Friday, 3 October 2014

Frightful Fridays - What to Watch

The countdown is on! It's October and Halloween is quickly approaching. I'm so stoked! I intend on writing a Halloween related post every Friday to put you in the spirit for my all time favorite holiday. You might be confused because I'm posting it today; my plans for last Friday were unexpectedly changed. I had to help someone out in need, it's a long story so I'll spare you the details. So yes, this post is dated from last Friday but I posted it today. Let's just pretend it's Friday, it's sounds nicer anyways.

Halloween Films and Specials

For this Frightful Friday, I've compiled a list of Halloween film and television specials. These films, made for TV specials and shows are what I like to watch every year, they help me to get into the Halloween spirit. I've watched a lot of Halloween specials but not all of them will make this list, only the ones that I feel are worth watching. I hope that you're able to check some of these out! I know a few of them are on Youtube and other online video streaming websites.


Hocus Pocus

It wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't watch this movie. Hocus Pocus is a Disney film from 1993 and it rocks. Most kids from my generation remember watching this movie on television. It was bad ass. Sadly, it's rarely shown on television any more. Some specialty film channels may have picked it up and I think that the Family channel (a Disney channel) might have shown this movie last year - for what could be the first time in twenty years. My point is, is that this film just doesn't get the recognition it deserves. It's a great movie and here's why:

So to give you a rough summary, the film is about a young teenage boy named Max who moves up north to Salem, Massachusetts. Everyone there is crazy about Halloween except for him. He's just pissed off because he has to live in a new town and leave all of his friends behind in California. On Halloween night, Max acts like a total dick and tries to impress this girl he has a crush on by lighting the "black flame candle". The candle is enchanted and is said to have the ability to resurrect the three most notorious witches in Salem's history; the Sanderson Sisters. Of course it works and the witches are brought back to life. They wreak havoc upon the city, looking for children to eat in order to be eternally beautiful and young. If they fail to do so by sunrise the next morning they will be turned into dust and their souls returned to hell. Thus Max, his crush and his little sister must work together to stop the witches from achieving their goal.

This film has magic, a talking cat, a curse, a zombie, trick-or-treating and Bette Midler. Enough said. It oozes Halloween spirit. If you haven't seen it already, get a copy and check it out!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I'm not going to get into details here, this is one of the most well known films within the Gothic community. If you haven't heard of TNBC then it's about time you check it out. It is the quintessential Halloween film. It's also the quintessential Christmas film... it just depends on when you watch it. The plot is simple; the Pumpkin King, Jack, is bored with his life and his career. He discovers Christmas and wants it for himself so he endeavors to become Santa Claus. The plot is a little lack luster because it's a musical adaptation of a short story written by Tim Burton. The music was composed by Danny Elfman and therefore kicks ass. It's a good film, I love it because I grew up with it. It's pure nostalgia. I've watched it so many times that I know it by heart, which has taken the magic out of it. If I watch it now, I'll turn it off when he gets to Christmas Town because I think Jack's adoration for Christmas really blows. Who wants to see someone as cool as Jack Skellington reject the ghastly world of Halloween for the touchy feely bullshit of Christmas? I really wish Burton had taken the story in another direction, but none the less it's a satisfying film.

Sleepy Hollow

This is another film that I've over-watched lol. This movie was directed by Tim Burton. It's an adaptation of Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It's a horror film, of course, and it centers around a recent slew of attacks in Sleepy Hollow. All of these people are turning up decapitated but their heads are missing. Ichabod Crane (played by Johnny Depp) is a police officer who has a knack for forensics. He is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate these morbid crimes. This film has suspense, horror, witchcraft and hot costumes. It's not as scary as it was when I saw it the first time (I was much younger back then) but it's a great film for this time of year. It really has such a phenomenal atmosphere, especially because it's always foggy. It looks cold, damp and forlorn. I love Christina Ricci in this film, she was still very young at the time this film was made. She just has this beautiful, porcelain cherub-like face. With her hair dyed blonde, she looks even more haunting than she did in her Wednesday Addams role. This is definitely worth watching on a dark and stormy day.

