering summer days, The Witching Season is beautiful to watch. It brings to mind a nostalgic feel with vintage decorations and foreboding music. This anthology series offers up five episodes of twisted terror. Binge them all and soak up all the Halloween vibes! (Amazon Prime)
I can’t even tell you how many times I have gone back to this guilty pleasure film. The retro aesthetic of this Halloween night movie combined with classic horror icons like Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead 1985) and a fun story with creepy killers and scared kids make this a win-win. A night out in 1989 goes awry when a group of teenagers discovers a spooky old barn and reignites a scary town legend. (Screambox)
Art the Clown is a newly minted horror icon for a reason. Go back to where it all began with the first film in this hilarious and gory franchise. Halloween night turns into terror for two young women fleeing the freaky clown in this movie with a kill that really thrills! You know the one I am talking about. See it on the big screen this summer during a one-time event, or catch it on Tubi.
A haunted theme park is a perfect place for a masked killer to roam, and Hell Fest takes full advantage of the location in this eerie movie focused on a friend group that becomes victimized by a crazed murderer, easily hiding kills in plain sight. The scares ratchet up as the movie progresses, making this an easy addition to any Halloween watchlist. (Tubi)
Haunt is one of those films that started off small and has since grown a fanbase, and it’s one of my favorites to watch this time of year. Unsuspecting college students attend an “extreme” haunted house off the beaten path, and they soon discover why their phones are confiscated before they enter. Gory kills, memorable masks, and some solid jump scares promise Halloween fun for all who enter the haunt. (Hulu, Amazon Prime)
While director/singer Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses 2003) hasn’t struck gold with every film, I quite enjoy the entire feel of 31. On Halloween eve, a group of carnival workers is held hostage at a creepy compound where murderers dwell within. Richard Brake (Barbarian 2022) won my heart in this film as the sadistic Doom Head with some of the most quotable lines around, and the actors commit wholly to their roles, making this extreme gore-fest delightful fun for fans. (Tubi)
Night of the Demons (1988)
What can be said about this classic 1988 movie that hasn’t already been said? Delight in the dark vibes of demon possession during a high school party, with some of the most memorable practical effects ever (lipstick, anyone?) Cool SFX coupled with historical horror performances by fan favorites Amelia Kinkade (My Best Friend is a Vampire 1987) and Linnea Quigley cement this film as one of the best. (Tubi, Peacock)
If you’re part of the Instagram horror family, you probably remember the crowdfunding campaign for this Josh Hasty-helmed film. Starring a hodgepodge of beloved horror actors such as Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn 1984), PJ Soles (Halloween 1978), and Tony Todd (Candyman 1992), this film instantly submerges you in glorious fall feelings. It takes place on Halloween when the tables turn on a group of bullies thanks to a creepy witch doctor. (Tubi, Amazon Prime)
Hell House, LLC
One of my favorite films of all time, Hell House, LLC still gives me the creeps, especially when watched in the dark! A group of people put on a Halloween night spook house inside a legitimately haunted hotel – with creepy consequences! Shout out to the clown in this movie who still lives on in my nightmares. One of the best found footage films there is, in my opinion, and perfect for Halloween viewing! (Amazon Prime)
The Houses October Built
Another fun found footage film, this movie follows a group of haunted house aficionados as they make their way across the south searching for the spookiest haunt of them all. What they find is so much more than they bargained for! I love how real the characters feel and the different vibe of the houses and people they encounter. It’s scary and fun and leads up to a suspenseful and terrifying climax! (Tubi)
Lady in White
Just the opening of this movie makes me happy. It feels like it is literally a big Halloween hug, and I want to grab my plastic pail and start trick-or-treating! The gorgeous cinematography, vintage vibe, and compellingly sweet story make this movie a must to evoke spooky season feels. Frankie may get bested by bullies, but the brave boy ends up solving a murder with the aid of a child ghost. (Tubi)
May is a movie you have to just experience. It will definitely stay with you long after it’s over! There are some Halloween sequences coupled with wild gore that keep this movie in my Halloween rotation, and if you haven’t seen it, just watch it, you won’t forget or regret this movie and its insane ending. (Roku, Tubi)
I found this movie by accident surfing streaming one afternoon. Though it’s not a big-budget film, this sleek, stylish story about sorority sisters who enter a haunted house unknowing that the host seeks revenge on them is taut, filled with cool effects and kills, and entertaining. It’s also funny with a great twist! (Tubi)
The Halloween sequences in E.T. thrill my 80’s heart. Catch glimpses of old-school costumes (with a nod to Star Wars) and delight in the authentic fall feels of this film – I can almost hear the leaves crunching! This film is such a favorite and it’s even more fun to watch when you need some spooky serotonin stat! (Roku)
Likely one of my favorite werewolf movies of all time (for a variety of reasons) Halloween is a great time to catch up with this Canadian classic. When Ginger is bitten by a wolf, her transformation comes full circle during a Halloween bash at the end of the movie. This metaphorical movie is so much fun, giving your horror heart the lycanthrope love it needs! (Peacock, Tubi, Amazon Prime)
Though not really fall-focused, these witchy classics still offer up the cozy feelings that the spooky season evokes!
Witches of Eastwick
What’s better than Cher (Moonstruck 1987), Michelle Pfeiffer (Ant-Man and the Wasp 2023), Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise 1991), and Jack Nicholson (The Shining 1980) in the same movie? Not much, honestly, and this hilarious story of a sex-fueled Satan bewitching the three New England beauties is a perfect choice for a rainy day and cozy vibes!
If you also know that midnight is for margaritas, you are likely already a fan of this magical movie with Sandra Bullock (Speed 1994) and Nicole Kidman (The Others 2001) as modern-day witches dealing with age-old problems, like love and life, with their wacky, witchy aunts, Stockard Channing (Grease 1978) and Dianne Wiest (The Lost Boys 1987). Curl up with this flick and fall in love!
What film gives YOU the Fall feels? Tell us in the comments!