Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alternative Halloween Movie Picks

I like Halloween, but I dislike horror films. 'Tis the season to be scared and while I get a kick out of the costumes, jack-o-lanterns and all the other traditions, at the end of the day I'm still a complete wuss.

I hate horror films. Or to be more specific, I hate gory films. I'm a bit squeamish and so seeing someones finger nails being pulled off is not my idea of fun. I do like scary films though. I just need it to be the old fashioned "nasty stuff happens off-screen" kind of horror.

If, like me, you'd like to indulge in some Halloween appropriate films, but don't want to have nightmares check out my list of DVDs you can watch this Sunday that won't have you hiding behind a cushion.

The 'Burbs

Not only a great comedy film (and one of the last in Tom Hanks resumé) but also a fun story involving creepy neighbours who might be burying victims in the backyard.

The film was directed by Joe Dante who is a genius at this sort of genre. Just look at Gremlins for an example of this kind of family friendly creepy movie. As a side note, Gremlins would have made it onto this list except that it was set at Christmas and therefore will be on a different alternative movie list.

Added to the fun script is a great cast with Carrie Fisher playing Tom Hanks' sceptic wife, Bruce Dern as his paranoid military obsessed neighbour, the always wonderful Henry Gibson as the creepy new neighbour and even Cory Feldman as the local wise ass teenager! I think we can all agree that's a cast not to be sniffed at.

The 'Burbs is an under appreciated classic and deserves a place in every film buff's collection so if you don't have it to watch this Sunday... go get it!

Ed Wood

Edward D Wood Junior was an odd man and a director of less than stellar quality but he loved films and had a real passion for making them, even if he wasn't very good at it.

Tim Burton's ode to Ed Wood is wonderfully quirky and really shows the fun and adventure people have in making low budget films.

Johnny Depp plays the title character and lovingly camps up his portrayal but never loses Wood's love for both movies and his friends. Martin Landau acts his socks off playing a down and out Bella Lugosi. With Bill Murray and Jessica Sarah Parker rounding out the cast of misfits.

Tim Burton owns this style of film and you can tell this was an important subject for him as every scene drips with charm. While Ed is the title protagonist you'll find that it's Lugosi's tragic story that you'll remember after the credits.


You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power? The power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Remind me of the babe.

If you're not a fan of Jim Henson you have no soul. FACT. If you haven't seen Labyrinth already you didn't have a childhood. FACT. So if you don't already own this DVD for god's sake go out and get it.

Not only is it a children's classic but it's still enjoyably barmy and watchable now that you're old enough to pay rent. Plus it wins bonus points for being a good movie starring David Bowie (not many of those around) and a nice introduction to the bushy eyebrow of Jennifer Connelly.

Perfect for Halloween with so many monsters running about but also any other time of the year.

Rear Window

This one is here for a few reasons:

1) It has Grace Kelly, one of the most beautiful women in the world ever. For reals.
2) It has Jimmy Stewart, one of the best leading men to have graced the big screen.
3) It's an Alfred Hitchcock murder thriller so it's perfect for Halloween.
4) It just so happens to be Hitchcock's best film. As stated by me and therefore true.

I could go on all day about the many other reasons why this is not only a classic but perfect viewing anytime anywhere but it's been said before and by more-big-brain-smart people than I.

I will however say that it's a perfect Halloween night kind of film because it appeals to two sensibilities. Fear and mystery. Much better than any gore film.

Donnie Darko

Despite it being very much a marmite film (people either love it or hate it, strongly) Donnie Darko is either in too many film lists or not enough depending on who you ask. But nobody can deny that it's definitely a Halloween film.

The time traveling, mind bending adventure of Donnie, played by the eerily young Jake Gyllenhaal, is a film student's favourite. It's great for a post movie discussion of "what the hell was that all about?".

But make no mistake, the story is compelling and the performances are strong so don't let the hype fool you, it's worth the watch. Also, if you have the DVD with commentary from the director and cast make sure to give it a listen because not only is it enlightening but pretty damn funny too.


So there you have it, my list of DVDs worth a watch over Halloween to get you in the mood without making you fear the dark. If you have any picks of your own please leave a comment!

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