Everyone has their favorite spooky scary movie to take in when the weather gets frightful and the temperature is not so delightful. Here’s your resident film critic’s top 5 favorite movies to watch around Halloween time. Note: not all of these will be horror, but they all do relate to Halloween.
5. Beetlejuice (1988)
“Beetlejuice” is an absolute classic for Halloween for a lot of reasons. It takes the scary out of Halloween by turning demonic possession and haunting into light-hearted fun. The film stars Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as Adam and Barbara Maitland, two recently deceased who try to scare people away from their house to no avail. Their plight attracts the titular Beetlejuice played by Michael Keaton who provides the majority of the comic relief for the film. The film was a standout because of its juxtaposition of obvious tongue-in-cheek humor about the afterlife and actually quite terrifying concepts, like having to stay in a waiting room to get consultation on what to do when you’re forced to haunt your own house.
4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975; 2016)
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is one familiar to all those who love Halloween. It’s a maddening surrealist take on all sorts of classic horror tropes. It features Brad and Janet, the typical American couple, who stumble onto the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, an obvious play on Frankenstein, who is preparing to create his own blond-haired, well-muscled man. The film features classic songs in the old-style rock and roll, but it should be noted that the film tackles rather mature themes and is not for the young of age or the faint of heart.
3. Carrie (1976; 2013)
“Carrie” is the ultimate cautionary tale to bullies and ruffians saying, “Be careful who you push around.” The film features Carrie White, a shy and sheltered high school girl who begins to discover she has telekinetic powers. She is constantly antagonized by both her incredible religious mother and her fellow classmates. Eventually, this bullying and the rage building up inside her are unleashed with disastrous consequences. The film is a standout mostly for the buildup to the very famous prom scene where Carrie gets doused in pig’s blood. This is the moment you can see the horror in her eyes finally wash out into pure murderous rage. The film demonstrates the raw power of bullied teens and stands as an allegory for school violence.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is the Tim Burton classic that propelled his career further than he ever imagined. The film features Jack Skellington, a popular figure in his home of Halloweentown as he laments about doing the same Halloween every single year. He stumbles upon a similar holiday-themed town based around Christmas and he becomes hooked. He decides to make his own Christmas, but which goes horribly awry when he and the citizens of Halloweentown turn more towards the spooky than the jolly. The film is a fun twist on Christmas and Halloween, creating an interesting blend of spookytime visuals and holly jolly cheer.
“Coraline” is a foray into the mind of children who feel neglected by their busy parents. The film features the young Coraline who ventures into a mirror world created by her “Other Mother,” a copy of her mother from the real world. The film takes Coraline through a world where she gets everything she wants, but she soon realizes that not everything is what it seems. The film works as a Halloween movie because it does what everyone loves during spooky time: it twists the normal into something vibrant and colorful, yet still slightly offkilter.