The following films, in my self-aggrandizing opinion (would that be IMSAO?), are the perfect mood-setters for this great holiday. The list is in no particular order, with the exception of Halloween, which should be at the top of anyone’s list. I apologize in advance if I’ve left one of your faves out:
- Halloween (1978) – Often imitated, never duplicated… yada, yada. John Carpenter had the good sense to quit while he was ahead, handing the directorial reins for the inevitable string of successors to other less capable filmmakers.
- Trick ‘r Treat – The one that almost got away (see my review from 10/11). This one’s a soon-to-be perennial favorite that was tailor-made for the season.
- Frankenstein (1931 version) – Allegedly Boris Karloff’s monster caused some audience members to faint during his appearance. That sounds a little suspect, but makeup man Jack Pierce’s creation is arguably one of the most recognizable Halloween characters of all time.
- Bride of Frankenstein – Even better than the first one. It’s everything a sequel should be: atmospheric, tragic, funny and subversive (see Gods and Monsters for some unofficial background). Not to be missed!
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – Not really a “movie” in the strictest sense, but Halloween wouldn’t seem the same without it. Clocking in at a brisk 25 minutes, it’s a great palate cleanser for the feast of other Halloween films represented in this list.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – An all-purpose October-December favorite (Yep, this one can serve double duty as a Christmas movie), and your best choice for stop-motion Halloween mayhem. I’d take this any day over the annoying Mad Monster Party.
- Dracula (1931 version) – A little slow for today’s audiences perhaps, but what it lacks in action it makes up in mood and Bela Lugosi’s star-making performance.
- Night of the Living Dead (1968 version) – The one that started the zombie craze. The black-and-white version is the only one to get. Colorization must die!
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch – I’ve already expressed my misguided affection for this one. Watch for it on another upcoming list.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!