Welcome to the holiday season, folks. It all starts on October 31st, Halloween! And with Halloween comes horror movies. I’m not much for the “hockey mask-wearing, machete-wielding, psychopathic murderer that stalks campgrounds in the middle of the night looking for stupid kids to turn into mulch” type of movies all that much. I prefer films that evoke the entire spirit of autumn—both scary and whimsical alike. For example:
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – A comedy for Halloween? Yes. This maybe a comedy but is has some fairly dark characters in it–two older women that poison lonely, elder gentlemen to put them out of their perceived misery. At least Dr. Kevorkian got his patients’ consent first…
Hocus Pocus (1993) – In this Disney live-action film, a talking black cat with eternal life and his new friends must find a way to return three witches to the grave before they eat the souls of the children in 1990s era Salem. Needless to say, they succeed.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Before I saw this movie I hadn’t been interested in zombie films. This British comedy/zombie film serves as a great gateway to the more hardcore horror films.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) – Like the other Peanuts’ cartoons this has become a seasonal must watch. The scary part is that all the adults talk using a series of whah-whah sounds. Is this what the future holds for me when I grow up? Mother whah-whah!
Throne of Blood (1957) – This Akira Kurosawa’s rendition of one of the original revenge stories—Macbeth—is truly eerie. Surprisingly, Shakespeare’s words are easier to digest when translated to a feudal era Japanese setting.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)/Beetlejuice (1988) – Many of Tim Burton’s films could be put on this list because of his visual style. I chose both of these because they are, in my opinion, the pinnacle examples of Burton’s style. Both films feature an abundance of checker patterns, dimly colored stripes, swirls, and overly pointy edges.
Hamlet (1996) – The godfather of ghost stories, Kenneth Branagh’s take on Shakespeare’s classic may actually scare you if you can follow it.
Ghostbusters (1984) – Ghosts scare me the most. In this movie four everyday guys get together to rid New York of all paranormal activity. Sounds like a good start to me. Maybe they will head to Philadelphia (home of MovieFanFare) next?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – With the avalanche of mediocre vampire films that have come out in the past 100 year,s it’s nice to know that we have at least one that doesn’t suck…so to speak.