Do you like your Halloween coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. I certainly do. I’m not big on inviting scary, horror-riffic stuff into my life, so I tend to take most anything around this spookiest time of year with many grains of salt. And that goes doubly for scary movies, which, for many, are a must every October. Last year round this time I talked about my favorite “non-horror scary” movies, my made-up and preferential film genre for this time of year. While I don’t mind your typical blood ‘n’ guts/ghostly/mindf*** horror movies, I much prefer the lighter, funnier, and unnecessarily silly movies that highlight all things frightful and eerie.
Episode 154: A Hallow Victory — The gang finally does a Halloween-themed episode, including a look at razor blades in candy and the slow transition of clowns into irrelevance. Also, Chris sounds like an overbearing mother, Dave doesn’t use his kid for candy, Michelle is banned from celebrating the holiday, and Shaun ruins his second chance at hosting.
- The Atlantic details how clowns have slowly descended into terror
- Extreme haunted houses giving regular haunted houses a bad name
- More entertainment-themed Halloween costumes expected this year
“Main Theme (Rhythm Thief)” by Tomoya Ohtani
- “Main Theme (Valkyria Chronicles)” by Hitoshi Sakimoto
- “Arkham City Main Theme” by Nick Arundel
- “Night at the Octodrag” by Thee Jaguar Sharks
Announcer: Molly Robinson
More At the Buzzer
Every October and in preparation for Halloween, most people I know tend to watch scary movies. It helps them get into the spirit of Halloween by having a good scare. While most kids love Halloween for dressing up in their costumes and going door-to-door to get a bag full of candy to keep them on a sugar high for days, adults prefer to have their socks knocked off with something terrifying. This is why scare events like haunted houses are widely popular this time of the year. If you’re a gamer, maybe there’s a certain horror video game you love to play and would have a horror video game marathon to get into the Halloween mood. Me? I can’t stand the horror genre.
A post about scary things on Halloween? Oh my, I must be some creative prodigy!
Anyway, it’s the season to be scared, and what better way to celebrate this holiday (which is not really celebrated over here in Europe, though it has its origin here. Go figure) than by telling you what scares the ever-living crap out of me. This way, you know how to create the perfect device to give me a heart attack. Ready for that shopping list? Here it comes!
Number 3: that eerie sound from The Grudge
I have to be honest here: I didn’t find both the English and the Japanese version of The Grudge that scary. Granted, they both gave me goosebumps and caused some sleepless nights, but they weren’t that great. So what was it then that caused me to wake up in the middle of the night, with a feeling somebody was watching me? That freaky, freaky sound from the movie. Seriously, something about that cracking sound just freaks me out. Trust me, simply looking up the YouTube video containing this fear-invoking tone had me almost crying.
Number 2: Sadako/Samara from The Ring
Yes, I am fascinated by the Japanese horror movie genre. After seeing the American version first and being scared by Samara, I thought that the Japanese version couldn’t be that much more scarring. Well, was I wrong! Though some scenes are just weird, the Japanese version feels much more intimidating and creepy than its Western remake. What did it for me was Sadako, who is just superior to her American counterpart. Her appearances are more sudden, her longer hair somewhat more disturbing and her Asian eyes would certainly turn me into a corpse.
Number 1: Silence
You know what’s the number one thing I love about Japanese horror? The silence. Well, I love it for the creepiness it generates. You see, Western horror movies actually tell you when to raise your hands and hide underneath your blanket: the music gets creepy, slowly preparing you for the imminent scare. Japanese horror movies don’t do that. They don’t give you a single clue. They are just like: “Oh look, it’s a normal day in a normal Tokyo suburb and you are jusHOLYCRAPALOTWHATTHEHELLISTHATCORPSEDOINGINFRONTOFMYWINDOW?!” Especially when you’re used to our Western ways, this approach will get you every time. This is why the number one thing that scares me is silence: you just don’t know what will happen. It also explains why I start talking nonsense when I’m nervous, filling the oppressive silence with gibberish. A sound is always better than no sound, especially when you know some videotape ghost is out to get you in less than a week.
After finishing my post from last week, I got it stuck in my head that I should maybe follow up with some sort of post about scary movies. But as I called my own bluff in that post by claiming that I’m not much of a horror movies aficionado, well…that was a dumb thing to do. But the reality is that I’m not, so I don’t even know what I’m complaining about. And even if I had tried to do a post about scary movies, I’d really only have to talk about one. The f***ing scariest movie I’ve ever seen:
(P. S. There are spider images ahead, which I can’t even believe I included. Oh, the nightmares I’ll be having…)
Every year round this time, as people ring in the spooky days surrounding Halloween with a good horror flick or two, I prepare to watch my own small cache of movies to celebrate the season. While I don’t mind horror movies, they aren’t movies that I regularly seek out. Also I’m not much into being visually terrified, so if I’m going to watch something scary, I’d rather it tend towards comedic or campy horror — the kind of stuff that’s not nightmare-inducing, but rather sends me off to dreamland with giggles and a smile. With that in mind, here’s five movies that I have queued up and ready to watch as the air chills and nighttime spirits come out to play.
