HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYBODY!
In honor of the Fall (my favorite time of year), let’s look at my Top 6 Halloween Movies that can get you into the nostalgic Halloween spirit or simply scare the bejeezus out of you. If you like any of these movies, click on the image to watch it on Amazon streaming video – Trick or treat!
#1: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Yes, yes, fine, fine, it’s not really a “movie” and it’s certainly not terrifying, but THE GREAT PUMPKIN is not only an enduring classic with a story and characters that stand the test of time, but the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack conjures the feel of a chilly autumn afternoon jumping into a pile of raked leaves, going for a haunted hayride and drinking hot apple cider, and seeing your neighborhood transform into a spooky, jack o’lantern-lit netherworld. I got a rock.
#2: The Haunting
I watched Robert Wise’s 1963 B&W classic THE HAUNTING when I was in high school and I didn’t sleep that night. As the years progressed, far more terrifying things have kept me awake at night (relationships, election results, money issues and someone playing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” over and over in my courtyard), but THE HAUNTING remains the finest ghost movie I have ever seen. A psychologist studies Hill House (a supposedly haunted, but definitely ill-fated house with a rich history of insanity, murder and death) by gathering a group of like-minded people who’ve had some previous experience with the supernatural and spending a few night there, taking notes and experimenting. The cinematography and art direction of Hill House alone are enough to induce nightmares, but the terrific cast and great script are what really make it work. No special effects or CGI here, THE HAUNTING is a masterful study in psychological fear, use of sound and cinematography, and is a Halloween night staple.
#3: The Eye
On the other end of the spectrum is THE EYE (the 2002 Pang Brothers original, not the Jessica Alba remake). While you’ll probably have to read the subtitles, THE EYE is one of the scarier movies you’ll see. A young blind woman has surgery to finally give her sight and the results are miraculous – not only can she see everything perfectly for the first time in her life, but she can also see ghosts. Lots of them. And they’re drawn to her. And it’s terrifying. THE EYE is deeply unsettling with fantastic effects used so subtly that the tension mounts and continues throughout the film and doesn’t stop….. well, until about a week later, if you’re anything like me.
#4: The Descent
What 2005’s THE DESCENT lacks in ghosts, it more than makes up for in claustrophobia. A group of female friends (some with some tragic shared history) go spelunking and find themselves trapped with…. something. The Us Against The Monsters aspect of THE DESCENT is fine and creates some great moments, but the secrets, lies and claustrophobic imminent danger of the main storyline are what truly makes it scary. I forced a friend of mine to watch this one and even though he watched it on his computer on a plane surrounded by people, he still doesn’t forgive me for putting him through it.
Stephen King has had a lot of movies made of his books and about half of them are good. On the one hand you have THE SHINING, CARRIE, and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION…. but on the other you have SLEEPWALKERS, SILVER BULLET, and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. But one of the more recent entries, 1408, is one of my favorites. I love haunted house movies, but a haunted HOTEL ROOM? That’s new. And scary. The great thing about the hauntings in 1408 is it’s less about the history of the place and the ghosts and more about the psychological aspects of staying in the room. Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City has had many many murders and suicides. In fact, no one has lasted longer than an hour without checking out of the hotel, going insane, or killing themselves. But when Mike Enslin (a ghost hunter who
has come to not believe in anything, much less ghosts) checks in to review it for his new book, it’s not the creepy unknown that’s scary – it’s his own horrifying past and fears. Loaded with CGI but used to terrifying effect, 1408 is one of the best SK adaptations out there and is super-fun Halloween viewing.
#6: Trick R’Treat
And finally, TRICK R’ TREAT. I was considering HALLOWEEN or WAIT UNTIL DARK or the ORPHANAGE, but while those are great horror films, TRICK R’ TREAT is one of those halloween movies that really captures the spirit of Halloween. A collection of short stories all tied together on the same Halloween night, TRICK R’ TREAT tells the stories of a high school principal (Dylan Baker) who may be a serial killer, a hot co-ed (Anna Paquin) dressed as Red Riding Hood out with her friends who vow to find her someone to take her virginity, a prank goes horribly wrong, and a former bus driver (Brian Cox) is visited by a very special trick or treater. Not a truly scary horror film, this movie does an amazing job of capturing the mood of Halloween – in the same way that THE GREAT PUMPKIN makes me nostalgic for the wind rustling though the dead leaves as dusk falls, so TRICK R’ TREAT brings a more mature and more threatening mood to the night.
So pour some apple cider, break open the candy corn, snuggle up in a warm blanket and enjoy some great creepy movies this Halloween! But be sure to leave a bucket of candy on your front porch! You wouldn’t want the trick or treaters to miss out… and make you pay for it later that night…
What do you think, did I leave out any of your favorite Halloween movies?