Something Old: Hallowe’en Movie Recommendations

Patrick Haugseng

Rocky Horror Picture Show:

What is halloween all about? Parties, costumes, frights and funnies, that’s what. The best halloween experience would therefore encapsulate all of those wonderful qualities. Welcome, then, to the fabulous world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 musical sensation that defied a decade. (Seriously, this is a film that features a same-sex marriage. In 1975!)

With some of the catchiest songs a musical can have, like Sweet Transvestite, Time Warp and Touch Me, a spooky house, a Frankenstein creation, a hunchbacked henchman, wacky sci-fi effects and costume and makeup that would make The Addams Family blush, Rocky Horror is THE halloween film. All that, plus terrifying characters and barnstorming performances. And it’s funny.

Really, it’s the whole halloween package wrapped up in an hour and a half, with an added sing-a-long option. A perfect start to a big night out in your cape, fangs and plastic axe. And, as a few of us RC bloggers discovered, it goes perfectly with margaritas (Ed- I can confirm as I was there).

Alana Farrell

Hocus Pocus:

I don’t like scary movies. Oh I am fine watching them and for weeks, even months later. Then the ONE time I am sleeping alone all the horrible feelings and thought come flooding back, like my brain trying to scare itself for no good reason. That is why for Hallowe’en I tend to avoid all the gore and cheap frights, and revert to my childhood for fun memories.

This is why I watch Hocus Pocus every Hallow’en. Released in 1993 (yes, I feel old) by Disney it is the story of three witches who rise from a curse and have one night to try and secure their position on earth. To try and stop them are some plucky teens, an 8 year old and a talking cat.

The movie boasts a stellar cast such as Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the three witches. There is even a young Thora Birch! They give some really entertaining performances,especially Midler who is always a sensation.

The sets are bright, colourful and magical and they really set the scene for a bewitching neighbourhood which takes Hallow’en very seriously (well it is Salem after all). The script is very funny, see the witches riding on vacuum cleaners and them running away from a lighter, thinking that it is lightning controlled by a wizard.

It is a great adventure for both old and young, and I still really enjoy it today. Yes it is looking a little dated but the story is good fun and the performances magnificent. See in particular Better Midler’s shuffling walk.

To get you in the mood the video below is my favourite scene, where they bewitch an entire party by singing “I put a spell on you” in their own unique way.

Emer Farrell

Sleepy Hollow:

You really cannot have a Halloween movie list without including at least one of the very appropriate Tim Burton works. With iconic films such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Batman Returns, it can be argued that Tim Burton really was at his best during the nineties. His signature dark, whimsical humour seemed to be more present in his titles during this decade. One of the best in my opinion is Sleepy Hollow, one of Burton’s more grown-up visions. In this film, Burton presents an interpretation of the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

It follows the New York constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), originally a teacher in the Irving tale, as he tries to solve the mystery of the headless Horseman terrorising the town. Many have grown tired of this Depp/Burton partnership, but it has to be said that despite the similar outward appearances of Depp’s earlier Burton characters, Ichabod Crane is a character that stands on his own. Depp plays up the eccentricities of this fish out of water as he tries to convince the townsfolk of the benefits of a more scientific approach. Burton’s innate sense of dark humour really comes into light with this conflict, as Ichabod himself faints at the sight of blood.

In essence the film is a sort of period-slasher, but do not let that turn you off. Unlike the gratuitous slasher films of recent years, Sleepy Hollow carries with it a sense of atmosphere, and foreboding as you watch the story unfold on this eerie town. Not surprisingly, this is accompanied by the musical stylings of Danny Elfman. After all, who better understands the requirements for a signature Burton film? If Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman don’t draw you in, there is also amazing performances from Christina Ricci (Katrina Von Tassel), Miranda Richardson (Lady Van Tassel) and Christopher Walken (Hessian Horseman).

It cannot be stressed how beautiful a film it is either, with gorgeous Burton-esque Georgian costumes, most notably a black and white vertical striped dress worn by Christina Ricci towards the end, and enchanting forest scenes with autumn leaves strewn under dark and gnarled trees. It is highly recommended for those who like a bit of artistic depth in their “scary” films.

You can purchase the movies on Amazon:

Rocky Horror on DVD and Blu-Ray

Hocus Pocus on DVD and Blu-Ray

Sleepy Hollow on DVD, Blu-Ray and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

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