P. S. Minor spoilers for older movies ahead, possibly.
I’ve adored Tim Burton’s movies since the halcyon days of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. And nothing can top Burton’s over-the-top and beyond-the-underworld movie Beetlejuice. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen this movie. It was one of the first movies I ever recorded onto a VHS tape. Once it hit the rotation on cable, I’d watch it just about every chance I got. Beetlejuice is crazy, brilliant, and beautiful. And you’ve seen it, surely? I’m not spoiling anything when I talk of the genius of Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, the delightfully demonic “bio-exorcist” who’s brought into reality by a recently deceased couple, the Maitlands, played by Geena David and Alec Baldwin, right? Who else could they have called up to scare off the horrible Deetz family (including the wonderful Winona Ryder as daughter Lydia) who had mangled their lovely home? While Beetlejuice is more funny than terrifying, had its share of less-than-pleasant sites. In the clip above, the toothy caricature of Beetlejuice’s head on a snake’s body is still something I don’t enjoy seeing – it’s just…so…(((shivers))).
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Speaking of Tim Burton, let’s get my other favorite not-quite-scary movie by him out of the way. One of the great things about Burton’s works is that they are timeless, and The Nightmare Before Christmas serves as testament to this. Since viewing this story of Jack Skellington and his motley band of Halloweentown residents in theatres long ago, it’s become a perennial favorite and a must-watch for me at Halloween. Stunning stop-motion animation (one of my favorite types of animation), plus a fantastic group of voice actors, plus a fun yet poignant story about Halloween, Christmas, and freindship, PLUS a musical soundtrack for the ages…I mean, it simply covers all the entertainment bases. But above all stand its character creations. The monsters and ghouls of Halloweentown were so intricately and carefully designed. There is so much charm behind the all the ghoulish looks and dark stares! Jack and his crew attempting to make Christmas their own by creating a number of macabre toys (shown above) is one of my favorite scenes. Something about the “rat hat” makes me snicker every time I see it.
Arsenic and Old Lace
Cary Grant is, without a doubt, one of my favorite classic movie stars. Regardless of what history says of him now, his suave manner, quick wit, and good looks can’t be denied. And he displayed all of those facets and then some in Arsenic and Old Lace. It’s not a “Halloween” movie, but it’s set around that time of year. It’s not a scary film, but it provides a few tingly moments. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite movies. Arsenic and Old Lace tells the story of Mortimer Brewster (Grant), a professed and published bachelor who’s secretly getting married. In the span of a single evening, viewers are treated to Brewster’s unsettling discovery about his “sweet” aunts, the antics of his brother who believes he’s Theodore Roosevelt, the chilling revelation concerning his other brother and his “mad” doctor cohort, and his brush with an insane asylum. Arsenic and Old Lace is a joyous farce with elements that both delight and unsettle. The cast is top notch with a number of well-known actors at Grant’s side. It’s perfect any time of year, but it’s especially great around Halloween. Grant is at his comedic best in the scene above — seriously, there are few actors who could and can portray so much through facial expressions alone — though it’s his aunts who steal the show.
Army of Darkness
As far as actual horror movies go, the original Evil Dead movies are probably the ones I most enjoy (and really, the first one is legitimately scary). Of the trio, I have a very soft and slightly warped spot in my heart for Army of Darkness. Bruce Campbell is at his best as S-Mart employee Ash Williams who’s thrown back to Middle Ages and reluctantly battles the undead in order to return to his own time. My mind reels as I think of all the goodness that’s in this movie, from the classic one-liners (“THIS is my boomstick!”) to the bizarrely disturbing army of skeletons and demonic creatures that arise to fight. The movie swims and delights in highly perturbing sites (seriously, that witch Ash has to fight in the pit is really horrible), as much as it does comedy and camp (the scene with Ash and the tiny Ashes in the windmill says it all). Also on display is the intensity and fun associated with Sam Raimi. Hard cuts and jarring scene changes occur throughout the film and not at all to its detriment. His best films play out almost like comic books, and Army of Darkness is an awesome example of this. In the clip above, as Ash and his army find themselves in the midst of battle with the hoards of undead, things border on the ridiculous, but he gets the job done. It’s just so terrific.
Yeah, you know who you’re gonna call! There are plenty of 80s movies that are perfect in their own ways, and Ghostbusters might just be the best of that decade to combine scares with comedy. It hardly needs any sort of introduction – Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis – that should tell you everything you need to know. So yes, the movie is hilarity incarnate with Murray, Ackroyd, and Ramis as the original ghost busting team out to save New York from its hellish fate of being crushed by the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. But before that, the trio (turned quad) had to take on the likes of the government (super scary!) in addition to any number of spooky creatures that have been released from the gates of beyond. Ghostbusters is oh so entertaining on a number of levels, from the great acting and wonderful setting to the fantastic story and soundtrack. I love how the song “Magic” in the scene above plays so eerily against the haunting and possessing of an entire city. No need to cover your eyes – Ghostbusters begs to be watched and enjoyed.
Do you have any favorite non-scary movies that you enjoy watching around Halloween, or do you prefer to stick out the dark evenings with traditional scary movies?