Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Must See Flicks

Happy Halloween to all.  I apologize for how long it's been since my last post.  I have been preparing for something really big in the month of November which I hope will be worth the wait.  However, since Halloween being only a few days away, I couldn't let this week pass without a little holiday-themed post.
With the country currently focused on the hurricane that's preparing to hit the eastern coastline, there are those who might forget about the popular holiday celebrated by people young and old dressing up in costumes and munching away on candy corn and miniature Hershey bars.  In fact, even as I post this entry into my blog, businesses and schools are closing down, and in some towns, there are plans to postpone the annual Trick-or-Treating activity until the weekend.  So, how can the families who are directly affected by the approaching storm still find the time to enjoy this old holiday dedicated to ghosts and ghouls?  Why not stay indoors, whip up a steaming bowl of popcorn, and switch on a holiday-appropriate movie?
Today's post is dedicated to those choice movies that could entertain all the home-bound families who still wish to honor Halloween.  What follows is a list of 30 different movies that could fit the bill.  The following movies might either be frightening, spooky, or simply take place on Halloween.  Regardless for which category they belong under, these movies should successfully scare or entertain you.  So take a gander, see if you can spot your favorites, and maybe you'll even discover something new to see.

1)Nightmare on Elm Street- One of the most iconic names within the horror movie genre is Robert Englund, made famous by his portrayal of Freddy Krugar, the antagonist of the Nightmare on Elm Street films.  In this film series, Fred Krugar was a child murderer who successfully killed twenty children in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio.  After the police were forced to release him from prison due to a technicality, the parents of some of Krugar’s victims took justice into their own hands by setting his lair on fire, thereby burning him alive.  Years later, Krugar manages to return as a dream demon bent on revenge, which he delivers by infiltrating the dreams of the teenage children belonging to the parents who hunted him down.  When Krugar kills the teenagers in their dreams, the teenager dies in real life.   However, I must admit I could have done without parts 2 and 6 in the film series, as they both seem to come out of nowhere. While most of the first five movies seem to follow a set pattern, with the survivors from the previous film interacting with new characters in the following films, the characters and events in part 2 are never even brought up again, except in montage sequences.  And then, in part 6, they decide to make up a twist that essentially contradicts the previous continuity.  I have nothing against plot twists in general, but when there is absolutely no hint or even obscure reference about that twist in any of the five films preceding part 6, I call foul, particularly when it involves changing Krugar’s motives in killing the teenagers of Springwood in their dreams.
2)Friday the 13th- Summer camp is typically thought to be a fun experience for all, but in this franchise, summer camp becomes something to be feared and dreaded. In the late 1950s, a small boy named Jason attended a summer camp called Camp Crystal Lake and ended up drowning in the lake.  Jason’s mother, who worked at the camp as a cook, blamed the camp councilors for her son’s death, as the two councilors who were supposed to be watching the children were off having sex at the time Jason drowned, and killed two of them.  The campground closes down shortly after these murders, but afer a time, attempts are made to reopen the camp.  But every time an attempt is made, something happens to prevent the camp from opening.  As the first movie opens, a fresh attempt at reopening Camp Crystal Lake is being made, but an unseen killer starts stalking the potential camp counselors while they are busy setting up the camp, and begins killing them off one-by-one.  In the end, it’s revealed that the killer is Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees, who wants the campground to remain closed so another tragic accident wouldn't happen.  While Mrs. Vorhees is decapitated by the one surviving counselor, Alice, during the latter’s struggle to survive, it is later revealed that Jason, whose body was never recovered, somehow survived his drowning.  After avenging his mother by tracking down Alice and killing her in her apartment, the franchise continues with Jason continuing to kill anyone who wanders close to the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake site.  I have to give this movie props for how well most of the movies connect with each other.  Whenever a new movie begins, you can tell the people who wrote the script paid attention to the previous film and didn't ignore anything that happened before.  The only exception to this is the ninth movie, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, which has two strikes against it, and is what I view as this franchise’s version of the sixth Nightmare on Elm Street movie.  Not only is there no explanation as to how Jason came back to life and made it back to Crystal Lake (the film before this one had Jason defeated in Manhattan), but it also informs us that Jason also had a long-lost sister.  To make it even worse, Jason can suddenly ‘possess’ random people, a power he didn’t have in any of the previous films.  Thankfully, apart from that installment, you can pretty much watch all the movies in order without getting upset at a glaring continuity issue, with the exception of part five, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, which is more of a side-story, very similar to Nightmare on Elm Street part 2.
