A list from the esoteric brains behind Filmhash. If you have a list topic, e-mail us!
We here at Filmhash love Halloween, but don’t care too much for horror films. Here’s our list of movies that we love to watch while bobbing for apples, drinking cider, and carving our pumpkins!
1. Hocus Pocus (1993)
This is a highly underrated film, as it is simply hysterical. Three witches played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker (in her best non-Sex and the City role), come back to life in Salem, Massachusetts after lying dormant for 300 years to try to steal the town’s youth for themselves. They are thwarted by a group of kids (including a young Thora Birch) who are aided by a talking cat and a friendly zombie, because they are the only ones who understand they are real witches and not just in costume. This movie is a lot of fun, and one I watch year after year.
2. The Witches (1990)
Based on a book by Roald Dahl, this film stars Anjelica Huston as a child-hunting witch. It definitely has Dahl’s twisted fairytale sensibilities, and is also the last film Jim Henson worked on before his death. Huston gives a great performance, and is delightfully creepy in this film. I caught it once on cable by chance and it was a gem of a find, so now I make as many other people see it as possible.
3. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
I love films that are farces, and the original Halloween farce is this classic. Not only does it have some of the best Abbott and Costello routines in it, but what makes the film stand out is the excellent “guest stars” of Lon Cheney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi, reprising their roles as the Wolfman and Dracula, respectively. This adds an air of authenticity to the proceedings, and makes it my favorite of the original “Universal Monsters” films.
4. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
This is the first feature-length film starring my favorite Anglo claymation duo. The clumsy inventor and his silent genius of a dog take on the mysterious ‘Were-Rabbit,’ who has been terrorizing the town trying to rid their gardens of rabbits. References to classic horror (An American Werewolf in London) and classic literature (Watership Down) abound.
5. The Monster Squad (1987)
In a premise similar to the set up of the Abbott and Costello movie above, a group of young American kids obsessed with monster movies come together to protect an amulet owned by Dracula’s original foe, Abraham Van Helsing. In order to do so, they must contend with the dark Count himself, as well as Frankenstein’s Monster, a werewolf, a mummy, and a Creature from the Black Lagoon stand-in. A true cult classic, this film was a flop initially, but found an audience on VHS and HBO later.
6. Young Frankenstein (1974)
If you read the title as FRON-ken-STEEN, then you already know and love Mel Brooks’ best film. Parody is a hard line to walk, and this film does it perfectly. Shot in black and white, it also uses similar credits, scene transitions, dialogue, and even props from the 1930s originals. Every scene in this movie has several laughs, and the cast has their comedic timing down perfectly. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it a viewing.
7. Monster House (2006)
This film may actually be the scariest film on the list. A CGI/Motion Capture produced by Robert Zemeckis. It tells the tale of a house anthropomorphized by the soul of its last resident. Eerie and creepy, the neighborhood kids must investigate and kill the house. This film wasn’t as successful as it should have been, but you should definitely give it a chance now.
8. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This film follows Jack Skellington (The Pumpkin King) as he discovers Christmas, and attempts to usurp it from Santa Claus and fill it with his own macabre spirit. While this film has a fervent cult fanbase, for us it is really on the list for the amazing music by Danny Elfman.
9. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
The last of the so-called “package films” Disney produced in the 1940s, the second half of this film features an animated adaptation of Washington Irving’s classic The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. A fantastic retelling narrated by Bing Crosby, it’s one of my favorite short Disney works.
10. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
It’s right behind the Christmas special in terms of memorableness. It’s just chock full of quotable lines, and it’s easy to sympathize with both Linus for believing in the Great Pumpkin and with Charlie Brown, for getting a rock. And of course I can never get enough of Snoopy trying to outwit the Red Baron.