Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hootenanny Best Halloween Movies, Part 2

Greetings ghoulies

The 2012 Nate's Verbal Hootenanny Countdown comes to its frightening end with Part 2 of the Best Halloween Movies!

A Quick Review of #'s 7-4 posted yesterday 10/30:

#7.  Carrie
#6.  The Fog
#5.  The Shining
#4.  The Exorcist

Before we move on to the Best 3 Halloween Films of all time, here are some Hootenanny Honorable Mentions:

DRACULA: "Children of the night, what music they make..."  A classic film.  The ultimate vampire tale.  Still yet to be matched.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: "They're coming to get you, Barbara" Yes they are.  Oops... and there goes my bladder.

ERNEST SCARED STUPID: Dumb, campy, yet somehow fun.  Actually- this is only on the countdown because Adam D. Wilson said it had to be.  ;-)

GARFIELD'S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE: Garfield, Odie and Lou Rawls music.  Wait, what?  Yep- you read that right.  Good clean 80s Garfield Halloween hijinx with a Lou Rawls soundtrack... what more could you possibly want?

INSIDIOUS: This is the last movie in the theaters to make me scream.  Despite some cheesy effects toward the end, this movie is one damn good scare.  Kudos to Lynn Shaye- an actress I normally associated with comedy (The Farrelly Brothers movies specifically) proving she's got some serious chops.  

Now without further delay... 
The Top 3 films to really get you in the Halloween mood:


Ok, some of you may hate me for this.

But open your minds...  this is the very definition of Halloween films.  Witches, magic, danger, zombies, curses, spells, and virgins lighting magical Black Flame candles!  Just doing my part to remind you that the Halloween mood doesn't always have to be scary and creepy... it can be funny and campy.

As far as quality of film goes, this is NOWHERE close to the other films on my countdown but I defy you to watch this movie and not be ready to go out trick-or-treating.  It's impossible.  And come on... Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy casting a spell on a ballroom full of people by singing "I Put A Spell On You" is classic!

Anyone else wonder how the Sanderson Sisters, having been dead for 300 years right down to the day, knew the lyrics and melody to "I Put A Spell On You" without even a single rehearsal? I mean, I know they're witches, but come on...!

Sit back, watch and have fun with Hocus Pocus... it'll give you a break from the terror that's about to ensue...


While Hocus Pocus may excited you about going out for tricks-or-treats, this next flick may give you pause...

Many of you have probably never seen this film.  And that's a shame.

If there ever was a love letter to everything that is Halloween, it is Trick 'r Treat. Starring Anna Paquin, Bryan Cox and Dylan Baker, TrT is a film that weaves 4 different stories together over the course of one Halloween night in a small nameless town.  Part dark comedy, part thriller, part true horror film writer/director Michael Dougherty touches all the truly Halloween elements: serial killers, ghosts, monsters, werewolves- and even manages to create a few new ones.

I discovered Trick 'r Treat 3 years ago and have made it a point to watch in preparation for every Halloween.  Truly a hidden gem of cinema, I was saddened to hear that politics and typical industry BS kept this film from being the massive Warner Bros. release it was originally intended to be... however, its anonymity makes this film feel even more special.  

So do yourself a favor... before this day is over, go to Netflix and discover this movie.  It will undoubtedly make you just a little bit more afraid of going trick-or-treating.  And what fun is going out in costumes looking for candy without some small hint of danger...?


You all knew this was coming, right?

Well you were right.  But honestly... can anyone think of a movie that defined this holiday more than John Carpenter's 1978 masterwork?  Here's a little SAT work for ya: Halloween is to Halloween as It's a Wonderful Life is to Christmas.

The above image is exactly what pops into my head when I think of Halloween the season.  Carpenter created a very simple tale: disturbed young man escapes from mental hospital and murders young kids.  It's an urban legend we've heard since we were kids.  What Carpenter did was make it both real and more complex:  instead of it being just some mental patient, Michael Myers is a purely evil lunatic who murdered before he was old enough to even stay home by himself.  Myers is so evil that the doctor who was supposed to treat him instead spent 8 out of 15 years trying to KEEP him locked up and when he escaped, ol' Dr. Loomis went out, bought a gun and decided to personally hunt him down.  Oh and by the way... no matter how many times you stab or shoot him, he doesn't stay down.

"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding of even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes, the Devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil."

What makes Halloween so successful is that, despite how superhumanly evil and strong Myers is, it all seems plausible. We see that "The Shape" as he is mostly referred to, is a stalker.  He drives by the unsuspecting female leads, parks outside their classroom windows, follows them on their walk home and hides behind bushes.  What really gets me is when poor Laurie Strode looks down from her room, she sees the ghostly figure standing in her hanging laundry outside, staring right up at her.  

Because there is really no scenario presented to us that couldn't actually happen (until late in the film), we immediately put ourselves in Laurie's place.  We suddenly begin to relate to her predicament:  ok, so there's a guy following me, my friends suddenly aren't anywhere to be found, even though they're supposed to be right across the street, maybe I should go check things out just to be safe, hm this house is empty and dark and much more quiet than it's supposed to be, and oh wait... what's that on the bed in there...?

Shit, meet fan.  

I was born after the release of Halloween and since 1978 many movies have tried to copy or put their own spin on the tale John Carpenter told here.  Some have succeeded, most have failed.  What makes Halloween such an awesome seasonal film besides bearing its name is that it reminds us that there is sometimes, quite simply real evil out there.  That sounds depressing.  But maybe the best way to deal with that is by giving ourselves an outlet to release all the anxiety and fear that comes with such a truth. We watch scary movies and dress in scary costumes and walk down dark streets knocking on strangers homes so that we don't REALLY have to worry about bad people and things they do.  

So, let loose, get frightened, pee your pants a little... after all:
"It's Halloween.  Everyone's entitled to one good scare."  

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