October 17, 2014 by dracs
Last week I wrote up a list of the best tabletop games to play this spooky season of Halloween. But of course you need a couple of good films to watch while you play them. So of course Warren asked me, Beasts of War’s biggest coward, to come up with the Top 5 Films for Halloween. Let’s do this.
5) Hocus Pocus
I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, so before drawing up this list I asked a lot of friends what they watch for Halloween. Surprisingly, one of the most common answer wasn’t a horror at all.
Hocus Pocus is a Disney movie which tells the story of a teenager called Max who has recently moved to the famous town of Salem. Max struggles with his new life, dealing with bullies and meeting “the girl of his dreams”. However, things get even worse for him when he lights a black candle, accidentally resurrecting three cackling witches to terrorize the people of Salem.
Let me just get this out of the way, I do not like this movie. True it has a lot of very fun moments and everything about it drips with the style of the Halloween holiday. Still, I just don’t like it. It’s all a bit too corny for me, and the fact that everyone in the film goes on an on about the teenage main character being a virgin feels a little weird.
However, there can be no denying that this is a truly memorable movie. It has some fun characters and scenarios, ranging from the witches attempting to come to terms with the modern world to a good zombie helping the characters make their escape. While I may not like it, it is easy to see why it is one of so many people’s must watch Halloween movies.
4) Nightmare on Elm Street
When it comes to Halloween horror, there can be few better places to look than the slasher films of the 80s. There are a lot of memorable films among these, but when it comes down to it I think there are few that will sneak into your dreams like Nightmare on Elm Street.
Nightmare on Elm Street is your pretty typical slasher horror, with sexually promiscuous teenagers becoming the focus of a sinister serial killer. However, what makes Nightmare on Elm Street stand out from all the others is its blurring of the lines between dream and reality, making a world where to fall asleep is to leave yourself open to what has become one of modern horror’s most recognisable monsters.
There are, as I said, many iconic slasher horror films from this period, including of course Halloween itself. Yet I felt that this movie’s over-the-top gore and striking visuals earn it its place on the list. After all, the other films don’t have this.
3) Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
I have heard many people say that this is the best in the original Evil Dead trilogy. Showcasing a major tonal shift from the more serious first installment, Evil Dead 2 has a well deserved cult following.
There isn’t really too much to say in regards to the film’s plot. The film carries on from the last movie, with Ash Williams as the last survivor of the Deadite attack upon he and his friends in their forest cabin, where the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis unleashed an evil daemonic force. Now in the second movie, Ash has had to remove his own hand to avoid possession and is joined by a new group including the daughter of the professor whose recording caused all the trouble in the first place.
This is the movie that really turned Ash Williams (and also Bruce Campbell) into the pop culture icons we know them as today. Ash gains his iconic chainsaw fist and once again fights off the evil dead. The deadites themselves still manage to be genuinely creepy, but are a bit goofier this time around, which just serves to make the film even more fun to watch.
Unfortunately I cannot talk too much about this movie as I’m afraid I haven’t seen it yet. “But Sam,” I hear you typing, “how can you put it on this list if you haven’t even seen it?” Well the reason is that this movie is on my personal to watch list this Halloween, alongside Fright Night. While all the movies on this list are, I think, excellent choices for the season, this is the one I want to see for the first time, so I too can appreciate the coolness of Ash Williams.
Hail to the king baby
4) Troll 2
Let’s get this straight. Halloween isn’t scary. It’s a time to dress up in silly costumes, watch movies and celebrate scary things while having a good laugh with mates. In this way, I think that this infamous film is without doubt the perfect choice.
Troll 2 has become one of those prized examples of when a bad movie can be just as fun to watch as a good one, earning a place alongside such movies as The Room and Birdemic.
The film tells the story of a family visiting the village of Nilbog, little suspecting that it is overrun by Goblins (that’s right, no trolls in Troll 2). The good news, they are vegetarian goblins. The bad news, they are attempting to feed the people spiked food that will turn them into vegetables.
This is one of those films where practically nothing went right. The acting is terrible, scripting awful, premise ridiculous and effects laughable. Intended as a horror movie, it nonetheless ended up being so bad you could not help but laugh. Regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, it has gained a cult following and is the perfect film to watch with friends over a couple of beers as you gaffaw over its many mistakes.
So it is that one of the worst movies ever scores so high on this list. All we can say is, Oh my God!
And the number 1 Halloween film is…
This choice might surprise anyone who hasn’t seen it. But trust me when I say this is without doubt the best movie to watch this Halloween, no matter what age you might be.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, a young boy is left feeling outcast from his family and bullied by his schoolmates due to his mysterious ability to see dead people. This is Norman and he lives in a suburban American village that in no way resembles Salem, which has built up a tourist industry around the story of a witch who once cursed the town. Little do the towns people realise, but the curse is all too real, causing the dead to rise once more. Now it is up to Norman, assisted by his sister, best friend, the local Jock and the school bully, to save them all.
Yes, this might seem familiar, and on the surface you might think a lot of this movie is. We are presented with the familiar characters of horror movies, namely the gifted outcast, the dumb jock, the brainless blonde and the arrogant bully. However, ParaNorman’s genius is in taking these tropes and making them feel fresh and new once again, with interesting developments and original plot twists.
I don’t want to tell you too much as this really is a movie you should experience for yourself. However, the whole thing feels like it was made by people who were big fans of the old horror movies of the 70s and 80s, able to laugh at their silliness while still appreciating their charm. Yet it never feels like a parody, and ends up providing a heartfelt and surprising story.
The stop-motion animation of ParaNorman is breathtaking, and proves that in a world of CGI, this medium still has a place. The movie mixes great laughs and gross-out humour with brilliant characters and even some genuinely creepy moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat. This is the perfect Halloween movie to watch on your own, with friends, or with your kids. Seriously, don’t miss it.
Well that’s my top five choices. What do you think of them? Do you agree with the list? Did I get any wrong? What would be your top five movies to watch this Halloween?