Halloween is over. I admit it. People are taking down their cobwebs, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns, and this year’s costumes and candy are fast becoming memories. But do you know what I saw when I walked into Benny’s the other day? Christmas decorations. Tinsel. Trees. All the trimmings. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was horrified.
I’ll have it be known that I love the holidays: I love the music, the fuzzy feelings, the whole aesthetic. But it is the beginning of November. It is, by any reasonable metric, far too early to begin Kris Kringle-ing everything. I don’t want to see tree-shaped Reeses’ or hear Bill Crosby’s near-erotic crooning until at least Thanksgiving. If you, like me, are against this whole “Christmas in the fall” business, then I encourage you to fight back! How, you may ask? The answer is simplicity itself. If the capitalist machine wants to pretend it’s Christmas, then I say we all pretend it’s still Halloween and binge on the appropriate movies. Heck, if you don’t care about this egregious misplacement of holiday spirit (you heathen), these movies are still bomb and definitely worth a watch. Or, let’s be honest, a re-watch.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Does it get any more Halloween than this? This tale of the Halloween King, Jack Skellington, who discovers Christmas and wants the chance to celebrate it for himself, is incredibly creative and a testament to the power of well-done stop motion animation. Just be careful, I watched this one over Halloweekend and still can’t get “This is Halloween!” out of my head….
“Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny!” Yes, this movie is fucked up. But it’s that good kind of fucked up. Jack Nicholson is at his best as Jack Torrance, a man who takes a job watching a hotel for six months during the off-season, leaving him absolutely alone with his family in the midde of nowhere. It starts off a litte slow, but by the end you are on the edge of your seat, screaming along with Mrs. Torrance as everything goes to shit. It’s not recognized as one of the greatest horror movies of all time for nothing. Grab some friends and a really fuzzy blanket to cry into when it’s all over.
Not in the mood to be shaken to the core? Well then, why not relive your childhood with this perennial Halloween favorite? Featuring the exploits of three evil witches of old Salem who are accidentally resurrected by an unwitting teenager, Hocus Pocus has lost none of its charm over the years. Bette Midler is ever-iconic as the leader of the witches, and the 90’s effects are still a joy to watch. If you’ve never seen this one, come out from under your rock and prepare to fall in love.
Had fun with that last one, did you? Well, if you feel like taking off the kid gloves, the Babadook is guaranteed to do the job. I won’t mince words: this film is absolutely terrifying. It’s also brilliant. The Babadook tells the story of a widow raising a troubled child who’s obsessed with a monster he believes is after him. When she starts trying to prove to him there’s no such thing, everything gets crazy. A film that truly gets under your skin, it also tells a profoundly personal story about loss and the trials of parenting. With the myraid of horror movies that rely on jump scares to cover up their weak stories, this is real gem that offers up both terror and pathos.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Another classic that’s just as good as you remember it, this Charlie Brown special has everything that has made the characters such venerable icons: poor Charlie Brown constantly getting the short end of the stick, an incredible dogfight between Snoopy and the Red Baron, and sweet, clever Linus just being himself. Despite all the sneers and snorts he receives, Linus firmly believes the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch. Is this a religious allegory, as many have suggested? Maybe. Feel free to hash that out among yourselves, or just bask in the glory of children who are probably smarter than all of us.
I don’t know if you recall, but there was a time when this series was good. It was back before everyone and their mother decided found-footage was “in” again. And not only is the first Paranormal Activity good, but it’s heart-stoppingly scary. In case you don’t know, PA is pretty standard ghost movie stuff. A young couple moves into a new house, and things start getting wonky. It’s a typical premise that is executed incredibly well. Like the Babadook, it’s not constantly trying to shock you with cheap scares; there’s a slow, building sense of tension that keeps you completely engaged in the action. Ah, good times. What happened to you, Paranormal Activity? Perhaps it’s because the first movie had to do so much with so little? It was, after all, made for a measly $15,000, which is next to nothing in movie-making terms. Oh, well. At least this one’s good.
The Addams Family
Creepy and kooky in equal measure, this is a movie for friends of all fright-tolerances to enjoy. The Addams family is…a strange bunch…to say the least, and the movie is full of witty one-liners and moments of the Addams’ hilariously macabre lifestyle. The cast is also terrific, with Anjelica Huston delivering a particularly strong performance as Morticia. Maybe you’ll even pick up some decorating tips for next year’s Halloween!
This classic slasher film is a night of babysitting gone way, way wrong. It also gave us the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis! Halloween follows her character, Laurie, as she’s stalked by the terrifying Michael Meyers. The movie often uses first-person camera angles and puts us behind the eyes of the villain, giving us a front-row seat to the horror he deals out. Highly suspenseful to the very end, this movie is a lesson in how to scare teenage girls into never looking after the neighbor’s kids again.
So what do you think? I tried to give a balance of recommendations that catered to both the horror lovers among us and to less extreme tastes. Will you join me in our righteous battle against manufactured, unseasonal holiday cheer?