By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Yes We Can
October is finally here! I can finally talk about the spooky stuff.
Since the missus and I are more inside these days, we’re always watching movies. Regardless of the year, however, October turns into watching as many creepy, kooky, spooky, ooky movies as we can fit into the month.
I have my favorites, of course. Halloween night is never complete without It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. For kids, I’d recommend anything from The Addams Family (the 1991 movie or the TV show), Ghostbusters, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, the Universal Monster movies (Bride of Frankenstein is one of my personal favorites), or the original run of The Twilight Zone show.
I have my personal favorites as well. While definitely more of the grown up variety, these films are the ones that have become part of my traditional monthly viewings.
Halloween (1978) – I saw this perhaps at way too young an age, but it was the edited and censored version they showed every year on KTVT Channel 11. I love the atmosphere of it all: That gritty 1970s feel, the memorable soundtrack, and the simple, creepy story. There are parts I could do without (the neverending “Totally” commentary), and most of the sequels are duds (though the 2018 entry was solid, and I have a weird fondness for Halloween III), but this is as essential an October viewing as It’s A Wonderful Life is for Christmas.
The Shining (1980) – Another simple story about a hotel caretaker losing his sanity due to the influences of a secluded and sinister resort. I love the “countdown” feel of this film. It goes from a span of a few weeks to a specific day and time where everything goes south. Jack Nicholson’s performance as the troubled Jack Torrance shines, and audiences can definitely believe in the chaos created at the end. That’s nothing to say of the excellent visual style and soundtrack for this film.
Poltergeist (1982) – It’s wild to think this film is rated PG (two years before the PG-13 rating came about), as the film provides some genuine gross-out moments, but the main cast is believable as a real caring family, as they find out the house they recently moved into is beyond haunted. There are a lot of wild special effects, and the ending gets intense when they try to escape their situation, but there’s a lot of humor and genuinely charming moments in between the scares. Another film with a great soundtrack, and the one of film’s more iconic lines: “They’re here.”
I once read that horror films are very much like comedy: You have to make the “punchline” land in order to be effective. I think that’s an accurate view. One of the most interesting things about horror films is how broadly the genre ranges. If one wants a “gross” film, there are plenty of those, but many provide more psychological horror, more focused on the uneasy and the imagined. Some provide social commentary of the time period, while others are pure satire. And some are just guilty pleasures (I’m looking at you, Chopping Mall).
As we get ready for Halloween, what are some of your own personal favorites? You’re welcome to share in the comments.