Now, I know I am no movie critic, but I am a major movie buff. Movies have always been something I have enjoyed. From the time I would rewind the VHS tapes at home to rewatch Alice in Wonderland, to looking at the behind-the-scenes footage on a Blu-Ray disk about Pirates of the Caribbean, films have always interested me and made me happy.
As I have expressed in other columns, I have an undying love for Halloween. Whenever the holiday comes around (and honestly all of the time) I enjoy spooky themed movies. To help you enjoy the season, here is a list of my top ten favorite movies for a haunting of a good time.
10. Ghostbusters: This is a classic 1980s film that deserves a revisit. Ghostbusters one and two are my personal favorites. The first film has the classic green slime ghost that remains one of the staples of the films character cast which includes one of my favorite actors, Bill Murray. The movie involves a group of men who identify themselves as “Ghostbusters” and spend the movies running around New York City trying to catch insane and poorly screen-adapted monsters and a huge marshmallow man. The cheesy editing and goofy one-liners are what make this series great for a night of throwback enjoyment.
9. The Corpse Bride: This film is a Tim Burton creation and just from the cover art, you can tell the aesthetic is clear: a dark, gloomy and animated fairy tale awaits. The film has similar Burton animation as well, including dark shadowy scenes along with little, to no, vibrant colors during most of the film. A man meets the women he is betrothed to marry and ends up actually having feelings for her. On the day of the wedding, he has cold-feet and in a moment of anxiety takes the wedding ring and flees to the woods. As he is running, he trips over the root of a tree, sending the wedding ring flying as it lands on a branch that oddly enough resembles a finger. Just then a bride, who is obviously a deceased ghost, rises up from the ground and calmly says “I do.” The rest of the film goes into the story of two realms coming together to find true love for the living and the dead. The film, even though it is animated, has a really great plot twist ending and is enjoyable as a calm but spooky option.
8. Casper: This friendly ghost has a slew of movies, books and cartoons to choose from since his conception in 1939. My favorite classic is the 1995 film consisting of Casper, being the precious loving ghoul that he is, stuck in a haunted house with three other dim-witted ghosts. A single father and his daughter move into the home and find that the house has far more secrets than they know. Casper and the young girl strike up a friendship and begin to solve the mysteries that the house possesses. This film is a great family-friendly watch that has minimal scary moments and is overall a heart warming tale.
7. Practical Magic: The creepy classic of two witch sisters played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman who enjoy a childhood full of mystical magic with their two aunts who encourage magic and the idea of fun. As the two women grow up they begin to live separate lives and over time fall out of touch. An event that happens to Kidman’s character brings the sister duo back together and shows them that they need their powers now more than ever. The movie is the kind that whenever you watch, you have to pay attention. The cast of the film itself is great and the story does pull at the heart strings as the family curse and the events after it show themselves throughout the film.
6. Poltergeist: One of the first scary films I saw while sleeping over at a friends’ house in high school, this is still one of my top-ranked Halloween movies. I love Steven Spielberg and this movie lives up to what any fan of his work would expect: a strong story line with a cast that makes the fantasy feel all too real. A family moves into a home only to find that creepy things keep happening, such as TVs turning on, chairs moving and voices being heard. All of this combines into a classic Spielberg over the top climactic moment where an exorcist enters into the home and the rest is an insane hurricane of events. To me, this movie is scary and will make you never want to have a TV in your room again.
5. The Craft: This is another classic involving witches and their supernatural powers. A group of average high school teens come together to form a group of spell-casting outsiders who soon learn one of them possesses strong powers. As the group begins to implode, the spell-casting insanity takes a turn for the worse and the group ends up getting more than they bargained for. This movie is definitely a “chick flick” with a message of girl power and some pretty ‘90s grunge outfits with an interesting playlist. I would say this is a must see on an evening when you want to get together with gal pals and enjoy a semi-spooky, night in.
4. Hocus Pocus: A family classic, this film is the tale of three awkward and goofball witches, the Sanderson sisters, and their return to life on Halloween night. A chase through a town with a spooky performance of “I Put a Spell on You” by the sisters, this is very fast paced and entertaining. I personally only saw this movie for the first time last Halloween and fell in love with it instantly. The classic feel and the vibe of just a really great story line make me appreciate this movie that much more. The cast also includes Sarah Jessica Parker in her early days and Bette Midler as two of the kooky witches.
3. Coraline: While this movie may give off a kid-friendly vibe, it is pretty intense and dark at times. I had read the book prior to seeing the film and while some things are changed to adapt this book to the screen, it still has that magical eerie vibe that I love. The story of Coraline, a young girl moving in with her family to a new house, finds the key to a door that leads her to a new world. Here, she finds duplicates of everything and everyone except something is slightly and apparently different. The movie is claymation and is gorgeous in color and attention to detail. I personally enjoy films like these with a fantasy vibe but that possess a strong story line with all kinds of great elements of surprises and emotional connection, while still being an animated film.
2. The Shining: A true Steven King classic, this is a horror film that never gets old. Jack Nicholson does a performance in this moving that is both haunting and amazing at the same time. A family moves to take care of a hotel for the winter season up in the snowy mountains. The father experiences a cabin fever epidemic and soon begins to realize the hotel’s haunted history may not be fake after all. The movie itself is filmed in a really cool way and the sheer horror and uneasy feeling it gives you shows why it is such a loved horror classic. The screeching violins, haunting camera shots and the constant thought of “is this real or not?” keeps you on the edge of your seat.
1. Beetlejuice: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The Tim Burton classic is both hilarious and quirky with the right touch of spooky. After a couple dies, they become ghosts in their home. As new buyers move into the house the couple have no idea how they will handle the inhabitants of the house, so they decide to hire a “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice to help them out. The movie stars Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Winona Ryder and the friendship they form during the movie is lovable. The crude sense of humor Michael Keaton uses as Beetlejuice has a dark and funny vibe along with his classic lines and raspy voice. While this movie has scenes that are not family-friendly, it is a great Halloween-themed movie and is something that will be a classic for generations to come.
BONUS: The Nightmare Before Christmas, I mean come on, I had to. This film is another Burton creation and has been a lovable and family-friendly hit since its debut. The film follows Jack Skellington through his adventure out of Halloween town and his plot to steal Santa Clause and make Christmas his own holiday. The film qualifies as a bonus because it can be a Halloween or Christmas option. The animation and creativity of the film is fun to enjoy. The following of fans this movie has is massive and once you see the film, you’ll know why. I went to a museum about a year or so ago show casing some of the sets of the film and the claymation figures. With over a hundred different clay versions of Jack Skellington and numerous detailed sets with hand-written notes by Burton and his team, the films depth and commitment to detail is mind-blowing.
Whether you watch or have seen one or two of these movies or majority of them, I would suggest trying something new or re-visiting an old classic favorite. Movies have the power to take us to new realms and are as entertaining as they are interesting. Halloween is a great time to truly dive into a marvelously spooky good time.