Universal Monsters

I know that a lot of people are put off by black and white movies but if you have a true appreciation for film you have to see the Universal Monster films. These movies are essential, especially for the horror fanatic. Despite their age, they have remained timeless in the hearts of millions. My personal favorites are Dracula and Frankenstein. Obviously, like many film adaptations of novels, they aren't true to their origins. There are marked differences between the books and films but it doesn't bother me. Dracula is cool, the sets are awe-inspiring and the atmosphere is so intense you feel like you're immersed in the film. Likewise, Frankenstein also has a lot of depth and emotion; you really feel sorry for Frankenstein's creature (even though he never talks as he does in the book, this isn't explored until the Bride of Frankenstein, and he still isn't as articulate or intelligent). The best way to watch these films is when it's nice and dark out (maybe a bit stormy).

Honorable Mentions

These are films that I recommend for this time of year but are not necessarily Halloween themed. Most of which are just films that have horrific or supernatural qualities to them.

Ghousbusters I and II The Evil Dead Trilogy
ParaNorman Frankenweenie
Beetlejuice The Frighteners
The Craft Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
The Addams Family Casper
Nosferatu (1922) Night of the Living Dead (1968)


The Halloween Tree

This is a really cool special that I remember seeing on TV way back in the early 1990's. The Halloween Tree is an animated film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel of the same name. I've read the book and watched the film and they're pretty much the same. The book is about eight boys who are fighting for their friend's life, but the movie cuts the number down to four friends and one of them is a girl. It added a nice balance to put Jenny in, especially because she is such a ballsy character. 

The plot is basically about a kid named Pipkin whose appendix is going to burst on Halloween night. His group of friends are worried about his well being, so they strike up a deal with this fruity soul collector (voiced by Leonard Nimoy - awesome!) to save Pipkin from dying. They have to travel into the past in order to understand the "true meaning" of Halloween. If they successfully do this before Halloween is over then they will rescue Pipkin. It's wrought with historical inaccuracies and misconceptions, but it's one of the only films I've seen that actually tries to explore the origins of Halloween. It doesn't have the greatest dialogue which is disappointing given Ray Bradbury's renowned talent with words. I mean, he narrated this special, you would think he would have read the script and seen how terrible it was. When my fiance watched this, he couldn't help but notice that every other minute the kids were saying "oh my gosh". Seriously, if you watch it now you will notice it like a sore thumb. I get it, you don't want them saying "holy shit" or "what the hell?" but there must be other phrases you could use in place of "oh my gosh". If you can overlook its flaws, you'll find a childhood treasure that's both dark and whimsical.

Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask

The Haunted Mask is a made for TV hour long special based on R.L. Stine's children's novella of the same name. If you find it on Netflix for some reason it's listed under the 5th season of the Goosebumps TV series. I loved watching this as a kid. Carly Beth, the protagonist, is this obnoxious pussy kid who is afraid of everything. She hopes to get even with her bullies, Steve and Chuck, by buying the scariest Halloween costume she can find. Unbeknownst to her she ends up finding one that holds an evil curse, a costume that overtakes her and turns her into someone she's not! I'm not going to give anything away but the concept is awesome. They made a Haunted Mask II to follow this special, it involves the same characters and essentially the same story, only this time it focuses on Steve.

These specials are sort of lame but still totally worth watching. I recommend watching the Goosebumps TV series around Halloween, regardless of what episode it is. I strongly recommend you watch the Attack of the Jack O'Lanterns episode - hopefully the unedited version. It's a great Halloween episode! Goosebumps is an awesome horror series for kids, so if you have children definitely watch this with them.

Are you afraid of the dark?: The Tale of the Twisted Claw

You may already be familiar with the twisted claw story. You've probably seen it used in one of The Simpson's Treehouse of Terror episodes. It's where someone gets the foot of some animal and it grants wishes, and every wish inevitably turns out wrong. This episode from the Are you Afraid of the Dark series centers on two boys who are best friends. They go around on devil's night fucking shit up and then they piss off the wrong lady. On Halloween, the woman gives them a "treat" when they stop by her house, and surprise - it's a twisted claw! This is my all time favorite episode from AYOTD and I strongly recommend you see it. I recommend all of the AYOTD episodes from the first generation cast (before they revived it in the late 90's and barfed all over it). A few suggestions are Laughing in the Dark, Tale of the Midnight Ride, The Prom Queen and The Tale of Old Man Corcoran. There are just too many awesome episodes in this series to list! If you haven't seen AYOTD before, there really is no better time than Halloween to give it a try.

