Top 5 Halloween Movies for the non Horror Fan

I’m not a big horror movie fan, though I am married to one. Here’s our top 5 favorite Halloween themed films that provide him with enough spook and me with enough laughs.

5) Beetlejuice- While I grew up with a more family friendly Beetlejuice via the Saturday morning cartoon, Keaton is hilarious as the ghost with the most. Burton perfectly blends the right amount of quirk and goth to make this one of his strongest films. Those unfamiliar with the film will be surprised to see Geena Davis and a crazy young Alec Baldwin as the main protagonists as the newly dead having to figure out the afterlife. I approve of any ghosts that use Harry Belafonte in their haunting.
http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/10/08/beetlejuice/


4) Young Frankenstein- Mel Brooks’ spoof on the Universal Frankenstein films of 30s is one of his strongest works. With Brooks regulars like Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn the cast had such a fun time Brooks kept writing new scenes so they wouldn’t have to stop filming.
http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/10/18/young-frankenstein


3) Evil Dead 2- Definitely the most gruesome entry on the list, this campy classic has a strong sense of humor as well. Bruce Campbell pays tribute to the Three Stooges with lots of physical comedy as he fights his own evil hand. Maybe not for those with a weak stomach (there’s so much blood Raimi had to start changing the color to avoid an X rating) but it’s one of the best combinations of horror and comedy in film history.
http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/10/26/512


2) The Addams Family & Addams Family Value- The all together ookey family is the perfect fit for modern times, allowed to be as creepy as they want. With strong plots and endless quotable dialogue, these films stand out from the many classic television show movie adaptations that flooded theaters in the 90s. Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and a very young Christina Ricci all deliver memorable performances and the special effects help bring the whole kooky gang to life.
http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/03/30/the-addams-family/


1) Shaun of the Dead- this zombie spoof has one of the cleverest scripts of the past decade. Just as much about growing up as it is about the zombocalypse, Shaun of The Dead should what real people would do when faced with the undead. Filled with plenty of references to classic zombie films, and peppered with callbacks to itself, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/03/17/shaun-of-the-dead

Clue

Clue is one of those movies that you’ve either never heard of or you can quote at the drop of a hat. It features an ensemble cast of some of the best comedic character actors in film history and is a fairly well crafted murder mystery. While the game it’s based on has some semblance of a plot, they create distinct characters out what was just six colored pegs, twists and turns that can be solved in three separate endings, throw in some cold war paranoia for good measure, and didn’t even have to resort to sticking aliens In there like some other movies based on a board game.

Six strangers are invited to a mysterious mansion and quickly learn they all share one thing in common, they have been blackmailed by the same man for various transgressions. The blackmailer hands out weapons (the familiar pieces from the game) and challenges them to kill his loyal butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) who gathered them together and is also a victim of his abuse of power. He promises that with Wadsworth dead, they can all go their separate ways, but he is the one that ends up shot. The guests all deny they were the shooter and as the night goes on, the mansion’s staff and random passerbys begin dropping like flies, with no clear killer. Even though they can’t completely trust each other, the group bands together to try to keep what’s going on a secret. When a cop stops by, questioning an abandoned car close to the property, the guests animate the dead bodies to avoid suspicion.  In the end, Wadsworth solves the mystery in three separate endings, which were used as a box office draw, with audiences having no clue which finale they would get. All three are included on the home video versions, but really, the final one not only has some of the film’s best lines, it makes the most sense as well, making it the true ending. There was a fourth ending where Wadsworth poisons the group and is killed by guard dogs but it was cut due to its dark tone.

The cast is perfection. Tim Curry is born to buttle as Wadsworth with Christopher Lloyd as the lecherous Professor Plum, Michael McKean as the nervous Mr. Green, Martin Mull as the military minded Colonel Mustard, Lesley Ann Warren as the sexy Miss Scarlett, Eileen Brennan as the hysterical Mrs. Peacock, and Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White – the cold widow with the hot temper. It’s an impressive line-up but Kahn steals the show. I’ve seen people fight over who gets to deliver her perfect melt down which was ad libbed by Kahn. She really is one of the most underrated comediennes of all-time and was rarely given material that lived up to her greatness.

