Freeform (formerly ABC Family) has aired their special Halloween programming since 1998. courtesy Freeform

Freeform begins 31 Nights of Halloween

Screening films for every night of October, Freeform kicked off 2021’s 31 Nights of Halloween with popular films.

October is my favorite month of the year: my heart always being drawn to the autumn aesthetic and all that it includes, leaves changing colors on the trees, going from a welcoming green hue to the vibrant reds and oranges of the season. When they fall to the sidewalk, being crunched by pedestrians, you know it’s because a brisk breeze blew through the area. You can practically taste autumn on the air, as you switch from shorts and tank tops to sweaters, jeans and boots, parading around pumpkin patches and prepping your Halloween costume.

One integral thing to the autumn season, something we have all known since childhood, is Freeform’s (previously ABC Family) 31 Nights of Halloween. All month long through October, Freeform will be airing a variety of spooky films every night. Some of the films may be scary, while others are fun, child-friendly films that more so meet the October aesthetic.

The schedule for 2021 includes many of the classics, those being “Hocus Pocus,” “Casper,” “The Addam’s Family,” “Ghostbusters” and multiple of Tim Burton’s masterpieces. In fact, it was through tuning into the 31 Nights of Halloween that I watched “The Addam’s Family” for the very first time a few years ago.

Some films that I am very excited to see on the full schedule this year are “The Craft,” “The Goonies,” “Hook,” “Maleficent,” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” These films may not instantly strike you as creepy for the season, but to me, are a great fit nonetheless, though I still have not been able to finish “The Craft.” They aren’t as well known as “Hocus Pocus” and “Casper,” films that are pinnacle to the season, but in my eyes are just as monumental for setting the Halloween mood.

It is exciting to see that many films on the schedule will be airing on Freeform for the first time, such as the sequel to “Maleficent” and the “Miss Peregrine’s” movie. This is really encouraging to see as it opens the doors for these films to be played more often now on cable, or however you access Freeform. With many films, viewers may have missed the theatre release time or they aren’t streaming on paid services; this gives the film more opportunities to be easily accessible. I know back when I had cable, I always got excited to see recent theatre releases moved to accessible channels.

Though, I must say there are some films whose presence on the schedule I don’t overly understand. “Matilda” is on the schedule for multiple days this month, which never really struck me as a Halloween movie, but I guess it’s because of the magic powers Matilda possesses. The same goes for the “Shrek” series; is it because of the magical, fairytale aspect? Is Shrek a scary character in pop culture? There’s even the “Men in Black” series and “X-Men: First Class” listed on the full schedule, which more so strike me as action movies than anywhere close to being Halloween movies.

Besides a small number of films that don’t overly fit the theme, there are also films that I think are played too many times. Yes, I’m glad “Hocus Pocus” can be included because it is a classic, but back when I had cable, it was played so often during the month, I thought I saw it every day. I understand the tradition of playing these films repeatedly and the joy that many have for these classics to constantly be on, but what if instead of playing “Casper” five times or running the entire “Shrek” series on three different days, that airtime was given to different films?

Local movie theater Circle Cinema is known for playing the smaller, more indie films around Tulsa, giving light to local directors, but also to older movies that deserve to be in the light again. They just released their schedule for Halloween, covering titles such as “Tales of the Macabre II: The Encounter,” “Nosferatu,” “The People Under the Stairs” and “Lamb.” Though, I understand why a number of these films are played at Circle Cinema as opposed to on cable—the R rating. You wouldn’t want to put such graphic films on cable where anyone of any age could be scrolling through and find it.

With only a one night airing, I wish “Halloweentown” was aired more throughout the month, being one of the integral Halloween movies that Disney Channel has to offer. As opposed to playing “X-Men: First Class,” “The New Mutants” could be aired as it was actually marketed as a horror film of the “X-Men” series.

Playing the “Scooby Doo” live action films or animated movies is a total missed opportunity for 31 Nights of Halloween to take. What is more spooky than local teens catching crooks? “Monster House” is another classic animated Halloween movie meant for kids, and I must say it is glaringly obvious that “Coraline” and “Gremlins” are missing from the list. “Zombieland,” “IT” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” would also have been excellent additions for an older crowd.

Even though I haven’t had cable for a few years, I still look forward to the 31 Nights of Halloween each year. There is just something so welcoming in knowing all across the country, viewers everywhere are watching these films together, celebrating the Autumn season. While there will always be those who may disagree with the schedule, it is still a month full of fun watches for the whole family to enjoy.

Post Author: Myranda New