I am Fraidy MacFraidycat, Mayoress of Fraidyville. I don’t do gore or serious horror, and slasher films leave me cold. Having said that, I ADORE Halloween. It’s seriously my favorite holiday of the year. (I’m a big fan of any holiday that lets you watch movies, gorge on candy, and let your inner demons off the leash without requiring you to shop or exchange presents.) Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of absolute favorites. I don’t get to see all of them every Halloween season, but it’s never REALLY autumn until I’ve viewed at least three or four. Here are my faves.
(Last week in my post about Crimson Peak I mentioned The Gorgon, Vampyr: Der Traum des Allan Grey, and Bride of Frankenstein, so take those as a given.)
*Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Ghoulishly sweet with a beautiful score and Joanna Lumley. ‘Nuff said.
*Sleepy Hollow (1999.) I know I said I don’t do gore, and this one is pushing it for me. But I am a sucker for things that are unapologetically over-the-top and this one is. It’s gruesome and creepy, and there’s just enough comic relief from Johnny Depp’s reluctant Ichabod Crane to make it all worthwhile. (I will never understand why people insist upon making Ichabod the hero of the story. If you read the book, he’s a jerk. I’m Team Brom.)
*The Hound of the Baskervilles. I haven’t specified a version because I’m not certain it matters. I love the Hammer version with Christopher Lee and the more recent one with Richard E. Grant. (The Basil Rathbone entry is a given.) There’s just something deliciously atmospheric about a deserted moor and the footprints”…OF A GIGANTIC HOUND!”
*Halloween. I know, I know. It’s exactly what I said I didn’t watch–a slasher film, THE slasher film, one of the pioneers of the genre. But I finally caved and watched it a few years ago and immediately understood why it’s a classic. For being such a giant of the genre, it’s remarkably tame–no pools of blood or spurting viscera. There’s just an atmosphere of mounting menace. Caveat: I won’t watch it alone.
*Practical Magic. Because WITCHES.
*Maleficent. Not really anything to do with Halloween, but she is the ultimate Disney villain, so it counts in my book.
*Book of Life. This one didn’t get the love it deserved. It’s a beautifully-animated story about el Dia de Los Muertos, a continuation of the observances begun with Halloween in South Texas. Even though I’m not from a Hispanic family, this particular tradition is one we observed, particularly after my grandmother died. The film is funny and sweet, and if you’re trying to figure out how to discuss death with your kids, you could do a lot worse than using this as a jumping off point.