Thinking back to the good old days of bobbing for apples in the kitchen sink, garden firework displays, and when black bin liners and plastic face masks sold like hot cakes in shops all over the country—Halloween in Ireland is a time of the year that gives most of us that warm fuzzy feeling. As we’re forced to trudge our way through the often gloomy reality of adult life, it seems like nostalgia for those bygone days comes on doubly strong at this time of year.
Here at DID Electrical, we surveyed 2,000 Irish grown-ups to uncover what spooky movies from their childhoods the nation will be sticking in the DVD player tonight; and what treats they'll be stealing from the trick or treat bags once the kids go to bed!
Top old-school Halloween movies
1. “I’ve put a spell on you.. And now you’re mine!”
In first place with 30% of votes… you guessed it. Hocus Pocus.
Yes, Hocus Pocus was voted the reigning favourite childhood Halloween movie—however, it’s the Irish female population who tipped the votes on this one, with almost 40% of Irish women declaring it as their favourite.
Essentially a celebration of females on the prowl, it’s no surprise the now-28-year-old movie is favoured by a primarily female audience. Among women of all ages from 18 to over 65, the kids classic was by far the most preferred Halloween film—but most popularly among those who grew up in the late 80’s/early 90’s, with a whopping 50% vote.
So if you and the girls about to watch the 90’s classic this Autumn for the umpteenth time, you can rest assured that you and every other woman in the country will most likely be digging out the fluffy socks and pyjamas to do the same. Sisters, unite!
2. “Who you gonna call?”
In second place with almost 22% of votes overall, but first place for 33% of Irish men across all counties was Ghostbusters. Unsurprisingly, the more action-packed, fighting ghosts and ghouls side of things appeals to the male mindset more than the sisterhood theme of Hocus Pocus.
Released in the late 1980’s, it’s no surprise that the cult classic was favoured mostly by Irish men in the 45-54 age bracket, with an almost 50% split. That being said, it was still a reigning favourite among most of the other male age groups.
3. “Don't torture yourself, Gomez - that's my job”
The Addams Family came third overall at 13% of votes, with a quarter of the over 60’s voting for it as their most loved childhood Halloween film—likely voting for the throwback 1964 TV show over the 1991 movie remake
It’s surprising that there weren’t more votes for this one among the younger demographics—the movie remake was released in 1991, but every kid has a threshold for what they consider scary, and our guess is that between Uncle Fester and that creepy hand, it was enough to give most children nightmares!
4. “I told you I was a good dancer… Can I keep you?”
In fourth place with 12% of votes, we have the all-time family favourite, Casper. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Casper the Friendly Ghost hit cinemas in 1995.
While voted fourth place overall, Casper was the second favourite movie among Irish females, with almost 14% of votes. This doesn’t come as surprise, given the teenage high-school setting, and dreamy storyline. Potentially the most romantic scene of the 90’s teen generation—that dancefloor moment had girls all over Ireland swooning over Casper’s storybook good looks in human form.
Again, no surprise this one scored highest among the 25-34 age bracket—maybe Irish females can blame movies like this for any unrealistic romantic expectations in later life?
5. “Forgive me, Mr. Claus. I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday.”
Released the same year as Mrs. Doubtfire, The Nightmare before Christmas was one of the top feature films of that year—combining two of the world’s favourite holidays; Halloween and Christmas. What’s not to love?
Votes for this one were pretty consistent across all ages and counties with 9% overall, except in Dublin—where it was voted the second favourite among men in the 45-54 age bracket, with a hefty 20% of votes.
Directed by Tim Burton, the creative brain behind eccentric horror movies like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, it makes sense that this alternative fantasy film appealed to an audience of Dublin lads in their twenties when it was released. Now posing as doting Dads and successful career men—it looks like our capital city is home to some of the country’s biggest undercover geeks. Ireland’s inner nerds, we know who you are.
6. "Magic is really very simple, all you've got to do is want something and then let yourself have it."
In sixth place with 7.5% of votes we have the more modern 1998 Disney Channel favourite, Halloweentown. This one appeared to be virtually unknown by the other age groups but was voted second place by our 18-24 age bracket, the majority of votes from 18-24 year old females at 20% overall.
This charming throwback was such a worldwide hit that it inspired three sequels, and even an annual “Spirit of Halloweentown” celebration for fans in the sleepy Oregon town of St. Helen’s where the first movie was set. Tapping into a Sabrina the Teenage Witch type storyline, this wholesome family film is sure to reignite anyone’s Halloween spirit.
