I can’t believe Halloween is basically here and October is almost over! Not only does this mean my other two favorite holidays are just around the corner (Thanksgiving and then HELLO, Christmas!) but it also means I’m down to the wire to finish all those great R.I.P reviews! Seeing as how I haven’t watched nearly as many scary movies as I would have liked to, and the fact that I’ve been watching them rather sporadically, I figured I’d just do one mega-post of the 5 screen-y things I’ve made sure to watch to get myself in the Halloween mood!
There are 5 movies (well, 4 movies and 1 TV show) that I’ve included in this year’s go-round of Peril on the Screen. This is for a couple of reasons: 1.) I think I left most of my good movies at my parents house last Halloween, when I was home housesitting, as I can’t seem to find almost any of them. 2.) FBM is not exactly a scary-movie kind of guy, so it’s either watching them alone (clearly not always the best idea) or finding something in the common ground. So, keeping those two things in mind, here’s what the past month or so has been all about, film wise.
1.) Hocus Pocus – This has been one of my favorite Halloween movies since I was a little girl! My dad and I actually went to see this one as one of our first father-daughter dates (other hits include Anastasia and a crap-ton of Pizza Hut individual pizzas) and every year I wait for just the right mix of cloudy night and cooler temperatures top pop in this classic! I think the reason I love this movie so much, besides the fact that the lovely Bette Midler is one of the idols of the women in my family, is that it’s really a great blend of scary, sad, and funny for kids (and adults that think they’re kids). The scary scenes never get too scary, and the sad scenes end up having pretty much happy endings. Plus, the two ‘evil’ kids in the story, Ice-Man and Jay, crack me up every time I watch. They’re this hilarious mix of, like, white ghetto kids with nothing to do but steal candy from kids and make lame jokes. They’re not intimidating at all, which is what makes them so much more hilarious as ‘bullies’! This movie also inspired me to ‘fly’ around my house singing the song that Sarah Jessica Parker sings to lure all the children of Salem to her (“Come little children, I’ll take thee away/into my garden of magic). If you have no idea what this movie is about, or what I’m prattling on about, do you, your kids, and/or your inner child a favor and go check it out!
2.) The Exorcist. Or, what my mom still calls ‘the scariest movie ever made’. She told me this when I was 14 and saw the movie for the first time and I watched it and was just, like…”really? scariest movie ever? really?” (NOT a recommended viewing age, by the way. Not because of the scare factor but because watching a ‘possessed’ girl stab herself in the naughties with a crucifix is too disturbing on too many levels). Even now I don’t necessarily consider this movie “scary”. I mean, don’t get me wrong. The concept of demons and possession and exorcism freaks the hell out of me. But the dialouge is stilted, the guy who plays Dimi (the junior priest helping with the exorcism and dealing with his own metaphorical demons at the same time) is like a bad Marlon Brando, and the special effects are anything but. But all of that isn’t necessarily the point. This movie has a GREAT scary soundtrack, and some of those cold and blustery shots of Georgetown really do set a fantastic horror-movie mood. I think the thing that will always stick out to me about this movie, though, and what has kept me watching pretty much every Halloween, is the fact that so many other people have been scared out of their wits by this movie, my mom included. I mean, there are reports of people having strokes and heart attacks and believing in their own possesssion after they saw this movie in theatres! Plus, the actress who plays the little girl, Reagan, never worked on or in another movie – CRAZY!!! It’s kind of like the curse with Poltergeist and all the unfortunate things that happened to that cast (no idea? check out this wikipedia). Definitely a must see, and not a scary movie to be particularly worried about. At least, not for me!
