Mentally I started Halloween early, about the beginning of September. Unfortunately, the weather has refused to cooperate, remaining in the 80s and 90s for pretty much all of September and the greater part of August. And now the beginning of October. I loathe the heat, but this time it seems to be sticking around in an effort to spite me, as if Mother Nature has some personal vendetta against my sweat glands. Consequently, the Halloween spirit I so desperately want to feed upon like the succulent brains of some unfortunate zombie leftover is constantly eluding me. Nevertheless, my friends and I tried to stave off the beast, the Halloween essence that so very much wants to invade, but we got started early with our movie viewing. Yet I feel like a Season Hooker, holding back, edging around the beginnings, and unable to get into it. I can’t give myself fully until the weather changes more, but to help that threshold draw nearer, I am reminiscing about the movies we will soon indulge in, what Kat and I—in all our resplendent geeky behavior—call our Halloween Standards.
These are in no particular order.
1) The Blair Witch Project
See, I didn’t realize this until recently—this is the movie we use to kick things off. It’s the Halloween starter, and though we are not devoutly dedicated to watching this (as we are with some of the latter ones), we tend to watch it every year. And at no other time.
I saw this originally in the theater when people, bless them, thought this was real. From Mary Brown (who I am certain was at least the inspiration for the tranny sister in Pet Semetary), to the lamentable nose drippings, to the handprints on the wall, to the climactic corner scene, it was a damn good movie. That final scene still gives me chills. Now every schmo with a handheld camera thinks it is their God-given duty to film a movie like this—it’s so overdone that even the dead are ready to wake up and tell people to stop it. From the success of Paranormal Activity to the pointedly dizzying Cloverfield to ghastly monstrosities like The Gacy House, The Blair Witch Project pretty much started them all. I don’t know if we should thank or curse the creators.
2) Poltergeist and Poltergeist 2
These are two of the movies on this list we don’t restrict to season or hour. The first is the pinnacle of goodness, the movie that caused so many people in my generation to not eat meat on the bone or to loathe clowns. The iconic scene, little Carol Ann at the television still creeps me out in that way which says, “I’m about to watch a damn fine movie.” Unfortunately, for today’s generation of “illiterate TV people” (to steal a line from the previous movie on this list), they sometimes need explanations of why the TV looks like that, or why the national anthem was being played when it wasn’t the 4th of July or the start of some sporting event.
The second Poltergeist was great, awesome, until the final scenes. You know, the horrid Claymation bullshit when they went to the Other Side? Yeah, that. The swallowing of the worm, the pink play phone ringing, the braces incident in the bathroom, they all pale next to Reverend Kane.
The scene where Diane is remembering what Kane did to his congregation still creeps me out. In my youth, surrounded by crazy religious people, that wasn’t just something that happened in a movie, it was something that I could easily picture my lunatic family doing. Had the ending of this movie not happened in the way it did, this could very well be a horror classic…and it might even be despite that awfulness.
3) The Amityville Horror
Not the remake. Please, GOD, not the remake. Ryan Reynolds was stupid hot in it, yes, but there were few other redeeming qualities about it. The worst offense is that they filmed all these good scenes, the ones with the girlfriend feeling the terror of the house, finding the well, all sorts of other stuff, and intentionally left them out for the CG, hackneyed eye candy that we were left with. This movie wasn’t like the remake of The Fog, which never had any potential because the script shat out in the eternal Quest for Cash was a mixture of leprosy, bile, and poop. The Amityville remake had potential to be tolerable, maybe even good, but all that was lost on the cutting room floor.
The original, though, is fantastic. Margo Kidder (before she lost her mind, poor thing), Sexy Man Brolin (whose son I had a HUGE crush on as Brand in The Goonies), Jodi the pig, the flies, the voice…
Yes, the Voice. If I’m in a house where more than ten flies are swarming, I’m out. That’s first.
But let’s say that I bought said house and was determined to stay. When a voice whispers, “…getooooout…” I am here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I am OUT. When it then screams, “GEEET OOOOOOOUT!” I am sliding down the banister like Mary Poppins on meth, hoping my kids are on my way to the door so I can grab them, too. If not, then I will call them from the fucking church in the next town over.
As a side note, as a kid I used to scare the hell out of my cousin (she of the Manson-book-lending library) by sitting in a small rocking chair like the one Jodi favored, pretending I was possessed and dazed, rocking back and forth, chanting in a wavering voice, “Puuuurple p-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-g…puuuuurple p-i-i-i-i-i-i-g…”
4) Sleepy Hollow
Pure Tim Burton goodness. An amazing cast. Enough has been said of Burton’s love affair with Johnny Depp that I won’t rehash it now. Mr. Depp is a phenomenal, quirky actor without whom this movie would not have been the same (or nearly as good). Christina Ricci (a.k.a. Wednesday Addams) was great. Casper Van Dien (of the sexy ass in the Starship Troopers shower scene and the horrid snoozefest The Omega Code) was good to look at and someone who got what he deserved. It also stars Dumbledore, Uncle Vernon, Rita Skeeter, Emperor Palpatine, the legendary Christopher Lee, the evil guy from Howard the Duck who was also Charles Deetz, the dad from Beetlejuice, and one of the most horrifying men ever to walk the earth—Christopher Walken.
