There are films that remind us all of Halloween. I realized some on my list might not be the more traditional “scare season” films, but here’s why I love each of them:
- “The Karate Kid”
Because we all love costumes and the shower curtain costume was a classic! What better way to brave the chance of getting your ass kicked by the psychotic Cobra Kai than by using your wits, your style, your imagination…and your bathroom supplies.
2. “The People Under The Stairs”
It’s tradition to have a scare at Halloween time and while others may prefer something more popular like “Friday The 13th”, “Carrie”, or “Halloween”…I will forever remember “The People Under The Stairs” and how it freaked me the hell out when I first saw it. I never wanted to go in the basement again or trust nice church-going looking brothers and sisters.
3. “Tricks and Treats”, Freaks and Geeks, Season 1, Episode 3
Bill’s Bionic Woman costume and all his seriously delivered monotone dialogue as he watches “Dallas” is hilarity not to be missed. If you’ve never seen this brilliant show, just look up this one episode and I dare you not to roar….don’t like it, wait, I can’t hear you…let me switch to my bionic ear.
4. “Donnie Darko”
While this isn’t remembered often as a Halloween film, it packs enough eerie factor to get you primed for the season with Jake Gylenhaal’s odd moments when he slips in and out of lucidity trying to figure out what in the hell is wrong with him in the midst of spooky season, poor kid.
This movie sure shed a different perspective on the view of witches. The costumes and make-up are just an added bonus to the plot and suspense, only emphasized by the great acting of Angelica Huston.
6. “Silver Bullet”
Does anyone remember Gary Busey before he totally lost his freaking mind? Oh, wait…he was always kind of crazy and just crawled out years later to startle a generation that didn’t know him before, never mind. Well, once upon a time he was a cool uncle any kid would love to have, especially one who needed the fastest wheel chair in town to escape an evil werewolf.
Man, oh, man…this might be my favorite. And, no, it’s not about a doctor who walks with a limp. This film has so much going for it even after all these years: the perfect balance of terror, action, and humor, and two great 70s-80s actors who never got enough screen time in their lives – Norm from “Cheers” and Bull from “Night Court”. And its about a veteran and writer…sold!
8. “Teen Witch”
This movie comes with a few slices of “cheese”, but I still continue to watch it because the snotty chics get what’s coming to them, the nerd gets the guy, that jerk teacher we all wanted to see get ousted meets karma, the final song rocks!, and the plot is solid.
Now to the “cheese”, which just makes me laugh when I watch it all the more: the rap music is reeee-dicu-lous, tons of “side ponies” (shudders), the leading man was like 30, but played a high school student, and some of the dialogue is a bit corny and dated. However, you cannot miss Madam Serena for all you “Poltergeist” fans out there.
9. “The Monster Squad”
So this was right up there with “The Goonies” for me when I was a kid, yet it didn’t seem to get the staying-power. If you know it, then you are part of a small cult-following. If you know it, then you know the classic line, “Wolf Man’s got nards!” It’s a great film about a group of kids who form a club that knows all about monsters.
Much to their surprise the fictional characters they obsess over turn out to be very real.
10. “The Burbs”
He just wanted a quiet weekend at home…
This classic makes you wonder about those weird neighbors you’ve never met. The uproariously funny cast encourages Tom Hanks’ character to investigate the peculiar activity when spurned on by the obnoxious, nosy guy next door and the quirky Vietnam vet across the street. Cast includes: Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Carrie Fischer, Corey Gains, Brother Theodor, and Henry Gibson. “Who’s gonna pick up this garbage? Ha! Well, you are, cause you’re the garbage man.”
11. “Army Of Darkness”
“Listen up you primitive screwheads!” I’ve heard this one is an acquired taste, well, to each his own. If you’ve never seen it, check out as a lovable idiot finds himself sucked into a historic world where he unwittingly awakens an army of the dead on his quest to get back home.
12. “Practical Magic”
For all the ladies out there, this will pull on the sisterly heart-strings. The setting is gorgeous from the home of these modern-day witches to their sleepy little New England town. And did you buy the soundtrack and replay it over and over like I did? “Midnight margaritas!”
There you have it – the perfect mix of gore, creepy, laughter, vengeance, romance, and the obscene for our most unpredictable, yet beloved holiday – Halloween.