3.) Beetlejuice – This is one of those movies that, when it’s mentioned, everyone around nods their heads and goes ‘oh, yeah! I forgot about that one…’ At least, that’s what happened when I mentioned to a bunch of co-workers that I was excited to watch another one of my mostly-funny Halloween movies. Be warned, though, that this one is a little bit creepier than Hocus Pocus (and possible The Exorcist, depending on what you find scary). Michael Keaton does a FANTASTIC job as the ghost-with-the-most, hell-raising bioexorcist Beetlejuice, who does nothing but plague Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis after they die in a car accident. And yes, these characters have names in the movie that aren’t Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, but whatever. Anyway, Winona Rider actually gives one of her least-annoying performances here, too, as the dark and depressed Lydia Deetz, a step that doesn’t seem too far removed from the real Winona. This movie sprung from the mind of one Mr. Tim Burton, who I have often believed should share his DNA with one Mr. Neil Gaiman and one Mrs. Helena Bonham Carter (who Burton is technically already married to) in order to produce a super-genuis child of twisted creativity. If the name Tim Burton isn’t ringing a bell, he also did Edward Scissor Hands, The Corpse Bride, and Ed Wood, just to name a few. Oh, and the most recent version of Sweeney Todd, the one with Johnny Depp. Oh, and The Nightmare before Christmas (another great classic that works for both Halloween and Christmas!) Wow…apparently he’s done more of my favorites than I thought. But yes, you can see the style that Burton works in, and Beetlejuice is no different!
4.) Carrie – A great movie based on a GREAT Stephen King novel (I mean, honestly, The Shining is probably a better movie, but Carrie is a far better book) about a girl with telekinetic powers who gets pigs blood dumped on her at the prom and then goes APE SHIT WITH HER MIND POWERS and kills everyone she knows. Like, pretty much literally. Not to mention the fact that her mom is a religious wack-job, she gets tampons thrown at her in the school shower when she starts her period, and she’s asked/taken out to prom by the most popular boy in school just to be humiliated…yeah, I’d be pretty pissed too. In all fairness to the popular boy and his girlfriend – they’re good people, they were just trying to help, and really didn’t know about the pig’s blood. Sissy Spacek does an amazing job in this movie, striking just the right balance between scared and shy and really, really damn mad when the time calls for it. The movie as a whole might by more jumpy or freaky than scary, but if you can watch those last ten minutes without jumping out of your own skin, than you’re doing way better than I am! It’s best not to have one of those guys or groups of guys who think it’s really funny to wait for an obviously tense moment to grab your shoulder and shout intelligibly, laughing when you jump and spill popcorn and Diet Coke everywhere. Not that I’ve had that happen…I’m just saying. There are a number of ‘gotcha’ moments that will make you jump, and having a group like that around could very quickly ruin your upholstery. Of all the movies posted here so far, this one is probably the scariest for me, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Carrie’s mom is not only crazy, but crazy religious and there is just something about mixing fanatic Christianity with insanity, possible schizophrenia, and a daughter with mind powers that gets under my skin.
5.) Criminal Minds – Yes, this is a TV show. But Carl said we could do that, so hah! *blows raspberry*. Sorry about that. I’m done being, like, six now. Promise. Anyway, this show is fantastic. So fantastic that I’m thinking about doing a Nerdgasm volume on it. For those of you out of the loop (or who watch things on TV that aren’t crime-solving, procedural cop or courtroom shows), Criminal Minds follows a team of profilers who work for the FBI’s B.A.U (Behavioral Analysis Unit, got to give it up for the federal love for acronyms). These guys and girls basically profile different suspects, victims, and locations in order to learn who killed whoever died on this week’s episode. Basically, it’s a show about the brains of sociopaths, murderes, rapists, pedophilists, and other various real-life baddies (and the people who make it their work to understand these brains). I know by now you’re probably what makes this R.I.P. worthy – which it is. It’s all-year-round worthy. The answer you’re looking for is that, if you’ve been following any of my R.I.P. reviews, you know that I often think that the horrible things human beings do to each other is more scary than any monster, werewolf, or vampire out there. And this show if chock-full of real life monsters, on top of witty dialogue and characters I just dare you not to fall in love with (Reid! Garcia and Morgan! I just love you all so much!). If you’re looking for a 45 minute fictional glimpse in to the kinds of horrors man can do to each other (where the bad guy actually gets caught in the end, unlike, say, the news), this is most definitely the show for you!
And there you have it, ghosts and ghouls! With Halloween weekend upon us, I hope you’re doing whatever it is (tricking or treating) that puts you and your family in to that delicious, candy-apple-and-wood-smoke fall feeling we all love about this time of year! I’m off to the twisty alleys of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Cirucs, but I wish you all happy reading!