Start Off the Spooky Season With Fantasy-Themed Horror Movies

Happy first day of fall!

It’s still a little early for Halloween, but I start gearing up around now by watching horror movies.

If you’re looking to do the same, here are 10 horror movies with an emphasis on fantasy.

None of the movies is super scary. The list may be a little heavy on witches, but hey, who doesn’t love witches?!

In no particular order:

1. Practical Magic (1998)

A tale about good witches who must battle a psycho lover returned from the dead. This quirky movie boasts beautiful visuals (a gorgeous Victorian mansion with its own conservatory; a picturesque town located on an island) and photogenic stars (Sandra Bullock and Nichole Kidman, among others). And the last scene, where the townsfolk gather on Halloween to watch the witches “fly” down from the roof of their mansion? Pure magic.

2. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Tim Burton’s dark retelling of the adventures of Ichabod Crane sets just the right mood for Halloween. As the headless horseman stalks Crane, you can almost feel the ground mist tickling your toes and the damp chill of the haunted woods. Danny Elfman’s music heightens the mood, being just the right blend of playful and mysterious. A wonderful classic.

3. ParaNorman (2012)

I love this charming stop-motion animated film. It’s about a boy who can talk to the dead and who is tasked with ridding his town—Blithe Hollow, Mass.—of a 300-year-old witch’s curse. The movie has zombie pilgrims, a vengeful spirit, an eerie forest and a trigger-happy mob. The scene where the zombies pursue the boy and his friends down a dark mountain road is hilarious.

4. The Covenant (2006)

In the small New England town of Ipswich, four high school boys share a legacy. They have magical powers because they are descended from families who were powerful warlocks during colonial times. One of the teenagers is about to turn 18, when he Ascends into even greater powers. The boys are young, handsome and gifted. They should be having the time of their lives except … something is preying on them and their friends.

5. The Craft (1996)

Sarah just moved with her family to Los Angeles. She befriends three would-be witches who also are outcasts at her new school. With Sarah now in the coven, the group’s powers grow. The witches cast spells that endanger their classmates. Sarah has to go head-to-head with her new friends to prevent them from causing more harm.

6. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Brother and sister Hansel and Gretel never forgot the witch who tried to eat Hansel. They grow up to be famous witch hunters. The town of Augsburg hires them to find the townsfolk’s missing children who were abducted by witches. They learn that the witches plan to sacrifice the children during the Blood Moon to gain immunity from fire. They set out to foil the witches’ plan.

7. Hocus Pocus (1993)

This Disney movie is so well-known it really needs no introduction. But for those of you who live under a rock, it features a trio of witch sisters—over-the-top fun from Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy—who wreak havoc in Salem, Mass., on Halloween. A special must-see for those who own black cats.

8. Pay the Ghost (2015)

Nicholas Cage stars in this movie as an English lit professor whose son disappears one Halloween. As he delves deeper into his son’s disappearance, he learns about a malevolent entity who abducts children during Halloween and drags them to her world. He finds out that he must save his son before the next Halloween is over.

9. Season of the Witch (2011)

No, this is not Halloween III: Season of the Witch. This movie is set in the Middle Ages and it stars Nicholas Cage as well as Ron Perlman.

The Black Death crushes Europe in its grip. Who’s to blame? Witches, of course. Two former knights who fought in the Crusades are hired to transport a witch to a monastery so that the monks can lift her curse from the land.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, not least for the great scenery. It was filmed in Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Some may argue that this is more action/adventure than horror. Fight me. This movie has witches, demons AND Nic Cage in tights. And did I mention wolves? ’Nuff said.

10. The Hallow (2015)

This is the darkest movie of the 10. It’s for you if you like fairy tales.

A British conservationist and his family move to a small village in Ireland that is surrounded by dense forest. While exploring the forest, he finds a strange fungal substance on a dead deer. The locals tell him to stay out of the forest for fear of angering the wee folk known as “The Hallow.”

I love the dreamlike quality of the movie. It turns out not all fairy folk look like Tinkerbell. This is so dark it could have been torn from the Grimm Brothers’ collection.


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