3)Halloween- While many people might think Jason and Freddy are two halves of the same coin, I say it’s more appropriate to say that they’re actually the first two parts of a trinity, with Michael Myers standing as the third component of that trinity.  And he has more than earned his place in that slasher-killer trinity.  Like Freddy and Jason, his story is legendary.  On Halloween night, six-year-old Michael fatally stabbed his teenage sister.  After the murder, he was placed in Smith's Grove Sanitarium, where he remained for fifteen years, frequently being visited by his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis.  But then, when Michael had turned 21, he escaped from Smith Groove and returned to his home town of Haddonfield.  Throughout the saga of Michael Myers, he targets his long-lost little sister, Laurie, his niece, Jamie, and even his cousin’s family, brutally killing everyone who unluckily crosses his path.  However, like the last two franchises, this one also has two installments that could be left out.  The first, obviously, is Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.  This one doesn't even try to continue the story of Michael Myers, and instead gives us this rather odd, convoluted anti-children story about some demon-worshiping cult, cursed Halloween masks that are programmed to kill the person wearing them, and harnessing the magic infused inside Stonehenge. Needless to say, I didn't give that movie a second viewing.  The last movie in the franchise, Halloween Resurrection, is also quite odd, and it appears to have been made only in an attempt to make more money for Dimension and Miramax Films.  Basically, in this film, Michael returns to his childhood home to basically retire after his mission of killing his whole family is completed, only to find that a bunch of idiots have decided to host a live reality TV show inside his house.  This premise is made even more confusing and irritating by the fact that, based on what the previous films have told us, Michael still has four blood relatives that, to our knowledge, are still alive and well somewhere: his nephew, John, a cousin named Kara, Kara’s son, Danny (who is therefore Michael’s first-cousin-once-removed) and a great-nephew who was given the name Steven.  Unless he has somehow tracked those people down between films, Michael doesn't seem to care anymore that he still has family members left alive.  All things considered, they really should have stopped after Halloween H20.
4)The Shining- Seeing as how I've already posted a full review on this movie, I’m not going to say much about it here.  However, it is still a delightful romp, particularly if you enjoy movies that are ridiculously over the top in insanity. (No pun intended)
5)Amityville Horror- I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t heard of this infamous story yet.  In 1975, the Lutz family moves into a house that was considered to be at a bargain price.  Thirteen months before the Lutz family had moved in, the house in question had been the location of the brutal DeFeo murders, in which 23-year-old Robert DeFeo killed his parents and four siblings with a .35 caliber rifle.  When questioned by the police, he insisted that he’d heard voices in the house that told him to kill his family.  After the Lutz family moved into the house, they allegedly started experiencing a number of unsettling things within the house.  In the end, a month after they moved in, the Lutz family fled the house, leaving behind all their possessions.  The Lutz family insisted that the house was haunted, but the various people who lived in the house following the Lutz family have reported no paranormal experiences within the house.  While I do believe in the existence of ghosts, I personally agree with those who think the whole Amityville Horror story was simply a hoax the Lutz family came up with.  In spite of this, the 1979 movie based on the Lutz family’s story is still an entertaining flick.
6)The Poltergeist trilogy- In the first movie in this trilogy, the Freeling family enjoy a seemingly comfortable life in a Californian planned community.  However, their comfort comes to an end when their young daughter, Carol Anne, starts hearing voices coming from the static on the television.  In the days that follow, furniture starts moving on their own, drinking glasses explode, and forks and spoons bend.  Then, one night, during a violent thunder storm, a spooky-looking tree in the backyard inexplicably comes to life and tries to eat the Freeling family’s pre-teen son, Robbie.  While the rest of the family is distracted with Robbie’s plight, Carol Anne is abruptly pulled through a mysterious portal in her bedroom closet and vanishes.  In the days that follow Carol Anne’s disappearance, the family enlists the help of a group of parapsychologists and a spiritual medium called Tangina in order to get Carol Anne back.  It is Tangina who discovers that the house is haunted by many different spirits, including a demon.  This demon, known as ‘The Beast,’ is keeping the various ghosts from their eternal rest, and is using Carol Anne to control them.  Even though the family manages to save their daughter, ‘The Beast’ refuses to let her go and continues to try and reclaim the girl.  The rest of the trilogy follows Carol Anne’s continued attempts to escape from the entity that is bent on abducting her, following her to Phoenix, Arizona and then to her aunt and uncle’s apartment in a luxury skyscraper.  This trilogy is particularly chilling when one remembers the rumors that the movies were cursed, a rumor fueled by the fact that real cadavers were used as props in the filming of Poltergeist and Poltergeist II.    Whether or not the curse really exists or not, the fact remains that four cast members died throughout the run of the trilogy, including Heather O'Rourke, the little 12-year-old girl who portrayed Carol Anne in all three films, who is reported to have died of cardiac arrest and septic shock four months before Poltergeist III’s theatrical release.
