10 Great (and 3 Awful) Halloween Movies That Aren’t Slashers

Tomorrow is Halloween. Leaves, the color of fire, are falling from their trees like embers from the heavens. A cool breeze is beginning to stir the night air. The sounds of raven’s wings fluttering can only be heard by those not distracted by the screams of agonized co-eds being murdered in their showers. What a magical time. For those of you looking to watch something seasonal this Halloween but who don’t enjoy some of the classics (most, if not all, involving a man in a mask murdering one of the aforementioned co-eds) then read on for 10 of the movies that you should watch over the next few days and 3 that I wouldn’t recommend to my worst enemy (as for the rest of you, watch Jason Goes to Hell after reading my article about it).

1.)    The Crow

Almost a superhero movie, The Crow is better described as a reverse-horror film in the sense that the star is actually the “monster”, who we get to watch stalk his (deserving) victims first hand. This film stars Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, as Eric Draven, a makeup-loving young man killed on Halloween who is then resurrected as an invincible and macabre force seeking vengeance. The gloomy and, dare I say it, gothic aesthetics make this film a perfect Halloween watch but in truth it is the infamous curse surrounding the movie that should really get your attention. Brandon Lee was killed, on set, when a stunt involving a prop gun went awry. The creepy thing? This exact same thing happened to his dad’s character in the film Game of Death (the very film that Bruce Lee was filming when he passed away).

2.)    Donnie Darko 

Starring a pre-gay-cowboy Jake Gyllenhaal as the eponymous anti-hero, Donnie Darko is the twisted tale of a morose young man struggling with a multitude of physical and mental issues, some of the most significant being: a near-death experience, the concept of time travel, the terror of living with Maggie Gyllenhaal and being haunted by a man in a grotesque bunny suit who tells him to do bad things. It’s also a strangely beautiful story of redemption, what it means to be alone in this world and how Smurfs procreate.

3.)    A Nightmare Before Christmas

This is the most important movie on the list and you can just shut up if you don’t think so. Tim Burton’s modern fairy tale about the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, and his quest to show the world his interpretation of Christmas (without the permission of Sandy Claws, of course) is a dreamy and touching tale. The voice acting is stellar (especially Catherine O’Hara, who is awesome in general), the score by Danny Elfman will bring you to tears and the animation is in a league of its own. If you haven’t seen A Nightmare Before Christmas then get in a time machine, go back to when you were 7 and make your childhood self watch it so your life won’t be as stupid as it is now, stupid (sorry for the aggression, I just really like this movie).

4.)    Hocus Pocus

You know how Sarah Jessica Parker is most likely a witch in real life? Well in this movie she also plays a witch, alongside Bette Midler (who you may remember from a Seinfeld episode and I think some other things too) and the woman from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In this kid-friendly Halloween flick the three witches are resurrected from the dead for one night only, unless they can steal the life force from young children (seriously, this movie is marketed to kids). They are assisted by a zombie with his mouth sewn shut named Billy who… you know what, on second thought this movie might not be for kids. However, I do highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys referring to women’s breasts as “yabbos”.

5.)    Beetlejuice

Tim Burton makes this list again with Beetlejuice, his second time behind the camera and one of his best films to date. Michael “I’m Batman” Keaton stars as a malevolent spirit named Beetlejuice who can be summoned when his name is spoken aloud three times. This dark tale fits the Halloween theme perfectly with Tim Burton’s classic twisted aesthetics, Danny Elfman’s sinister score and strong performances from Keaton, Catherine O’Hara (who, as I said before, is awesome), Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Robert Smith from The Cure… I mean, Winona Ryder.

She has aged remarkably well.

6.)   Arsenic and Old Lace

The oldest film on this list and one of the best, Arsenic and Old Lace still stands up as a hilarious dark comedy. This movie stars Cary Grant as our hapless hero as he attempts to subdue his dangerous convict brother, convince his sweet elderly aunts to stop poisoning people and run away with his bride for their wedding night. The entire film takes place over the course of one night and is decades ahead of its time in terms of its dark subject matter and the humor associated with it. Also Peter Lorre has a small part in it, as he should in all Halloween movies.

