One of the only redeeming qualities of the fall season is the holidays that follow. First up is Halloween, which is the best of the three. Christmas brings hope. New Year’s brings renewal. Halloween brings darkness and terror, and laughs in the face of impending death. It’s the sexiest of the three. It’s the holiday that comes to the party dressed in black, and doesn’t give a crap about your happiness or joy.
Halloween is Punk.
Halloween is also that time when one can indulge in fictional horrors through television and film. Many of us try to get into the spirit of the holiday through horror films and scary tv.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions that help you celebrate the macabre. At the very least, you’ll get a good fright.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (with special shout out to “IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN”)
For some of a certain age, Halloween didn’t kick off until you watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The story of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive is as timeless as it is simple. It was a great kickoff to the holiday season.
Now, thanks to Netflix, a new holiday tradition has begun for the wee ones. Released in 1993, The film tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident of “Halloween town” who discovers a doorway to other holidays and, out of boredom, decides to take Santa’s place. It’s a delightfully dark film with memorable music and a fantastic score.
Netflix plays it every year now and Disney has caught on to its popularity. You can’t miss Nightmare products at the stores in October.
Watch it soon as the calendar changes. It will set the proper mood for the next 31 days.
For adults, Halloween often means two things: Dressing up as a “Sexy” Version of whatever’s hip in pop culture, and Scary movies. and while most often go for a slasher flick (like, say, “Halloween”) I tend to go for something with a bit more heft to it.
Something considered a classic of the cinema.
Something that originated from the mind of Stephen King.
THE SHINING has everything you would want in a horror film. A haunted hotel. A boy with the ability to see Ghosts. And a father consumed by madness until he becomes the lumbering monster with murder on the mind.
A suspenseful Classic, The Shining is the one to watch this Halloween . . . with the lights on.
THE WALKING DEAD PILOT
Walking Dead is in its 8th season now, with no signs of slowing down. The Popular show has become the definitive Zombie horror story. And as story about survival against all odds
The Pilot episode stands out as a fantastic hour of horror television. It’s directed by Frank Darabont, and it’s the most cinematic episode of the series.
One scene stands out. Rick, walking down a dark corridor, with nothing to light the way but matches. It’s a close shot of his face, as he’s walking this hallway. Every few moments, the light extinguishes, and for a moment it’s pitch black. And then Rick lights another match. It’s the most suspenseful two minutes on TV. Seven years later I still remember it.
Watch the first episode for that scene alone.
It can’t be all Doom and Gloom, right? Sometimes you want something you can laugh at.
Ghostbusters (the 84 version) still holds up. Staring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Harold Ramis, the film tells the story of three paranormal scientist who figure out how to contain the supernatural and keep them from pestering society. The film was wildly popular, spawning a sequel, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a remake. Kids still dress up as Ghostbusters today, asking “Who You gonna Call?”
STRANGER THINGS SEASON ONE AND TWO
And speaking of the eighties, “Stranger Things” Season 2 starts in time to take advantage of the holiday. The Second Season builds on what happened before and specifically, what happened to Will.
If you haven’t seen the first season, get on it. If you’ve wondered what a collaboration between Stephen King and Stephen Spielberg would have looked like, this is the closest you may get.
There are many ways that one gets into the Halloween spirit, but these five films and television programs are staples. They are but a small selection of media that can chill you to the bone and get your heart rate up. I recommend watching with the lights off and remember, it’s only make-believe.
And that knock at the window? It’s only the wind.
Or is it?