7)Steven King’s It- One of the many Steven King novels-turned-movies, It tells the story of a group of friends from a small town in Maine who learn their town is plagued by a shape-shifting demon that awakens from hibernation every thirty years and hunts children in order to devour both their flesh and their fear.  When the creature kills the younger brother of the group’s unofficial leader, the kids band together and fight It off, forcing the demon to return to hibernation early.  Years later, when the children have all grown up and attempted to put the ordeal behind them, It reawakens and begins his killing spree again.  In order to keep the promise they’d made to each other as children, the friends all return to the town they’d tried to leave behind, vowing to vanquish the evil for good.  The story is unique in the sense of how the half of the story is told in a series of flashbacks.  The only downside to this is the fact that these flashbacks make the entire movie rather lengthy, which is probably why it also exists in the form of a miniseries.

8)The Witches- Based on the book written by the famous children’s author, Roald Dahl, and featuring the puppet wizardry of Jim Henson, The Witches follows a young boy named Luke.  After Luke looses his parents in a car accident, he is taken to live with his grandmother, Helga.  Helga tells Luke stories about demonic-like witches who despise children, also instructing him how to recognize them.  On Luke’s ninth birthday, Helga falls ill with a diabetes related sickness, and the doctor suggests that they go on vacation by the seaside in order for Hilda to recover her health.  While Luke and Helga are staying at a hotel in Cornwall, a children’s charity group called The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children arrives at the same hotel for their annual convention.  Luke, while playing with his pet mice in one of the hotel’s ballrooms, inadvertently discovers that the charity group is actually a group of witches, who are plotting to eliminate all the children in the world by turning them into mice.  When the witches discover Luke, they force-feed him their evil potion, transforming him into a mouse.  Luke the mouse manages to escape getting stomped on and finds his way to his Helga, Together, they try and come up with a plan to stop the witches plan and save the world’s children.
9)13 Ghosts- Starring Tony Shalhoub before his days as the main character in the well-known comedy/detective show, Monk, 13 Ghosts follows widower Arthur Kriticos and his two children, who learn that they have inherited a mansion from Arthur’s recently deceased Uncle Cyrus, an eccentric ghost hunter.  When the family arrives at their new mansion, they find that the entire house was constructed with glass walls and floors, all with strange Latin phrases written on them.  However, it is soon revealed to Arthur and his children, with the help of Uncle Cyrus’ former assistant, that the house was actually a machine designed to open up a gateway to Hell, with the machine’s power coming from 12 violent ghosts contained within the house’s basement.  When Arthur’s children go missing, Arthur is told that the only way to free them is if he willingly sacrifices himself, thereby becoming the 13th ghost: a ghost created out of an act of love, which would result in the machine’s destruction.  As one might expect, there are a fair amount of jump scares and freighting images in this movie, but there are also some moments of comic relief.  Even if you’re among those who find the movie’s plot to be poorly written, the visual style and the ghost fright factor still makes this haunted flick a must-see.
10) The Frighteners- After Frank Bannister loses his wife in a car accident, he discovers he has gained the ability to see ghosts.  With this ability, he befriends three ghosts, Cyrus, Stuart and the Judge.  Together, they develop a con game in which Frank ‘exorcises’ houses that are haunted by his ghost friends.  Shortly after Frank cons a health nut named Ray and his wife, Lucy, Ray dies suddenly of a heart attack and comes back as a ghost.  With the help of Ray’s ghost, Frank discovers the existence of a Grim Reaper-like entity that is going around killing people and leaving numbers etched into the foreheads of its victims.  Because Frank can see the numbers appearing in the victim’s foreheads before their deaths, he is able to know who will be targeted ahead of time.  Unfortunately, this only results in the local police force to become suspicious of him.  Thus, Frank’s only real ally in his attempts at stopping the entity is Ray’s widow, Lucy, who becomes a target of the entity herself.  This movie is far from perfect, however.  While it successfully manages to be suspenseful and chilling at times, it is also somewhat predictable.  If you pay attention in the beginning, you will know immediately who the entity really is from the moment they explain how the body of Frank’s late wife was found after the car accident.  After that, the only real question left is when the greasy-haired cop, Dammers, is going to get a life.
