It’s October. That means the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are beginning to change colors, and Halloween candy and costumes are starting to appear on store shelves. It also means that I begin gearing up for my favorite holiday of the year. To help me prepare, I like to watch movies that help put me in the Halloween mindset.
To the uninitiated soul, this might mean horror films. However, in my world, the horror genre doesn’t necessarily qualify as a Halloween-related movie. I mean, horror films in general are too easy of a choice. I know, there are exceptions, like the "Halloween" franchise of films. And as much as I want to throw "Evil Dead II" in there, that’s another film for another time. The film must meet at least one of four requirements: One, the film must have a supernatural element to it. Two, there must be death involved. Three, the film must take place around Halloween. And finally, it must remind me of Halloweens past.
In no particular order, here are my six favorite movies to watch around Halloween:
This 1994 film is surrounded by death and mystery, not just within the plot but in real life as well. It’s based on the 1989 graphic novel by James O’Barr, who wrote it as a way to deal with the death of his girlfriend, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Not only that, but during filming, Brandon Lee, son of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, was accidentally killed on the set. It was his breakout performance.
It’s rare for an action/adventure film to be as emotionally haunting on so many levels as it is. Combine that with a terrific soundtrack, and you’ve got a true Halloween classic.
Favorite quote: “Take your shot, Funboy. You got me dead bang.”
"Shaun of the Dead"
It’s a brilliant (in the British and American sense) British comedy film about zombies. "Zombieland" was close to making my list, but British humor, at least in my book, almost always trumps American humor, at least when it comes to zombie films.
Favorite quote: “He’s not my dad. He’s my stepdad!”
Set in 1988, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the title character, who has visions of an impending apocalyptic future. The problem is, everyone thinks he’s crazy. Oh, and he also has a friend named Frank, who happens to be a giant bunny rabbit. The soundtrack is excellent as well.
Favorite quote: “You are fear, prisoner. Yes, you are a product of fear."
"The Sixth Sense"
M. Night Shyamalan’s first and best film scared the ever-loving poo out of me the first time I saw it. And I couldn’t watch it again for years. I can sit through horror movies, no problem. But this isn’t a horror movie. It’s a masterful suspense film that plays on our tiny insecurities when we’re alone in a dark room. Cold chills, hair standing on end, unusual noises, the paranoid feeling we get sometimes when we think we’re alone ... make fun of me if you like. I see dead people … and Donnie Wahlberg.
Favorite quote: “Do you know why you're afraid when you're alone? I do. I do.”
I first saw this comedy classic in the theater in 1984. Though I was too young to appreciate the humor then, it’s one of those films that gets funnier every time I watch it. Written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis (Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler), I consider it one of Bill Murray’s finest performances.
Huh. Ernie Hudson made this list twice.
Favorite quote: “Generally, you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.”
"E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial"
This movie is not scary in the least bit. But it takes place around Halloween, and it reminds me of going trick-or-treating when I was a kid. There is something about Steven Spielberg and childhood memories in the 1980s.
Favorite quote: “Maybe it was a pervert or a deformed kid or something.”
So, that’s it. Try watching one of these over the next few weeks. One of them might become one of your Halloween favorites as well.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.