The Best of Halloween.
Finally, October has arrived and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Hello and welcome back to ReservoirBlogs.
For me, October through December has always been the loveliest time of year. From fireworks and bonfires to Christmas markets and winter fairs, there’s so much to feel festive about. But, before all of that, October is the one month a year that allows us to completely indulge in spiced lattes, toffee apples, pumpkin carving, and all the other novelties of Halloween. Despite having grown up in England (where people really couldn’t care less about it) I still have a big ol’ soft spot for the spooky season and I like to live vicariously through creepy, campy, over the top (and usually American) Halloween movies.
So, in this post I want to share with you some of my favourite films to watch in the run up to Halloween, by counting down my top 15 picks.
(couldn’t whittle it down to just 10)
Without further ado, Number 15 on the list is Edward Scissorhands.
I found myself debating which Tim Burton movies to include and which to leave out of this post, so that I didn’t just rattle off Burton’s filmography and call it a personal list. The reason I had to include Edward Scissorhands is because it just oozes eerie, gloomy magic. From Danny Elfman’s iconic opening theme to Depp’s minimalist but effective acting, there is so much to admire. Also, this is without a doubt one of, if not the most sentimental film from Tim Burton. His teenage isolation and emotional trauma is encapsulated by this iconic outcast character.
Number 14 on the list is again not exactly a halloween movie, but a ghostly classic by M. Night Shyamalan...The Sixth Sense. I mean, can you get more spooky that a little kid whispering that he sees dead people everywhere? I remember being scared sh**less by this film when I was a kid, and as an adult I just absolutely love it for its cinematic qualities, heartbreaking relationships and the mind-boggling third act. Big thumbs up.
Feed me Seymour! Yep, moving on to number 13, I ask you to humour me. It’s Little Shop of Horrors.
I often forget just how much I love this movie and I think it’s great to watch at this time of year, because it’s so ridiculously campy and hilarious, despite its oddly morbid storyline. This musical movie has it all: Steve Martin as a sadistic dentist, guest appearances from Bill Murray and John Candy, songs that you won’t be able to get out your head for a week, and one “mean green mother” of a plant. Good stuff.
Number 12 on my list of spooky movies is perhaps another unexpected choice, but I stand by it through and through. I remember watching Death Becomes Her for the first time when I was quite young and thinking it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis are the perfect love triangle in this over the top and hilariously quotable disaster movie. (Though I should add that there is no appropriate time or place to quote this film)
“I don’t think it’s sweat honey, I think you’re defrosting”
Please, just stop what you’re doing and go watch Death Becomes Her.
At number 11 we have a more predictable and mutually agreed halloween movie. At first glance, Casper (1995) is just a ‘cute’ ghost story for kids, but it is actually way more than meets the eye. Dealing with the themes of loss and grief in a very subtle and touching way, this story is complex, emotional and entertaining. It also boasts impressive special effects for its time of release and it’s set design is full of gothic flair, perfect for this time of year.
My 10th pick on the list is the movie Witches, based on the children’s fantasy tale by Roald Dahl. Another film I enjoyed growing up, but boy did this one scare the bejeezus out of me when I was 7. Anjelica Huston was a thoroughly convincing grand high witch and her performance still holds up today. As do the costumes, set design and endearing relationship between Luke and his Grandmother, Helga. This is a great film to watch with the whole family during the spooky season.
At number 9 is a more shameful choice, but if you like parody horror movies that are actually funny then I recommend you watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. It’s no Oscar worthy production but I can’t deny that this movie makes me laugh out loud like a muppet and I love that it points out how stupid and annoying most modern horror conventions are.
There is some minor gore in this movie too so if you’re into that then hey, happy days!
Moving on to number 8, a film that genuinely chills me to my core even now - Coraline. I really don’t know how its only rated PG. Regardless, I adore this creepy little gem of a movie, because the script is so smart, the animation is such a unique spectacle and the character arcs are so interesting and wholesome to watch. In fact, thinking about it now, Coraline might be one of my favourite animated movies ever. Yeah, it’s really good.
Another obvious one at number 7 and another feature for Angelica Huston. They’re creepy and they’re cooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, The Addams Family. Im sure I don’t have to try and justify why this is on my Halloween top picks. The acting is so superb and the actors don’t miss a single beat of comedic timing. Whilst this iconic family is completely dysfunctional, they are also unbearably loveable.
Next on my list is more of a horror movie than it’s predecessors. At number 6, we have the 1976 adaption of Stephen King’s brilliant novel, Carrie. I say ‘more of a horror’ as opposed to definitively calling it a horror movie, because Carrie is psychological journey that doesn’t have to rely on cheap jump scares. It’s thrilling and moving and basically Maltilda on steroids. The third act will have you on the edge of your seat and is perfect to watch for a dose of classic horror at Halloween.
BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE!
Yes, at number 5 is, well yeah, Beetlejuice.
A cult classic that could really only come from the twisted and brilliant mind of Tim Burton. This movie is Halloween all over and plays with the idea of life after death and the fun to be had in haunting the living. It’s an old favourite in my house and it’s a pretty crazy ride, but it gets funnier each time I watch it.
The closer we get to the top of this list the easier it is to introduce the films, based purely on their iconic status.. So, for my fourth pick I have one question for you ; Who you gonna call?
Of course I have to include Ghostbusters, the ghost exterminating cult classic in my top 5 Halloween movies of all time. The special effects, the music, the acting, it’s just all so great. And to be honest, it had me at Bill Murray anyway.
Now it wouldn’t be right to make a list of the best Halloween movies and not include Godfather of slasher movies, John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). Though, I’ll be honest, I only watched this film for the first time last year, in anticipation for the 2018 Halloween sequel. Nonetheless, even 40 years after its release, I thoroughly appreciated the subtle filmmaking techniques that meant this film could scare the living daylights out of audiences both then and now, despite a surprising lack of violence and bloodshed. The musical score is unnerving and there’s something very chilling about the authenticity in the psychopathic villain that is Michael Myers. Even the old school camera effects and murder sequences that are now seen as clichés add to the nostalgic cinematic experience. So if you want a spine-chilling classic to watch this October, go for Halloween.
Okay, so we’re down to the last two films on my list and in second place is the 2006 collaborative animation movie, Monster House. The first time I watched this film I knew it was going to be an instant seasonal favourite. It stole my heart at the age of 8 and I’m still yet to grow out of love with it. Set on Halloween in a surburban American town, Monster House follows best friends, DJ and Chowder, alongside the neighbourhood Girl Scout Jenny, as they try to uncover the mystery of the creepy old man across the street and his haunted house. I love that this film takes the usual ‘get off my lawn’ neighbour and ramps it up to 100. It’s funny, exciting and unexpectedly moving at times.
And finally, at the number 1 spot on my list is a movie that really never had any competition to begin with.
We all know that the films we hold closest to our hearts have more to do with their sentimental value than their objective quality and I have watched this movie every halloween since I can remember. But in all honesty, I can’t think of a film more comical, spooky, cheesy and iconic as Hocus Pocus. Bette Midler is my childhood idol and her rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” is my favourite musical sequence ever. Full to the brim with witchcraft, potions, zombies and talking black cats, this modern(ish) fairytale will entertain even the most cynical halloween humbugs.
So that’s it! I hope you liked my list and if you have any die hard halloween movies that I didn’t mention then let me know! I love a recommendation.
Also don’t forget that Zombieland 2, Joker, the new Addams Family and Malificent: Mistress of Evil are all to be released this month. Happy October!
Thanks for reading,