11) Ghostbusters- Let’s be honest; what Halloween Flick list would be complete without the popular supernatural comedy from the 1980s?  The story about a group of parapsychologists who loose their job at Columbia University and then decide to open up their own business as paranormal exterminators, setting up shop in a retired firehouse has become a household name.  Their first client is a single woman, Dana Barrett, whose apartment is being haunted by demonic dog-like creature.  It is eventually discovered the entire apartment complex was actually created by a cult leader who specifically designed the building to open up a portal that would summon up an ancient Sumerian god who would bring about the end of the world.  It’s up to the Ghostbusters to vanquish the evil god and prevent the world-wide destruction.  In spite of the fact that this movie is labeled as a comedy, there are still plenty of rather scary sequences.  One of the most terrifying moments is the part when Sigourney Weaver’s character is pulled into her kitchen to be possessed by the demon dog.  To this day, I cannot sleep with the closet light on, and I blame it all on this scene.
12)The Worst Witch- When it comes to movies with dazzlingly cheesy special effects, this is the Holy Grail.  The movie, which is based on the first installment of a series of children’s books written by Jill Murphy, follows young Mildred Hubble, who is in her first year at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches.  Though well-meaning, Mildred simply can’t seem to perform even the simplest spell correctly, and constantly messes things up.  This quickly earns her the reputation as the worst witch in the whole school, and a regular target for the harsh Ms. Hardbroom’s criticism.  When the snobbish and vindictive student Ethel plays a cruel prank on Mildred that results in poor Mildred taking the blame for the whole school being humiliated in front of the Grand High Wizard, Mildred attempts to run away from the school in order to avoid expulsion.  But once she leaves school grounds, she finds herself in a position where she must summon her full magical potential to save everyone in the school from being turned into frogs.  As I said, this movie is chock full of the cheapest, most cheesy special effects imaginable, including painfully bad green-screen action.  Plus, it’s the only time where you will see Tim Curry starring in an almost-four-minute long music video.  That alone makes this movie worth seeing.
13)The Halloween that Almost Wasn't- Some people might know this movie by it's alternative name, The Night Dracula Saved the World.  Even though this was a made-for-TV movie, it was probably one of the few films where you got to see Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, a zombie and a witch interacting with each other.  The story begins with a newscaster informing listeners about a rumor that Halloween might be coming to and end and blaming Dracula for good measure.  This accusation disturbs Dracula, so he invites his fellow monsters to his castle, thinking that they need to remember how to be scary once again.  It turns out that the rumors about Halloween coming to an end were actually started by the Witch herself, who has grown tired of everyone making jokes about how ugly she is.  Unwilling to put up with this any longer, the Witch refuses to take part in her time-honored tradition of riding her broomstick past the moon.  Without that ride, there can be no Halloween.  The Witch’s fellow monsters try everything they can think of to change her mind, but in the end, it’s a pair of ordinary children who get through to her, convincing her that people really do love her in spite of her ugliness.  And for those of you who think this film doesn’t sound wacky enough as it is, consider the fact that it ends with Dracula and the Witch doing disco.
14)Spaced Invaders- On October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles came onto the radio to act out a special Halloween episode for an American radio drama anthology series, which Welles had adapted from H.G. Wells’ novel, The War of the Worlds.  Since the drama was presented in the form of a series of psudo-news broadcast, it’s reported that many listeners believed that an alien invasion was actually happening and began to panic.  In this movie set in the 1990s, the phrase ‘history repeats itself’ gains a new meaning when a radio station located in a tiny Illinois town called Big Bean decides to replay this broadcast as a special Halloween treat.  This time, the radio broadcast is intercepted by a crew of Martians, who have gotten lost en route to an interstellar war against Mars’ long-time enemy, the Arcturans.  Believing that the radio broadcast is referring to the rest of the fleet, the Martians head down to earth to share in the glory.  Since it is Halloween in Big Bean, everyone in town simply thinks the Martians are kids in costumes.  However, a little girl named Kathy, the daughter of the town’s new sheriff, realizes the truth and tries to help them get back into space when the Martians realize their error.  It quickly becomes clear that they don’t have much time to do so when it’s discovered that the Martians’ ship’s hyperdriver begins to meltdown.  If the Martians can’t get their spacecraft back to zero gravity soon, it could explode and create a black hole.

