Editor’s Choice: Halloween movie ratings from cozy to spooky

Editor staff. The editors' picks on a scale from cozy to spooky.

The Duke staff

Oct. 28, 2021

Nothing rings in the Halloween spirit like a wind of nostalgia or curling up in a ball of fright. With various Halloween movies and short films popping up on streaming services, The Duke decided to choose our best selections and rate them according to how cozy/spooky they feel. 

Andrew Cummings – The Shining

This classic Stanley Kubrick film premiered in 1980 and has haunted televisions ever since. I knew this movie was special from the very first scene. It opens with long aerial shots over Glacier National Park in Montana, while playing the iconic, haunting theme by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. The Shining is ultra-confident and laser-precise in the story that it wants to tell, and puts in the work to thoroughly develop a fascinating cast of characters. The Overlook Hotel, where the movie takes place, is just as much of a character as any of the people. From its claustrophobic hallways to its eye-popping colors and design, the hotel instills a sense of place in the viewer unlike any other film that I have seen. The Shining is available to stream on HBO Max.

Rating: Spectacularly spooky

Mary Liz Flavin – Halloween Town

This 1998 classic tells the tale of a not-so-average family. On Halloween night, Marnie, Gwen, and Dylan Piper get a visit from their grandmother, Aggie Cromwell. Before bed, she sits down with the three kids and tells them the story of Halloween Town, where Marnie discovers a picture of a witch that looks an awful lot like herself. Little does she know the family secret: the Cromwells descend from a long line of witches. She must master her training before her 13th birthday or she loses her powers for good. In addition, strange things have been happening in Halloween Town, and the kids follow their grandmother to uncover what’s happening. The kids must team together to stop an evil force before it’s too late! Halloween Town can be found streaming on Disney Plus. 

Rating:  Family Friendly, little spooks – lots of fun

Colleen Hammond – Over the Garden Wall   

This coming of age limited series first aired in 2014 and since then has become an annual fall watch for those looking for something a little off-beat. Featuring the voice acting talents of Elijah Wood and Christopher Lloyd, Over The Garden Wall follows the journey of two brothers lost in an autumn wood as they attempt to find their way back home. Along the way, they meet a truly absurd cast of characters and situations. However odd this alternative show may seem, it’s filled with fantastic music and tells a universal, endearing story about family and what it means to grow up. Over the Garden Wall is available to stream on Hulu. 

Rating: More cozy than spooky 

Luke Henne – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Call it classic. Call it kid-oriented. Call it whatever you please. This animated program first hit television screens in 1966 and has become an annual tradition for families across the country, whether they choose to view it in a traditional or digital format. With familiar figures like Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Linus/Lucy Van Pelt, among others, this staple of the Halloween season sees some turn their beliefs toward the promise and prosperity of the Great Pumpkin, while others seek to enjoy their Halloween like regular children. No matter the time of year, a Peanuts special always hits the spot. At this time of year, however, it might just hit a little bit differently. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is available to stream on Apple TV. 

Rating: Comfortably cozy

Emma Polen – Ghostbusters (the original)

This 1984 Halloween comedy still graces my TV screen every Halloween. I have fond memories of borrowing “Ghostbusters” from the library and watching it with my family despite being terrified of the slimy, green hotel ghost in the beginning of the movie. The ghosts were not all spooky, though. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man will always be one of my favorite movie villains. I love that iconic phrases such as “There is no Dana, only Zuul” and “Who you gonna call” are still referenced in pop culture today. Fans of the original like me can look forward to another remake/sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, set to be released later this year. 

Ghostbusters is available to stream on Hulu. 

Rating: Halfway between spooky and cozy

Capri Scarcelli – Silence of the Lambs

Partially filmed in Pittsburgh, this psychothriller is framed around FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who is asked to interview the mysterious, murderous psychiatrist behind bars: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Though out of harm’s way, Lecter has connections to other serial killers on the run — and he’s the only one who can stop these innocent women from being killed. Abundant in detailed symbolism, uncanny foreshadowing and sickening plot twists, this movie is a slow burn in comparison to the stereotypical jump-scare phenomenon of horror films. However, the imagery is quite gruesome and disturbing to watch at points. A special showing of Silence of the Lambs will be held at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland on Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-8 p.m. with guest speakers and actors. Curled up in your living room, the movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

Rating: unsettlingly spooky 

Kellen Stepler – It

It is absolutely creepy. Released in 2017, It is a coming-of-age horror film based on the 1980s novel It by Stephen King. Just knowing that the “king” of creepy stories, is somehow involved should hint to viewers that fear is coming. It tells the story of seven children living in Derry, Maine in the ’80s and their encounters with Pennywise the clown. It only appears and haunts the kids as their worst fears. Eventually, the kids — dubbed “The Losers” — battle It while confronting and overcoming their fears. This is a rated R movie; watch “It” now on Hulu and HBO Max. 

Rating: Spooky 

Zoe Stratos – Coraline 

You probably think this movie is a dream come true… But you’re wrong! Brought to the silver screen by director Henry Selick, the classic children’s novel by Neil Gaiman follows the story of Coraline, a young girl whose family recently moved to the Pink Palace Apartments. Often neglected by her parents, Coraline finds herself longing for more attention, and she absolutely gets that when she’s transported to the “Other” world. Although not as creepy as it used to be when I was watching it at age 9, Coraline is scary in a different way now:  it’s almost disturbing. Although we don’t know why the Other world exists within the Pink Palace walls, the Other Mother lures children into her world to collect their eyes and replace them with buttons. And the design of the Other Mother is enough to give anyone chills… shall I mention, the hand? This stop motion is enough to bring out the Halloween spirit in anyone, and is available for renting through Amazon Prime Video.

Rating: A slightly unsettling spook