Teens and horror go together like masked killers and kitchen knives. For good reason, there’s no shortage of teen-centric terror on-screen, not to mention a bounty of movies set on or around Halloween.
In a perfect world, these teens would have gotten whatever their teen hearts wanted from Halloween. They would have recaptured the childish fun of trick-or-treating, pranked their neighbours, or partied at the school dance (or classmates’ much more rad Halloween party). Poor teens, it just wasn’t in the cards for Halloween to go well for them.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Sure, teens aren’t known for making smart decisions, especially when there’s a crush to impress. Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is Exhibit A for choosing the worst way to impress his crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw) when they decide to break into the Sanderson House on Halloween night. I’ll grant him points for acknowledging that a perfect alignment of improbable factors (a full moon on Halloween night, something that only happens every two decades or so, and was in fact full-ish in 1993) allowed for him (a virgin) to show off his, uh, bravery by lighting the Black Flame Candle. The payoff, besides appealing to Allison, was releasing child-consuming witches, putting his sister’s life in peril and having to live the trauma of watching a cat re-inflate after getting pancaked by a car.
Hell Fest (2018)
Actual masked killer aside, Hell Fest (the titular theme park slash immersive experience) would be a totally baller place to spend Halloween night. For a traveling show, the rides and sets are so elaborate that it takes Natalie (Amy Forsyth) and her pals way too long to realize that they’re the targets of very real horror, and for no good reason other than that they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Boys in the Trees (2016)
It’s his last Halloween in high school, and Corey (Toby Wallace) and his pals are masked up and ready to stir up some typically teenaged trouble around town. Corey‘s night takes a turn though, when he runs into his old friend Jonah (Gulliver McGrath), who he long abandoned to become a target for bullies while he found himself among a more popular crowd. For old time’s sake, Corey and Jonah decide to hang out for a long, nostalgic walk. This may not sound too bad, but after a night of reconnecting, Corey‘s Halloween ends on a pretty devastating note.
Idle Hands (1999)
Anton (Devon Sawa)’s gets hijacked hardcore when his right hand becomes possessed, uncontrollable, and killer. The fact that his Halloween kicks off with his parents being mysteriously murdered seemingly leaves little room for escalation, but Anton‘s hand is determined to destroy everything that the poor stoner teen cares about, spurring him off his couch and into action to protect his crush at a Halloween dance.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Almost any entry of the Halloween franchise could make this list, but I’m not going with the original here, because Laurie’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) plans to babysit (and her friends’ plans to canoodle with their boyfriends) weren’t especially spooky. It may be, for many, the least popular instalment of the franchise, but you can’t deny that Tina (Wendy Kaplan), unrelated to the Strode family except as a bff to Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris)’s foster sister, has packed her schedule for Halloween. Crashing for the weekend at her friend’s place while their parents are out? Check. Busting in to the Haddonfield Children’s Clinic to cheer Jamie up with a dog and a Halloween costume? Check. Getting wrecked at a farm party? Check. Throwing yourself directly into Michael Myers‘ (Don Shanks) path to save two kids? Check. Check. Check.
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (1989)
Classic teen antics for Halloween: T.P.-ing houses, throwing eggs at trick-or-treaters, and stealing corpses from government research institutions. Unfortunately for Steve (Brian Robbins), Kevin (Bill Calvert), and Katie (Tricia Leigh Fisher), the body that they steal is the last specimen of a military experiment that used C.H.U.D. enzymes to create a sort of super-soldier. The titular Bud the C.H.U.D. (Gerrit Graham), of course, is not as dead, or at least not as inanimate, as the teens assumed.
Like an irl game of Among Us! but set in a fancy prep school instead of space, a group of teens decide to play a round of “Cry Wolf” during the week of Halloween, where one of the group is made the “Wolf” and the rest have to infer who it is. The game is complicated when a real student murder inspires the teens to expand the game to the entire school with rumours of an attacker on campus. The thing is, the rumour may or may not be as made up as they thought.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
To be fair, Brigitte (Emily Perkins) probably would have preferred to stay home for Halloween. She seems more like the type to douse herself in fake blood & spend the night watching favourite horror movies in her room. But thanks to her sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) being decidedly lycanthropic and lusting for blood, Brigitte is stuck trailing her sister to the “Greenhouse Bash” Halloween party (and eventually getting a ride from her mom). At the party, it’s clear that Ginger is out of control and that Brigitte is going to have to spend the night pulling out every last stop to try to cure her sister.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) problems are myriad. He’s plagued by visions of Frank, a strange costumed bunny who introduced himself to Donnie with the prophecy that the world was going to end in 28 days. Coincidentally, that 28th day falls on Halloween 1988. With the rest of the family gone, Donnie and his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) throw a Halloween party at their house, but everything falls to pieces pretty quickly and spectacularly, but not unexpectedly, given the way that trouble seems magnetically drawn to Donnie.
Night of the Demons (1988)
If you’re a teen holding a séance at an abandoned funeral parlour-crematorium on Halloween, you might anticipate something spooky to happen, but you’d hope that that something would be on the scale of some prankster jock turning out the lights at just the right moment, not that you’d release a demon that would possess you and your friends.