Wednesday, October 24, 2012

8 Halloween Movies for the Easily Scared

by DionysusPsyche
Only one of these makes the list

When celebrated properly, Halloween is a great holiday. This means candy, costumes, parties (if you're social), haunted houses, pumpkin patches, corn mazes (okay, where I'm from, this is a thing), and scary movies. Any combination of these in some form of participation means that you're doing something right. Combine all of these for a potentially awesome holiday.

Beyond the holiday itself (which doesn't appeal to everyone as per the conversation I had about two weeks ago), let's get down to the real deal. Scary movie marathons. Now, some people don't like scary movies, and some people love them. There are people who would watch fright flicks every night of the week. Living for the thrill. Going to bed scared. Or just getting a rush or laughing and sleeping it off. Other people hate these films. They feel squeamish or adamant about not watching them. The aura of evil soaks up everything in the room, and it's downright terrible experience which will result in sleeping with the light on for days and weeks and jumping at nothing. They've also no doubt had someone grab them while watching one, and subsequently this ass hat got added to the List of People Who Suck.

I fall in the middle. I don't love scary movies, but I think that Halloween has some pretty essential films that make the holiday great. So when I watch movies on Halloween, I pick them pretty carefully, and make sure the people I'm with make me feel safe.

Warning! The below mentioned films are not all for kids. When I say “Easily Scared” that does not imply children as I know kids that are braver than many adults. However, kids can watch about half the movies I mention. Seeing rating scale for particular film to judge.


Scream was the first scary movie that my friends convinced me wasn't scary that lived up to their claim (I was twelve). They were always egging me on (and I was scared of freaking Hocus Pocus, mind you!), and even fell asleep while I watched Tommyknockers alone at 3am. But I digress.

Sidney, played by the super foxy Party of Five, Neve Campbell is still getting over the murder of her mom. They live in a small town, so everyone knows about it, and the media is still covering it. It's coming up on the anniversary of her death. But is the killer really put away? The town issues a curfew when two people from the high school end up dead.

This means all the popular kids have a party at a huge house with underage drinking to celebrate the shut down of school for the investigation.

Why This Film Applies
Sidney defies early fright film main characters (which is explained by one of guys in the movie in case those at home are not familiar with the classics). She's tough, kick ass, and can take care of herself. She's also smart and sassy. Plus, it includes some awesome actors such as Matthew Lillard, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore, Henry Winklet, and Rose McGowen.

This movie is both hilarious and spooky with some of the best scary movie lines. It's the “where's the killer?” movie, but you can still go to bed in relatively okay fashion. It also has some sexy and romantic moments. Now divorced, Courtney Cox and David Arquette who were together for quite some time, met on the set, so while their romance feels real, it actually is real. Plus, David Arquette with a 'stache playing a country cop is just fun.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
Kick ass characters. Weapons. Brains. There's a cop handy. Your mom's not a whore.

Nightmare Before Christmas

This is a children's movie, but it has good lessons. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King lives in a world of Halloween. His fellow town folk spend 364 days a year prepping for Halloween to make it the most EPIC holiday ever. Yet, Jack has done this too long. He's growing tired of his job. He longs for adventure and newness.

That's when he falls into Christmas Town and decides that he and Santa should switch shoes and try out each other's lives.

Why This Film Applies
Although creepy at times, this cartoon is not as scary as some of the childhood movies I watched that weren't intended to frighten kids (Fern Gully and Secret of Nimh anyone?). There's romance, humor, and Jack is a great protagonist. He's lost that loving feeling, and Christmas brings him back to life taking the rest of his cronies along with him. It was inventive back when it was released, and I still love it today.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
Singing and dancing. Cute little goblins. Also, it's a cartoon about a made up world.

Shaun of the Dead

They made it as a parody romance film, but this is a film about zombies. While all zombie movies are about the conformity of society, consumerism at its worst, and being a herd of sheep, this humorous romp takes it to the next level.

Shaun (Simon Pegg), dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), lives with his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), and is stuck. He goes to the same pub, drinks the same beer, and hangs out with the same friends. He is more or less a zombie, as are the other characters. Yet, Liz wants Shaun to get off his duff, get serious, meet his mum, and move forward. Shaun and Ed's other roommate wants Ed to move out. And Shaun...can't do anything. Not until there's a zombie apocalypse.

Why it Applies
The first zombie they assume is “drunk.” Shaun and Ed are the ultimate duo. They make the end of the world so funny that the first time I saw the film, my best friend and I were doubled over with laughter during some of their back and forth wit. If I don't watch at least part of this movie every Halloween...well, I don't know what would happen, but I can't NOT watch it. Killing zombies becomes a skill and a sport, and Shaun the “do nothing,” becomes the unlikely, fearless leader of a band of friends. There is even a cameo by his old shared television series (Spaced) actress, Jessica Hynes.

