Updated: Oct 27, 2022
A Halloween Movie Marathon List
These days when I say “Halloween Movie Marathon,” what I really mean is “October Entertainment Extravaganza.” There are simply too many movies, television specials, sitcom episodes, and old commercials to jam into a single day. Over the years my list has grown exponentially and has even spilled into September viewing in a mad dash to jam everything in before November comes knocking.
As always, for the 80sXchange I focus primarily on that most wonderful of decades, which does help narrow down the choices quite a bit, but still leaves enough that I’m going to plan out an entire week of Halloween viewing for you.
Although I’ll drop a few Halloween-specific movies into the mix throughout October, I do often like to save them for closer to the big day. So for our first pick, I’m going with an old favorite that has nothing to do with Halloween but has somehow become essential October viewing for me anyway.
There aren’t any pumpkins or colored leaves, but there’s something so perfect about this movie for the season. Though most people think of this as a Spielberg movie (and certainly it has a lot of him in it as a co-writer of the script), Tobe Hooper directed the film, and it shows. Despite being PG, the movie lands some serious scares and even a couple good gross out moments. And let's be honest here, this is one of those examples of a distinctly '80s-era PG rating. Reportedly this movie was even one of the factors in the creation of PG-13.
I can’t explain how this came to be an October movie for me, but I think if you give it a chance the week of Halloween, you’ll find it may secure a permanent position in your annual marathon.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
With the many branching timelines of Halloween, watching the movies can become a bit like a choose your own adventure book. My personal preference is to save the first three for closer to Halloween night (stay tuned to the rest of this article series to see exactly where they land). I like Part 4 in this slot because I can watch through this particular part of the timeline, get a taste of those wonderful Halloween vibes, and still save the best for last. It’s worth noting that this movie has a pitch-perfect scene in a drugstore filled with era-specific Halloween ephemera that on its own makes this movie a must-watch for the season.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume most people don’t have time to watch more than two movies a day (and maybe not even those two). The next choice is made with free time in mind.
Hey Vern, It's Ernest! “Scary Things.”
Listen, if you grew up in the ‘80s and didn’t absolutely love Ernest P. Worrell (as portrayed by Jim Varney), then I don’t think we can be friends anymore. Did his shtick get a bit old after a while? Did we, as we went from children to teenagers, lose interest and maybe even find the character juvenile? Sure, probably. But as adults we can see that our teenage selves were shortsighted. Jim Varney was nothing short of a comic genius, and this episode is a perfect addition to any Halloween Marathon. While it mostly focuses on generalized scary things, as the title suggest, we do get a couple solid Halloween skits in there as well.
Perhaps one of my life’s greatest regrets is that his Halloween movies, Ernest Scared Stupid, came out in 1991, making it ineligible for this particular movie marathon list. Don’t you dare think, however, that I don’t watch it every single October without fail.
Well then, I think that’s enough for a single day of Halloween viewing. Remember, we’re only on the first day of a seven-day marathon, leading into Halloween. Be sure to come back soon for the next installment, as I plan to have all seven of these articles posted in time for the last week of October. You know, in case you need the inspiration.
Until then, friends. Breathe deep of the night.
Be sure to come back and follow along with the marathon:
More coming soon!