Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Halloween-Mood Movies


You want to get into the Halloween mood and pretend summer is over? 

There's something about darkness, firelight, candles, and the scent of pumpkin and cinnamon that brings out something primal in all of us. 

Walking a damp path in the forest and inhaling the earthy scent of wet leaves and mushrooms mixed with distant chimney smoke, is pure autumn. Feeling the bite of a frosty morning and cold nose, wrapping up in a fluffy blanket with a hot drink - 

Let's dive into some classic horror films that bring on that "Halloween-is-coming" vibe. 

Here's my one-sentence synopsis of the films and why they end up being heavily watched around Halloween. 

A nerdy and overly responsible babysitter meets the bogeyman on Halloween night

There's nothing like the Halloween theme song notes to produce a popcorn and blanket mood. A babysitter. Halloween night. A crazy bogeyman. Enough said. Playing this one usually kicks off the season of watching.

The Fog
Angry ghosts attack a seaside town's centennial party as they seek revenge. 

For creepy setting and atmospheric music, this film satisfies. We all want to dive into that nighttime bonfire storytelling sensation and this film provides in spades.

Night of the Living Dead
Fleeing citizens in the countryside descend upon a farmhouse for protection from shambling zombies.

This black and white zombie flick is perhaps the most iconic Halloween must-see.  

The Haunting (1963)
A team is sent to an abandoned mansion in search of proof of ghosts at the risk of their own sanity and lives. 

This black and white flick is my favorite ghost movie of all time. Robert Wise did a brilliant job of taking the moody and brilliant novel by Shirley Jackson and creating a vehicle for terror without blood, guts, or even showing a ghost!

Hocus Pocus
On Halloween, some curious small-town kids decide to poke around the infamous witchs' house and accidentally bring them back to life.

This lovable film is good for all ages. It hits the spot perhaps the most of any happens-on-Halloween-night movies. The vibes of trick or treating, creepy cemeteries, dark shadows, costumed partiers, and anything-is-possible on this magic night are orchestrated beautifully. 

When New York City has increased ghostly activity, newly ousted professors from the university form a ghost busting team.

Beloved by many, this is an ideal family fun film that is tongue-in-cheek enough to be perfect for those who spook easily.

Universal Classic Monsters films (House of Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon,  Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Phantom of the Opera)

The Omen
The Devil's son is born to a politician and his wife, wreaking havoc and possibly the end of times.

This was the only movie that had me leaving the theater and terrified on the ride home. I believe the babysitter hanging herself, Damian's reaction to the church visit, and the cemetery scene were some that stuck out the most, but oh there were so many more total creepy things like the priest and his private room, the photographer's head being lopped off, and the scary guardian dog...

The Exorcist
A mother is concerned when her daughter seems tormented by something, assuming it's mental, but it reveals itself to be of a spiritual possession nature.

Even as adults, most of us middle-agers recall The Exorcist being the most terrifying movie ever. Rewatching it with maturity doesn't seem to lessen the thrills and chills. 

A typical suburban family has their world disrupted when they realize their home is atop a cemetery and ghostly entities are not happy about it. 

For family-versus-ghost, this film is top of everyone's favorites. It satisfies on many levels including effects, terrifying concepts, and on-the-edge nerve rattling.

The Shining
A family heads to higher elevation to caretake a resort during the icy season, only to encounter cabin fever mental breakdown or ghosts?

The howling moody score and claustrophobia of being trapped by snow in an insolated location create the ideal setting for a total breakdown or a total haunting.

The Amityville Horror
A story supposedly based on a real life portrays a family buying their ideal home only to find out why it was a bargain price.

This is one of those haunted house films that disturbs with a mix of is-he-going-crazy or is-he-possessed theme. 

A lonely innkeeper seems harmless enough until a woman hiding out there becomes a victim to his madness.

This Hitchcock film is perhaps one of the favorites by the masses. There is something about a killer who seems meek and mild that truly unsettles the viewers. 

Children of the Corn
A couple stumbles into a town that has no adults, but plenty of children performing creepy ceremonies in the cornfields. 

This series has a cult following who find the most unsettling killers to be children. The cornfields and corn dollies give a true autumn vibe.

The Blair Witch Project
A college team heads into the woods with backpacks and cameras to do a documentary on a supposed historic witch, only to succumb to her forest.
This film has such an autumn feel in the chilly barren forest and everyone's greatest fear of getting lost and being culled from the herd to be trapped by evil. 

Nightmare on Elm Street
A long-dead serial killer finds his way into teenager's dreams to torment them as he crosses into their world to be able to kill them.
When you think nighttime and fear of nightmares, this film was perhaps one of the most disturbing horror films ever. For many teens, sleep was impossible for some time after viewing this one. 

An American Werewolf in London
A couple of buddies hit England, backpacking like idealistic American youth, only to run into something on the moors that changes them.

This classic werewolf movie had the most organic transition, the most relatable characters, and the most disturbing outcomes. The Howling might be the other toss-up for werewolf movies around Halloween time. 

Trick R Treat

An anthology that actually takes place on Halloween and is Halloween-focused. When does that ever happen??? There aren't enough Halloween night movies! These stories are creepy and uncomfortable in a classically bad-things-happen-on-Halloween-night way. My favorite is the one with the kids on the bus!

The list could go on and on, but I wanted to include ones that we tend to pull out and watch this time of year and ones that, even though newer, have become horror classics. Each one has a Halloween season vibe to it. 

My favorite Halloween movie treat has always been Halloween Bark - 

Place waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Spread out peanuts, candy corn, pretzels, and pour melted chocolate over top. Refrigerate and then break into chunks.

You might want to check out Low Carb Love channel on YouTube. This fantastic cook and health advocate shows how to make your favorite naughty sweets with allulose (non-glycemic). Her recipe for very-low-carb Twix bars is off the charts! 

Since I'm avoiding excess sugar at this point in life, I'm opting this year for some creative and savory alternatives. 

Popcorn - can sprinkle with garlic salt and butter, Old Bay Seasoning, herbs and garlic, rosemary and parmesan, powdered cheese, everything bagel seasoning.

Consider watching under a blanket or near a fire pit outdoors. Projecting a film makes a HUGE difference in the feel. Invite some friends. Be disturbed. One of my Halloween parties, I utilized real dolls in front of the screen to project a creepy stop animation doll film against it. 

Happy watching!

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