Halloween movie watching is an art form. Like creating the perfect iTunes playlist, choosing the right combination of Halloween movies takes practice and planning. Here are my tips:
1. Don’t try to rent “Halloween” on Halloween. It will be sold out in stores and Netflix will probably be having technical difficulties. The same rule applies to other clichéd Halloween favourites like “The Exorcist” or “Poltergeist.”
2. A movie may be scary, but that doesn’t mean it’s Halloween-appropriate. Try to pick movies with an autumnal, small-town, North American vibe. Save movies like “The Grudge” and other Japanese inspired films for the other 364 days of the year. They might be scary, but Halloween isn’t celebrated in Japan. Big cities like Tokyo aren’t really Halloween-esque. Same goes for alien movies, like… you know… “Alien.”
3. If you want to be truly frightened, choose films that have realistic plot lines. Skip the sci-fi and fantasy stuff and pick a movie that takes place in a town much like yours, to a person much like yourself. See “The Strangers” for details.
4. If you’re looking for family friendly or non-scary options, stay away from the sunshiney made-for-tv shit that runs constantly on Disney and Family channels. Pick classics like “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” or “The Witches.” Exception: anything iCarly is absolutely recommended. iCarly is 100% Bunny Sunday approved.
5. Pick movies based on scenery and atmosphere more than Halloween itself. Think foggy nights, misty mornings and golden leaves. Movies like “The Big Chill” or “Dead Poets Society” have an autumn atmosphere and deal with death and loss. They might evoke a Halloween feeling more than the “Friday the 13th” series of films which all take place at Camp Crystal Lake (with the exception of “Jason X” which, regrettably, take place in outer space.)
6. Classic Halloween characters are fool-proof. Any movie about witches, vampires or mummies is fair game for Halloween viewing. Frankenstein movies could also be included. Some subject matter is so quintessentially Halloween that the quality, setting or atmosphere of a movie doesn’t matter. So go ahead and watch the “Twilight” movies… if you have to… I guess…
My 13 Favourite Halloween Movies
1. Blair Witch Project
This is my all-time favourite movie EVER. It’s the perfect Halloween movie, despite having nothing to do with Halloween. Scary autumnal woods + paranormal happenings + a witch + creepy docu-style filming = a perfect storm of epic Halloween proportions.
2. The Craft
This is probably my second favourite movie of all time. While all the cheerleaders were watching “Clueless” the sexy bad girls who smoked cigarettes and had tattoos watched “The Craft.” They then purchased black knee socks and ironic crucifixes. Seriously. Robin Tunney is the witchy-goth girl’s Alicia Silverstone. If you’re having a girl’s night on Halloween, this movie should be on your list.
3. Practical Magic
I have a thing for witches. This movie is another chick flick option and it’s on the list because the setting of the town reminds me so much of Salem, Massachusetts, the witch capital of the world.
4. Interview with the Vampire
Brad Pitt with fangs and long hair. His lips are pretty. Also, Lestat is one of my favourite literary characters… even if he is played by Tom Cruise…
5. The Lost Boys
If you’re looking for cheesy 1980′s amazingness, this movie is for you. A teenage vampire motorcycle gang that hangs out on the boardwalk and harasses 12 year-olds. It’s like the “Beavis and Butthead” of horror movies.
If you’re a child of the 90′s, you have fond memories of “Beetlejuice” in all it’s stylized splendor. I was a macabre little kid and I really identified with Lydia. If you’re the parent of a weird little girl, it’s your obligation to introduce her to this movie.
7. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
This is the Halloween movie I remember from my childhood. It was on tv every year in October. As an adult, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is one of my favourite short stories. It has lots of great Halloween details, like a flaming jack o’ lantern.
8. Sleepy Hollow
“Sleepy Hollow” is basically the adult version of the Disney film. Another quirky Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration with some spooky autumn imagery. Again, lots of cool witchy stuff.
9. The Addams Family
It doesn’t matter what version: comic strip, tv show, movies or Broadway play. I’m partial to the movies with Christina Ricci, because we’re around the same age and I was Wednesday Addams as a kid… and an adult.
10. Exorcism of Emily Rose
This movie is seriously scary. Like, hide-under-a-blanket-and-sleep-with-the-lights-on scary. Plus, what other horror movie has Laura Linney? She’s awesome. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” also stars Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter. This movie is supposed to be based on events surrounding the real-life exorcism of Anneliese Michel, which only adds to the creep factor. If you really want to scare yourself, try Googling “Anneliese Michel” and check out some of the photos that pop up. I warned you.
11. Hocus Pocus
“Hocus Pocus” was the beginning of my love affair with SJP. This movie IS my childhood. I want to be a Sanderson Sister so badly…
12. Halloween H20
This is not a good movie. It’s pretty cheesy. But I LOVE it. Halloween scenery and a pre- “indie movie darling” status Michelle Williams. She’s adorable… even when she’s screaming… this blog post just got weird…
13. The Strangers
“The Strangers” is one of the scariest movies of the past decade, if you ask moi. It’s an old school horror flick that’s all about suspense and terror instead of gore. If you like “The Blair Witch Project” you’ll like this movie. Plus it stars Liv Tyler. LIV TYLER. That’s a good enough reason to see any movie.