Of all the various aspects of writing, from character to plot to rhythm to sentence structure to theme to on and on and on, the hardest to get right is tone. Tone is at the mercy of perception, and everyone brings their own perception to the party.
The more specific the tone, the harder it is to get right, or at least to get it so that it comes across accurately. Big, broad, general tones are easy. Writing something that's meant to be optimistic or sarcastic is easy enough. But if you are trying to drill down into something more subtle, you run the risk of not creating the tone you're going for.
Halloween has a variety of tones.
I hate slasher movies. I find them stupid and awful. I don't understand the appeal. I liked the first Scream movie well enough, but part of that was the fact that it was making fun of slasher movies. But you can only go to that well once, which is why the sequels were all awful.
Halloween is meant to be supernatural. I'm fine with it being scary because, hey, the unknown is the scariest thing there is. But Jason and Michael Myers and Leatherface are scary in a way that has nothing to do with Halloween. There's no supernatural element needed there, save for their uncanny ability to survive almost anything. In the end, they're dudes with weapons killing teenagers, and that shit happens every day.
I don't need death and destruction in my Halloween, either. I want creativity. I want the strange and the disconcerting, I want the creepy and wondrous. Halloween should be the time of the year when we walk around in a haze of the bizarre.
Here are my essential movies to watch around Halloween:
Cabin in the Woods
Batman vs. Dracula
Nightmare Before Christmas
Okay, yes, Cabin in the Woods has a lot of slasher elements to it, but just barely. It's rather perfect for me in
Nightmare Before Christmas nails the tone of Halloween perfectly, with Batman vs. Dracula coming in a close second. They're both dark and scary without resorting to death.
Speaking of Nightmare Before Christmas, my favorite Halloween thing in the entire world might be the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Every year, they turn the Haunted Mansion into Jack's Nightmare Before Christmas, modifying the various scary aspects of the house to fit with the movie. I've been on that ride more times than I can count and it might be the single thing I miss most about living in Southern California.
The upside of my version of Halloween is that it's more or less all ages, so our kid is going to be in for a treat some day...