When my parents built our house in the late 70s, they decided to go for a "classic" looking kitchen to ensure that it would never go out of style. Unfortunately, their definition of "classic" at the time was yellow and orange. That being said, I loved our kitchen. Its color palette, complete with yellow formica and orange vinyl flooring, made Halloween one of our family's most harmoniously decorated holidays.
We were often serenaded at breakfast during the month of October by a "spooky" Disney CD compilation that included "Heffalumps and Woozles" and the lesser known Mickey Mouse quandary, "Which Witch is Which?" And every arrival or departure through the kitchen door was met by the motion sensitive cackle of "Haaappy Haloweeeeeen!" In short, All Hallows Eve was a big deal at my house.
So to continue the tradition, I've created my very own "kitchen." That is, I've combined my love for Halloween and movies into one, big blog post I'm calling my "Ultimate Halloween Movie Guide." A warning, this guide will not be considered "ultimate" if you're into extremely gory movies that often include torture. That, my friends, was NOT allowed in the kitchen.
Best Halloween Movie EVER.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
I think this movie is kind of a no brainer. Takes place on Halloween? Check. Spells and Black Magic? Check. Bette Midler leading a choreographed musical number? Check. What is there not to love!? This is a movie that you can enjoy with the whole family and quote randomly throughout the rest of the year, much to the giddy enjoyment of all of your musical theatre friends. Some of my personal favorites include, "For your information he's a LITTLE LEAGUER," and, "Boo-ooooooook!"
Really Good Films that Just Happen to be Scary
This is not just one of the scariest movies of all time, but actually a really wonderful film. Without question, it's one of the greats. It contains one of the best opening sequences ever, one of the best movie scores ever, and that disturbingly charming Anthony Perkins. I guess what's truly terrifying is he seems like the kind of person you'd take home to meet your mom, until that is, you realize she'd actually be meeting your mother-in-law.
Other good-ens: The Sixth Sense, Carrie, Silence of the Lambs
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
This 25 minute TV special is basically responsible for teaching me Halloween traditions that had been phased out by the time I came along. These included such classics as "bobbing for apples," "putting a sheet over your head and calling yourself a ghost," and of course, how to pronounce the word "pumpkin." (Linus says "pumpkin," not "pumpken" like most people in Northern Utah.) Thank you, Charles Schultz.
Other greats: The Ghost & Mr Chicken, The Addams Family & Addams Family Values, Casper, The Witches, Death Becomes Her, Clue
Give You Nightmare Fare
This is the scariest movie to ever be rated PG! I mean, how did that even happen?!? There are so many iconic moments from this film, I don't even know where to begin, but I do have to say that JoBeth Williams is fantastic in it, and her performance is one of the reasons why the movie still holds up so well. It also has a really interesting and tragically ironic backstory that's totally worth investigating, so read up, and then watch it again for a truly entertaining evening.
Other bed wetters: The Shining, The Exorcist, The Ring, Insidious
Young Frankenstein (1974)
OK, so maybe this one belongs with the "Not-So-Scary Greats," but it's about Frankenstein, and it's a Frankenstein that performs "Putting on the Ritz." For guys like me that are more interested in watching Madaline Kahn than a Chainsaw Massacre-er, this is the true Halloween monster movie.
Other Monsters worth watching: Jaws, Arachniphobia, Tremors, and of course, Troll 2
Kathy Bates in Misery (1990)
This performance won Kathy Bates an Oscar, but I'm sure it also made the entire audience present for her acceptance speech worry what she was going to do with the statue. Poor James Caan... There's nothing crazier than a lady who just doesn't know how crazy she is.
Other Nutballs: Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter, Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and Glenn Close in everything she's done
Tim Burton Movies
As far as I'm concerned, no Halloween movie list would be complete without Tim Burton. He has done more for the good people who shop at Hot Topic than anyone. Where would the fun of Halloween be without all of his strange worlds that he so masterfully creates? And this year he has a new one to add to the list. Frankenweenie. I'm excited to see it, and I hope that after I see it, I'll still think it belongs on the list.
Other Burton films: Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, and so on...
So there's my list. Scream isn't on there, neither is Halloween I, II, or XI. I left off Nightmare on Elm Street, and every version of Friday the 13th. While I'm sure they'd all be at the top of someone else's list, that's just not how we did things at the Parsons house. We were a little more "Spooktacular" than "Spooky," and I'm happy for it. I like when Halloween makes me smile, or at least makes me laugh at myself for being scared. If not, then what's the point? There's always got to be a little "treat" to go with every "trick."