This Friday is Halloween. As such, I figured it was a good time to write a list of some of my favorite Halloween/spooky movies. I’m just going to let you guys know that I am not a huge fan of horror films as a genre. By not a huge fan, I tend to avoid them. See, I have this problem with an overactive imagination. I like being able to sleep at night, you see. This will become a pertinent detail to bear in mind as we go through this list. Here in no particular order is my list of Halloween favorites, spooky and totally not. Before you ask, The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t on this list because it’s just assumed that it’s a Halloween tradition for most everyone I know.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Let’s start this list off by talking about Hocus Pocus. I was nine when this movie came out. That’s not going to excuse what happened next. Billy (Doug Jones), the zombie, freaked me out. I have no idea why. I couldn’t sleep for four days afterward. It didn’t help that we had just built our sun room which has a roof right under my bedroom window. I also had no curtains for my window at that time. I thought Billy would come get me. Okay, guys, I was nine. A few months ago, I watched Hocus Pocus for the first time in years. You know what? It’s a neat, charming movie that is totally non-threatening. I am disappointed in my nine year-old self. How could I have been so disturbed by the tale of three witches bent on the consumption of the life force of children?
Maybe the zombie wasn’t the scariest thing about that movie. Now I’m even more disappointed in my nine year-old self.
The Worst Witch (1986)
“The Worst Witch” is made-for-TV movie starring Fairuza Balk as Mildred, the titular worst witch. She’s going to appear later in this list and make this even more amusing. Anyway, I loved this while growing up. It appeared yearly on TV. Nowadays, it’s known as the movie that includes that surreal Tim Curry song. You know the one. That said, it’s a sweet movie about staying true to yourself even if you don’t think that self is worth it. It’s about finding what woks best for you. I also just like singing along.
Seriously, though, has anyone seen my tambourine?
There’s just something so marvelous about ParaNorman. I’m mad at myself for having not seen it in theaters. My brother and his wife recommended it to me shortly after they saw it. I dragged my feet when it came to seeing it until it finally appeared on Netflix. At long last, I sat down and watched it. It was not what I thought it would be. It was so much better. It’s about a boy who can communicate with the dead and his town’s sketchy history. I’m not doing it justice with that description, but it’s definitely worth watching. You should totally go and check it out. Now is good.
For how terrifying Poltergeist can be, it’s one of the few horror movies that don’t linger with me after viewing it. I can easily watch this movie without getting completely freaked out. I really appreciate that about this film. I also appreciate how well it still holds up 30 years later. For those of you who have no idea, this movie is about a family that’s plagued by a nasty poltergeist that ultimately kidnaps their youngest daughter. The main take-away from this film, of course, is that you really should do thorough research about any house you may plan to buy one day. Just a thought.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997)
I caught Snow White: A Tale of Terror on the Sci-Fi Channel, back when it still held that name. For some reason, I wasn’t able to catch the end of the movie. In fact, every time the thing was on, I kept having to miss the end. It was really frustrating. Eventually, I begged my dad to buy me a copy of it on VHS. We still have the tape, of course. At long last, I was able to see the end of the movie. It was actually worth it in a bizarre, slightly zombie-tastic way. Yeah, it’s another re-telling of the classic fairy tale, but I liked the creep factor this version brought to the story. I loved Siguorney Weaver‘s evil queen. I also loved what they did with the dwarves. There’s this one scene that inspired me in my writing. It was just hot in an unstated sexual tension sort of way. Anyway, this movie is still nicely creepy without disturbing me. Well, there’s this other scene that disturbs me. I’ll be happy to tell you guys about that later if you ask.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Micah told me that The Cabin in the Woods doesn’t necessarily count as a horror movie due to its meta deconstruction of the genre. I am inclined to disagree in that it still has some genuinely frightening moments. Besides, it’s listed as a horror movie on the Internet. Therefore, it totally counts. You guys know the stereotypical horror story of archetypes heading to a cabin in the middle of spooky woods. That’s what this movie is about and so much more. Filled to the brim with all kinds of references and snappy Joss Whedon dialogue, I’m proud to say that I have a copy of this movie in my Blu-ray collection.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Before Tom Mison‘s Ichabod Crane made everyone, Micah included, swoon on Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” Tim Burton cast his long-time muse, Johnny Depp, in that role for his 1999 adaptation of the classic story. Of course, this movie has a few tricks and turns. One expects no less of Burton. It’s got the expected Danny Elfman score and a fantastic cast featuring a few of Burton’s usual suspects. I love the way he played with the story and I love the subtle nod to On The Town at the end. It’s not often that my love of musicals gets a shout-out in a creepy movie.
The Crow (1994)
The Crow is not a scary movie. It is a Halloween must-see and a classic. A murdered man is resurrected in order to bring justice to those who killed him and the love of his life. It starred Brandon Lee, son of the famous martial artist, Bruce Lee. Unfortunately, a tragic accident while filming took Brandon’s life. Many would say that this is one of the reasons why the movie has such a devoted fan base. That’s an incorrect assumption because the movie is just that great. I’ve never seen the sequels to it or the TV show based off of it. I don’t think they’re necessary. The original is perfect as it is. That said, I’m not going to necessarily complain about the remake that’s due to come out in a few years. Man, now this is making me miss the days when my friends and I would hang out in the darkened bar of our then-favorite pirate-themed restaurant. Our friend, Mike Cremedas, would sit down in the big chair at the head of the table and say in his best gravelly Michael Wincott voice, “The idea has become the institution, boys.”
Oh, those were the days.
The Craft (1996)
Remember Fairuza Balk? I told you we’d get back to her. In ten short years, she went from being the worst witch to being a great and terrifying one in The Craft. She and her besties at Catholic school finally acquire a fourth witch for their coven. Spells and hijinks ensue. I love this movie. It’s great for this time of year. Also, it may have fostered some of my interest in witchcraft. I was twelve, okay? It seemed totally awesome and made so much sense to me then. I’m sure that there were a lot of people with similar inclinations after seeing this film.
Huh. Maybe there is something to the idea that movies can lead children to witchcraft. You know what we need to do about that? We should make more movies with awesome witches!
Fright Night (2011)
While I have been informed that the original is superior, I have yet to see it. The remake, however, I saw in theaters in 3D. It was actually pretty nifty. Fright Night tells the story of a young man who discovers that his neighbor is a vampire. He then tries to employ the assistance of a famed “vampire hunter” to help him defeat his undead foe. Things go about as well as you can expect. This movie is so much fun. I’m going to tell you right now that a significant part of its appeal is that it has David Tennant in tight leather pants. In a post-Twilight world, it also decides to go against the prevailing trend of sexy, emo vampires by making Jerry (Colin Farrell) actually horrifying. Kudos to you, Fright Night!
And now, I will share with you the war cry that was inspired by this film: “STREEEEEEEEETCH!” (Explanations will be provided to those who inquire privately.)
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
I’m going to end this list with one of my most favorite horror type movies of all time: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. It’s a movie rooted in massive misunderstandings. Instead of hillbilly’s stalking college kids, the roles are reversed and it’s hilarious. There are things in this movie that you will laugh at that will make you feel like a terrible person for laughing. That’s okay, though. It’s more than okay. The gruesome bits are played up for humor and it works perfectly. The movie is certainly helped by its cast. Said cast includes the amazing Alan Tudyk and the great Tyler Labine (who should get more work because he’s so much fun as Dale). If you haven’t seen this movie yet, it’s on Netflix right now. Put it on and enjoy. You can thank me later.