Good, dark, gorgeous, slick, gory, humorous fun and one of our Halloween staples. Just talking about it makes me want to watch it.
In time, Precioussssss.
5) Hocus Pocus
I didn’t say they were ALL horror movies, did I? (Though some would say that Sarah Jessica Parker is a horror…or a foot, according to Peter Griffin. I am not one of those people, however, and I think it is beneath me to mention it. Bwahahaha!)
Love this movie. Total Halloween staple. Bette Midler is awesome. Thora Birch is cute. Omri Katz was adorable (I can only hope that he grew up to be a cute adult, not one of those ghastly kid/adolescent actors who grow up and turn into Swamp Thing). And I still cackle at Kathy Najimy with the vacuum cleaner. It’s cute, wholesome, amusing fun and I love it.
6) Nightmare on Elm Street
Heather Langenkamp’s “acting” was wretched in this. “Screw your passssss!” I think the only time she surpassed this feat of horrible hackery was with Nightmare on Elm Street 3. She was much, much better in 7 when she played herself, but she was herself going through horrors, and was good at that.
But this was the good one, the days when Freddy was still scary and not a gross joke (though I love all the movies…except for 6. Woof!). It was, for all its flaws, a great movie and a good concept. A young, hot Johnny Depp is also featured. Win-win. Not a Halloween staple for us, but damn good nonetheless.
The remake went for more realism in Freddy’s burns and…well, it wasn’t that good. The best things about it were Kellan Lutz, who showed us that even looking like a total crack addict he’s still depressingly hot, and the cute boy from Haunting in Connecticut who, though gothed out, was still fun to watch.
7) The Exorcist and The Exorcist 3
I feel about The Exorcist 2 the way my friend feels about Sex and the City 2 (and I suspect the same amount of makeup was used in one as in the other). The movie didn’t happen, it doesn’t exist, it is a stain which needs to be wiped from the memories of all who have had the misfortune to lay eyes on it.
The first Exorcist…what can possibly be written here which hasn’t been said or written before? Not much. In our religion-obsessed culture, it is the ultimate horror. For everyone else, it’s the fear of being taken over, of being out of control, of being…well, possessed. The novel, the movie = terror. It is widely considered the scariest movie of all time for a reason.
Oh, how that picture and caption bring me back. I was watching the movie with two of my friends (after another friend claimed he had to go feed his dogs and ran out of the house when the movie bed started to thump). We were talking about how hard it must be to accept all that, and to stick around in the face of evil to help some poor, innocent girl (who the priests didn’t even know, I might add). As I mentioned with my assessment of Amityville, I would leave the slower bitches behind as I fled the scene, possibly tripping some of the ones I liked less so that I had a better chance of getting away. Or I would get all uppity and think I could beat it. I’m weird that way—balls-out practical or stupidly brave.
Anyway, Father Merrin gets out of his cab in the iconic scene, walks in, says hello to Damien Karras, and the demon screams, “Meeeeerrriiiiin!”
Merrin turns calmly to Damien and says, “I would like you to go down to the rectory…”
And, before I was aware my mouth was even open, I finished his sentence with, “…and get my goddamned cab back.”
We howled. There are many times my mind bypasses my filter and my cognitive thinking processes and goes straight to my mouth. Usually, this results in me blurting something I very much mean but know better than to say. Sometimes, when I’m not scrambling to remove my foot from my mouth, it ends up being pretty damn funny. This was one of those latter times.
I cannot watch The Exorcist, cannot pass that scene without finishing Father Merrin’s sentence in my head with my own addition and trying to stifle my giggles. The result is usually something that looks like Regan’s giggle toward the end of the movie.
Enough about that.
This brings me to The Exorcist 3, based on Blatty’s book Legion. The exorcism was thrown in at the end, apparently, to adhere to the franchise name. How they got to The Exorcist 3 without ever having a 2 is beyond me. *stubborn*
This movie is great, but flawed. I admit that. It’s also terrifying. There are some moments which outshine the others. The flashing of what Beverly and I call “The Joker Jesus” is one of them. It gave us the chills. Now…yeah, it can be seen as hokey and too much Joker and not enough Jesus. The first time I saw it was in a flash on the bottom of the screen as seen from the stairs and it scared me.
Another notable scene is…well, terrifying. It made Beverly scream like a wounded school girl. If you haven’t seen the movie, go for it. If you have, then you will know what I mean.
It still creeps me out and I still look behind me when that scene is over. No bueno.
