Don’t worry…not all of them are scary!
— Ria Renouf (@RiaCKNW980) October 28, 2016
Not to sound like a broken record, but I love horror films. ‘Tis the season, right?
Did you know, though, that some studios are actually trying to move away from releasing scary films during the Halloween season? While it’s often for a myriad of reasons, as was the case this year with Paramount Pictures’ Rings (it’s likely because the studio is actually trying to stop losing money, and believed Rings would take damage for the fiscal year if released alongside Ouija: Origin of Evil), it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good creepy – or family friendly flick – during All Hallows’ Eve.
In this post, I share with you ten of my favourite Halloween-themed films (in no particular order) in case you’re looking to stay inside with a bowl of popcorn, and a friend or two.
This is probably one of the more recent supernatural-horror films to have been done well. Director James Wan is well-known for the Saw and Insidious films (also solid choices if you like a bit more gore/chills in your Halloween flicks), but The Conjuring is, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of work he’s done in a while. The film is based on Ed and Lorraine Warren’s visit to the Perron household in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The Warrens, paranormal investigators, quickly realize they are dealing with something sinister, and have to figure out how to stop it.
Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga – who play Ed and Lorraine, respectively – give excellent performances in this film, which came out back in 2013. A sequel came out earlier this year – The Conjuring 2 – and that was also well done.
Ah, a film you can watch with the family! If you haven’t heard of Laika Animation – you should get familiar with them. Earlier this year, they came out with Kubo and the Two Strings, which is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen this year. Laika is best known for their stop films – they were also responsible for Coraline.
ParaNorman tells the story of a young boy – Norman – who can see the dead. It’s this talent that leaves him with the task of saving his town from a witch, who wants to raise the dead for her own means. Great animation, fun throwbacks (there’s a good Friday the 13th/Halloween nod, among other things) and a message for the kids (and maybe adults, too), this is a favourite of mine to go to to get into the Halloween mood.
It would be tough for me to leave this one off the list. Neve Campbell and Drew Barrymore are just some of the names that make up the cast of this slasher film – which is essentially 90’s nostalgia. It’s also earned cult status, and became one of the main subjects of parody in the Scary Movie films.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
If there was ever such a thing as Halloween “essentials,” then director Tim Burton is the go-to. This dark fantasy-musical-horror films bridges the gap between Halloween and Christmas, and is one I watch every year. Jack Skellington, a resident of Halloween Town, accidentally ends up in Christmas Town…and antics ensue.
This has to be my favourite Bette Midler film of all time, because this was the first film I saw her in. Also starring Sarah Jessica Parker, it follows three witches and their resurrection. I’ve often finished watching this film with sore sides from laughing, and while I didn’t watch it last Halloween, it’s definitely on my list for this year.
Can’t say “no” to this classic! Christina Ricci put her name on the map with this film. Also, a spate of youth watching this 1995 movie fell in love with human Casper, played by Vancouver local Devon Sawa, who went on to appear in films like Idle Hands and Final Destination.
This was my first introduction to Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the title character. I love it mostly for the “Doomsday” part – it’s one I’ll go to every once in a blue moon. There’s just something so creepy about the film. It also received critical acclaim with its release in 2001. Oh – and its sequel – S. Darko? Avoid it at all costs. (And not because it’s scary…)
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
As a 90’s kid, I practically worshipped the ground Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen walked on. This is such a silly Halloween movie, and, watching this as a kid was like watching my two best friends try and trump their great aunt’s evil twin, Agatha. This 1993 children’s film will be a blast for the entire family.
The Corpse Bride
You may recognize the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Emily Watson leading this 2005 stop-motion animated film into spirited success. A series of incidents lead to Emily (Bonham Carter), the Corpse Bride, wanting to marry Victor (Depp). You go through all kinds of emotions in this one – in fact, there’s a scene that essentially involves the entire town that had me laughing here and there. Younger children may be a little startled by some of the situations, but, for the most part, this is a good one to watch. This was a joint production by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson.
Night of the Living Dead
I’m not talking about any remakes. I’m talking about the full-on classic by director George A. Romero, which came out in 1968. Not only is this great for the creepy way the zombies look – this is also a blueprint for some of the scary films you see today. Take it as a way in which to educate those interested in learning more about brilliant, old school film techniques, and costuming. It doesn’t matter how old I am – I am always disturbed during the same point in the film: during a fight scene somewhere near the end. Some people might think this film is slow and drags on, but it set the bar – high, I might add – for the horror genre not only throughout the remainder of the 2oth Century – but even in this day and age. A real “spooktacular” film!
People are probably sick of the original 80’s film, which kicked into high gear in the cable TV marathon department earlier this year, but, hey – if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. A solid go-to, for sure.
Another animated film nominated for an Oscar, it lost to Happy Feet at the 79th Academy Awards. I think some people tuned it out because the cast wasn’t as “high profile” as some of the other films that year were, but this is definitely a good time for young and old alike.
This film was originally received not-so-well, and was plagued with problems when Stephen King (who wrote the book the movie is based on) constantly complained about it. The genius of director Stanley Kubrick would only be appreciated once the film hit cult status in the years following its 1980 release. The whole “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” thing always makes me laugh in this day and age, but as an eight-year-old trying to watch it in the early 90’s without mom finding out, holy crow did it ever scare me. This is also a great film to bulk up Halloween trivia games with – there are SO many facts out there about this film – from its production, to the way the actors and crew felt during and after shooting. At one point, the film also held a Guiness Book of Records title for utilizing a scene with the most takes: the part in which Shelly Duval swings a bat at Jack Nicholson’s character was done at least 127 times (though some sources say it wasn’t that many).
What’s your favourite? Tweet at me – @Riacknw980 – so I can update my list for this year – and beyond!