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12 Great Movies Like Hocus Pocus That Are Perfect For Halloween

Halloween has served as the perfect backdrop for many memorable horror movies. The holiday is commonly associated with ghosts, goblins, demons, and witches, lending itself to spooky storytelling. However, not all Halloween-based films are trying to terrify audiences. For example, "Hocus Pocus" (1993) is a classic Disney movie that spins a Halloween yarn for kids, via IMDb. The story follows the adventures of three dead witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, who are accidentally resurrected on Halloween night. The trio uses their powers to find new victims and drain their lives so the witches can become immortal. Unless the film's heroes can stop them before Halloween night ends, they will be successful.

While it did not make much of a splash at the box office upon release, "Hocus Pocus" has come to be regarded as a cult classic film of its genre. The movie is even getting a sequel after three decades. Let us look at some other Halloween-themed films from around the world that tell supernatural tales about the battle between good and evil.

Halloweentown (1998)

Halloween is one of Disney's favorite stomping grounds. Over the years, Disney has made several movies about Halloween, but few have been as popular for as long as 1998's "Halloweentown." The film starts as young adolescent Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) desperately wants to go to her friends' party on Halloween, via IMDb. Her mother refuses to let her go while giving no good reason for keeping her home. The answer soon arrives with Agatha (Debbie Reynolds), Marnie's grandmother from a distant town, who reveals that Marnie is a witch-in-the-making who needs to begin her training soon. Marnie manages to board a magical bus that takes her to "Halloweentown," a land inhabited by every sort of supernatural creature, some of whom wish to cause serious harm to Marnie and her family.

Since "Halloweentown" is a TV movie, it does not have a huge special effects budget. But what it does have is a charming central cast that elevates the material. The film became popular enough with audiences to warrant not just one but three sequels, including "Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge" (2001), "Halloweentown High" (2004), and "Return to Halloweentown" (2006), becoming the longest-running Disney TV movie franchise at the time.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Few filmmakers are as closely associated with a particular holiday as Tim Burton is with Halloween. The guy's filmmaking aesthetic gels with dark stories of witches and demons even when he adapts something cheery like "Alice in Wonderland." No Burton movie has done more for Halloween than his 1993 production "The Nightmare Before Christmas." 

In this movie, you will find a very different sort of Halloween world, populated by gloomy monsters and ruled over by the "Pumpkin King" Jack Skellington. Bored with annual Halloween traditions, Jack gets inspired by Christmas one year and decides to take over the holiday by kidnapping Santa Claus. Jack's plans to add a Halloween tint to Christmas start going awry once his subjects rebel and the military arrives to stop his grand designs.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a stop-motion animated musical that broke the mold in many ways with its technique and artistry. The film was a success at the box office and became the first animated movie nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. It received a glowing review in Rolling Stone, which called it movie magic.

Stree (2018)

Halloween is not an official holiday in India, which is strange because the country is brimming with stories of witches and dark magic born from local legends. One such legend is that of "Nale Ba" in Karnataka, per Bangalore Mirror. The tale inspired the 2018 Bollywood film "Stree" about a small town called Chanderi that gets visited by a witch every year.

Dubbed "Stree" by Chanderi residents, the witch is thought to be the ghost of an angry woman who kidnaps men during the four days of a religious festival every year. Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) is a local tailor who has a healthy respect for the legend of Stree but is forced to take on the vengeful spirit when his best friend gets abducted during the festival. Also in the mix is a mysterious unnamed visitor, played by Shraddha Kapoor, who might be Stree's mortal enemy or secret ally.

Despite its dark tone and subject matter, "Stree" is funny and charming thanks to the performances of the lead actors and the love story between Rao and Kapoor's characters that powers the narrative. The film also makes an interesting point about the nature of women dubbed witches in India who are scorned by society and forced to do desperate things for survival.

The Addams Family (1991)

Ever since their creation in 1938 within the pages of "The New Yorker" by cartoonist Charles Addams, "The Addams Family" have been unofficially America's premier scary family. Every day with the Addams Family feels like Halloween, and they carried that cheery-goth aesthetic to the big screen with the 1991 movie "The Addams Family." 

