Halloween weekend, the climax of our Nerdoween celebration, is finally upon us! It’s time to get into our totally awesome costumes, eat a ton of terrible/amazing things with too much sugar, and either hit the town with some little ones for trick-or-treating, or hit the town with some big ones for dancing and drinking.
Or maybe you hate all of that and plan on staying in this weekend because you’re afraid of accidentally hitting a small child with your car. Maybe you think Halloween is just amateur night at your favorite watering hole.
Well, this Halloween weekend fear not (intentional!), because if you do not find yourself in the spooky spirit and want to relax by turning off your porch light and eating 80 mini Kit-Kats yourself, I have just what you need: a guide to Halloween-appropriate movies that aren't actually Halloween movies.
What the hell does that mean exactly? Look, October has so many horror movies on every night that they might be contributing to your malaise on this most excellent of holidays. Sure, I may be able to watch all the Friday the 13th movies a million times, or hate-watch every Saw film forever, but you may just want to try something else. So just like I took care of your Labor Day movie decisions for you, I will give you some movies to enjoy this weekend that don’t exactly qualify as Halloween flicks, but certainly capture some of that ghoulish feel. Let's break down Halloween into categories that make up its very essence.
Halloween means goblins and demons and all sorts of creatures, but not every movie that has them qualifies as a Halloween movie. Feel free to relax this weekend with these fiend-filled films.
REWATCH: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
Your reaction: How the hell is that a monster movie?
Uh, this movie has the actual Grim Reaper, super-genius aliens able to morph into a mega-alien, and evil robot versions of the film’s protagonists. That’s a monster movie if I ever heard one. Not to mention this also has some scary-ish scenes, where Bill and Ted experience their own personal hells in literal Hell.
I think the popular opinion is that this sequel isn’t as good as the original, but I prefer this one. I love them both, but this is so weird and bizarre, all while still being as fun and ridiculous as the first. If I could only re-watch one I’d go with this, as should you.
ONE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Little Monsters
No, that’s Earth Girls are Easy and Damon Wayans can’t believe you forgot he’s in that movie too. Little Monsters is actually a comedy/fantasy film where Howie Mandel plays a monster that lives under Fred Savage’s bed. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen this in a long time, but I remember it being a fun movie as a kid. It might be a good bet for a Halloween option for your little ones, or just something light you can zone out and enjoy. Monsters, Inc. is a descendant of this film.
Your reaction: Oh my god, why did you remind me that this existed?
Here is the list of the most overhyped disappointments from the 20th century.
# 3: The time Geraldo Rivera opened up Al Capone’s vault on live television and it was empty.
# 2: Y2K
# 1: This garbage.
The advertising budget for this was roughly 18 billion dollars. The Force Awakens thinks they over-promoted. Everywhere you went you saw giant ads letting you know how big Godzilla was. If an actual giant lizard from the sea came and attacked the planet it wouldn’t have been as prominent. Here’s the problem, sometimes you are going through your channels and you see Godzilla and you get excited and then it turns out it’s this one. That’s an experience too scary even for Halloween.
Enjoy this ridiculous compilation of old Godzilla clips set to rave music as an apology for even bringing it up.
TREATS! (CAUSE THE “TRICK” PART IS NONSENSE)
Valentine’s Day might as well be Dentist Appreciation Day compared to Halloween. It’s more than just candy; it’s about cakes and desserts and indulging in terrible things. It’s why no decent person ever answers his or her door and says, “Yeah, okay, trick. I’ll take a trick.”
(It’s lost to time, but this is how egging houses on Halloween started. Some kids, just trying to get a mini-Three Musketeers bar, said, “Trick-or-Treat”, as the social contract dictates they do, but then some person, probably Ayn Rand, decided the “trick” part was a viable option. Furious with righteous indignation, the kids returned later with the easiest thing they could think to throw. What started out as an appropriate response to a terrible person destroying the good rules of society has been co-opted by kids with far less principles. What a shame.)
Your reaction: Bold!
Hey! What were you expecting here? Jawbreakers? Not only is this the definitive movie about candy (I mean “treats," since surprisingly few movies are about candy), it’s also creepy and wonderful, making it a perfect pick for a non-Halloween movie to watch. I’ve spent most of my life debating which candy I’d most like to eat from this film, and I think I’m a weirdo because I’d go with that tea-cup Willy Wonka drinks from before eating it at the end of “Pure Imagination.” That’s stupid, right? The answer is the river of chocolate, isn’t it?
Yeah, river of chocolate. Glad you brought me to my senses. A warehouse of chocolate and I'm lusting after some hard candy*. This is embarrassing.
*Editor's Note: It may be some sort of chocolate mold. White chocolate mold? Seems more pliable than hard candy.
ONE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Blank Check
Your reaction: Uh...I don't think I know this one.
This movie qualifies under "treats" because it is about a kid who gets a million dollars and proceeds to buy everything he wants with it. This is another movie for kids, but so what? Sometimes that's exactly what your brain requires. It's actually the adults in this film that are the funniest, and in case you are looking for something to watch with some small children this weekend, you'll find yourself enjoying this as much as they do.
Your reaction: Did you even try in this section?
Not only did I try, this one section held this column up for two extra weeks, so I don’t want to hear it. The truth is, even if there were a million movies about candy I’d still have chosen this nightmare. Whereas the original is a classic (and one of my favorite movies ever), this one angers me. I’m offended by its existence. I want a detailed report on how to avoid anything like this ever happening again. You compare Gene Wilder’s performance as Willy Wonka to things like Beethoven’s 9th or The Sistine Chapel. You compare Johnny Depp’s to things like the plague and The Chevy Chase Show. If I have this correct, Roald Dahl was always angry that the original film was too different from his book, but then they added a back story for Wonka that destroyed the mystery of the character? Ugh.
