Spooky Cinema: films to get you in the Halloween spirit

There will be no on-campus movie showing this weekend, instead let’s celebrate a holiday that has had a huge impact on Hollywood: Halloween. The celebration of Halloween has influenced filmmakers to direct films that either celebrate the holiday’s traditions or make men that can sound like James Earl Jones scream like a little girl. What movies make me proud to adore a holiday that allows a 19-year-old like myself to dress up as Batman?

Although The Nightmare Before Christmas has been around for 20 years, it remains a Halloween classic. Creative Commons
Although The Nightmare Before Christmas has been around for 20 years, it remains a Halloween classic. Creative Commons

Favorite Traditional:The Nightmare Before Christmas

“Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange?” If you do, then The Nightmare Before Christmas is for you.  It’s not a horror film, but it raises the question: is it a Halloween or a Christmas flick?  Not that it matters, I like watching this movie anytime.  This is one of Tim Burton’s finest movies.  The plot takes place in a bizarre world where each holiday has its own town, and Halloween is organized by the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington.  Jack gets tired of celebrating the same way every year, so he puts his own demented twists on a holiday that’s essentially the opposite of Halloween: Christmas.

It has astonishing stop motion animation, memorable characters and set pieces, and songs so catchy and quotable that I started this review with one.  Songs like, “This is Halloween,” “Whats This,” and “Jack’s Lament” deserve to be recognized as much as any other 90s Disney song.  If you still haven’t seen it, now is a good time. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the film.

Best Satire:The Cabin in the Woods

A satire on scary movies, and Scary Movie isn’t my top choice? That’s right. In my opinion, Scary Movie led to the downfall of parody movies, but 2012’s Cabin in the Woods is a different story.

Directed by Drew Goddard and written by Joss Whedon, the film is structured like a typical horror movie at first, but the unique twist that develops turns the film into a clichéd horror flick. A group of five teenagers take a trip to a lone cabin in the middle of a forest, but are attacked by a large group of zombies. The reason for setting the teens up is out of this world.  The script has its share of laughs and buckets of blood, but the setting and climax of the movie made it far more different than what I’m accustomed to, and in a good way. I’ll put it this way, if you make a film that’s a combination of Friday the 13th and The Truman Show, you’ll get the awesomely weird hybrid that is Cabin in the Woods.

Favorite Horror: The Evil Dead

Yeah, many might not be fan’s of this choice, but we are entitled to our own opinions, aren’t we? Evil Dead may not have a memorable antagonist such as Jason, Freddie, or Michael Myers, but the film does everything else very well. A group of college students decide to go to a cabin in a Tennessee’s hills, but accidentally unleash a horde of demons that possess them and force the unpossessed to fend for themselves.  The possession of multiple friends in an isolated situation gives the protagonist, Ash Williams, an uneasy feeling, since he has to kill some of his friends to survive. Evil Dead actually does the opposite of most films, where the protagonist becomes an icon, rather than the villain. The film’s success led director Sam Raimi to direct the first three Spider-Man movies. Stephen King, one of the most iconic horror authors of all time, said this is one of his favorite movies. To top it off, it produced what other horror movie franchises couldn’t: good sequels!