commentary by Will Herrington, Campus Carrier staff writer
As the weather gets cooler and the spooky decorations go up, there’s no better break from a day of pumpkin patches and costume shopping than curling up with a blanket for a movie night. The month of October (or the month of Halloween, as some would say) is the perfect time to watch a scary movie. Here are a few of our favorites:
“The Shining” (1980)
“The Shining” is one of cinema’s greatest mysteries and masterpieces. Jack Torrance and his family have been hired to be the winter caretakers for the Overlook Hotel. With this job, he and his family are isolated and cut off from society. As time passes, strange things begin to happen within the hotel, which take a toll on the family. The story is simple but isn’t presented in that way. The presence of evil and manipulation is always felt throughout the movie but is never explicitly shown. It’s always difficult to know what’s going on and that gives the viewer a fear of the unknown. Jack Nicholson gives an outstanding and memorable performance as Jack Torrance, and the movie had the legendary directing talent of Stanley Kubrick, who guided the movie in a different and arguably better direction than the book. This is what makes “The Shining” a terrifying and iconic movie.
John Carpenter’s “Halloween” has left a legacy on horror and cinema as a whole. Halloween has been largely credited with creating the “slasher” sub-genre of horror and has inspired the creation of other horror movie series like “Friday the 13th” and “Scream.” After killing his older sister 15 years ago, Michael Myers escapes his psychiatric ward and returns home to strike again. His psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, chases after him to prevent him from causing terror in his hometown of Haddonfield. The movie’s presentation of Myers as stalking killer and boogeyman in the night only adds to the terror. The setting in the town of Haddonfield and normal teenagers babysitting on Halloween night makes it a believable occurrence to some, which is why it was so terrifying when it came out. It also created tropes and themes that are common in most horror movies today like “final girls,” the last girl alive against a monster, and masked, unknown killers. All this makes “Halloween” a staple and genre-defining movie.
“Beetlejuice” is a hilarious Halloween classic from the mind of Tim Burton. The story has a couple finding themselves dead and turned into ghosts. They must then try and scare away the new family that moved into their house. They turn to the help of Beetlejuice to help them scare the family away. The movie is filled with Burton’s trademark creepy styling, along with some of ghostly and gothic vibes, to make the movie a good mixture of scary and lighthearted themes. Michael Keaton lets loose and is hilarious as Beetlejuice. People who don’t really enjoy scary movies and just generally like Burton’s other films will be sure to love “Beetlejuice.”
Over the years, the “Saw” franchise has gained a reputation for being gruesome, merciless and violent throughout. In its later entries in the franchise this is largely true; however, the first “Saw” movie is different than its sequels. Two men wake up in an unknown room and find they are subjects in a serial killer’s twisted game. Saw presents itself as mystery movie, with the two men trying to piece together who is doing this to them and why. The story of “Saw” is very convoluted and can be difficult to follow. Even though this movie isn’t as violent and gory as its sequels, a fair warning should be given that “Saw” is quite unsettling and disturbing to most. Despite that, “Saw” should really be a must-watch horror thriller for anyone who likes a mystery-styled story and an intense experience.
After its original release in 1979, the “Alien” franchise’s Xenomorph alien has become a pop culture icon. The crew of the starship Nostromo discover a distress call from an alien ship and discovers the vessel’s lifeforms. “Alien” stands out in the horror genre as being a sci-fi horror movie, which at the time was very innovative. The movie was directed by Ridley Scott, the man behind “Blade Runner” and “The Martian,” who adds a dark, futuristic atmosphere to the movie. The alien itself is shown as an almost unstoppable monster being able to out smart the human crew in its different forms. Alien is regarded as the best sci-fi horror movie and is essential for fans of sci-fi and horror.
commentary by Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is unfortunate when you take into account that I am a major wuss when it comes to scary movies. If you’re like me and prefer a friendly ghost to a masked serial killer, don’t fret – we have suggestions for you, too:
“The Addams Family” (1991) and “Addams Family Values” (1993)
Though there have been many iterations of this creepy, kooky family, including an animated movie coming out this weekend, nothing will ever compare to Barry Sonnenfeld’s Addams of the 90s. To me, these are the quintessential Halloween movies. They are a perfect mixture of creepy and kooky, just like the classic theme song says of the family itself. Between a house with more trap doors than real ones, musical numbers, a summer camp takeover and some of the most quotable lines in cinema, both “The Addams Family” and “Addams Family Values” are sure to get you into the spooky spirit.
Further supporting my belief that the best movies are those that involve Christina Ricci, “Casper” is an obvious next choice for not-so-scary Halloween movie night. This story of the friendly ghost involves a spooky mansion with a myriad of trap doors and secret entrances, three rambunctious ghosts, some wholesome father-daughter moments and just about the cutest animated ghost you’ll ever see. The friendship developed between Kat and Casper throughout is precious, while the antics of the uncle ghosts provide endless laughs. Watching this movie will certainly have you asking “Can I keep you?” to the Halloween season.
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
As far as casting goes, it doesn’t get much better than Bette Midler (Winifred), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah) and Kathy Najimy (Mary) as the Sanderson sisters, a trio of mischievous witches brought back to the life in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween. Again a wonderfully quotable movie, “Hocus Pocus” combines magic, mischief and a musical number to create a hilarious but still spooky Halloween movie experience.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)
Perhaps the best Halloween movie of all time AND the best of the Peanuts movies, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is the ultimate childhood Halloween throwback that is still just as enjoyable as an adult. Charles Schulz’s classic characters dress up to trick-or-treat and spend the night in the pumpkin patch awaiting the Great Pumpkin. Like all of the movies based on Schulz’s comics, this cartoon is the perfect combination of hilarious and wholesome and the perfect way to celebrate Halloween with no spooks whatsoever.