By Emma Picht
Boston University News Service
There is a certain magic in rewatching the same movies each year at the same time. Whether you seek out the nostalgia in the Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus series, or you are an avid follower of slasher flicks, Halloween movies are special.
These five movies can be rewatched every year and never deteriorate under the pressure. The time spent apart during the off-season enhances their experience, allowing for a yearly rediscovery of jokes and twists.
What We Do in the Shadows started as a half-hour short film produced by Taika Waititi and a few friends on youtube called “Interviews with some Vampires.” Despite the name, it is a far cry from the romanticized movie with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. This film inspired the FX show (which is a work of art in and of itself) and these small-town New Zealand vampires have a special place on my Halloween shelf each year.
The movie is uniquely aware of the genre it occupies and utilizes every Draculean trope and rule but asks the question: How can you afford rent if you’re dead?
Taika Waititi, Jermaine Clement and Johnny Brugh star as the undead subjects of this mockumentary. The ever-present “documentary crew” is equipped with crucifixes and promised their safety, but soon interactions with the human world and bands of roving Werewolves lead to some intense hijinks.
The movie has everything a good Halloween flick should have: dark mood lighting, supernatural lore (Waititi loves to play with a “floating” tea cup in front of a mirror) and plenty of comedy to spur chuckles. Nothing compares to the fear of confronting a roommate about their dirty dishes, especially when they can suck your blood.
What We Do in the Shadows is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
The artistry in any stop-motion animation can’t be beaten, and none compare to Coraline. The adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel still strikes fear into the hearts of children and the Other Mother is a frightful villain that suffocates her competition.
The spidery aesthetic and jagged movements of the clay lend themselves to the perspective of a child, and Gaiman’s plot accurately taps into what children fear most. However, a precocious and stubborn girl can never be defeated and Coraline will prevail whatever the price may be.
This movie is a classic scary tale, and the aesthetic design even beats that of a Nightmare Before Christmas. The two movies even have the same director, Henry Selick, which is perhaps part of why they can elicit such a strong sense of nostalgia even if it is a new experience. Selick is a renowned stop-motion animation director and his work on Nightmare and Coraline showed dedication and care toward these stories.
Some of the most beautiful moments take place in the “other world,” which intentionally has more color and movement compared to Coraline’s reality. Allow the colorful and whimsical setting to draw you into Coraline’s fairytale and enjoy the thrill as the suspense builds throughout the film.
Coraline is available to stream on HBO Max.
A movie about letting go, that has never loosened its grip on pop culture. Beetlejuice was recently adapted into a Broadway musical with as many practical effects and heart of the original.
Barbara and Adam Maitland are dead, and there’s nothing they can do about it. They can, however, attempt to prevent a family from moving into their house by haunting them. Under the guidance of the slimy and brash demon Beetlejuice the couple learns to go beyond wearing sheets and shouting Boo, to really scare Lydia Deetz and her family.
The movie has comedic legend Catharine O’Hara as Delia Deetz, an eccentric and controlling wannabe sculptor who plans to demolish and rebuild the Maitland’s beloved home. Beetlejuice sews chaos and harm everywhere he goes and the Maitlands must realize that they don’t want to hurt Lydia before the demon goes too far.
The practical effects of Beetlejuice hold up despite its age, and the innocent performance of Geena Davis as Barbara forges an instant connection with Winona Ryder as Lydia, a girl far too old for her age. Beetlejuice is a family movie, about finding those you are willing to fight for and learning that life isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
Beetlejuice is available to stream on HBO Max.
The only movie with gore and staples of the horror genre on this list is Cabin in the Woods. A movie by Joss Whedon it features a young Chris Hemsworth and crew, all college-aged kids on their way to a remote cabin for a spring break getaway. As they travel, the teens are revealed to be smart, empathetic and capable (including Marty the eternally stoned comedic relief).
As the night goes on, something changes. Each of the characters begins to fulfill their horror movie counterpart. Curt (Hemsworth) becomes the dumb jock and his pre-med girlfriend Jules, suddenly loses all intelligence and becomes voraciously erotic. The couple even goes so far as to spontaneously have sex in the middle of the scary woods. The culprit: suspiciously released pheromones in the cabin’s vents, and strategically placed lighting with hypnotic patterns.
Who is the puppetmaster pulling these strings? A team of dedicated office workers that are revealed in the first five minutes of the movie. However, their motivations do not become clear until the second act.
This movie is a comedy to the end. Even as the protagonists are chased by the determined killers, their clever quips and parodying nature of the genre shine through. The second act is deeply cathartic, with clever twists and justice served to those who deserve it. This movie is a slasher flick for those who don’t want to deal with the jump scares or too many nightmares after staying up late to finish it.
The Cabin in the Woods is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Every cool friend has a watchlist that comes out every Halloween season, but one movie that is consistently forgotten is The Addams Family. Gomez and Morticia Addams have become cultural icons for Gen Z and Millenials, yet the movie that defined everyone’s childhood is consistently neglected.
The classic movie tells the story of Uncle Fester rejoining the kooky family who shows him love and dedication. The social commentary that this family is the antithesis of the classic suburban white family still holds up, because of the message that they love their children and support their interests and passions. Raul Julia was the perfect choice for Gomez Addams. His fencing scenes are filled with high energy, and his worship of his gothic wife is so refreshing given the 90s trope of wives being “the old ball and chain.”
The classic fight scene that Wednesday and Pugsley stage with the help of Fester for their school talent show elicits gleeful cries from children and impulsive laughs from adults. The shower of blood onto the audience members is deserved. If you choose to sit in the splash zone it’s your responsibility to pack a poncho.
The reunion ball with the scene-stealing cousin is filled with supporting cast members that heighten the story’s quality and intensity. They demonstrate the beautiful parts of family gatherings. This family movie deserves a rewatch every year because it promotes truly good values and messages. Love one another, despite the quirks, and fight fiercely for those you love.
The Addams Family is available to stream on Paramount+ and Roku.
“If you choose to sit in the splash zone it’s your responsibility to pack a poncho.” LOL
Raul Julia IS the quintessential Gomez Addams!
Though, I did love John Astin in the original TV series from the 60’s. He brought just the right combination of campy and suave to the role.