15)Buffy the Vampire Slayer-  Buffy, a shallow valley girl, has nothing on her mind apart from shopping at the mall with her friends and attending cheerleader practice.  All that changes when she is approached by a Merrik, a mysterious man whom Buffy previously encountered at a local mall.  Merrik informs Buffy that every generation, there is one person who is marked by fate to hunt and kill vampires, and when one slayer dies, she is reincarnated to become the next slayer.  He tells Buffy that she is the chosen slayer for her generation.  Initially, Buffy is dismissive of his story, but once Merrik proves to her that vampires do exist, she eventually agrees to train.  As Buffy undergoes Merrik’s training, she not only becomes skilled as a vampire slayer, but also begins to become a much stronger person, recognizing how meaningless her past values really were.  But when Merrik is killed before her training can be completed, Buffy is left with the knowledge that she will have to eventually face Lothos, the supreme leader of the vampires whom all the previous slayers have perished trying to kill.  While some people look down on this movie but praise the TV series that preceded it, I've always felt that this movie is an underrated classic.  Maybe I simply like movies where irritating and shallow characters grow undergo a series of events that help them grow into a deeper, stronger person but eventually succeed using the skills they already possessed while they were still shallow.  After all, that plotline worked in Legally Blonde, didn’t it?
16)Hocus Pocus- In 1693, three witch sisters living in Salem plot to absorb the life force of children to remain young.  After they successfully lure a young girl to their cottage and steal her life force, they are captured and hung by the townspeople of Salem.  Before she dies, the leader of the witch sisters, Winifred, lays a curse upon the town, announcing that on a Halloween night when the moon is full, a virgin will resurrect them, and they will return to claim the lives of all the children in Salem.  Three hundred years later, a skeptical teenager named Max has just moved to Salem with his parents and younger sister, Dani.  Unbelieving of the town’s legend surrounding the witch sisters, Max carelessly lights the black flame candle, an object that allegedly raises the dead.  In doing so, he activates Winifred’s curse, and the witch sisters come back to life.  In order to stop the witches and save the lives of the town’s children, Max and his sister, Dani, must team up with Alison, Max’s newfound crush, and Thackary Binx, the older brother of the girl the witch sisters killed in 1693, whom Winifred had cursed to spend eternity as an immortal black cat.
17)Disney’s Haunted Mansion- In 2003, Disney released two movies that were based on popular rides from their theme parks.  One of those movies was Haunted Mansion.  While it wasn’t nearly as successful as Pirates of the Caribbean, which spawned three sequels, (with a fourth sequel currently being made), Haunted Mansion is still a fairly entertaining comedy about a workaholic real-estate agent named Jim who insists on visiting a potential client during a family vacation with his wife and their two children.  However, he soon realizes that the mansion that they were told was for sale is actually haunted, and they were only brought there because the ghost of Edward Gracey, the master of the mansion, believes Jim’s wife, Sarah, is the reincarnation of his lover, Elizabeth, who was believed to have committed suicide by poison.   When the heartbroken Master Gracey followed suit by hanging himself, the mansion became cursed, with the spirits of the mansion’s staff remaining trapped on the estate for eternity.  As Jim searches for a way to break the curse, he uncovers the truth behind Elizabeth’s death, and also discovers how much he has been hurting his own family by his love for his job.  One of the best things about this movie is how many references there are to the actual haunted mansion ride.  I could create an extensive list of how many elements in this movie were taken from the ride, from Madame Leotta, to the singing busts, to the hitchhiking ghosts.  Even the final scene after the credits is a cute little nod to the ride.
18)Halloweentown- 13-year-old Marnie Piper simply loves Halloween, but her mother, Gwen, absolutely refuses to allow Marnie or her younger brother and sister, Dylan and Sophie, to go Trick-or-Treating, or attend any Halloween parties.  However, on the Halloween night the movie focuses on, the family receives a surprise visit from Gwen’s mother, Aggie Cromwell.  During Aggie’s visit, Marnie eavesdrops on a conversation between her mother and grandmother, which reveals that the entire Cromwell clan are witches from a parallel universe called Halloweentown.  Amazed by this discovery, Marnie secretly follows Aggie back to Halloweentown, with Dylan and Sophie tagging along.  Upon arriving in Halloweentown, the three children learn that the parallel dimension is in terrible danger, as a mysterious hooded demon-like creature is threatening to put an end to Halloweentown.  Halloweentown has three sequels in existence, but the latter two sequels sort of go off the track, maintaining little continuity with the first two films in the Halloweentown saga.  Needless to say, I’m a bit annoyed that they abandoned the storyline that stopped after the first sequel.