This film is a little known treasure. It was a big part of my childhood but I’d encourage anyone who’s unfamiliar with it to check it out. While it has a somewhat slow beginning, by the end, it’s going a mile a minute. It has some of my favorite lines ever which I still quote whenever I’m given an opportunity.


Back to the Future

Michael J. Fox is a big deal to my family. I share a birthday with him, my dad claims my brother is named after his Family Ties character Alex P. Keaton, and my grandfather had Parkinson’s disease, so I have a soft spot for his ultimate teen character, Marty McFly. Fox is adorably charming as a teen who travels into the past and meets his high school aged parents and accidentally ruins their meeting, keeping them from falling in love. If he cannot set things right, he may erase his own existence. Luckily, he tracks down time machine inventing scientist and present day pal Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the two hatch a plan to make Marty’s parents fall in love and get him home.

The film really has fun with putting Marty in this very familiar but still foreign territory. He is shocked to find out his mother drinks (!), smokes (!), and wants to have sex (!) with him! He’s horrified to find out his father is not only a socially retarded nerd, but  a peeping Tom. He constantly puts his foot in his mouth as he repeatedly refers to technology or products that are unknown to people in 1955. The soda shop scene where he slowly pieces together where he is pretty perfect. Eventually he gets the hang of it and scares his father into attending the school dance by disguising himself as Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan.

While the film is a lot of fun, the part that makes me shake my head the most is the scene where Marty performs at the school dance and a voice of a Southern blues rocker comes out of his 5’4 frame. It’s completely laughable and pretty dated. If made today they would have just gotten Zac Efron or something and had him sing his own songs. Another thing that I really don’t buy is that Marty and Jennifer are this epic love affair. I mean, they are clearly making fun of young love when Marty gushes about the note Jennifer gave him but to think that they would get married and have kids one day, yeah, no. It reminds me of the moment in Ferris Bueller when Ferris talks about marrying Sloan. What’s with all these teenage guys rushing to the altar? It must be an 80s thing or something. I blame Reagan.

The emotional heart of the film is the friendship and Marty and Doc Brown. It says something about the two actors that majority of the time we see them together is when Marty finds 1955 Doc Brown, who he is a complete stranger to, but you can still see how important to each other they are destined to become.

I can’t watch too many time travel movies in a row because I over-think it and get freaked out. I’ll have nightmares about scenarios where somebody goes back in time and erases my existence. I am totally aware I’m a crazy person, don’t worry. Then Crack.com had an article which pointed out that when Marty returns to his new awesome life, he’s at a total disadvantage because he doesn’t share memories with his own family. Think of all the awkward moments Marty will have to endure. He’ll have to smile and nod when his sibling reminisce about that trip the family took to Disney World and they’ll think he’s a crazy person when he mentions anything that happened in the reality where they’re poor. And, with the way time travel work in this film, there’s a timeline where Marty never comes home. So those people are poor, drunk losers, and their son disappears one day. Totally depressing!

One thing I’ve always wondered, is Marty popular in 1985 Hill Valley? He’s portrayed as this cool guy but their something off about it. I think it’s because he’s poor. To bring back Ferris Bueller, they have very similar attitudes but Ferris’ parents have money so he’s a big freaking deal at his school.

I have mixed feelings about the sequels. While they have entertaining there’s something kind of unnecessary about them. And the fact that Marty keeps having to go back to that same dance every time, it just seems lazy to me. However, I do appreciate the second film’s darker tone. I also crack up whenever Lea Thompson dramatically tells Biff he can have her fake boobs back and Michael J. Fox playing his own daughter is really freaking cute. But the film has a lot of over the top moments, like when Marty is fired, that don’t really work for me. However, they have fun moments, so they can stay.