I’m not putting a clip to this movie up. No. That should be a crime. You’re getting a second from the original, the one that always makes me tear up. So shines a good deed in a weary world.
BONUS JOHN CANDY CATEGORY
ONE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: The Great Outdoors: I’ve never finished a steak in my life without quoting this film.
AVOID: Canadian Bacon: This movie is a war crime. Let's just watch his absurd character from JFK in action. (NSFW)
Your reaction: I miss John Candy.
COSTUMES (DRESSING UP LIKE SOMEONE ELSE)
This is a very important topic to me, because I’m a lunatic about good costumes, but the truth is I don’t actually say anything bad to anybody for what they wear. I’m a good person, so I judge them silently and then badmouth them when they leave. I have manners. Literally every movie involves costumes, but we’re not going to be so literal here. We’re also not going to just turn this into a category about cross-dressing films either (though we won’t totally ignore them). We have a lot to work with in this one (You hear that candy! You under-represented cinematic category!), so get ready to get mad at me.
REWATCH: The Warriors
Your reaction: No one is wearing a costume in that movie!
What about the Baseball Fu-
Quiet down, you get one reaction per movie.
This is a movie where everyone is in a gang, and all gangs have costumes. Not only is this movie entirely about people that wear costumes every day, it offers a bevy of potential Halloween costumes for you. Hell, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became famous by cos-playing as Cyrus. The Warriors is one of those perfect movies that is perfect because of its flaws. I’m not saying it is ironically good, it’s genuinely fantastic, but no one thinks this is great art, just a great movie you can watch another 100 times. They often talk about remaking this, and I think I'd be less angry if they remade The Godfather instead. (Clip NSFW.)
ONE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Labyrinth
Your reaction: Hey, I saw that!
Good for you. Go get 100 random people and see how many of them have. It’s not as many as you think. Which is too bad, because it stars one of the great costumed performers of all-time in David Bowie, and it also has a masquerade ball. When you sit down with this film this weekend just throw on some purple eye shadow to get into the mood. It’s the least you can do to get into the costume spirit. No, wait, one of those “This is my costume” t-shirts is the least you can do.
Your reaction: Oh, yeah, oh man what were we thinking back then?
You mean a movie where a guy gets his girlfriend’s son to pretend to be a girl so he can play on his girl’s soccer team isn’t something you’re proud of? As a nation we should be put on the sex offender’s registry for letting this happen. You can’t even enjoy Rodney Dangerfield in this because he’s the lead who thinks this is a good idea. The only thing Ladybugs has going for it is Jackée, comedic genius, but you’ll be too disgusted to appreciate her.
Here’s some bonus Jackée to help erase the memory of this film.
BEING SCARED/BEING A BIG BABY
When I was a kid I was terrified of scary movies. I think I saw Pet Cemetery when I was seven and it took me awhile to recover. That film can really damage an impressionable kid. I mean, things really fall apart in that third act.
Now I’m an adult though, and I’m more confident than not that a horrible monster won’t kill me in my sleep. That honor will go to an ambitious little aneurysm (yeah, it is getting dark in here, it is Halloween weekend). While the lack of movies about candy posed the toughest challenge of this column, this is the category that is the toughest to stay true to. Most scary movies end up being considered Halloween movies in some form. So I am sticking to films that I would never label as horror. I’m sure you’ll argue with these, but that’s okay.
REWATCH: Pan’s Labyrinth
Your reaction: Yup! I’m mad. That’s a scary movie.
Agreed! That’s why it’s in the scary movie category, but there is no way this is a horror film. It has monsters, and they are really, really scary (that damn scene with the table of food...oh man). It also has a monster for a main villain, who gets his face sliced open in a truly disgusting moment that sees him physically became what he is on the inside... but it isn’t a horror film. It is great though, and would be a perfect fit if you are looking for a scary movie on Halloween that isn’t likely to be found in the normal October cable rotation.
ONE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Battle Royale
Your reaction: I hate you. This is a horror film!
This is getting awkward, but you’re wrong again. Is The Hunger Games a horror movie? No, it’s an action movie, and this Japanese film about a classroom of students pitted against each other in a fight to the death falls in that category. But man, this is a scary movie. The ways, and the reasons, the students begin to turn on each other feels authentic, plus their teacher is just as scary. This is the most expensive single-disc DVD I ever bought. Now it’s available on Netflix. Stupid life.
AVOID: Natural Born Killers
Your reaction: Eh, at least it’s sort of interesting.
Yes, so is an open wound. I get it, Oliver Stone had a lot to say and rather than a traditional film he tried something very different, but it just isn’t any good. Somewhat amazingly Rodney Dangerfield makes this category twice, and basically for playing the same role, a pedophile, only this one isn’t a comedy. This movie caused a lot of controversy at the time it was released. It’s often said we now live in the Outrage Culture, but if this thing came out today I don’t think most people would flinch. The 90s were weird. The Vice President of the United States had a strong opinion about a Murphy Brown episode. Like I said, it was a weird time.
How about we just go with a great Rodney Dangerfield clip since he was one of the best.
So there you go, plenty of options if your only goal is to avoid Halloween this weekend. Honestly, it’s a perfectly fine choice. There is nothing worse than someone at a Halloween party without a costume, miserable to be there, so don’t feel bad if this particular holiday isn’t your thing. Everyone wins if staying in is what you really want to do.
Your reaction: Thanks for understanding, man.
Just don’t eat the whole bag of Kit Kats like a monster.
We finally agree on something!
Featured Image: Orion Pictures