Great movies for a Halloween fright night
By: Dan Meade
Provided by WorldNow
Not up to trick-or-treating this year? Don't feel like dressing up and heading to a costume ball? If you're staying at home this Halloween, here are some great movies to watch while curled up on the couch with your favorite ghoulie and a bowl of popcorn.
The Classic Boogeymen
Some may think of Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Boris Karloff as the "classic" boogeymen, but for others, Freddy, Jason, and Michael will always be the first names of horror.
The late 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of the Boogeyman in multiplexes around the nation, but just as in many film franchises, the first is often the best. 1978's Halloween (rated R) introduced babysitters everywhere to Michael Myers and 1980's Friday the 13th (R) told us about the life and death of Jason Voorhees. Both of these films have had many sequels, but in terms of suspense and originality, they are the best of their respective franchises.
For Freddy Kruger fans, 1994's Wes Craven's New Nightmare (R) may be the most important of all the Nightmares. Coming into theaters two years before Scream (R), New Nightmare was the first of the `90s films to break down the Boogeyman genre. New Nightmare is set in the "real" world where actors are creating a new Freddy movie, but Freddy has other plans -- he breaks through from being a fictional screen Boogeyman and comes to terrorize the actors who are making the movie about him.
By taking the viewer out of the "fake" realm of movies and having characters who know all about horror movies, New Nightmare set the stage for the post-Scream thrillers such as I Know What You Did Last Summer (R), Urban Legend (R), and other films that have deconstructed the myths and rules of Regan-era horror films. No longer were the frightened teenagers running from mythical Boogeymen -- they were now running away from demented and vengeful regular people without special powers.
Once Scream, and eventually Scary Movie (R), brought laughter into horror-thrillers, other films have since followed the horror-comedy model. Shaun of the Dead (R), Slither (R), and The Evil Dead (R) films all provide the watcher with plenty of scares and laughs at the same time. For anyone who is scared of things that go bump in the night, these may be better choices than a strict horror film.
Taken to a further extreme, Beetlejuice (PG), Ghostbusters (PG), and Gremlins (PG) all build off of a supernatural premise to create movies that are almost guaranteed not to give anyone nightmares afterwards ... as long as they don't eat anything after midnight.
Family-Friendly Creature Features
Hosting a party for all the little critters this year? You can feel free to show movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG), Monster House (PG), or It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (unrated). Each movie could become the theme for a Halloween party -- or be a good way to end one before sending your little ghosts and goblins to bed.
Alternate Halloween Fare
If none of these ideas are for you, there are some other options:
You could go the route of the cult classic and watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R). You could place your bets on your favorite monster and see who wins in Godzilla vs. Mothra (unrated). Or you could watch The Wizard of Oz (unrated) again.
Yes, Oz can be a Halloween film -- if you turn off the volume and watch the film while listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Set Dark Side to play on repeat, and hit the play button once the black and white MGM lion roars for the third time.
If you have it synched up correctly, you can sit back and count how many times the film and the album seem to mirror one another. From the cash registers in "Money" playing when Dorothy first sees the Yellow Brick Road to the heartbeats of "Eclipse" beating as Dorothy feels for the Tin Man's hearts, the similarities can be eerie.
Finally, if none of these movies will put you in the Halloween mood, there is always one surefire way to give yourself a good scare -- get a head start on next year's taxes!