Reviewing childhood Halloween movies as an adult

Revisiting Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown and more

Ally revisits some of her favourite Halloween movies from her childhood.
Photo: 

Thanks to terrifying costumes and an increased presence of spirits, Halloween is known as the scariest time of the year. However, there’s nothing spookier than realizing you’ve outgrown your favourite holiday. 

At one point in my life, October was the crowning glory of my entire year. Nothing could compete with autumn-themed cookies, carving pumpkins, and watching a slew of family-friendly Halloween movies. 

Now, the month is still scary, but not in a fun way: it marks the beginning of midterm season, essay-writing, and library hibernation—not to mention there’s a lot less time for Halloween revelry. 

To rekindle my romance with Halloween, I set out to revisit and rank three holiday classics I used to love as a kid: Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown and The Nightmare Before Christmas

While it was hard not to watch these flicks through overly-charitable glasses of nostalgia, I made sure to base my judgements on the quality of their plots, levels of spooky content, and overall Halloween spirit. 

#1: Hocus Pocus

Perhaps the most widely-beloved movie of the bunch, re-watching Hocus Pocus showed me it’s deserving of its Halloween hype. 

The film follows Salem skeptic Max Dennison, who accidently resurrects three soul-sucking witches known as the Sanderson sisters. Given until dawn to save the town’s children and his own sister, Max teams up with his crush, a zombie, and a talking black cat to take down the broom-riding hags. 

While Hocus Pocus ticks all the right boxes, the movie ultimately shines because of its well-executed plot. 

Inspired by the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, the fantasy film is both grounded in reality and unapologetically absurd. Its larger-than-life villains are diabolical and ridiculous, stealing the show with their hammy hijinks and iconic rendition of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” 

The film is also chock-full of all things spooky, including eerie graveyards and a spell book covered in human skin.If you choose to revisit this bewitching classic, you may find yourself laughing at jokes you totally missed as a child.  

#2: Halloweentown 

It’s hard not to agree with Halloweentown’s main character, Marnie, when she sassily declares: “Halloween is cool.” In fact, it’s so cool that a Disney film about a Halloween-themed dimension is still considered a well-known classic.

Halloweentown is the first installment of a popular four-part series about a magical place for warlocks, monsters, and misfits. Viewers follow Marnie, a teenage witch, who discovers her supernatural heritage just in time to reconnect with her grandmother to help save the titular town.

Although the movie’s main villain still gives me the creeps, this flick remains thoroughly lighthearted. The corny dialogue, silly costumes, and upbeat score give it a hokey charm that’s hard to find elsewhere. 

What’s more special is the emphasis placed on the film’s central family, who function both as a support system and magical backup. While the film’s admittedly more heartwarming than spooky, the Halloween spirit is through the roof. 

Overall, Halloweentown is the equivalent of a really good pumpkin spice latte:insanely sweet, festive, and an October staple. 

#3: The Nightmare Before Christmas 

If there’s one thing I can say about The Nightmare Before Christmas, it’s that the spooky spirit is alive and well. 

Tim Burton’s cult classic revolves around Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who’s grown tired of his town’s signature holiday—Halloween. His melancholy leads him to Christmas Town, where he discovers the joys of snow and presents, and decides to make Christmas his own. Little does he know the two holidays don’t mix and mayhem ensues.

Although the film’s Claymation is visually enticing and its soundtrack is perfectly eerie, The Nightmare Before Christmas’ plot is a little slow. While it’s fun to hear monsters belt out the film’s signature song, “This is Halloween,” the film drags at some points. Viewers are inclined to feel bad for Jack, but long songs about existential crises can be dull if you’re not sold on the film’s story. 

That said, the film is clever and as stylistically odd as it gets. Whether you love or hate it, there’s something strangely appealing about Burton’s gothic, macabre imagery. 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.