19)Lady in White- One of the little problems with telling a  ghost story through a flashback is that you already know the ‘narrator’ survives.  In this movie however, it does work.  The story is related to us by Frankie Scarlatti, an author of horror stories.  When Frankie was nine-years-old, he was locked inside the school’s coatroom by the school jokesters.  When night falls, Frankie witnesses the ghost of a little girl appear in the coatroom with him.  Before Frankie’s eyes the little girl ghost appears to be murdered.  Moments after the apparition fades away, a dark figure appears in the coatroom and instantly attacks Frankie.  Thankfully, Frankie is saved by the timely arrival of his father and the town’s police, but the ghost of the little girl continues to haunt Frankie.  Through the use of old newspaper articles, Frankie learns the ghost was called Melissa Ann Montgomery, and her death was linked to the deaths of eleven other children at the hands of a serial killer.  With the help of Melissa’s ghost, Frankie takes it upon himself to solve the mystery behind the deaths of the children, and discover the identity of their killer, who has gone free for years.  The only downside in this movie that I can find is that contains a rather cheesy and silly sequence towards the end, in which the ghost of Melissa is reunited with her mother.
20)The Monster Squad- A group of horror movie-loving pre-teens find an old diary that allegedly belongs to the legendary Abraham Van Helsing.  As it’s written in German, they enlist the help of a German neighbor.  With his help, the boys learn that every century, legendary monsters will appear on Earth, and the forces of good and evil clash, Only a magical amulet can cast the evil into limbo.  The pre-teens decide to find the amulet in order to keep the monsters at bay.  However, Van Helsing’s old advisory, Count Dracula, is also plotting to use the amulet to enslave the entire world.  Dracula is not alone, as he builds an army that includes a mummy, a swamp monster, and the Wolfman.  He also tries to enlist Frankenstein’s Monster, but Frankenstein’s Monster is revealed to have a gentle nature and has no interest in helping Dracula.  Instead, he ends up siding with the pre-teen boys, also forming a sweet little friendship with Phoebe, the five-year-old sister of one of the boys.  I’m not going to spoil the ending to this movie, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself.  However, I will warn you all now that this is one of the tales in which victory must come at a price.
21)Ernest Scared Stupid- The late Jim Varney’s most iconic alter-ego, Ernest P. Worrel is at it again.  In his fifth full-length movie, it is revealed that Ernest’s ancestor, Phineas Worrell, once vanquished a troll that was kidnapping children and turning them into wooden dolls back in 19th century Missouri.  When the troll was buried at the base of an old oak tree, the troll vowed that he would one day return and overthrow humanity.  In modern times, Ernest, upon learning of the old legend about his ancestor from Old Lady Hackmore, incites the incantation that would revive the troll.  So, of course, the troll returns and immediately starts attacking the town’s children.  Well-meaning Ernest sets out to correct his mistake by defeating the troll and saving the town.  Unfortunately, as nearly everyone knows, Ernest is far from the sharpest crayon in the box, and he’s bound to make things worse before finally getting it right.

22)The Canterville Ghost- Originally a short story by Oscar Wilde, the story of the Canterville Ghost has been adapted into a six different film adaptations.  There’s even an animated version of this story in the works, with the release date currently scheduled for Christmas 2014.  Each version has slight differences, but the overall plot remains the same.  (My favorite version is the 1985 version starring Richard Kiley and Jenny Beck.)  The Cantervile Ghost is mainly about Sir Simon, who has been trapped on Earth as a ghost for many years.  When a family moves into the house Sir Simon is doomed to haunt, the family’s daughter forms a friendship-of-sorts with the ghost.  After Sir Simon confides in the family’s daughter the tragic story that has condemned him to haunt the house for eternity, the girl agrees to aid Sir Simon in appealing to the Angel of Death, in the hopes that the Angel of Death will grant Sir Simon forgiveness and allow him to pass on to his eternal rest.