Under Wraps

I realize most of what I'm showing here is children's stuff but honestly I think it's some of the best entertainment out there. It's not hampered down with bullshit, like slutty teenage girls and their idiotic ways or other redundant slasher film tropes. Under Wraps is a made for TV gem that I found only a few years ago. I'm disappointed I missed out on this when I was a kid because it kicks ass. Even as an adult I love this film! The story is about three friends who discover a resurrected mummy in a neighbor's basement. They have to help rescue him from their neighbor, who is a seriously bad guy. The mummy befriends the children and does a host of hilarious stuff. It's just a cute geeky movie that caters to the child inside. Who wouldn't want a mummy as a friend?

Honorable Mentions

This list has been compiled because there are too many made for TV movies and TV specials to list!

The Simpsons - Treehouse of HorrorMy So-Called Life Halloween Episode
Garfield's Halloween AdventureThe Halloweentown Films
The Real Ghostbusters - ShowBeetlejuice - Show
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownTales from the Crypt Keeper - Show/Cartoon
The Addams Family - Show (1964)Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow


There are just too many specials out there to list here, so I only provided ones that I know and are the most enjoyable to me. I'd love to hear any suggestions you have! What films, made for TV specials or series episodes do your recommend for Halloween?

Kind regards


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  1. Yessssss. I love this time of year. The spooky shows always gets me hyped up. My kids love "Scary Godmother". It's become a tradition.

    1. Television this time of year is the best. I spent last October sewing my costume with the TV on for the entirety of the project. It was awesome! I've heard of Scary Godmother but I've never actually seen it.

  2. The last three were childhood musts every year-- well, Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of The Dark were a must every weekend, though... but Underwraps, NBC Halloween Town and Practical Magic were always ones I watched!

    1. Lol so true, I watch AYOTD and Goosebumps throughout the year, but they're a must have at Halloween! I love Practical Magic, I meant to add it to my list of alternatives, that and Death Becomes Her - a very good dark comedy.

  3. Best list I have ever seen compiled! Often when people make a list of Halloween films all they list are gory horror movies that aren't even set in October. THANK YOU for including Halloweentown. It is my childhood, my adolescence, and my adulthood and I probably watch it at least once a month in non-October months, it is like a security blanket to me.

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment! I wanted to make sure the majority of the films I referenced were Halloween themed. I watched the Halloweentown films for the first time a few years ago. These specials came after my generation, but I know I would have loved to watch them as a child. It's good wholesome stuff, not like the weird crap that Disney has become known for in recent years. I tried to watch one of Disney's newest Halloween specials last October and it was unbearable; full of complete nonsensical random humor and obnoxious pre-teen musical dance numbers.

      I hope in the future there are more Halloween themed films put into production or at least more made for tv specials. Only time will tell!

  4. These are all fantastic!! I can't wait to watch many of these! My mom has always told me I should watch the original Rosemary's Baby. She said it would freak me out! So, I am this year! Hugs ;o)

    1. I still haven't seen Rosemary's Baby! I've been meaning to. Have you seen Misery? That's a good movie, I just watched it and it creeped me out.

  5. Great tips, but you forgot 'Trick 'r Treat'!

    1. Thanks! I think I watched that once... didn't it have the guy from Reading Rainbow??

  6. I'm not so fond of spooky Halloween and horror movies, in my opinion, they're all too silly, but I love Sleepy Hollow and my boyfriend wanted to watch The Evil Dead Trilogy, so that's done too. ^^ Now I have to see Beetlejuice again! ^^
    How about Corpse Bride? Isn't that a typical Halloween piece?

    1. I'm going to watch Beetlejuice tonight!! My friend loved Corpse Bride, I forgot all about it, but it's definitely one of the movies they show on TV every year at this time. I also forgot to add The Gate (1987) and Return of the Living Dead (1985).


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