Throughout the month of October, the Film Beat decided to revisit some Spooky Season favorites, from the truly horrific to the lighthearted treats. While we make our way to Halloweekend, consider watching and rewatching some of these movies to give yourself a scare — or a laugh.
It’s time to give Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” its long-overdue credit as a classic of the musical genre. Though well-received by critics and audiences at the time, the film hasn’t had the same staying power as other Burton classics like “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands.” This could be due to the latter half of his career leaving a lot to be desired, but this Halloween season might be the best time to revisit the film and realize it’s one of the director’s best.
Read more from Mitchel Green here.
“Hocus Pocus” is a confusing mess of a movie, and that is part of its charm. It wildly switches from awkward adult jokes to absurd music scenes, all for the total bafflement and enjoyment of the viewer. If you are looking for fewer frights in your Halloween movies, “Hocus Pocus” definitely won’t disappoint, although you might be confused about exactly what you just watched when you finish.
Read more from Zachary Loveall here.
If you ever need a good fright, especially on Halloween, watch “Alien.” It’s simple, effective and puts you in the shoes of the characters. For me, it’s one of the closest, most immersive ways that I can experience a life-or-death situation and still know I’ll survive. But I guarantee you’ll feel the dread. It’s you versus something unstoppable, unreasonable and inescapable. Every second that you’re still alive is a gift.
Read more from Alvin Anand here.
“The Night of the Living Dead”
The movie is disturbing for the same reasons that it isn’t scary in a traditional sense. Everything happens slowly: There are no jump scares, and nothing is especially graphic. Even the zombies look like people who you might avoid on the street, but nothing that would make you run for the hills. This slowness that infects every scene until the climax creates the movie’s tone, one less of suspense and more of dread and unease. The nearly square aspect ratio, canted angles, use of shadows and beautiful framing all contribute to a feeling of being trapped.
Read more from Erin Evans here.
The film has these other eerie prophetic elements, as the killers appear to be disturbingly aware of some kind of panopticon, almost like they know their lives are actually within the parameters of a film. It reminds me of the way we interact with the eyes in our cameras today, wishing we were characters in a movie, soundtracking our lives as directors rather than actors. Billy and Stu speak as if they know they’re being watched, as if their life is a movie, which, of course, it really is.
Read more from Mary Elizabeth Johnson here.
It’s completely understandable why “Halloweentown” has remained a staple in the Disney Channel Original Movie Halloween lineup. The franchise offers 5.5 total hours of runtime, with each film lasting a little under 80 minutes, and a litany of Halloween-themed television events meant to entice kids into watching cable television instead of streaming the latest Hulu series. Consider, maybe, playing a “Halloweentown” film four days out of the week, leading up to a marathon of a new Halloween episode of your favorite wacky sitcoms on Friday.
Read more from Emma Chang here.
“I Know What You Did Last Summer”
“I Know What You Did Last Summer” is not unique or original by any means. But that wouldn’t stop me from recommending it to anyone who’s looking for a fun horror movie to watch in October. The fall season is already cliché in its own right, with haunted corn mazes and pumpkin picking and apple cider drinking being must-dos. Why not watch a classic horror movie with your hot pumpkin spice latte? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what’s expected.
Read more from Laura Millar here.
“The Exorcist” is an assault on its audience, taking us through some of the most horrifying experiences a human can face and leaving us no choice but to watch. It’s impossible to be a passive viewer when this movie is on screen. While you can get away with peeking through your fingers during most horror movies, there’s no hiding for two hours straight during “The Exorcist.” You can look away, but the sounds of terror will find you. If you really want to escape, you’ll have to leave the room.
Read more from Laura Millar here.
It’s possible that I don’t watch enough horror movies to make this call, but as far as I know, there’s nothing like “Jennifer’s Body.” I’m sure there are a lot of movies that mix scares, gore and humor well, but Fox’s performance as Jennifer simply elevates everything. Jennifer is a Midwestern, late-aughts wannabe Kardashian, complete with the vocal fry, who delivers every single one-liner with a complete lack of self-awareness and all of the confidence in the world. It makes all of the jokes feel like surprises. Every laugh it got out of me during that first rewatch was halfway between a chuckle and an incredulous bark.
Read more from Katrina Stebbins here.