The Addams Family

Whenever I stumble upon The Addams Family or Addams Family Values, I have to watch it to the end. Even though I own both on DVD. These movies never fail to make me laugh. In the 90s there were a lot of movie remakes of classic television shows and most of them are shit. The advantage that The Addams Family had was it was able to take the existing material and truly modernize it. The television show presented a family who was odd but pleasant. They were always eager to meet new people but would accidentally scare them off with their creepy house. In the films, the family can be a lot darker and really run with the concept. There are frequent jokes about the various family members murdering people, committing arson, and engaging in acts of violent sex. This is a great example of everyone involved with a film just having fun with the material.

The film has an outstanding cast. Raul Julia and Angelica Houston are perfection as Gomez and Morticia. In the show, John Astin was a charming but somewhat goofy Gomez. Julia gives Gomez a hint of danger. It’s hard to say who is the better Gomez, but Julia gets some of the best moments of the films. He’s amazingly over the top, especially when faced with any type of setback. When kicked out the family mansion in the first film, he quickly devolves into a rerun watching couch potato, completely giving up on life.

Angelica Houston clearly had great time as Morticia. She gets to be sexy, mysterious, and wickedly hilarious. In the second film, the crew has a movie long joke about Morticia and her lighting. In every scene, she is specially lit, a beam of light across her eyes. She even occasionally walks into her special lighting. It’s an extra wink to the viewer that always cracks me up. One thing that made Gomez and Morticia different than other couples on television in the 60s, was that they were the first couple that clearly had sex with each other. They overflowed with passion at a time where couples couldn’t even be shown in the same bed. In the films, they really kick it up a notch, with reference to their kinky bedroom behavior and engaging in sexual acts at a charity auction. To this day, they are one of the few couples in television or film that show that your sex life doesn’t die when you have kids.

Christina Ricci dominates the second film, really coming into her own as an actress with Wednesday’s brilliant barbs. Wednesday had very little to do in the series so to have her become such a fully realized character is a real treat. In Addams Family Values, she and brother Pugsley attend sleep-away camp, where they stand out among their bubbly campmates. They are sent to the Harmony Hut where they are forced to watch family fare in order to learn how to be chipper. Wednesday exits smiling, ready to follow the rules, only to rebel later, burning the camp to the ground. Wednesday attempting to smile is hilarious.

The screenwriters did themselves a favor by creating strong plots that complimented the familiar characters. It didn’t rely on sticking the family members in wacky situations. Both films focus on Fester Addams (which is interesting, because in the television show he wasn’t even an Addams, he was Morticia uncle). In the first film, Fester (played by staple of my childhood Christopher Lloyd) has been lost for years and suffers amnesia when a con-artist uses him to trick the family out of their millions. Over time, he learns to love the family and realizes he is, indeed, an Addams. In the sequel, he meets and falls in love with the family’s nanny (played by Joan Cusack, clearly relishing in the chance to play the sexy villain) only to discover she has a history of murdering her wealthy husbands. They are plots that could have worked with original characters but compliment these pop culture icons.

The dialogue is really smart. What really works is that the family is both aware that they are different and completely oblivious to it. One of my favorite bits is when Cousin Itt (you know, the walking mound of hair) shows up to the family’s Halloween celebration wearing a cowboy hat and a holster. His wife (who is a totally normal human) says everyone keeps asking him where he got his costume. To which Gomez says “It is a great hat”, because that’s what people are struck by. The hat the walking mound of hair is wearing. I could probably dissect every joke in both movies, giggling the whole time, but that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? The Family Channel (excuse me, ABC Family- gag) was airing both films regularly for awhile. I urge all who come across them to check them out, for the first or hundredth time.

Favorite Quote:

Gomez: [shouting] Has the planet gone mad? My brother, passion’s hostage. I seek justice – denied! I shall not submit! I shall conquer! I shall rise! My name is Gomez Addams, and I have seen evil!
[Grandma waves Pubert in the air]
Gomez: I have seen horror!
[Lurch waves]
Gomez: I have seen the unholy maggots which feast in the dark recesses of the human soul!
Morticia: They’re at camp.