When I'm looking for the perfect movie to watch on Halloween, there are plenty of choices.I wrote a blog post about my favorite comedic horror movies a few years ago, and honestly any of those would quite ably work as a quintessential movie for me this time of year, because they share two common traits that I look for in a great Halloween movie: horror and nostalgia.
Even more than Christmas, Halloween drudges up a metric ton of nostalgia for years gone by, whether from childhood, adolescence, or college. Trick-or-treating until our buckets/pillow cases were brimming with plunder, pranking friends with jump scares or copious amounts of toilet paper and silly string, or drunken revelry while dressed in costumes way to elaborate for such tight quarters. Christmas is great, but it's about getting up early Christmas morning, where Halloween is all about staying up late Halloween night. Come on, that alone should put it in the win column.
So here are five movies that I could watch any time of year, but enjoy the most when it is creeping closer and closer to All Hallows Eve. And no, Halloween nor any of its sequels will appear on this list, simply because it's way too obvious and I'm just not that big of a fan of the series.
1) The Evil Dead II (1987)
The first Evil Dead is good, but there is just something even more manic and mesmerizing about the sequel. Okay, it's basically the first movie with a spit-and-polish and a bonkers ending, but come on ... it's just fantastic. And this movie also has Ash with a prosthetic chainsaw in the latter half. Groovy.
I first saw this movie in the early 90s when I was sixteen (old fogey, right?) at a friend's house. It was probably the best of the bunch from our all-night movie marathon, and was the first time I'd ever done the whole staying up late with a group to watch horror movies. Good times.
Honestly, the movie is kind of hit-or-miss with me. Gary Oldman, amazing. Anthony Hopkins, his usual, effortlessly great self. Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder ... errr, like I said: hit-or-miss. This was another movie I saw at a house party. I didn't know many people there, but they were total movie nerds and were like a live DVD commentary for the thing, which was one of the few times I actually enjoyed people talking through a movie.
One of the trivia tidbits I remember being mentioned was the insane amount of fake blood used through the course of shooting. I never bothered to fact check, but somebody said it was the most fake blood ever used in a film. Given some of the scenes from that movie, I could believe it.
From the Universal Monsters of yesteryear, this movie just has the most impact with me. I really only saw for the first time around five years ago or so, but hoo boy, did it pack a wallop. It picks up almost exactly where the first Frankenstein film left off, and really ups the ante with the characters being fleshed out--pun intended--even more, along with the outhouse crazy Dr. Pretorious as the new villain.
For the longest time, this movie was little more than the visage of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride emblazoned on posters and t-shirts. After finally seeing it though, it's really hard not envisioning some of those iconic scenes from the film.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the perfect Halloween movie for anyone who was a kid during the 80s. A group of foul-mouthed kids rally to fight the iconic Universal monsters? Oh hell yes!
It is a sad commentary on modern filmmaking to know a movie like this just would not stand a chance of being made today in its current form. I mean, with the flavorless pablum Hollywood doles out to kids these days in theaters, it is impossible to think we could ever see a scene like this again ...
Okay, this movie isn't nearly as frightening as it is just plain delightful. The cast is stellar, the story is just a perfect blend of the macabre and the whimsical, and the special effects are among the last batch of great SFX before CGI became the norm.
I could prattle on incessantly about the things that make this a wonderful movie for Halloween, but maybe this musical number led by the incredible Catherine O'Hara would offer the best testimonial.
So there are five of my favorites for Spooktober. What movies would you put on your list?