Pick Your Poison: Best Scary and Goofy Movies to Get in the Halloween Spirit
Halloween began as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain roughly 2,000 years ago, when people would dress up in costumes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. In the modern age, however, Oct. 31 now includes a costume spectrum from terrifying skull masks to someone dressed up as a goofy ketchup bottle (I guess the ghosts retired from haunting). Similarly, in the world of film, the stories of monsters, ghouls, witches and murderers have been tackled in two different ways during the Halloween season – serious or satirical. So, whether you’re looking for screams or laughs, here are some of our favorite scary and goofy films to get you in the spooky spirit.
1. Scary: Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s nail-biting slasher film is the catalyst horror that introduced audiences to the character of Michael Myers. The white mask worn by Myers was forever etched into the minds of viewers and his seemingly unstoppable presence on screen in the pursuit of blood is terrifying. In the Rooftop SINema Club survey we conducted this year, we also found out that Halloween ranked in as #1 for favorite horror film of all time.
2. Goofy: Beetlejuice (1988)
In this Tim Burton classic, a run-of-the-mill Connecticut home is flipped on its head when there is a lingering supernatural presence. The new family moving in gets a variety of scares to try and spook them away, but the comedy of this film is its notion of the afterlife. Among the spirits is the charismatic, comedic and conniving Betelgeuse, who is a bio-exorcist ghost hired to scare off the homeowners. Apparently a lot of you are also hot for Betelgeuse…he was one of the top two picks for Halloween crush in our SINema survey!
3. Scary: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This film proved that some of the most fear-instilling moments in a cinematic experience are left to the viewer’s imagination. When a group of college students venture off into the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, to investigate the local legend of the Blair Witch, their documentary project is soon regretted. The uniqueness of this film is attributed to the grainy handheld camera footage that gives the viewer a sense of being in the characters’ shoes. Also a fun fact: the film grossed $250 million at the box office with only a $60,000 budget, making it one of the most successful independent films ever.
4. Goofy: Hocus Pocus (1993)
This Disney film received negative reviews upon its original release for its over-the-top corny nature, but it’s that exact reason that it has become a cult classic and a Halloween staple over the years. Salem witches that are more clumsy than menacing make for many comedic moments – especially with the umbrella theme of 300-year-old witches acclimating to pop culture. The Sanderson Sisters also ranked in the top two alongside Betelgeuse for Top Halloween Crush!
5. Scary: The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece not only scared audiences with this multi-layered psychological horror film, but it did so without a barrage of jump-scares. Sure, there are moments in the film that certainly catch you off guard, but it’s the nuanced storyline and cinematography which makes The Shining stand out. The film immerses viewers with Steadicam shots inside the Overlook Hotel and offers exceptional shots of the Rocky Mountains. The smoother filming style makes you feel as if you are riding your tricycle down the hallway with Danny into the haunted corridors.
6. Goofy: Young Frankenstein (1974)
Gene Wilder’s comedic timing in this Frankenstein parody film is second to none. He stars as Dr. Frankenstein, the creator of the infamous undead gargantuan who is a bumbling mad scientist. A combination of Wilder’s hilarious mustache and his cowardly presence in the film makes the viewing experience filled with many laughs the whole way through.
7. Scary: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
“Quid pro quo, Clarice…” Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lector, a former psychiatrist who is incarcerated for acts of serial killing and cannibalism, is utterly mesmerizing. His performance shows Lector as intelligent, creepy, despicable…and yet you can’t help but like him the whole film. Similarly to the reasons The Shining makes our list, this film combines excellent storytelling with a particular recurring cinematography technique – in this case exaggerated close-ups to captivate viewers.
8. Goofy: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This spoof of the endless supply of Hollywood zombie movies is full of gore and laughs throughout a ridiculous plot line. An electronic store salesman played by Simon Pegg shifts from a dead-end job to a slayer of zombies running rampant in the streets of London.
9. Scary: Psycho (1960)
This Hitchcock film made me terrified of showering…period. Anthony Perkins stars as Norman Bates, the crazed killer who manufactures a split personality and lures in the unsuspecting Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). With signature Hitchcock style, the plot leaves the viewer in a constant state of questioning, and the journey is filled with twists and turns.
10. Goofy: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
In this horror comedy, two country bumpkins in the deep woods of West Virginia become unlikely protagonists when they stumble upon a group of teenagers camping nearby. The friends, Tucker and Dale, buy a rundown cabin as their dream home,but the teenagers assume they are murderous savages. Things get gory, yet hilarious.