And just in case the childhood nostalgia wasn’t enough for all you Disney Channel fans out there—Bustle also recently confirmed that 20 years after the show, Marnie and Kal are finally together in real life!
7. “It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”
Last but not least with 7% of votes, we have the Roald Dahl Halloween creation, The Witches. Released in 1990, this one was voted second favourite among men over 65, at quite a hefty 28%—possibly due to the darker and more gruesome style of Roald Dahl’s work, which doesn’t always necessarily appeal to a mass audience. Like marmite for many us, Roald Dahl’s macabre take on a Halloween family favourite is either a love or hate scenario—and quite possibly verging on nightmare material for the younger generation among us.
So, if you’re planning to curl up on the sofa with Dad or Grandad this Halloween (potentially without any kids present), why not bond over hot chocolate while watching this freakishly good golden oldie?
Now that we’ve established what movies really spark some old-school reminiscence, let’s look at what retro snacks would complete the nation’s perfect Halloween night in.
Top Halloween treats from the good old days
1. Milk Teeth
The top voted treat with 22% of votes was Milk Teeth—yes, those deliciously squidgy little sweets spark the most nostalgia across the country for trick or treating days gone by. It was a rare occasion, but you definitely scored big time when you emptied your trick or treat bag to find a rake of these bad boys.
And if you weren’t lucky enough to get any while trick or treating, it wasn’t so bad if you at least got a few two cent coins from the old people, so you could buy a load of them in the shop. Back when penny chews did actually cost a penny.
2. Penguin bars
In close second place at 21% came the old classic, Penguin Bars. Granted, it’s hard to beat a good Penguin with a cup of tea—but did we really get that excited by these in our trick or treat bags? Well it looks like Galway and Cork tipped the scales on this one as their number one favourite, along the over 65’s.
We don’t like to question anyone’s childhoods, so we’ll just leave that here.
3. Swizzel’s Drumsticks Lollies
Drumstick lollies came a very close third with 20% of votes. These chewy delights have been gracing shop shelves for over 60 years, and yet, they remain a pick n’ mix staple.
These were the number one choice among 18-24 year olds across the country, as well as in Wexford, Offaly, Meath and Carlow.
Raspberry and Milk, a glorious combination—once you actually managed to get the entire sweet off the stick without breaking your teeth.
4. Wagon Wheels
Good old Wagon Wheels got a decent 17% share of votes. Usually synonymous with granny’s house, when she was delighted with herself for getting exciting biscuits for the grandkids—these marshmallowy sandwiches were a tasty treasure to find amongst a heap of apples and monkeys nuts at the bottom of your trick or treat bag.
Reigning number one amongst one-third of the 55-64 age group, we’re not sure if it’s Halloween nostalgia or a subconscious craving embedded by Nathan Carter—either way, we love to hate them and hate to love them.
5. Barratt’s Candy Sticks
Aka. sweetie cigarettes as many of us will remember, came in fourth place at 8%. Back in the days where we went mad for Opal Fruits and Wham bars, these randomly shaped sweets wrapped in a cigarette-shaped box were a big hit for any kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.
The somewhat unique sweets may have been voted in fifth place overall but were the second favourite in Tipperary and Carlow. We’re not sure of the reasons behind that trend, but we’re not asking any questions—this is a judgement free zone.
6. Swizzel’s Double Lollies
Ahh what a classic, the trusty Double Lollies came second to last with 7.5% of votes. Only when you thought you’d finished your entire Halloween treat bag, you dig deeper and find a few of these beauties ready to give you a not so exciting, but very much welcomed final sugar fix. One of granny’s absolute favourites, these were a perfect go-to after you’d finished all your Drumsticks and Refreshers bars.
The country’s biggest fans of these chalky delights reside in Mayo, with a significant 20% of votes as their second favourite over Milk Teeth. The green and red coloured versions were clearly a sell out at GAA matches down the country—Mayo mammies instilling county pride proud from an early age.
7. Parma Violets
And lastly, we have the lovely Parma Violets with a mere 4% of votes. We’re not sure of our exact relationship with these sweets—all we know is that they’ve been a lingering staple at almost every birthday party and Halloween since the dawn of time. Just one look at one of those little purple packets takes us right back to a time when “stress” wasn’t a word in our vocabulary.
See the full gender and age breakdowns below: