Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944/Warner Bros./Dir. Frank Capra)

A little while ago, I posted a list of movies that you can watch at Halloween that aren’t horror movies. When I posted that, I “missed” one important movie. I put missed in quotes because I didn’t miss it so much as decide that I would rather do a review on it. While not a perfect movie, nor even a perfect comedy, it is enjoyable and it does work as a film. It’s one of m favorite Cary Grant performances, and that is really saying something. And hey, it takes place on Halloween!

Here’s the thing though, the best thing to do would be to go into this movie totally blind. I’m going to spoil some things about this movie, but one of the biggest spoilers is on the back of the box. For best results, don’t read anything and just go watch it. As of right now, it’s on Netflix Streaming (but who knows what tomorrow might bring, right?) so just go watch it. Seriously, don’t even bother reading this review because you should just go see it.

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5 Non-Horror Halloween Movies

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Holiday, Top Lists
Tags: , ,

I like Halloween, a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Syd also loves Halloween. The problem is, Syd doesn’t like horror movies. It’s a little hard to watch movies during the Halloween season if you live with someone who doesn’t like Horror movies. So I decided to put together a list of movies that don’t have to be classed as horror. That way, I get to get into Halloween, and Syd gets to sleep without nightmares. So as a result, I’ve got something that isn’t scary. Now, there aren’t rules to this, there isn’t any science, I went by feel. The only explanation I can come up with, is an after the fact examination. Each of these feel Autumnal to me. They take place during the fall, or have strong themes of the supernatural. That’s all I got. I like watching these during Halloween.

NOW! Allow us to, for a moment, start with the honorable mentions. Someone suggested The Nightmare Before Christmas while I was putting this list together. Syd had a complaint, “It’s a Christmas movie.” and with that, it sort of had to go. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was rejected on the grounds that Syd can’t watch old Chuck get another bag full of rocks. She just can’t take the bullying of Charlie Brown. The Godfather is something I always find myself watching during autumn, but it’s not Hallow’een-y enough. Likewise, Ghostbusters was also suggested, but it just felt wrong. Yeah, it felt wrong, I go mostly by feeling on this sight, quit trying to imagine that I use any kind of science behind this. There is no science, no chart, no weighing of evidence. Feeling, gut, emotion. We went through a few others, but in the end I landed with these five.


1. Clue
A classic comedy, that didn’t get the kind of love it deserved back in the day. Yes, it’s based on a board game, but this movie is SO MUCH MORE! Clue is truly one of the funniest satires of both the mystery genre and the McCarthyism of the 50s. I’m not sure it actually takes place during the autumn, but it feels like it does. Also, most the characters are inside and the whole thing has a lovely warm feeling that I admire. There are few movies that are as much fun as this one. When I reviewed this a while ago, I was ready for it to have not held up, but it did. And it has the most manic dénouement in history with Tim Curry running around explaining the murder like mad. Ya gotta love that!


2. The Crow
Another movie I’ve reviewed, and still watch. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this before, but about 90% of the time I review a movie I have this feeling of “Well, I don’t need to watch that again.” that washes over me. And maybe 85% of the time I never do watch the movies again. Or at least, I don’t feel an urge to watch them. This one, however, I found myself wanting to watch after the review. I went into the viewing, with the idea of watching it for a review, with the idea that I was going to sink myself into a crappy earl 90s nostalgiafest of not holding up years later. Strangely, not only did it hold up, but there were things I found that I appreciated about the movie that had never struck me before. Of course, by issues with depression didn’t start until my 30s, so some of the things in that movie wouldn’t have struck me until later. Since that review, I’ve pulled it out every Halloween Season and watched it at least once, if not twice. Yeah, I didn’t much talk about the movie here did I? Aw well, click the link up there and read the review.


