Halloween comes smack in the middle of the week this year, making the usual late night debauchery more challenging. Bellingham's low hanging skies and perpetual drizzle don't add much encouragement to leave the house. Luckily both these facts make movie watching an ideal Halloween activity. So if you don't feel like braving the storm this year grab a bowl of mini Butterfingers and park yourself on the sofa, The AS Review's Halloween movie guide is here to help you out.
Have you been feeling homesick or a little nostalgic lately? Do you wish you could go back to the days when people actually smiled when you knocked on their door and asked for candy? Do you wish your homework consisted of addition problems and reading aloud to Dad? Well I have the movies for you.
“Ernest Scared Stupid” may seem like a bad idea and you may get a condescending look from the clerk at Hollywood. This movie is filled with wholesome slapstick humor that is just as fun to make fun of now, as it was to watch when you were 5 years old. The evil troll is especially ridiculous. There won't be any mad men with chainsaws, no busty women getting hacked at, and no girls possessed by the devil, which I found reassuring.
You may only vaguely remember the Olsen twins horribly underrated movie “Double Double, Toil and Trouble,” but I am sure you remember “Full House.” And if you were born in the late ‘80s you can't help but love “Full House”—the cheesy intro, the predictable plot lines, Jessie's hair and the sappy music that played during the “moral” of the story. All in all it was the best thing in the world back when we were still learning to tie our shoes. The twin's Halloween movie stays along the same line as they rescue their home from an evil aunt with magical powers. This movie will make you feel like your back at home with Mom cooking dinner in the other room.
“Hocus Pocus” is probably the best all around of these throwback movies. It even has an all-star cast with Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Thora Birch. The action starts in 1693 as three witches are hanged for sucking the life out of kids. They cast a spell that brings them back to life in 1993, when Max, the protagonist, lights a bewitched candle. A 300-year-old talking cat, named Binx is also thrown in the mix. This movie reminds me of “Home Alone” for the fact that although I am 14 years older than when I originally watched it I am still entertained by the simple plot and adventure story. It's truly the best of nostalgic Halloween movies.
Maybe you're a traditionalist. You like your Halloween movies heart-pounding, your children possessed, and your houses haunted. Well here are a few Halloween staples that are generally ranked among the scariest movies in cinematic history.
The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” pits a terrifying premise on top of demented psychology. The movie begins with narration that presents the grainy film as a documentation of real events, much like the ploy “Blair Witch” used 25 years later. A van of five kids visits their grandfather's grave and old homestead. They find it occupied by a family of cannibals who, lead by “Leatherface,” named for his human-flesh mask, kills and dismembers the party one by one. This one is most terrifying due to the complete depravity of the hillbilly-like family.
“The Exorcist” has made the top five of more “scariest films” lists than I can count. It has everything, a possessed child, a distraught mother, a tortured priest and the devil. Supposedly theater-goers were overcome by this movie, fainting and puking in the aisles. This film is probably so great because of the fact that it takes a seemingly benign little girl and turns her into the ultimate evil. The skin raising on her chest spelling a frantic “help” made me cringe. Don't watch it alone.
Something about those brain craving, drunk-stumbling corpses has become remarkably popular lately. So much so that I must include the original 1978 “Dawn of the Dead” on this list. This film is one of George Ramero's four “Dead” series zombie flicks. Although this one isn't as bloodcurdling the other three, it still contains enough gore for the horror fan, plus it has a great tag-line: “When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”
We can't forget the older films of the 1930s when sound just became a norm. “The Mummy,” “Dracula,” and “Frankenstein,” all came from this era. There are also the campy 1950s B-movies like “The Blob,” featuring a jello-like alien, and “Them!,” staring huge ants. And if you're looking for a comedy, Mel Brooks' “Young Frankenstein” is perfect.