Witches, clowns, ghosts…New England’s fall backdrop of grey days, windswept evenings, and fallen leaves scuttling on the ground seems to be perfectly made for Halloween thrillers. We rounded up movies you must watch this time of year, especially before a visit to Boston.


Stephen King’s creepy clown story might not have been made specifically for Halloween, but it had generations of readers looking at sewer drains in a different light. King’s novel was first made into a multi-night mini-series in 1990 and into a blockbuster hit movie this year. The story is set in Derry, Maine, making it a little close for comfort.

Hocus Pocus

Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker made this 1993 Halloween movie easy to love. Set and filmed in Salem, the movie follows three witches (the not-so-nice Sanderson sisters) who are brought back to life after being executed for witchcraft 300 years before. They only have one night to secure their new lease on life or they’ll be returned to their graves. The cult classic’s popularity has only grown over the years.

Practical Magic

Another witch-filled movie (we’re seeing a theme here), Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are sisters whose family has fallen under a particularly nasty curse: any man who they fall in love with will meet an untimely death. In the 1998 movie, their home is in Sudbury, MA.


The friendliest ghost around teams up with Christina Ricci in this sweet movie. Carrigan Crittenden inherits Whipstaff Manor in Friendship, Maine after her father’s death and comes to discover it’s haunted by Casper and his uncles. The movie reaches its zenith during a Halloween party at the Manor.

Shutter Island

We wouldn’t watch this movie alone. Based on a script written by Boston native Denis Lehane and directed by Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a US Marshal who heads out to desolate Shutter Island to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. Lehane based the depiction of Shutter Island on Long Island in Boston. The movie was filmed mainly in Massachusetts with sets in Taunton, Medfield, Peddocks Island, and Nahant.