23)Casper- Casper is quite possibly the most recognized ghost in the public mind, so it’s probably no surprise that Universal made a movie featuring him in 1995.  The movie doesn't really start with Casper, however, but rather with an extremely spoiled woman named Carrigan.  At the reading of her father’s will, she is told that she has been left only with the dilapidated Whipstaff Manor in Maine.  Carrigan is initially peeved that she hasn't been left any money, but when she learns that there might be a treasure hidden in the mansion, she immediately leaves for Maine.  Upon arriving at Whipstaff, Carrigan and her attorney flunky, Dibs, learn that the place is haunted by Casper and his three uncles, the Ghostly Trio.  Carrigan wants those ghosts out of the house so she can claim the rumored treasure.  To reach her goal, she hires Dr. James Harvey, a widowed paranormal therapist, to come stay at the house in order to convince Casper and the Ghostly Trio to cross over.  Dr. Harvey is accompanied by his teenage daughter, Kat, and after an initial rocky start, a mutual friendship starts to form between Kat and Casper.  Together, they manage to locate a hidden machine created by Casper’s father, which was designed to bring ghosts back to life.  This is a movie that you will either enjoy or dislike.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the attempted sequels, which completely ignore the original’s storyline, and are somewhat more preachier than the first movie.  (Although, I do find it quite amazing that the legendary Ben Stein makes cameo appearances in all three live-action Casper movies.)
24)The Halloween Tree- Based on the novel of the same name, this movie follows four children on their journey to save their friend’s life.  When a boy called Pip falls ill on Halloween night and is taken to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, his spirit slips out of his body.  In order to get Pip’s wandering spirit back where it belongs, his four friends, Tom, Jenny, Ralph and Wally, seek out the help of a mysterious man known as Moundshroud.  Disappointed that the four children have no knowledge of the meaning behind their Halloween costumes, Moundshrould initially refuses to help them get Pip back, but eventually relents, as long as they can keep up with him.  What follows is a rather informative but entertaining lesson of the origins of modern-day Halloween.  Moundshrould takes the four children on a journey through time, where they end up in Ancient Egypt, witness rituals performed by Celtic Druids, help build the Notre Dame Catherdal in Paris, and even attend a Day of the Dead festival in Mexico.  I highly recommend this film to anyone who is lucky enough to come across it, particularly if you have children who think Halloween is just about the candy.
25) Hold That Ghost- In this comedy starring Abbot and Costello, the famous comedic duo from the 40s and 50s, two gas station attendants named Chuck and Ferdie end up inheriting a tavern through a rather unusual clause in the will of a recently-killed gangster.  Unbeknownst by Chuck and Ferdie, the dead gangster had hidden money in the tavern, and some of the other gangsters have followed them to the tavern to find it.  As the night goes on, strange things start occurring.  Dead bodies appear and then disappear, a bedroom instantly transforms to a gambling room, objects move on their own, and people become frightened by glowing eyes.  In summary, this is a very enjoyable cross between a comedy and a murder mystery, and it’s definitely a must-see.


26) Frankinweenie (The Original)- As audiences flock to theaters to see the most recent stop-motion film, they may not realize that this is actually the second time Tim Buton told us this story about a boy named Victor who brings his beloved bull terrier, Sparky, back to life by taking a page out of Dr. Frankenstein’s book.  In 1984, Frankinweenie was produced as a live-action short film starring Barret Oliver.  There were a lot of little homages to the actual Frankenstein films in this mini-movie, too, including the infamous burning of the windmill (which is located in a miniature golf course) and there’s even a brief appearance of a black poodle that sports the hairstyle of the Bride of Frankenstein.  So, for all those who have a desire to see the remake, I urge you to check out the original version as well.

27) Tower of Terror- Like Disney’s Haunted Mansion, this movie was also based on a popular Disney theme park ride.  However, while Haunted Mansion premiered in movie theaters, this was a made-for-TV movie.  In 1939, five people, a singer, her boyfriend, a bellhop, a Shirley Temple-like child actress named Sally Shine, and Sally’s nanny, Emeline Partridge, came to the Hollywood Tower Hotel to attend a party that was being held on the top floor of the hotel.  As they were taking the elevator ride up to the party, a bolt of lightning struck the tower, and the five people in the elevator disappeared.  Years later, a modern-day newspaper reporter, Buzzy, and his niece, Anna, meet with an elderly woman named Abigail, who tells them that Mrs. Partridge, Sally Shine’s nanny, had been annoyed with Sally’s spoiled attitude and had thus cast an evil spell on the girl.  However, the spell backfired, which resulted in the five people who were on that fateful elevator ride to become trapped as spirits in the earthly realm.  Abigail explains that, in order to free the trapped spirits from the hotel, they must repair the broken-down elevator and locate something that belonged to each of the five missing people.  With the assistance of a reluctant mechanic, who happens to be the grandson of the missing bellhop, Buzzy and Anna work to try and help Abigail free the trapped spirits.  However, Buzzy and Anna don’t realize that it was Abigail who actually trapped the spirits in the first place, and they are actually helping her complete the original spell.
