In the spirit of the spookiest season, the Growing Bolder staff shares their favorite Halloween movies and specials.
The House of the Devil
For me, there’s nothing more interesting than going back to the beginning, the very first Halloween movie in existence, Georges Méliès’ 1896 silent film “The House of the Devil.” It’s got it all, witchcraft, demons, skeletons, and even special effects all in a film that runs a grand total of three minutes! It’s fascinating to see that the things that scare us today are pretty similar to those that scared us 125 years ago!
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s how great Snoopy looks as the Red Baron (and that I grew up with a beagle), but “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is still my favorite. While it’s Linus’ story, Charlie Brown, Lucy and of course, Snoopy, all play big parts. Plus, it signifies the beginning of the holidays, with the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials rounding out the franchise trifecta. This year marks its return to public television, but if you missed it there check Apple+.
This 1993 classic continues to “put a spell” on audiences every year. It has its spooky moments for kids, especially since it has real historical ties to the Salem Witch Trials, but overall the “Sanderson Sisters” lean more on family-friendly comedy to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. When you stir in an iconic cast, a talking black cat and a dash of 90’s nostalgia to this witch tale, it’s no wonder this Disney flick is at the top of most lists.
The Ghostbusters remake with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. There are respectful nods to the original film, with the added bonus of cameos from the original cast, but it feels new with the women in charge, taking on the ghosts and saving the day. The dialogue is smart and funny and the entire movie is a treat!
The Night of the Hunter
“Don’t he never sleep?” The great Robert Mitchum was never better than when he wore a collar to play a wolf in shepherd’s clothing for The Night of the Hunter. He may have fooled the townsfolk with his preacher act, but his new stepson knows he just wants money, and will gladly kill to get it. This film is an all-time great, with expressionistic beauty that creates a mood like the best dark fairy tales.
It’s not Halloween until a decaying, overly-energetic ghoul in a vertically striped suit haunts the Deetz family home with a musical number. I watch it multiple times a season, and even checked out the show on Broadway a few years ago. No other movie blends spookiness and laughs so well.
I’ve never been a fan of horror movies unless it’s sci-fi horror. Sick psychos are not my thing. There’s too many of them running around IRL. I also don’t like devil movies. The Exorcist flipped me out and ruined that genre for me. I did enjoy Young Frankenstein, directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder. While most parody films today are ridiculously stupid, Young Frankenstein, co-written by Brooks and Wilder, is a clever and endlessly funny send-up of classic horror films. .