I love the shit out of Halloween. Halloween is a bitter, passive person’s dream, a chance to feel like I am not where I am while not even having to move. Lawns become decorated, the atmosphere gets spooky, and even children become adorable and entertaining for just one night.
But I hate being scared. I don’t even like going in the laundry room during daylight, so I’m not trying to see a film that’s been jokingly insured due to threat of audience mass heart attack. Right now that sleep drug commercial with the living Zzzs and most Canadian public service ads from the mid-1990s are at the top of my shitlist for being creepy as fuck, so that’s about the level of fear tolerance I’m working with.
I still want to get in the holiday spirit. I watched Scary Movie 4 last night, and not only was it funnier than I thought the 4th of anything would be, it was more than festive enough for me. So here is my list of Halloween-y movies for people that don’t want to crap their pants.
This is one of my favorite movies ever, Halloweentime or not. It connects a girl getting her period back to good ol’ notion of ‘moon sickness,’ turning the titular Ginger into a man-eating-fuck-werewolf when she gets her first period. Her younger sister Brigitte is forced to attempt to protect Ginger and mitigate her reign of terror.
Side note: there’s two sequels, and they’re fine, but definitely more traditional low-budget horror
Much maligned by what I can only assume are dummies, Jennifer’s Body was Diablo Cody’s exploration of the psychologically twisted relationships between teen girls that got completely overshadowed by an ad campaign that made it look like a lesbian slasher porn. There’s tons of violence and some fun special effects after Megan Fox’s Jennifer gets a taste for male flesh after an she is offers herself up in Satanic sacrifice gone awry (the circumstances of this sacrifice are hilarious,) but it’s not particularly scary, and is more of a dark comedy than a horror film.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
This was an obvious choice until I saw a sketch from the current season of Portlandia which portrays viewing it as a curse that can only be broken by tricking another person into watching it. Whatever, it’s stunningly beautiful and I genuinely enjoy the storyline of a sleepwalker, his master, a sort of sideshow carny/magician, murder, and a love triangle with a beautiful woman. It’s slow (y’know, 1920s silent film and whatnot) but that just makes it great if you’re tired or it’s lazy Sunday to curl up on the couch and watch. It would also be great if you’re handing out candy, because you could leave for significant portions of time and the story still will not have progressed.
The Cabin in the Woods
This is by far the scariest movie on the list which is saying something, given that it is a Joss Whedon produced horror comedy. I still managed to get slightly spooked by this, but the comedy elements coupled with its extreme self-consciousness, and some plot twists I really didn’t see coming made me hang in there. This is a horror movie about a group of kids that know they’re in a horror movie. The weekend trip to, wait for it, a cabin in a woods, a family legend, the discovery of vague old relics, the slutty couple, the virgin, they play with it all, sometimes for horror, sometimes for comedic violence. The ending was a big WTF for me in a good way, I was surprised Hollywood went with an ending that had me surprised.
Bonus: if you like Joss Whedon, very Whedon-y monsters.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
I watched this last year, and it was an instant favorite of everyone. It’s a heartwarming slasher flick that also flouts convention. Tucker and Dale, two rednecks, are mistaken for murderers by a group of vacationing college kids who have seen too many horror films. Goodhearted, seasoned outdoorsmen, they attempt to save the students from their forest foibles of increasing intensity, but the prejudice is strong.
Best Worst Movie
A documentary about an unscary horror movie, in case you wanted to be insulated from terror by an extra degree. This is about the cult clusterfuck that is Troll 2 (there is no Troll 1) a film about aliens that turn people into plants to consume their chlorophyll written by a non-English speaking Italian production, in English, and starring only local mostly non-actors. Yeah.
Other options you probably already thought about:
- Hocus Pocus
- Shaun of the Dead
- Scary Movie
- Rocky Horror Picture Show