3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Okay, so this is a midnight movie that plays on Halloween. What do you want from me? If you don’t know what Rocky Horror is… I honestly can’t help you. No, wait, I’ll try. It’s part sci-fi homage, part lunatic comedy, part polyamory romance, part exaltation of the joy of being yourself, part surreal examination of the sexual awakening of America, it’s a musical and Tim Curry is in it. Again. What more could you possibly need? There is a lot more story than what ends up on the screen, so you’ll need to watch four or five hundred times to get the full understanding. If you’re a fan, you will have done this. Not sure why I’ve never actually reviewed this one. I’ve thought about it. I think I probably like it too much. There is a list of movies that I love, that I think I’ll probably never actually review. I might, some day, which is why I’ve never done a “Movies I’ll NEVER Review” list, because three days would go by and I’d find myself deciding to give Raiders of the Lost Ark the love it deserves. It’s such an unrecognized classic! Seriously you have no idea how close to rhapsodizing it I was after seeing it on the IMAX screen last week. Only exhaustion stopped me. What was I talking about? Oh, right, Rocky Horror. Well, all that I said about Raiders also applies. I like it too much, I would just say things you’ve heard before.


2. Interview With the Vampire
Again, I’m not sure how Halloweeny this is, but I watch it at this time of year. Again, we’ve got themes of depression, the supernatural, and (oddly) polyamory. Huh, note to self, collect a list of movies that feature polyamory. This is another movie that I have watched each Halloween since the review. I actually haven’t watched the Corman Poe movies that much since I reviewed them, and I think they all got much higher reviews than these two I’ve admitted to watching a lot more. Interesting that. I’m not sure what it says, but I do watch it. Probably because the movie is ridiculously beautiful, being more of a drama with a bit of supernatural themes than really a supernatural film. Everyone I have asked about this says it’s not a horror film, that they’ve always felt it to be a dramatic period piece first and a vampire movie second. Oddly, I have real problems with the book. I tried to read it once, got the heavily abridged audiobook, and it’s kind of terrible. Try cutting what, according to my unabridged audiobook, is a book that takes fifteen hours to read and squish it down to three hours. I’m only reading the whole thing for the first time right now. Interestingly, I don’t find Louis as whiney as everyone else. I never found him whiney exactly, just ineffectual. I think he’s supposed to be clinically depressed, but written by someone who either hasn’t suffered from depression, or can’t articulate the feelings very well. The movie is fantastic though, and you should probably watch it again for the first time.


5. Legend
Tom Cruise and Mia Sara fight TIM CURRY? What the shit? How many times is Curry going to turn up in this list? Well, as this is the last entry, it should be the last time. Again, the autumnal feeling is questionable, but I allow it because the only times I’ve ever felt like watching this movie is in the period between September 1 and November 30. So, I’m going with it. The supernatural is well represented, and there is a force of evil that has to be conquered. There is a lot of darkness, a great deal of glitter, and Tom Cruise in a mini dress. I don’t know, it feels right, and it has Tim Curry in it! Has Tim Curry ever steered us wrong? I mean BESIDES McHale’s Navy! And CongoAddams Family Reunion, Oscar, Charlie’s Angels, FernGully: The Last Rainforest… You know what? Never mind! Look, when he’s good he’s VERY good. You may be wondering why I don’t mention The Shadow. I actually sort of like that movie. I’ve been thinking of a review for it. I like to defend the indefensible after all. Also, would have been a good one for this list. Another movie I associate with fall and Halloween.

Wait, I didn’t put The Immortals in here? That actually takes place ON Halloween. Of course, it’s also not a very good movie. That’s probably why I didn’t put it here. And yet, I have, so work out that little pair of ducks on your own.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

You know, with the Garfield Halloween special, I’m almost inclined to link to X-Entertainment’s review and call it a day. However, I decided when I started this that I would try and do more than just link to a review and then give my thoughts. It’s going to be hard not to either blow this or end up doing a run down of everything that happens which is less a review and more a written description. The chief problem with Garfield is that he’s purely a cynical attempt to cash in on things. From the very start, that was Jim Davis’s idea, to make a media powerhouse and damned if he didn’t do it. With that in mind though, and that being admitted, it feel facile to simply complain that this is a cynical, phoned in attempt to grab some ratings for Halloween. Doesn’t mean that isn’t what this is, but it does feel sort of redundant at this point.
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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966 CBS, Dir. Bill Menedez)

