I always get excited for Halloween. I like the decorations, the costumes, and, of course, the candy. But I’m not as excited for scary movies, and I must confess I’m a real wimp when it comes to horror films. The last film I watched that could even sort of count as a horror film was “The Mothman Prophecies,” and it terrified me way more than it should have. 😉 So, here are some of my favorite movies for Halloween that are spooky but not quite so scary.
Shaun of Dead
While “Hot Fuzz” is my favorite film from British director Edgar Wright, “Shaun of the Dead” is probably his most famous and is a ton of fun. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the film is about two not-so-bright friends who are clueless about the start of the zombie apocalypse. Once they finally realize that the people around them have started turning into the walking dead, they survive by taking refuge in their favorite pub. This film is a great blend of British comedy and the zombie genre, and Pegg and Frost work fantastically together, as always. If you’re looking for a fun Halloween movie marathon, you can pair it with the other two films in Wright’s unofficial “Cornetto trilogy”: “Hot Fuzz,” about a big city police officer who uncovers a dark secret in a small town, and “The World’s End,” which features a pub crawl that accidentally triggers the end of the world.
“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?” Why the Ghostbusters, of course! This classic 1980s comedy is about a dysfunctional crew of paranormal exterminators, led by Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. After they are fired from the university where they work, they start their own paranormal investigation business. I actually saw this movie for the first time last year while working through my “movie bucket list.” Although some of the special effects are a bit dated now, this movie is still a lot of fun, and there are plenty of memorable lines. My favorite part of the movie was watching Bill Murray, who is a master of deadpan delivery. And while we’ve seen New York under attack plenty of times from various monsters, aliens, and robots, “Ghostbusters” gives us something new in the form of a giant “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
Arsenic and Old Lace
A good friend of mine first discovered this movie and introduced me to it. Released in 1944, “Arsenic and Old Lace” is a surprisingly twisted comedy, at least for its time. Cary Grant stars as a man who pays a visit to his aunts on Halloween, discovering that they’ve been killing off old men, supposedly to save them from loneliness. The film features a variety of madcap characters, including one brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and another brother who had bad plastic surgery that makes him look like Frankenstein’s monster. It definitely is a quirky movie, but it’s also very funny and different. It’s a good classic Halloween comedy.
“Monster’s Inc.” is my favorite Pixar movie, and the monsters in the movie are definitely more lovable than scary. Billy Crystal and John Goodman voice monsters Mike and Sulley, whose friendship is tested when Sulley accidentally lets a human girl escape into the monsters’ world. The world of “Monster’s Inc.” is colorful and fun, and Crystal and Goodman’s banter keeps adults entertained. While the follow-up “Monsters University” isn’t quite as good (it shows how Mike and Sulley became friends in college), it has some funny moments and is an entertaining follow-up for fans.
“Hellboy” is a dark, unconventional take on the superhero genre, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Hellboy is an unlikely hero: he looks like a demon and shaves off his horns to make himself appear less threatening. Though he’s misunderstood by the world, he still works to protect it, fighting paranormal threats with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie, but I remember being struck by its unique, haunting tone and memorable characters. It’s interesting to watch a character who has to fight the assumptions people make based on his appearance; to them he looks like a villain, but he chooses to defy that stereotype.
So, what are some of your favorite scary (or not-so-scary) films for Halloween?