Before I got married, I was really into horror movies. Like, really into them. I loved smasher films, and SyFy horror. All of it. But then I met my wife.
You know that scene in Pulp Fiction when Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) says that he’s basically a vegetarian because his girlfriend is a vegetarian? Well … something similar happened with scary movies. Mel didn’t like them, so I stopped watching them, and now I get so frightened watching anything scary that I cry a little.
My kids aren’t much better. We once watched Scooby-Doo Zombie Island and all three kids were up all night, sleeping in my bed, and frankly it wasn’t worth it.
This Halloween, with us not going trick or treating or attending any parties because of COVID-19, finding a movie that will fit the mood (without freaking out myself, my wife, or my kids) is going to be the real trick. I have to assume some of you are in the same boat, so I put together a handy list of great Halloween movies that totally set the mood, but aren’t too scary.
Yes, I know … it’s in black and white, and most kids are just not into anything that appears to have been made before the Mayflower docked in America, but hear me out. This move is a Mel Brooks classic. It’s so funny, and I’ve watched it with my kids, and after the first little bit they forget about the black and white, and kick out of its randomness. By the end, everyone is quoting lines from the movie. And for those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Gene Wilder stars as the grandson of Victor Frankenstein who receives word that he has inherited his estate in Transylvania. He travels there to inspect the property, and the film quickly unravels into a nonstop trip of parody and hilarity.
If you haven’t seen this movie, you owe it to yourself. It is dark comedy at its best. Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Bruce Willis are so funny here. The special effects are just wacky. Essentially, it is the story of rivals (Streep and Hawn), who drink a magic potion that promises eternal youth — but experience unpleasant side effects when they physically die, and become walking, talking corpses.
Now I will admit, the first time I watched Beetlejuice, I was probably seven years old, and there were moments that freaked me out a little. But if you kids are older, and not easily scared, this is just a freaking fun movie. I mean, just the premise alone — ghosts hiring another ghost to get the living out of their house?! Hilarious.
Now I know, this movie is rated R, and it might turn off some parents for that reason alone. I’ll let you make your own choices there. But here’s my pitch with Halloween this year. For those of you who have never experienced it, if you go to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, people dress up, and act out parts from the movie in the theater. Yes, it’s dorky. But my goodness, it is fun. If you can get your kids on board, my suggestion is to get Rocky Horror Picture Show costumes for the family, and have a full blown midnight production in your living room. It would be a fun way to stay safe, and keep the holiday awesome.
Here’s the thing. Your kids probably already know the theme song. If they haven’t seen this movie, you kind of owe it to them. It’s just a classic. I mean, these guys basically invented the job of capturing ghosts.
This movie is just wacky. It’s funny, and the characters are over the top. It isn’t exactly Halloween-themed, but it’s got a murder mystery. And it even comes with a game! Well … I think the game came first, but you could totally play the game as a family and then watch the movie. It would be an awesome way to spend Halloween as a family instead of trick or treating.
Is it a Christmas classic? Is it a Halloween classic? Does it really matter? It’s just a classic. The film offers a nice mash-up between creepy and festive as it follows the pumpkin king of Halloweentown on an unexpected trip to Christmastown. And I mean, honestly … who hasn’t thought for one hot moment about kidnapping Santa? I’ll wait …
Listen … I have seen this movie more times than I’d like to admit. Not because I wanted to; I didn’t want to watch it in the first place. But my son just flat out loved it a couple years ago. There were moments in here where he laughed so hard he started snorting, and frankly, those moments alone made the movie totally worth it. If you have young kids, this is it. This is the Halloween movie.
I’m not talking about the TV show. Although you could watch that if you wanted. I’m talking about the original 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry. You just owe this to your children. It’s so bad it’s good, and it’s always fun to rewatch a childhood classic.
Last but totally not least …
This is hands down the most foolproof Halloween film ever. (Just be prepared to explain the term “virgin.”)
There’s never been a better year to just stay at home and watch movies with your family. Make the best of it, and hopefully one of these movies will help make your Halloween special — even if it looks a little different.