If you ask me, the best parts about Halloween are the never-ending candy stash and the excuse to scare yourself silly watching implausible movies about serial killers who like to play hockey, washed up writers who go insane in old hotels and creepy clowns who enjoy sewer systems and balloons.
Luckily, these movies are much less nightmare-inducing when watched with groups of friends who ensure you see the ridiculousness of being afraid one of your kids’ dolls has been possessed. And if that still sounds scary, there’s always Hocus Pocus, where the only legitimately scary thing is Bette Midler’s fake teeth.
Here are our best ideas for setting up an instant scary movie night.
Stock up on Supplies
Set the Scene
Think comfy, cozy and dark for this rendezvous. Draw the blinds, dim the lights and turn on some creepy black candle lanterns. You can expand your living room seating area by spreading out cushions and blankets on the floor, even picking up a few throw pillows for your spooked-out guests to hide behind. This movie marquee sign would be fun to welcome guests or give them a head’s up of what movie you’re showing.
Make an at-home theater by aiming a mini projector at a blank wall or white sheet. (You can get a projector get a projector on Amazon for less than $100, or rent one at your local party supply store.) Use a Bluetooth speaker to project the sound more clearly.
Build a Snack Bar
Greet guests at the door with a tray of Vampire Killer Martinis to ready them for what’s to come. For the pizza lovers in attendance, these Garlic Pizza Wedges would be perfect. Other nighttime noshes: Mummies on a Stick, Witches Fingers and Frankenguac. For dessert, how about some Coffin Ice Cream Sandwiches and Ghostly Hot Cocoa (with adult mixers like Baileys or Kahlua).
Create a candy bar as spooky as your movie. Favorites like Milk Duds, black licorice, Junior Mints, Whoppers, Hot Tamales and Swedish Fish make a moody scene—and are tasty mixed in popcorn. Or go savory with your popcorn mix-ins: Flavor popcorn with black salt for a dark twist. Or make your own Garlicky Popcorn Salt. Just combine 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt. Load it into a shaker for easy application.
Make a Soundtrack
Before and after the movie, consider a mix of horror movie theme songs in the background (instrumentals that are readily recognizable from movies like The Exorcist and The Shining) that will adequately creep people out. Here, we’ve made a custom Spotify playlist for you.
Pick a Flick
Not sure what to show? We’ve got you covered. For adults only, consider one or more of these movies that aren’t for the faint of heart:
- Friday the 13th
- Nightmare on Elm Street
- The Ring
- The Shining
If you’re going more family-friendly, or want to give kids their own viewing party in another room, choose something with just a touch of the fright like:
- Hocus Pocus
- Hotel Transylvania
- Monster House
Send Guests Home in Style
After screaming the night away, guests will appreciate a calming parting gift. Wrap mini flashlights, individual packets of chamomile tea and small roller bottles of calming lavender oil in black tulle and hand them out as guests go. Make sure to wish them sweet dreams on their way out into the night.