The patriarch of the Addams clan, Gomez (Raul Julia), has had a falling out with his brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd). The latter has not been with the Addams family for 25 years. A scheming lawyer finds a doppelganger named Gordon (also Lloyd) who looks just like the missing Fester. The lawyer hatches a scheme to introduce Gordon as Fester into the Addams house where he can take over the family fortune. As Gordon starts feeling like a part of the Addams clan, will the lure of money convince him to turn his back on Gomez and his family?

"The Addams Family" is as chillingly heart-warming as you would expect from a movie about people who find pleasure in horrible things. The chemistry between the lead cast is electric, as are the performances, and it almost feels like you are watching a family Christmas movie set during Halloween. BBC noted in its review that the film delights due to a stellar cast.

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)

Chinese filmmaker Stephen Chow has long made a name for himself as an action-comedy master with films like "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle." In 2013, Chow teamed up with co-director Derek Kwok to bring out a big screen reimagining of the 16th-century classic novel "Journey to the West," per IMDb.

The movie follows the adventures of Sanzang (Wen Zhang), a monk and a demon hunter, on a quest to find enlightenment. While Sanzang tries to use humane approaches to conquer demons, Duan (Shu Qi) prefers a more straightforward and violent tactic. As Sanzang continues his journey, he comes across the legendary Monkey King, who yearns to leave his centuries-old imprisonment to wreak havoc on the world.

"Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" carries Stephen Chow's trademark mix of thrilling action and deadpan humor, along with an assortment of creatively imagined demons like a giant fish, a pig-man, and a towering version of the Monkey King. The movie was a hit at the box office, and a 2017 sequel was also written and produced by Chow.

Coco (2017)

Pixar Studios has earned a reputation as the thinking man's Disney cartoons. Despite being squarely aimed at younger audiences, Pixar movies are not afraid to dive deep into challenging themes and ideas like death and loss. One Pixar offering that takes this route is 2017's "Coco." 

Miguel lives with his family in Santa Cecilia, Mexico, where he dreams of becoming a famous musician. While his family has forbidden Miguel from ever having anything to do with music, a fateful celebration of the Day of the Dead brings Miguel into contact with his musician relative Ernesto who died years ago. As Miguel tries to navigate the worlds between the living and the dead, he confronts his deepest fears.

"Coco" was a big hit at the box office upon release. Critics praised the film for expertly blending a story about following dreams with darker themes of loss and betrayal. According to The Wrap, the film illustrates how to process grief for children in a beautiful and touching manner. The film's focus on Mexican culture and its depiction of the holiday of the Day of the Dead was also held up for special praise by audiences.

Beetlejuice (1988)

One year before changing the superhero genre forever with "Batman" in 1989, filmmaker Tim Burton brought a very different but equally dark and fanciful vision to the big screen with "Beetlejuice." Starring future Batman Michael Keaton in the lead role, "Beetlejuice" was an excellent showcase of the unhinged gallows humor Burton was capable of when operating at his full potential, per IMDb.

The film starts with the Deetz family arriving at their new home. The daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) can sense the presence of a ghostly couple who were the former owners of the house. Despite trying to befriend the ghosts, Lydia's family experiences scary hauntings designed to drive them away. When all else fails, the ghostly couple enlists the services of a diabolical ghoul called "Betelgeuse" (pronounced "Beetlejuice"), which specializes in terrorizing the living. 

In the hands of a lesser director, the bizarre script for "Beetlejuice" would have posed an obstacle to making a good movie. Tim Burton embraces the odd script and dials it up to eleven for a truly memorable cinematic experience. Aside from getting critical acclaim and healthy box-office returns, "Beetlejuice" kickstarted a franchise that included video games, a TV series, and a stage musical.

Makdee (2002)

Vishal Bhardwaj is an Indian filmmaker best known to international audiences for his critically acclaimed trilogy of film adaptations of Shakespearean plays, "Maqbool," "Omkara," and "Haider." Before taking on such heavy subject material for his distinctive brand of cinema, Bhardwaj made his directorial debut with the coming-of-age horror comedy "Makdee."

In a small village in India, there lives a little girl named Chunni (Shweta Prasad Basu), a spirited prankster who likes to confuse people by impersonating her twin sister Munni. In their village, there is a mansion said to be haunted by a witch (Shabana Azmi) who likes to turn people into animals. A series of accidents lead to Chunni getting trapped in the witch's lair, where she strikes a deal with the fearsome villain to provide it with a hundred hens in exchange for the life of Munni. 

