Halloween is the time of the year when people finally have an excuse to look ridiculous and are rewarded candy for it. There’s so much to like about Halloween that Hollywood has taken full advantage of the occasion. While recent producers have resorted to shoving out another Saw movie or relying on Hasbro products (looking at you Ouija), many have made it an annual tradition to watch scary movies and appreciate the creative content. Here are some of those movies that come out of the cracks around this time, dressed to impress.
Don’t have something to watch tonight, who you gonna call? The guy who has this DVD. This movie has been getting a lot of attention recently with it’s 30th anniversary and the unfortunate passing of Harold Ramis. There have also been reports of an all-female remake. So there is no better time to talk about the Ghostbusters. The film stars Billy Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson as the titular Ghostbusters, a team of paranormal exterminators who go around New York capturing ghosts. Though their actions are questioned by authorities, the city must rely on them to stop supernatural forces threatening the city.
This movie had everything: the memorable theme songs, hilarious actors, special effects, and endless amount of quotable lines. Most of these comedic legends were in their prime, so it’s like a 1980’s version of The Avengers. Sure, it had a less than stellar sequel and the future of the franchise is up in the air, but there’s a reason you see people dress up as these guys every Halloween. Halloween may be a time where horror movies are all the rage, but I’m not afraid of watching this.
Sure, Nightmare Before Christmas may be the definitive animated Halloween movie, and I even highlighted it last year, but ParaNorman deserves more attention than what it got and should be remembered as one of the best in terms of stop motion Halloween movies. The film stars Norman, a young boy who can see and speak with ghosts. He is bullied at school and struggles with his family, particularly his father and older sister. But his power is called upon for a much greater reason.
The overall theme of the movie is judgment. Norman is a very relatable character as his unbelievable condition isolates himself from everyone, including the ones he loves. Some characters would be assumed to be the bad guys, but it’s questionable who the true monsters in the film are, as the backstory behind the undead ties in closely with what’s happening in modern times. The animation itself is also gorgeous. It perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween, the characters are memorable in design and development, and the morals present can speak to the younger audience. Some critics forgive kids films because “It’s a movie aimed for children, so it’s supposed to be dumb,” but I can’t say this ParaNorman. Children movies can be just as fun, memorable, and smart as adult films, and it shouldn’t be an excuse to lower expectations.
Shuan of the Dead (2004)
With classics like Ghostbusters, some had lost hope that Hollywood could ever produce another good horror themed action comedy; it’s a genre that rarely gets the mark and many filmmakers have a hard time balancing all three. However the English team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost proved them wrong with Shaun of the Dead, which would become the first of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, three action comedy movies directed by Wright and starring Pegg and Frost. After watching Shuan of the Dead, I recommend watching the other two films in the trilogy. The plot focuses on Shaun, an electronic shop worker who is lost on what to do with his life as he struggles with his relationships with family, friends, and girlfriend. In the middle of his personal crisis, he now faces a zombie apocalypse.
This film may not have had the impact Ghostbusters had, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Wright’s fast paced directing and the performances of Frost and Pegg help make the film a worthy recommendation. There are plenty of laughs, hits, and even dramatic moments in this fun film. It’s the 10 year anniversary of this cult classic that would lead to many fun adventures for Wright, Pegg, and Frost.The film was so good that Disney went out of their way and got Pegg and Frost to cameo as their characters in the recent Halloween special of Phineas and Ferb.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis, the director of comedy classics like Blues Brothers and Animal House, gave his shot at the horror genre in the early 80s, making one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time, where you don’t actually see the werewolf much. Two college students named David and Jack take a backpacking trip in London when they are attacked by a vicious beast leaving David in the hospital and Jack dead. While bonding with the nurse, David has visions of a decaying Jack and discovers he’s a werewolf. David thinks he’s going crazy but since timing is can be the most convenient in movies, a full moon is two days later.
Most werewolf movies portray the monster as an antagonist, but this one does make you feel genuinely sorry for him. David seems like a genuinely normal guy who just had some bad luck. Landis brings the charm from his other films to make some comedic and quirky moments that make for some memorable quotes. It’s a film that would show up in film studies classes as it pays close attention to detail, (Try to listen to how many songs in the movie have the word “Moon” in the title). But I can’t talk about this film without bringing up the iconic transformation scene, in which you see the pain David goes through when he’s transforming. An American Werewolf in London is also known for Rick Baker winning the first Academy Award for Best Makeup.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, 2010)
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you… and not the 2010 remake no one wants to talk about, we are talking about the original Freddy Krueger. The plot revolves around a group of teenagers (back when it wasn’t a cliché) who are slowly and strangely being killed. Protagonist Nancy Thompson discovers that these are the actions of Freddy Krueger, a child murderer who was burned to death by the parents of the teenagers. Freddy is now enacting his revenge on the children…
The concept itself is terrifying, and unlike The Purge, it fulfills its promise to deliver on that concept. It makes the characters question the difference between reality and dreaming, and Krueger literally attacks them when they are at their most vulnerable. Children of the ‘80s probably had a hard time sleeping after watching this movie, and I can’t say I blame them. Freddy has become one of the more memorable horror movie villains thanks to the personality and charisma that Robert Englund brings to the table.
A Nightmare on Elm Street emphasizes its emotions rather than the scary suspense of silently standing there like Jason and Michael Myers