Shaun of the Dead gives you hope that when the zombie apocalypse comes, you, the blob, directionless goon will fly into action and start throwing your bad records (No! “that's the first one I ever bought!”) at zombies' heads, save your mum, your best friend, your significant other, and outwit the brain-hunting fluff monsters.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
We just went over that. You're the unlikely hero. Now there is some gore, but it's not that bad. It's okay enough for Ed to take pictures, so I think you're safe.

The Thing
Not sure why Kurt Russell looks like a depiction of Jesus, but he wants you to "stop, collaborate, and listen"
Kurt Russell and his team of crack scientists are stuck in the arctic doing research when a...a...thing takes over the unit. It slowly infiltrates, but the gang is basically ready. In fact, they can study it while they kill it! Double bonus for the smarties out there!

Why it Applies
Kurt Russell uses a blow torch a LOT. This is awesome. I distinctly remember a rollerskating dude. It's psychological, because you're not sure who to trust, but do you ever know who to trust in a scary movie? In addition to being a good Halloween classic, this film is prepping you for all the winter parkas you'll need to wear and the snow that's coming (unless you live in the South or a Southern Hemisphere continent).

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
It's eerie, and there is one part that's really intense, but other than that, it's a good movie. Kurt Russell totally has your back. Just don't go to the arctic, and if you do, always bring a blow torch.

More lessons in weapon use
Unless you have a really bad case of the above mentioned, you can watch this film. If you are deathly afraid of spiders, then move to my other suggestions.

A wild spider sneaks its way into the U.S. and mates with regular barn spider to create...super babies! Jeff Daniels, who hates spiders has to face his fear of them when his house (farm?) is overtaken with them.

Why it Applies
Again, you're on the edge of your seat and creeped out, but unless you're really afraid of spiders, it's just a thriller. Jeff Daniels has to overcome his fear, and that's all of us. If I remember correctly, I think 8-Legged Freaks scared me more than this did (and that's the parody), but it's been awhile.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
You can kill a spider. If you watch the making of this movie, it makes the movie itself less frightening. The main spider is basically one of those grabber/reacher puppets. Spoiler alert...the spider DOES jump out of the fire. Just be prepared for that.

Jurassic Park
The outstanding graphics of the '90's still hold up over time
In case you hate spiders (and because Jurassic Park is a must-see), let's exchange them for a currency of dinosaurs! Billionaire philanthropist creates a park on an island with dinosaurs which have been made from the juices of a frozen, Mesozoic (era?) mosquito. A bunch of people, including Jeff Goldblum, fly to the island to experience and judge the park to help with logistics before it's opened to the general public.

Why it Applies
Jeff Goldblum is a big-headed actor. Sam Neill and Laura Dern and a couple of kids try to survive the dinosaurs when they get trapped in the park. But Neill and Dern's characters are the Indiana Jones of dinosaurs. So they can totally do this! I just wish Jeff Goldblum was in this movie more. Although, his character is annoying, so maybe not.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
They can't actually bring dinosaurs to life. Newman is in it (he's more likely to sit on you than you are to come in contact with prehistoric creatures). If you get scared, you can watch the Rifftracks version with Weird Al.

The Addams Family

They're creepy and spooky, but they don't keep you awake after you see them. In fact, they're touching, especially Thing, their pet hand. This is a kids film, but Gomez and Morticia Addams (Angelica Huston) are romantic, their kids (Christina Ricci could not be more perfect as a creepy little girl) are charming, and Gomez's brother (Christopher Lloyd!) has returned to the family.

Why it Applies
A happy romp that goes hand in hand with Nightmare Before Christmas, this is Jack and Sally's future.

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
This is one film that hits the nail on the head. Every family is different, and they may be odd-looking, but they're wonderful at parties.


Classic film about space aliens starring Sigourney Weaver, the mother of all alien movies. Investigating a nearby planet, a team of space researchers uncover a signal that's meant as a warning.

Why it Applies
Okay, okay, it does get a little bit scary at parts, but again, that's mostly just gore. It's more psychological than anything. Weaver rocks in her role, and you're on her side. Close the mother [bleep]ing doors! You've been exposed. No need to risk the lives of others. Which brings us to a quandry: when do we help our teammates and when do we let them die in space? (Also a question for watchers of The Thing.)

Why it Shouldn't Scare You
Why are you going into space to find aliens if you're afraid of this movie? Answer: if this movie does frighten you, just don't take the job. Problem solved.

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