Carried through with aplomb by spirited performances from its lead cast, "Makdee" is an engaging story about growing up and learning the importance of telling the truth. The movie won a prize at the 2002 Chicago International Children's Film Festival and has since come to be regarded as a cult classic children's film in India, per IMDb.

Goosebumps (2015)

Author R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books are some of the most widely-read novels in the world. The series launched a television franchise in the '90s. Other attempts were made to adapt the series in the past two decades. In 2015, there was the live-action meta-horror-comedy film "Goosebumps."

The movie takes place in a world where R.L. Stine is real and played by Jack Black. Stine lives a quiet life in Delaware along with his daughter. However, the best-selling author is sitting on a secret. All his fictional horror creations have come alive and need to stay trapped within the pages of their manuscripts. Naturally, the monsters are accidentally let loose, leaving it up to Stine and a group of school students to find a way to send the villains packing before they destroy everything.

The movie works as a highlights reel of some of the most popular monsters from the "Goosebumps" novels, including Slappy the Dummy, the Abominable Snowman, a giant mantis, vampire dogs, and teen werewolves. The film was successful enough to greenlight a sequel in which Black reprises his role as Stine and Slappy returns from the dead, per YouTube.

Casper (1995)

Much like "The Addams Family," "Casper the Friendly Ghost" was a popular cartoon series filled with child-friendly spookiness that Hollywood tried to leverage into a film franchise. Casper made his live-action (relatively speaking, since he's a ghost) debut in a 1995 movie opposite "The Addams Family" star Christina Ricci. 

Ricci plays the role of Kat, the daughter of a paranormal therapist. Casper sees Kat in a news report and is so smitten that he arranges to have her and her father move into his manor. Casper lives in the house with his ghostly trio of uncles, who love to cause chaos. While Casper tries to get closer to Kat, his uncles drive Kat and her father out of their minds with some ghostly haunting.

"Casper" does a good job of carrying forward the legacy of cartoons with a ghostly story. It's adorable and heart-warming instead of terrifying. Brad Garret received glowing praise for his turn as Casper's ghost uncle Fatso. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, describing the feature as an impressive achievement.

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Most movies with elements of horror aimed at children try to couch said horror in non-threatening terms by making the monsters more cute than terrifying. "The Spiderwick Chronicles" takes a different approach by having the main villains be genuinely scary threats who pose a real danger to the main cast of child characters. 

The film starts with a man who has spent a lifetime collecting information about fairies and storing it all in a book hidden on his estate. Eighty years later, a group of siblings move into the estate and find the book. Hot on the trail of the tome is a group of goblins led by Mulgarath, a shape-shifting ogre. As Mulgarath's army closes around the children's home in search of the book, the kids must battle the magical beings with the world at stake. 

With gorgeous cinematography, winsome child performances, and a moving soundtrack, "The Spiderwick Chronicles" feels like a throwback to a distant era when children's films were more than shallow cash grabs. Freddie Highmore received praise for his leading turn in the film as the Grace twins Jared and Simon, per Boston.com.

Scooby-Doo (2002)

If "Goosebumps" wrote the book on child-friendly horror, the "Scooby-Doo" franchise made a funhouse adventure spectacle out of it using stories filled with unhinged property owners dressed up as a variety of monsters in desperate need of a dramatic unmasking. Hollywood gave us a live-action "Scooby-Doo" film in 2002, complete with a (relatively) photorealistic Scooby.

The Mystery, Inc. gang has never been more famous and successful with their ghost-busting business. However, trouble is brewing behind the scenes. Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) resents constantly getting captured, while Velma (Linda Cardellini) is getting tired of how frequently Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) hogs all the credit when she is the main mastermind behind the team's success. Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby feel abandoned by their friends, but the entire gang must rally together when they get trapped on a mysterious island filled with spooky goings-on. 

"Scooby-Doo" was an early writing project for "Guardians of the Galaxy" helmer James Gunn, and you can see the filmmaker's distinctive brand of gross-out humor and genuinely touching moments in play in the film's narrative. The story makes the Mystery, Inc. gang into three-dimensional personalities while keeping their base characteristics from the cartoons. The plot beats stay faithful to the monster of the week formula from the "Scooby-Doo" TV series while adding an unexpected twist to a prominent character from the show, per Far Out Magazine