Yes, Halloween movies can absolutely teach you about writing.
I remember first seeing Hocus Pocus in my friend’s basement during the time where I had barely achieved sentience. The first thing I missed about Halloween when I was away from home was the memory of eating too much candy, dressing up in style and glitter, and watching Halloween movies back when “31 Nights of Halloween” was on ABC Family and then Freeform. (And then moving onto horror movies in general as I got older and embraced the scary).
Without further ado, here are some writer thoughts I’ve had while watching (absolutely devouring) some of my favorite Halloween movies.
1. Characters can be both naughty and nice
Characters can be immensely complex! Casper was a friendly ghost! Morticia and Gomez Addams had a very healthy and loving relationship and encourage curiosity (and a dash of murder) in their children.
Characters can have more layers than a pumpkin gourd’s got guts, and don’t you forget it!
2. Families come in all shapes and sizes
Whether we’re thinking of the Sanderson Sisters, the Addams Family, or how Lydia Deetz finds her family in the ghosts haunting her house…
Family comes in all shapes and sizes! Characters can find families connected by blood, love, kinship, or even a little dash of ghoulishness.
3. Find the funny in the strangest of situations
Goodness knows how often we hear the ghost puns in Haunted Mansion, or even parodying scary movies in general in Scream, people turn to humor in difficult situations. Characters are allowed to laugh just as often as they cry. (Or scream.) And a little humor can help your plot breathe a little.
4. Halloween accepts everyone
It’s a holiday about embracing your inner imagination and being able to dress up as who you are — own your truth. That includes embracing those in marginalized communities. If the Addams can accept their child as a pastel-loving prep, or a living person embrace a ghost, then we can learn to love others that are different than us. (This includes disabled communities, BIPOC, low-income, LGBT+ folx, and many others)
5. Prophecies can be subverted
Sometimes, the Apocalypse are four people on horses, other times, it is a marshmallow man…
6. Everyone is deserving of love, no matter what form that love takes.
Romantic, platonic, otherwise. Love takes many forms, and even the “scariest” characters need a hug once in a while.
7. You’re never too old for character development
Even phony vampire hunters can learn how to wield a stake (or a pencil) once in a while a la Fright Night.
8. Stories don’t always have to end at The End… sometimes, they’re just beginning
Those new beginnings are where we find the sweetest magic– in second chances (or lives).