What would Halloween be for a Baby Boomer – Gen Xer former kid without Linus Van Pelt sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for Santa Claus to come? What’s that? Oh yes, the Great Pumpkin was originally devised by Charles Schultz as an amusing story about Linus being badly confused about Christmas and Halloween. Since Linus started out as an eccentric baby in the strip, this was probably a logical extension of that. Oddly, the sun shows up twice inside of 6 seconds in this thing. Right at the opening bit, They pass the sun, and then just as Linus is going to throw the apple away they pass it again.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983 Warner Bros. Dir. John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante & George Miller)

Hey! An anthology without AIP, Vincent Price or Stephen King’s writing! It’s not even based or inspired by EC comics! Woo! Something different. This time it’s the movie based on the Twilight Zone TV show, which probably was only made after everyone saw how well Creepshow did. Far as I can tell, Steven Spielberg & John Landis put this joint together with Frank Marshall as the Executive Producer. Sort of like how after Tales from the Darkside did so well, Spielberg made Amazing Stories. That’s not to say that this is bad or anything, just saying that it’s a copycat production made after Romero proved that it could be done. I will say however that this sort of a crystallization of these directors in that time period. Everything you want to know about Landis, Spielberg, Dante and Miller in the early 1980s, you can learn by watching this movie. They pretty much bring all their early 80s tropes with them to this production. Is that good? Is it bad? We’ll have to see…

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The Immortals (1995 Nu Image Films Dir. Brian Grant)

Because it takes place at Halloween, that’s why! What, was that? You hadn’t actually asked why we were watching a heist movie as part of our Halloween special? Well, that’s probably because you’d never heard of this before. And why would you? As far as I know, it was just a direct to video/cable movie that came and went like the wind during the mid-nineties when HBO was showing things like this about once a week. I saw it back in the day and I remembered it well enough that when I noticed it was part of a pain box set I bought it. I got this from Target, as part of a 1 disc, four movie set from Echo Bridge Entertainment. Welcome to the Pain Box Club guys! Actually, Echo Bridge can’t be blamed for this movie. Like most Pain Box distributors, they didn’t make this thing. They just acquired the rights to it. Interesting point though, they actually seem to own the rights to this movie, at least in North America. Most Pain Box makers just grab whatever is in the public domain and throw it out there. Not that I believe they meant to buy this and distribute it. I’m going to go ahead and assume that when they bought Alliance Atlantis, it was part of the library that they got with the sale. I can’t imagine anyone deciding to seek out this movie so they could have the rights, particularly not so they could release it on a disc with two other forgotten mid-90s gangster movies and a blaxploitation film. No, this smacks of “We have the rights to these, what’d you want to do with them?” However, that doesn’t mean the movie is horrible, we should give every movie that comes across our plate an equal chance to delight or at least surprise us. Particularly this one, as I remember it being pretty good.

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Creepshow 2 (1987 New World Pictures Dir. Michael Gornick)

How do you follow the success of one of the most popular horror anthology movies ever? You make Tales from the Darkside for TV of course. What if you’re knee deep in that program and someone reminds you that Creepshow was a theatrical release and that they’d like to have another movie? Well, if you make a sort of halfhearted sequel that’s under funded and as a result fails to capture quite the spirit of the original. I place no blame at the feet of director Michael Gornick. I’ve listened to his commentary and it sounds like he made the best product he could with the tools he was given to work with. The problem was that New World Pictures was trying to make the movie on less than half what the first movie cost, which I can’t help but wonder if that frustrated Romero, which caused him to pass on directing duties. As I understand it, Romero was going to write and direct, and then decided to pass the directing duties to Tom Savini, who either because of time or not wanting to deal with what was becoming a cost cutting adventure passed it on to Gornick. Additionally, because of some production problems, the bonding company ended up placing extra pressure on the company asking them to speed up the production. So, there was some frustration in production, and that caused the end product to be less than stellar. It’s not even that this is bad, or not an enjoyable ride. It’s good, it’s fun, it’s just not as good or as fun as the original. It’s worth watching though, so let’s dive in and check it out.

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