Elizabeth of the Elizabethan Blog asks me for a list of good movies for Halloween. Interesting question. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Some of the following I haven’t seen since childhood or my teen years, but I am fairly certain they are all worthwhile. If you don’t mind intelligently scary films, or humorous ones, as opposed to simple shockers full of gore, here are my Halloween recommendations:
1. “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” (don’t see one without the other), directed by James Whale with Boris Karloff.Catch a brief glimpse of one of my favorite character actresses, Una O’Connor, as Minnie, in an early scene.
2. “Dracula” directed by Tod Browning with Bela Lugosi.
3. “The Other” by Tom Tryon, directed by Robert Mulligan (recently released on DVD).
4. “Psycho” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
5. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury (although in the movie they ruined the ending of the novel bydeleting the most important scene–the discussion of how to defeat the villain).
6. “Burn, Witch, Burn” a/k/a “Night of the Eagle” by Fritz Leiber and Richard Matheson.
7. “Bell, Book and Candle”.
8. “The Nanny” with Bette Davis.
9. “The Innocents” with Deborah Kerr.
10. “Two on a Guillotine” with Dean Jones.
11. “The Sixth Sense”
12. TV Special: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.
13. “Rebecca” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
14. “Freaks” directed by Tod Browning, with a cast of real ones, will give you chills.
15. “The Unholy Three” directed by Tod Browning, with Lon Chaney.
16. “The Unknown” directed by Tod Browning, with Lon Chaney. Pointlessly horrifying, but that’s what you want on Halloween, right?
17. “Eraserhead”. To experience a true nightmare as if you are having troubled sleep, no one has captured a bad dream on film as well as David Lynch did with “Eraserhead”. It’s not elevating or enlightening. It’s slow, nonsensical, sometimes boring and awful in many ways, but it gives you the feeling of being asleep and having your worst nightmare ever, if you want that feeling on Halloween.
For a comedic Halloween film,my wife recommends “Arsenic and Old Lace” with Cary Grant, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve heard good things about an animated version of Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” but I haven’t seen that either. And you can’t go wrong with Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” TV series, most episodes of which I have seen and loved.
Also be sure to visit The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World or Disneyland if you live nearby.