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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Young Frankenstein

Every so often an actor and a director build a partnership that allows both of them to perform at their peak as if the two were made to work together. Obvious pairings like De Niro and Scorcese or Bill Murray and Wes Anderson, but there is a more underrated duo that I want to discuss today, Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks. The two worked on three films together and while Wilder is beloved for playing Willy Wonka, their collaborations are Brooks’ best loved features. Wilder adds a hint of dignity to Brooks’ juvenile humor. After working together on The Producers, Wilder only agreed to join the cast of Blazing Saddles if Brooks’ next film was based on an idea Wilder had about a spoof of the old Universal Frankenstein. The result, Young Frankenstein, became both artists’ favorite film of their own.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), embarrassed by his grandfather’s notorious experiments, has spent his entire career trying to distance himself from his famous family, going as far as to change to pronunciation of his last name. He learns he has inherited his family’s castle in Transylvania and travels to inspect the property. When arriving in Transylvania he meets his grandfather’s servants: his lab assistant Igor (Marty Feldman), the housekeep Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), and the beautiful Inga (Teri Garr). Being in his granfather’s house inspires a change in Frederick, particularly after discovering his grandfather’s secret lab and his journal which detail his experiments. Frederick decides to continue his grandfather’s work and quickly set out to reanimate the dead. His first experiment is a success but his creator (Peter Boyle) quickly escapes and inadvertently terrorizes the townspeople.
While Brooks is not known for strong female characters, his casting of Garr, Leachman, and Madeline Kahn (who plays Frankenstein’s uptight fiancé) allows for their characters to transcend Brooks’ usual eyecandy and old hag archetypes. After working with Kahn on Blazing Saddles, she was Brooks’ first choice for Inga. However, after reading the script, Kahn asked if she could play Elizabeth instead. When Garr auditioned, Brooks told her to come back the next day with a German accent. She surprised him by immediately responding with the desired accent. By casting women who had wit as well as beauty, the characters are more fully developed, making a more enjoyable movie for all.
The cast and crew had such a good time on set that they didn’t want filming to end, leading to Brooks added additional scenes. However, the cast probably had too much fun, as the original cut was twice as long as what the eventually final cut would be. Brooks and Wilder reviewed the original cut and decided that for every joke that worked, there would be three that didn’t. The cut the lines that fell flat and the result was the much improved classic we know today.
The film’s legacy includes being list on the AFI’s list of the greatest comedies of all-time, along with Wilder and Brooks’ two other collaborations The Producers and Blazing Saddles. In 2007, Brooks tried to repeat the success of The Producers musical adaptations, by taking Young Frankenstein. Unfortunately, this was not the smash hit The Producers was and closed after a little over a year. However, the film inspired a more surprising musical success, as the line “Walk this way”, inspired Steven Tyler, who was struggling to come up lyrics for the future hit.


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.