8) Trick r Treat
Attention anyone who likes Halloween:
Some people say this movie is overrated. Those people, however, are incorrect and should be slapped with a frozen salmon until they are unconscious. If that doesn’t make them see the wonders of this glorious movie, then they are probably incorrigible morons (and most likely brain damaged and smelling of rancid fish) and should be written out of your life forever. Trust me; you didn’t want Cro-Magnon friends like that, anyway.
You might have guessed that I am a trifle fond of Halloween. And what would you win if you said such a thing? Absolutely nothing. Because if you have gotten this far in this entry, then you know this fact is obvious enough for even the aforementioned brain-damaged, fish-smelling troglodyte to gather (in his slow, lumbering, unable-to-appreciate-a-good-movie sort of way).
Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie is one of THE Halloween movies, easily coasting into its rightful place under the original Halloween in our repertoire of essential holiday movies. It is at least five intertwining stories meshed together in a cohesive ball of goodness. Sam, the evil twin brother of the main character from Little Big Planet, is the charming little Halloween Sprite who takes us on a journey into greatness.
Sam is the kind of creature I am most likely to reincarnate as. He gets candy from houses participating in the glorious holiday, gently reprimands those who do not, looks over wayward, bullied children, hangs out with several intensely hot girls, thinks candy is an essential food group (yet retains his figure), and manages all of this on one, beautiful night.
This movie has humor, blood, scares, Autumn, pranks, the spirit of Halloween, and a scene I can guarantee you will never see coming.
And if you claim you did see that scene coming and guessed what was going to happen…you are lying. I’ll be over with my salmon and Jack-o-lantern sucker as soon as I’m done with this line over here…
9) It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
What? I can’t like Charlie Brown because of all the other movies on this list? Bite it.
Halloween essential. Unless, of course, you have no heart. If that is the case, then I assume you are busy taking over little children’s bodies and making them vomit, bend, curse, and otherwise horrify their parents (see number 7).
There have been many, many sequels to the best Halloween movie ever. (Uh, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Duh!) So many, in fact, that it might be difficult to tell which ones you should watch.
I am here to help.
How do you tell which ones are worth watching? Look for Jamie Lee Curtis in the cast, but pay close attention! If it has the number 8 or the word “Resurrection” in the title—THROW IT AWAY. Do not look at it, do not pay for it, do not humor the studio by viewing this trash.
*slight spoiler alert for the travesty that is number 8, Halloween: Resurrection*
It is my sincere belief that Jamie Lee Curtis looked at the script and said, “Are you fucking kidding me? You do remember the ending of the last one, right? Right? Oh, so that’s the cheap-ass way you’re gonna play it off? Yeah, kill me. You heard me. I will be in this new piece of shit for five fucking minutes and then you will kill my character. I will have no further part in this travesty.”
*end of pointless spoiler alert*
So, this leaves us with Halloween, Halloween 2, and Halloween: 20 Years Later.
H20 is a lamentably short movie that still does all it needs to. The body count is low because it’s so good, there is no need for an absurdly high number of kills (I’m looking at YOU, Jason Voorhees). Jamie Lee Curtis is back, playing the neurotic, alcoholic, pill-popping yet completely functional mess you would expect her to be as someone who had the strength to survive something like that but, you know, had to survive something like that.
The hows and whys of Michael Myers never needed telling, but that blank face and his need to kill his immediate family (tell me you cannot sympathize here) are all you need to know. His sister has changed her name, moved away, had a kid, and is living in terror that her repeatedly-killed brother will some day pop back up and try to off her again. She assuages this fear with pills, booze, and the actor you get when you can’t afford George Clooney.
Sure, plot is thin, but if you liked the original Halloween, this one is definitely worth it.
The ultimate. Essential.
The music, the atmosphere, the occasional hammy acting (“I have a place for thaaaaaat.”), the bitchy friends who really sort of deserved to die, the blank-faced mask, that goddamned sit up when Laurie thinks Michael is dead, the atmosphere, everything about this movie is a win. If you have not seen it…then why the hell are you even reading this list? Get your ass over to Netflix, Amazon, a more cultured friend’s house, or the asylum from Session 9. You either need to rectify this travesty or be killed in a horrific fashion.
The remake by Rob Zombie, while offensive on a spiritual level as being totally redundant and unnecessary, was eventually forced upon my unwilling eyes. I am here to say that it is actually very, very good and done by a man who clearly understands and values the first movie. Not a Halloween movie essential for us, but good enough for multiple viewings.
The second remake-ish he did, though? Woof! Watch it until Michael leaves the hospital. It is utterly fantastic up until that point. After that it is a reprehensible waste of time, a trip to a pointlessly white trashified Haddonfield, and the tepid nightmares Papa Smurf probably had when dealing with all those charming blue retards.
I currently am listening to my iPod on random shuffle and the Nan Vernon version of Mr. Sandman came on. I shit you not. It is a sign and I must go watch something Halloween, or fill my bathtub with orange and red leaves, crank up the A/C, and talk to a doctor about my addiction to candy corn.