28) Stepmonster- Most people may not remember this B-list movie, but how many times will you see Alan Thicke, Cory Feldman, and John Astin appearing together in the same movie?  This film opens with a young boy named Todd going on a camping trip with his parents.  During this camping trip, Todd’s mother vanishes without a trace, and she is eventually declared legally dead.  Six months later, Todd’s father announces his plans to remarry, this time to Denise, a woman he conveniently happened to meet on the day Todd’s mother disappeared.  However, comic book fan Todd knows that Denise is not what she appears to be.  He quickly comes to realize that his soon-to-be stepmother is actually a Tropokin, a shape-shifting, man-eating monster who is periodically killing the neighbors off one-by-one.  Denise plans to marry Todd’s dad on the Summer Solstice, when the Tropokin’s fertility is at its highest.  Unfortunately, no one believes Todd’s warnings, apart from his babysitter, Wendy (who nearly became one of Denise’s victims herself), and Wendy’s goofy boyfriend, Phlegm.  Together, they try to find out how to stop the Denise before she makes Todd’s dad her next victim.
29) Watcher in the Woods- The premise of this obscure Disney movie from 1980 is rather straightforward.  A family of four moves into an old manor house, owned by the elderly Mrs. Aylwood.  Immediately upon their arrival, the family’s eldest daughter, Jan, begins to witness a number of strange happenings, from eerie blue lights in the surrounding woods to the ghostly image of a blindfolded girl that appears in mirrors.  What’s more, Jan’s younger sister starts hearing voices that only she can hear.  As the story progresses, it’s revealed that thirty years ago, Mrs. Alywood’s only daughter, Karen, mysteriously disappeared one night during a séance-like ritual Karen and her friends were performing.  Jan is convinced that the strange things she and her sister have been witnessing are caused by Karen, trying to reach out for help.  While the acting in this movie leaves much to be desired at times, particularly when it comes to the actress who portrays Jan, the overall concept of this story is pretty good, and there are some rather creepy moments, particularly considering the movie was made by the famously kid-friendly Disney Company.
30)Trilogy of Terror- I’m probably cheating with this one, as the film in question is actually three unrelated stories, but it’s still a must-see.  The trilogy starts off by telling the story of a college student who drugs his English teacher and proceeds to photograph her in a number of provocative positions.  He then uses these photographs to blackmail the teacher into having sex with him.  However, it is eventually revealed that the English teacher has a manipulative nature of her own.  The second story is of a pair of twin sisters, Millicent and Therese.  When Millicent becomes convinced that Therese is evil, she plants a voodoo talisman in order to kill her.   The true horror is revealed when the actual connection between Millicent and Therese is revealed.  While these two tales are unsettling in their own rights, it is the final story that is possibly the most well-known and memorable.  It is the story of Amelia, a young woman who lives alone in a high-rise apartment building and is deeply tormented by her overbearing mother.  One day, Amelia brings home a Zuni fetish doll.  (Though, on a personal note, I cannot understand why anyone would want something that creepy-looking inside their home in the first place.)  This doll that Amelia has purchased is no ordinary doll, as it houses the actual spirit of a Zuni warrior whose name is “He Who Kills.”  When she leaves the room after placing the Zuni doll on her coffee table, the magical chain that retrains the spirit inside the Zuni doll inexplicably falls off, and the doll comes to life.  Amelia is then attacked by the doll relentlessly, and no matter how many times Amelia tries to destroy the doll, her efforts are in vain, until she manages to trap the possessed doll in her oven.  But Amelia learns too late that while she has destroyed the doll, the evil spirit within the doll was left unscathed.

So, that was my list of must-see Halloween Flicks.  If you didn't see a movie that you felt should have been included, feel free to discuss it in the comment section below.  Perhaps it's among the movies I haven't discovered yet.   Until next time, have a Happy Halloween, and above all, stay safe.