By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
Every year when October comes around, many Americans seem to suddenly erupt in an obsession with the creepy, the terrifying, and the gothic traditions of Halloween. While the decades old customs of carving a spooky jack o’ lantern or dressing up as monsters, ghouls, and goblins seem to die with age, there’s one Halloween ritual that stays consistent throughout a person’s life. Nearly everyone has a few films or television specials that they absolutely have to watch every October. Some find delight in torturing themselves with horror movies like “The Ring” and “The Exorcist.” Others find entertainment in nostalgic classics such as “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Everyone’s seen or at least heard of “Paranormal Activity” and “The Shining,” but what about the Halloween specials that aren’t as talked about as those movies? There are many movies that haven’t yet been established as Halloween classics and are therefore overlooked when the witching hour arrives. The following ten specials may not be that popular, but they still deserve to be viewed every Halloween.
10. “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”
The first two installments in the “Halloween” film franchise are on a lot of people’s list of Halloween classics, but I don’t hear as much about the third movie as I do the other two. That’s understandable because “Halloween III” isn’t as good as the other two. However, the movie makes up for that by engulfing itself in the spirit of Halloween. Jack o’ Lanterns and seasonal decorations litter the film, so you can’t help but get into the mood of holiday.
9. “Hotel Transylvania”
On the outside, “Hotel Transylvania” seems like another stale comedy by Adam Sandler. However, those who actually gave the movie a chance found that it’s full of witty jokes, fast-paced animation, and heart. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch the hijinks of all the classic monsters and mythical creatures in the loony hotel run by Dracula (Adam Sandler).
8. “Adventure Time: Stakes”
The Cartoon Network hit television show, “Adventure Time,” has been insane enough to delve into nearly every genre in the entertainment industry. It was only a matter of time until the show explored the monster-hunting past of one of it’s supporting characters, Marceline the Vampire Queen. In this eight part miniseries known as “Stakes,” Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and several other wacky characters chase after a gang of vampires back from the dead. The dark atmosphere and creepy villains make this cartoon a great watch around Halloween.
7. “Monster Squad”
It’s not a proper Halloween without a 1980s monster movie in the mix. If the Goonies found themselves fighting some of Universal’s greatest monsters such as Dracula and the Wolf Man, you basically have the plot of “Monster Squad.” The premise is simple, but the execution is incredibly entertaining. “Monster Squad” is a fantastic movie to eat popcorn to and get pumped up about the season.
6. “Trick ‘r Treat”
“Trick ‘r Treat” is one of those movies that seamlessly ties comedy into horror. The movie has five intertwined stories that will unsettle you with its dark tales, but you’ll also be laughing at the irony of the situations. Only a good Halloween movie can get you to guffaw hysterically at gruesome deaths.
5. “The Haunting (1963)”
Back before CGI effects muddled the horror genre, “The Haunting” used creative cinematography and practical effects to produce scares. The movie is very hit or miss when it comes to its horror, but even if you’re not frightened, you will be thoroughly invested in the deep character study. I’m not exactly sure if this film is popular or not, but it’s old enough and well written enough to deserve a spot on this list.
This stop-motion monster movie follows many of the best horror tropes that came out of the 1980s. The main characters and general plot may seem very cliché, but the twist near the end shows that “ParaNorman” is a lot more intelligent and heartfelt than it initially seems. “ParaNorman” is the second film from studio Laika, and it continues in the tradition of being a stop-motion film bent on frightening children with its intense visuals. It may not be as chilling as “Coraline” (which isn’t on this list because it seems to have already become a Halloween classic), but the story provides thoughtful morals for children along with its nightmare fuel.
3. “Shaun of the Dead”
Director and comedy visionary, Edgar Wright, brings us a hysterical parody of the zombie apocalypse genre. Not only are the dialogue and witty banter between the two leads, Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost), incredibly funny; the creative use of cinematography allows for ingenious visual gags. “Shaun of the Dead,” however, isn’t just a wacky comedy. It also has the scary moments, gore, and dramatic scenes that make a great zombie movie.
2. “The Babadook”
Unlike the other movies on the list, which have ranged from full on comedy to comedy mixed with horror, “The Babadook” is definitely a horror film. Thanks to the marvelous direction of Jennifer Kent and a stellar performance by Essie Davis,”The Babadook” is slowly becoming known as one of the scariest psychological thrillers of the last few decades. This movie will have even the bravest horror film enthusiasts checking his or her closet before falling asleep.
1. “Over the Garden Wall”
This Cartoon Network miniseries has everything anyone would want in a good Halloween special. There are monsters and creatures that’ll make your skin crawl, unsettling mysterious locations, and an atmosphere that exudes everything everyone loves about autumn. “Over the Garden Wall” tells what can only be described as a folktale about two brothers, a talking bird, and a singing frog traveling through The Unknown meeting various creepy characters along the way. With a haunting mood and fall imagery, this miniseries should be a Halloween special staple.