7.)    Creepshow 

Penned by some of the biggest names in the world of horror, including that guy who wrote Cujo, you know, Steven what’s-his-face, Creepshow is actually a series of short horror films told one after another as a young boy reads them from a comic book. Creepshow isn’t the scariest film you will ever see but its concept is clever and the stories are certainly unnerving. There is also a sense of humor to the film, which makes it doubly entertaining. Directed by the already legendary George Romero, Creepshow stars some of Hollywood’s biggest names before their breakout into stardom, including Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Leslie “Don’t Call Me Shirley” Nielsen and famous film star Stephen King.

8.)    The Blair Witch Project

I had to put at least one legitimate horror movie on this list and The Blair Witch Project is one of the best. Way way waaaaay before there were 17 Paranormal Activity films and a million movies trying to be Paranormal Activity there was The Blair Witch Project, a “found” film that actually made you scared. The film was so controversial at its release that tons of people were actually convinced it was truly a work of non-fiction and that the tape they were watching, of three lost campers in the woods being tormented by the spirit of a witch, was true. The Blair Witch Project opened the door for independent film makers all over the world to drop whatever they were doing and try to make the same movie as quickly, and horribly, as possible.

9.)    Sleepy Hollow

To be honest, I really don’t like Tim Burton as much as this list would have you think. Sure, there was a time where he was making creative and insightful movies full of creepy characters and spiraling landscapes. The problem is that now Tim Burton just really likes to make movies that have already been made but in the style of his favorite director: 1990’s Tim Burton. That being said, Sleepy Hollow is a perfect Halloween film; it stars a pale-faced Johnny Depp who is in love with a pale-faced Christina Ricci as they try to capture a murderous spirit who you find out was once a pale-faced Chistopher Walken. The film is shot primarily in the spooky woods surrounding the eponymous town, deep in the throes of fall, which makes every scene either splashed with beautiful Autumn leaves or dark and foreboding, lit only by the blood of the Headless Horseman’s victims.

10.)    The Rocky Horror Picture Show

‘Nuff said.

1.)    Pumpkinhead

I recently read an article online where some nobody who writes a blog (what a loser) voiced his disappointment over Hollywood’s lack of Pumpkinhead remakes. The funny thing is he didn’t follow up this statement with a sentence about how great another world war would be. Pumpkinhead is a dumb movie where the guy from Alien whose chest bursts open because of an alien fights a monster that isn’t an alien. This is a huge disappointment because whereas Alien was an intelligent film about a monster wreaking havoc on a spaceship, Pumpkinhead is a stupid movie about a monster wreaking havoc in what I am guessing Idaho will look like after the apocalypse. But, hey, at least the monster is kind of cool looking, although I will say it is a little familiar looking…

It’s on the tip of my tongue…

2.)    Son of the Mask

If you look up movies that take place around Halloween on Wikipedia you will find Son of the Mask on the list (actually, you will find all of these movies because that was kind of the point). The problem isn’t that Son of the Mask isn’t a Halloween movie – it’s that Son of the Mask exists and I forgot about its existence until now. The other problem is that it stars Jamie Kennedy, another thing I forgot existed until now. Hey, speaking of unnecessary sequels…

3.)    Any Sequel to Any Movie on This List

While technically not a film per se, I have to conclude this list by saying the one movie you should not watch during Halloween this year is any sequel to every movie I have mentioned. Sure, they don’t all have sequels but the ones that do are terrifically horrendous. Take, for instance, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch Project 2, which, even though it was not shot with a handheld camera did stay true to the original in the sense that it obviously had no script whatsoever. Did you know that The Rocky Horror Picture Show had a kind of sequel called Shock Treatment? No? Huh, weird. The Crow spawned more straight-to-video sequels than maybe even The Land Before Time. S. Darko, the sequel to Donnie Darko made the original seem coherent and normal. Hell, even Pumpkinhead has a sequel called Blood Wings, which I haven’t seen out of fear for my own well-being. But don’t worry; look at the movies on this list that don’t have sequels! Even Tim Burton hasn’t made that mistake…

 oh… crap.

Happy Halloween! Spend this special day commenting and sharing my article!

Spooky Sources: nicksflickpicks.com, perezhilton.com, collider.com, movielottery.wordpress.com, fanpop.com, joblo.com, moviehole.net, nndb.com, scorceseproject.com, comicvine.com, yourfaceisa.com, totalfilm.com, bloody-disgusting.com, horrorhomework.com, fromquarkstoquasars.com, awn.com, imdb.com