Happy Halloween! My favourite Halloween flicks

Churchyard with undead man in Missouri. Copyright Liberty Images/Jen Baker

“The Undead”
When I saw this in Missouri, I couldn’t resist shooting it.

Happy Halloween, reader!

Halloween is funny for me. When I was a little girl, I trick-or-treated approximately twice, both times as a toddler—once dressed as the classic pumpkin, and once as a Christmas present—before my parents decided it was a verboten holiday. They’re well over that now, but it’s too late for me, I suppose. Of course, candy is not my cup of tea, so I don’t miss it much, though Mom and Dad have both confessed to being sorry they went so fundie every year when gaggles of kids show up at the door in various costumes. No doubt my parents can’t wait for the grandkids!

This year, I almost dressed as River Song from Doctor Who, but haven’t the energy. Of course, as a die-hard vintage lass, I dress 1940s or 1950s daily, and most people think I’m in costume every day of the year (“Oh, are you in town with *insert theatre show here*?”), so perhaps I’m good. The best part of Halloween is passing out candy to all of the little “beggars” who show up at our door—some of the costumes are really marvellous, and of course the itty-bitty kids are absolutely darling.

Anyhow, since it’s Halloween, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite Halloween movies. Though as noted last week I’m not one for gore, there are some fun ones out there! But first…Henri discusses Halloween!

Those videos crack me up.

Unfortunately, my browser re-loaded before saving my post (which I’d neglected to save myself, alas), and the entire list was lost. With trick-or-treaters about to appear at my door shortly, I simply haven’t the time and certainly not the energy to fully rewrite-the list (and there were only five movies, argh!). Making matters more fun is the fact that YouTube seems to be down. (!) So you’re simply going to have to trust my excellent taste. From least to best…

    • The Mummy   The 1999 version is silly, has no character development, the priests are ancestors of either the Tin Man or Tobias Funke (or both), and the cheese factor is high—but The Mummy IS pure candy that’s utterly unpretentious. Not only does know it’s goofy, it revels in it, and thank goodness for that! If you just want to watch a movie full of cheap scares and silly jokes that is, frankly, a fun romp, this is the one for you.
    • I Married A Witch   Fredric March and winsome Veronica Lake don’t really have any chemistry, but this is a charming tale nonetheless. If this 1942 witchcraft-versus-romance comedy were to be remade today, the starlet wouldn’t be as winsome and it would in fact be unwatchable for children; luckily for us, in the 1940s, Hollywood knew what it was doing! Warm up the cider, pop some popcorn, and enjoy.
    • Young Frankenstein   Yes, the script sometimes dances along the edge of impropriety (more bawdy than bad, I think), but Mel Brooks’ spoof of Shelley’s famous tale is irresistibly funny. Not only that, the performances—from Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Peter Boyle, and Madeline Kahn—are fantastic. Filmed on the sets of the original Frankenstein in black-and-white, this movie DOES take itself seriously—with perfect effect. “He was…MY BOYFRIEND!” In my experience, Brooks is mostly miss, but with Young Frankenstein, he hit the mark.
    • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir    (I had a fine writeup about this enchanting movie, but Safari ate it with its infamous reloading windows issue. Thanks, Apple.) Stunning Gene Tierney stars as Mrs. Muir, a widow who moves into a seaside cottage once owned by a long-dead sea captain—who, as it turns out, hasn’t left. Though she and the earthy Captain Gregg, superbly played by Rex Harrison, butt heads at first, true warmth develops between the two as time goes on. When George Sanders’ smooth Miles Fairley seeks the attention of the lovely widow, real tension enters the relationship. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is as close to sublime as a movie can get, with its bittersweet romance, marvellous script, lovely score, fine performances, and beautiful photography. I caught it for the first time in more than a decade last year, and it stayed with me for days. If you are looking for a great stay-at-home date night movie, this is it.
    • Arsenic And Old Lace   Of COURSE this one tops the list. A madcap black comedy directed by Frank Capra, who got perfect performances from all of his actors—Cary Grant being the leading man. Josephine Hull and Jean Adair are his darling spinster aunts…darling, but also poisoning old men (with good-hearted intent—really!) with elderberry wine and burying them in the basement.. The day Grant’s Mortimer Brewster at last weds his sweetheart, played by (my doppelganger, several say) Priscilla Lane, he learns what his eccentric aunts have been up to—aided all along by his brother, who happens to think he’s Teddy Roosevelt. To make matters worse, as Mortimer tries to sort things out and protect his family, his convict brother, Jonathan (Jonathan Massey) shows up (looking like Boris Karloff, who played the role on stage) with the suspicious and nervous Doctor Herman Einstein, played by Peter Lorre. Hijinks, madness, and frantic hilarity ensue non-stop thanks to a tight script. Yes, it’s a bit over-the-top…but again. This is Halloween. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more fun in a Halloween movie than you will in this one. Murder or not, it’s good clean fun.

 

Don’t forget, TCM has a really good lineup tonight, too. Happy Halloween!

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One thought on “Happy Halloween! My favourite Halloween flicks

  1. Dang, bummer you missed out on Halloween growing up, but there’s always the movies to remind us of the things that go bump in the night. Laughed like crazy at Henri….what a riot, perfect facial expressions and the narration was so delightfully arrogant,,loved it…thanks Jen.

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