It’s my favorite time of year again! Fall, particularly October have always held a special place in my heart, which is probably why I wanted to get married in this spookiest, most mysterious of months.
But, this is NOT the time for romance, but for thrills and chills. So, here is my 2018 edition for great movies to watch leading up to Halloween.
If you want to check out my previous Halloween movie post, click here.
The Haunting (1963): Forget about the dreadful 1999 remake and stick with this glorious addition to the haunted-house genre. This is the way ghosts stories should be told! Spooky noises, little to no visual evidence of an actual presence, and leaving the viewer in doubt whether all that’s happening is REAL or if the main character is nuts.
And, as a bonus, pick of the original book by Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
Young Frankenstein: A classic parody of the monster movie. Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder made this a classic. So, if you’d rather have a laugh than a scream during Halloween, check this one out.
Bonus read: Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The Craft: I probably shouldn’t advocate for this movie since much of the witchcraft is pretty off. BUT it does give a much more nuanced view of witches than most movies. Plus it’s such a fun 90s romp through the occult that I can’t help but love it.
Bonus read: Though The Craft wasn’t base on Sherryl Jordan’s The Juniper Game, Jordan’s book does explore the consequences of teens messing around with forces they don’t fully understand.
What Lies Beneath: Another fantastic example of how moviemakers SHOULD create a ghost story. It has everything listed above, plus a very human twist that ups the suspense. Brrrrr!
Bonus read: Again, not a perfect companion to the movie, but a chilling little YA thriller that features a female protagonist pitted against a ghostly female apparition with vengeance on her mind. The Accident by Diane Hoh
Sleepy Hollow: This next trailer will seemingly contradict everything I just said above about ghost stories. But the fact that Tim Burton made this somewhat of a parody excuses the excessive gore – at least to my way of thinking. And Burton does such a nice job of creating atmosphere that, even during the funny parts, you get a delicious shiver down your spine.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: To go along with the entry above, I’ve included this delightful cartoon that featured prominently in my childhood. Mr. Toad is sort of an add-on here, since we’re really interested in Ichabod, Disney’s version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” A little spooky, a little funny, and all early Disney animation.
Bonus read: same as above
Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Despite the title, this movie doesn’t really adhere to the original book. BUT, that’s a good thing in my opinion. I found the book drippy in its sentimentality and two-dimensional. However, Francis Ford Coppola managed to create a Dracula that was completely horrifying, and completely human – the best sort of bad guy. And, notwithstanding Keanu Reeves’ horrid British accent, this was well acted, incredibly costumed, and the music… that in itself is a horror movie for your ears – in a good way.
Bonus read (just ’cause I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t): Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Worst Witch (1986): Again, forget the remake and stick with this little gem. Yeah, yeah the special effects were super corny (typical of the 80s), but you’ve got Diana Rigg, Charlotte Rae, Fairuza Balk, and… Tim Curry! I didn’t put the trailer because it gives away WAY too much. So here’s a little clip instead.
Bonus read: check out the original series by Jill Murphy
Poltergeist (1982): I’ve said this a lot in this post, but, really, just root out the original of a movie and enjoy it. Most remakes are pale shadows and not worth the time you’d invest in them. This is another example that proves that point. If you can handle a bit more scare, Poltergeist delivers without resorting to gore and gratuitous violence.
I don’t really have a bonus read for this. But there is a novelization out there written by James Kahn, if you want to check that out.
The Watcher in the Woods (1980): OMG, the trailer still gives me the creeps. Even though this was a Disney production, it really amps the spook factor. However, I’d like to offer a little caution, if you get the DVD, don’t watch the included alternate ending. Just stick with the original theatrical ending. It’s much more mysterious and satisfying. The alternate ending is silly – much like the ending of Stephen King’s IT.
Bonus read: If you want to subject yourself to the badly written original material… The Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall