Halloween at the movies!

Being a Halloween nut and a horror movie aficionado, you’ve got to know, gentle reader, that I get a particular thrill (thrill No. 13, in fact) when a scene crops up in a fright film that is actually set on All Hallows Eve. But I warn you now, I am picky. You can’t just drop a tea light into a plastic Jack-o-lantern and think I’ll be your best friend, oh no, no, no. Nor can you throw your art director and his fancy budget in my face and think I’m going to dissolve into a puddle of childlike wonder because you’ve larded the frame with 109 intricately carved pumpkins and 24 vintage cymbal playing clockwork monkeys. Oh, no, no, no. As the Wicked Witch of the West put it so aptly in THE WIZARD OF OZ, “these things have got to be handled delicately.”

The frames I’ve offered thus far come from a little gem called THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945), from Republic. Made pretty much after Universal Studios has shot its wad with its impressive catalog of classic monsters and Val Lewton was wrapping up his own alternative brand of subtle, psychologically-based spookers at RKO, Republic put the gas under this odd little chiller, set in the fictional town of Eben Rock, Massachusetts. Nancy Kelly plays a daughter of the town, formerly the seat of much (historically inaccurate) witch burning and a magnet for local superstition. Shot on the backlot and with charming use of miniatures, the film is a flinty little B-picture with a wealth of autumnal atmosphere. Set during the Halloween season, the frame often includes witchy brick-a-brack and some unusual Halloween costumes, sported by the local urchins — mainly these papier mache heads, which are first seen in the film in the setup at top, through the proscenium of a fireplace. It’s a wonderfully disorienting establishing shot and one not entirely undone by the reveal — these kids are still creepy as all Hell.

Not a genre film at all but Vincent Minnelli’s MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), from a year earlier, has a wonderfully evocative depiction of Halloween that shows how the holiday has evolved over the years. Shot nearly 70 years ago (and set decades earlier), this classic film shows us an All Hallows that’s less about treats and all about the tricks… including building bonfires (a custom ported over from Ireland and Scotland) and tormenting deserving neighbors. I love the moment preserved at the right, with Judy Garland ministering to a freaked out Margaret O’Brien, who believes she has killed an old man with her hijinks. I love the Jack-o-lantern in the background, blowing warmly but with a hint of menace. The colors are so warm and the mood so palpable that I want to cry. It reminds me of vintage images of Halloween that you can find all over the Internet, where costumes were culled not from movies or popular culture but from folklore and history. O’Brien and Joan Carroll (center) are dressed as goblins, by the way, not hobos. I just feel it’s important to mention that.

Max Nosseck’s DILLINGER (1945) shows us that even Depression era public enemies enjoyed Halloween, proved by this scene (which opens on a tight shot of the punkin) in which Lawrence Tierney’s cohorts Eduardo Ciannelli and Marc Lawrence chill in the aftermath of a big bank heist by carving a Jack-o-lantern. It lasts for about a minute of screen time but, boy, what a great choice.

You want to know a great Halloween scene that no one ever talks about? The one in Robert Stevenson’s MY FORBIDDEN PAST (1951), from RKO. It’s a love story set in New Orleans at the turn of the century, it’s Robert Mitchum in love with Ava Gardner, it’s Melvyn Douglas plotting from the sidelines, and a lot of mischegoss I really don’t care about, like ballroom dancing and punch in crystal cups and women in goofy hats and Mitchum in a celluloid collar and there’s a trial and bleh… but early on there’s a wonderful, eerie, and evocatively nostalgic Halloween scene set in a cemetery proud in mausoleums and Cypress trees, where the residents go to honor their dead and see things they should not. It’s gloriously multi-cultural, with blacks and whites mingling freely (only on Halloween!) and kicked off by this froggy vocal by a street singer about Halloween that I’ve never heard and I wish I had a recording of it, I wish it was my freaking ringtone. MY FORBIDDEN PAST isn’t available on a legitimate DVD but TCM runs it quite often, so keep your eyes open and give yourself a treat, and after the scene is over turn the damn thing off.

“This night my mind was filled with Halloween.” Halloween takes up a very small part of the story of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) and not many people remember that it actually concludes on All Hallows Eve. The scene in question is largely a disturbing one, as the children of Southern lawyer Gregory Peck are assaulted on their walk home from a school agricultural pageant by an unknown assailant. The attack on a brother and sister anticipates to some extent the cemetery scene from George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) toward the end of the decade, though of course the siblings in that movie are adults; throughout TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, the character of Boo Radley, presumed madman, is evoked as a baleful spirit as both the scourge and shame of the community — much in the same way Michael Myers would be in John Carpenter’s 1978 seasonal classic, HALLOWEEN (both Arthur “Boo” Radley and Michael Myers call spooky old houses home) — all of which makes TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD something of an unsung seminal text for contemporary horror films. But scary stuff aside, I love the film’s fleeting evocation of a balmy autumn night, most of it shemped on a studio soundstage, which just adds to the air of make-believe, as Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), still wearing her ham costume, wend their way home through the woods. The depiction of the love and fragile codependence of a brother and sister moves me. Though I have no clear memories of trick-or-treating with my own sisters, I see the relationship now between my daughter and son, who have already begun to store away their own Halloween memories.

And speaking of HALLOWEEN... Go back and read a lot of reviews from 30 years ago and you’ll note how this film was fobbed off as drive-in fodder, crass, artless, the beginning of the end… but how stately and adult it seems now, particularly in the way that Carpenter and his crew evoke Halloween in Middle America. Mind you, a lot of the spareness that seems an artistic statement in retrospect was then just a consequence of a very low budget but the fact that every inch of HALLOWEEN isn’t dripping with art direction certainly works in its favor. Like the perambulating predator who motivates its plot, you sense the season more than you have it laid out for you… it’s just there in the leaves, in the shadows, in the air. I enjoy the non-horrific moments of HALLOWEEN just as much as — and maybe even a little more than — the defining setpieces. I could watch the first couple of reels and then walk away satisfied, because Carpenter made a movie for adults (albeit young adults) that never forgets the childlike sense of anticipation and expectation that is bundled up in Halloween.

At the risk of losing credibility with my fellow MonsterKids — the cool ones, anyway — I confess that I love the trick-or-treating scene from E.T. – THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982). It’s one of the few movies brokering in Halloweenana that admits that a lot of the door-to-dooring happens before dark, at that magic hour when the light has begun to die out of the sky but there is still plenty of it, for the little ones. Shot in Simi Valley, the scene has a burnished, preserved in amber quality that touches my heart, and its fun to see that — though the Lucas-Spielberg axis has a presence in the costume choices of the local kids — there are still plenty of sailors, clowns, nurses, bumblebees and cowboys out for candy. And only one zombie! How cool is that, in this boom time for the walking dead, to see just one shambler out on the streets? Ye gods, this is 30 years old!

The same year that E.T. came out, we were treated to Tommy Lee Wallace’s HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982). What a daffy-ass movie and a real departure from the storyline put forward by John Carpenter’s original and needlessly complicated by HALLOWEEN II (1981). Rick Rosenthal’s first sequel was set on Halloween night as well but there’s nothing there for me. It’s all just rote, it lacks personality. Not so for HALLOWEEN III, which goes off on its own tangent, based on a concept by Nigel Kneale. Not for all tastes, certainly, but the film does boast an iconic Halloween image that has enjoyed its own life, on tee shirts and other collectibles. What had been shot, I imagine, as nothing more than a second unit angle on trick-or-treaters skylined against the dying glow of the Arizona sun is just encoded with Halloween wonder. And it’s so simple.

I could point you to other Halloween scenes, there are plenty of them: in THE KARATA KID (1984), SPACED INVADERS (1990), HOCUS POCUS (1993), BIG DADDY (1999), TWIN FALLS, IDAHO (1999), DONNIE DARKO (2001), IN AMERICA (2002), MEAN GIRLS (2004), A CINDERELLA STORY (2004) and others. There was even a whole movie about trick or treating, called TRICK ‘R’ TREAT (2007) that many of my friends enjoy but I find oddly lacking. Made by a major studio for a not inconsiderable $12,000,000, the thing is art directed to a turn but there’s no scare there for me. It’s all just set dressing and attitude, there’s no pulse. You never get a true breath of life in this twice-baked diorama trying to pass itself off as an evocation of the season… no real sense for the way the sky looks (such as you see in all of the movies discussed above and achieved in eight fleeting seconds of HALLOWEEN III) or the air smells. It’s just arch and mean and cynical and I hate it. Far more to my taste is…

… Gil Kenan’s MONSTER HOUSE (2006), which netted an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. And I know, it’s crazy, that I’m saying a movie that is 100% animated (albeit based on performance capture, with all of the actors having really acted their parts) has more real life in it than a standard motion picture like TRICK ‘R’ TREAT but it’s true. MONSTER HOUSE is just  brimming with wonder and awe and curiosity and dread and the colors are perfect for bringing home that feeling of a small town Halloween. The kids here are the grandkids of the ones in THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK and the great grandchildren of the ones in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and it’s just great having this Halloween family tree to reflect upon at this time of year. MONSTER HOUSE is funny and scary and poignant and I think it has it all over the more recent PARANORMAN (2012), which was not without its charms but was also not MONSTER HOUSE. Watching MONSTER HOUSE the other night with my 5 year old son was a great way to gear up for Halloween. Not that I ever stop, mind you. You know me. I never stop. But still. There are only 12 days left until Halloween. What are you watching?

0 Response Halloween at the movies!
Posted By evandorkin : October 19, 2012 2:18 pm

I really want to see The Woman Who Came Back.

And I felt the exact same way about Trick ‘R’ Treat, it left me exhausted and unsatisfied. I’m tired of camera tricks and playing with audience expectations standing in for plot/fun/mood/personality/scares. Ditto filmmakers trying really, really hard to put over their horse in the beloved horror icon sweepstakes, it’s like every horror movie must have a potential action figure design, warranted or not. I thought the little creep in Trick ‘R’ Treat was a lot more effective with his mask on, when he reveals the scary face he’s a toy, it ruins the mood. But they gotta let the SFX teams go wild when they have the money, and even the lower budgeted flicks rely on CGI as a crutch all too-often.

On the other hand, I think the teenaged me would have loved Trick ‘R’ Treat in the 80′s in a theater. So maybe I’m old/cranky?

Posted By evandorkin : October 19, 2012 2:18 pm

I really want to see The Woman Who Came Back.

And I felt the exact same way about Trick ‘R’ Treat, it left me exhausted and unsatisfied. I’m tired of camera tricks and playing with audience expectations standing in for plot/fun/mood/personality/scares. Ditto filmmakers trying really, really hard to put over their horse in the beloved horror icon sweepstakes, it’s like every horror movie must have a potential action figure design, warranted or not. I thought the little creep in Trick ‘R’ Treat was a lot more effective with his mask on, when he reveals the scary face he’s a toy, it ruins the mood. But they gotta let the SFX teams go wild when they have the money, and even the lower budgeted flicks rely on CGI as a crutch all too-often.

On the other hand, I think the teenaged me would have loved Trick ‘R’ Treat in the 80′s in a theater. So maybe I’m old/cranky?

Posted By changeling : October 19, 2012 2:22 pm

I can only quote the lyrics to my fave Blue Oyster Cult tune to date::)
Harvest Moon lyrics (B.O.C.)

This place has a history
The Spaniards settled here
They burned the town and fields
They moved away from here
My grandma often told me
She knew it peaceful here
The war took all the vigor
War took the best from here
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I love this time of year Harvest moon
The Cobys worked that valley
They gave that land a go
They built a thriving business
Then came that early snow
They lost their livestock that year
They lost their sheep and goats
They sold the farm in springtime
Went south to work the boats
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I love this time of year Harvest moon
Ten years in this farmhouse
Ten years come this May
My simple needs are covered
Since grandma passed away
Long time since there’s been trouble
That’s what the people say
I told the new man when I
Sold the farm today
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I feel some evil here Harvest moon
I hear some frightful noises
I don’t go out at night Harvest moon
Since Bobrow’s youngest daughter
Disappeared from sight Harvest moon
I know they’ll find her some day
They find them all that way Harvest moon
After the thaw in springtime
The snow melts away Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon.

Posted By changeling : October 19, 2012 2:22 pm

I can only quote the lyrics to my fave Blue Oyster Cult tune to date::)
Harvest Moon lyrics (B.O.C.)

This place has a history
The Spaniards settled here
They burned the town and fields
They moved away from here
My grandma often told me
She knew it peaceful here
The war took all the vigor
War took the best from here
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I love this time of year Harvest moon
The Cobys worked that valley
They gave that land a go
They built a thriving business
Then came that early snow
They lost their livestock that year
They lost their sheep and goats
They sold the farm in springtime
Went south to work the boats
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I love this time of year Harvest moon
Ten years in this farmhouse
Ten years come this May
My simple needs are covered
Since grandma passed away
Long time since there’s been trouble
That’s what the people say
I told the new man when I
Sold the farm today
Ahh ahh ahh ahh When the wind turns
Ahh ahh ahh ahh And blows the leaves from the trees
Ahh ahh ahh ahh Harvest moon
I sense the darkness clearer
I feel a presence here Harvest moon
A change in the weather
I feel some evil here Harvest moon
I hear some frightful noises
I don’t go out at night Harvest moon
Since Bobrow’s youngest daughter
Disappeared from sight Harvest moon
I know they’ll find her some day
They find them all that way Harvest moon
After the thaw in springtime
The snow melts away Harvest moon
I see the days grow shorter
I feel the nights grow cold Harvest moon
Young people feelin’ restless
Old people feelin’ old Harvest moon.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 19, 2012 2:29 pm

Neato! I feel more than ever that we were separated at birth – I, too, “get” that evocation of Hallowe’en in the air that these films you note provide – and the air IS different on that day, as it is on (but diferent from) any other holiday. It’s an All-Hallows feeling, and I’ve got some of it stuck in my head: my sister and I as children being herded around the corner and across the street to trick or treat by our next-door neighbor teenage gal babysitter, as a blazing orange sunset lights the scene. A few years later, huddling with our friends on the block on someone’s outdoors concrete basement steps to compare stashes in the wonderful gloomy twilight. THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK, starring my beloved “she’s actressy/now she’s truthful” Nancy Kelly, is one odd flick, but oddly endearing, and I absolutely love MONSTER HOUSE. I’m the kind of obsessed big kid who’s grateful that there are Halloween shows on reality networks like The Food Channel and HGTV this time of year, along with scary movies on TCM and elsewhere!

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 19, 2012 2:29 pm

Neato! I feel more than ever that we were separated at birth – I, too, “get” that evocation of Hallowe’en in the air that these films you note provide – and the air IS different on that day, as it is on (but diferent from) any other holiday. It’s an All-Hallows feeling, and I’ve got some of it stuck in my head: my sister and I as children being herded around the corner and across the street to trick or treat by our next-door neighbor teenage gal babysitter, as a blazing orange sunset lights the scene. A few years later, huddling with our friends on the block on someone’s outdoors concrete basement steps to compare stashes in the wonderful gloomy twilight. THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK, starring my beloved “she’s actressy/now she’s truthful” Nancy Kelly, is one odd flick, but oddly endearing, and I absolutely love MONSTER HOUSE. I’m the kind of obsessed big kid who’s grateful that there are Halloween shows on reality networks like The Food Channel and HGTV this time of year, along with scary movies on TCM and elsewhere!

Posted By Shuvcat : October 19, 2012 3:38 pm

Thanks for mentioning the scenes from Meet Me In St. Louis and To Kill A Mockingbird. Even though these are not “Halloween” movies proper I always think of those scenes when trying to imagine a “real” Halloween. To some degree the Haunted Forest in The Wizard Of Oz too. It makes me wish there was a whole movie full of those scenes. They tried with The Nightmare Before Christmas but somehow it didn’t quite succeed for me, even though I really wanted it to.
I love Spaced Invaders. The comedy The Midnight Hour starring Shari Belafonte also succeeds to some point in evoking a trick or treat night where anything can happen.

Posted By Shuvcat : October 19, 2012 3:38 pm

Thanks for mentioning the scenes from Meet Me In St. Louis and To Kill A Mockingbird. Even though these are not “Halloween” movies proper I always think of those scenes when trying to imagine a “real” Halloween. To some degree the Haunted Forest in The Wizard Of Oz too. It makes me wish there was a whole movie full of those scenes. They tried with The Nightmare Before Christmas but somehow it didn’t quite succeed for me, even though I really wanted it to.
I love Spaced Invaders. The comedy The Midnight Hour starring Shari Belafonte also succeeds to some point in evoking a trick or treat night where anything can happen.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 19, 2012 3:53 pm

Shuv, I wept during the opening of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS the first time I saw it as you do when someone has filmed the inside of your head and thrown it up on a screen. However, composer/lyricist Danny Elfman, the colors of Halloween are NOT “red and black and slimy green!” What about orange? WHERE’S ORANGE?

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 19, 2012 3:53 pm

Shuv, I wept during the opening of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS the first time I saw it as you do when someone has filmed the inside of your head and thrown it up on a screen. However, composer/lyricist Danny Elfman, the colors of Halloween are NOT “red and black and slimy green!” What about orange? WHERE’S ORANGE?

Posted By Shuvcat : October 19, 2012 4:17 pm

Bob, I might have gone into it with overblown expectations. I had spent months looking at the art and stills, and I’ve grown to like it better in the years since.

Posted By Shuvcat : October 19, 2012 4:17 pm

Bob, I might have gone into it with overblown expectations. I had spent months looking at the art and stills, and I’ve grown to like it better in the years since.

Posted By Bob Meyer : October 19, 2012 9:35 pm

Sorry that you didn’t like Trick ‘r Treat, Richard, and I appreciate your reasons.

But I have to take a minute to stand up for this movie. The production design works wonders for me – it’s the small town, full-blown Halloween archetype I’ve always carried around in my mind’s eye. Various horrific experiences of a few characters amid the mass of oblivious revelers who are just having a good time. It’s both gruesome and funny, and it mixes the timelines of its stories in a clever way (although, post-Pulp Fiction, admittedly not in a particularly original way).

Great fun that, for me, captures the spirit of the holiday. Along with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I’ll be re-watching it every year.

Posted By Bob Meyer : October 19, 2012 9:35 pm

Sorry that you didn’t like Trick ‘r Treat, Richard, and I appreciate your reasons.

But I have to take a minute to stand up for this movie. The production design works wonders for me – it’s the small town, full-blown Halloween archetype I’ve always carried around in my mind’s eye. Various horrific experiences of a few characters amid the mass of oblivious revelers who are just having a good time. It’s both gruesome and funny, and it mixes the timelines of its stories in a clever way (although, post-Pulp Fiction, admittedly not in a particularly original way).

Great fun that, for me, captures the spirit of the holiday. Along with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I’ll be re-watching it every year.

Posted By Morlockjeff : October 19, 2012 11:24 pm

OMG, this is my favorite Jack ‘O Lantern/Pumpkinhead movie blog post of the last 90 minutes. I mean the DILLINGER scene still and the MY FORBIDDEN PAST reference alone put it at level eleven. And you played the wild card – Scout’s Ham Halloween costume from TKAM – who wouldnt? Seriously, this is good hash.

As to what I’m watching during October as my lead up to Halloween, I want to introduce my wife to Eloy de la Iglesia’s MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD (aka Clockwork Terror aka To Love, Perhaps to Die) which Morlock Kimberly gave a serious shout-out to here –
http://moviemorlocks.com/2011/09/08/reinventing-lolita-in-murder-in-a-blue-world-1973/ The movie works on several levels – black comedy, sci-fi, exploitation film and curiosity piece.

I also favor a yearly screening of BURN, WITCH, BURN which I am proud to see Morlock Greg covered here – http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/10/03/that-sly-come-hither-stare/

And of course, I’m always game for CARNIVAL OF SOULS – anytime, anyplace. Plus I’ve always wanted to see an uncut version of THE BURNING COURT (out of print title), a Blu-Ray of Roger Vadim’s BLOOD AND ROSES (Criterion?) and naturally, THE SLIME PEOPLE, in any format – 8Track, whatever.

Posted By Morlockjeff : October 19, 2012 11:24 pm

OMG, this is my favorite Jack ‘O Lantern/Pumpkinhead movie blog post of the last 90 minutes. I mean the DILLINGER scene still and the MY FORBIDDEN PAST reference alone put it at level eleven. And you played the wild card – Scout’s Ham Halloween costume from TKAM – who wouldnt? Seriously, this is good hash.

As to what I’m watching during October as my lead up to Halloween, I want to introduce my wife to Eloy de la Iglesia’s MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD (aka Clockwork Terror aka To Love, Perhaps to Die) which Morlock Kimberly gave a serious shout-out to here –
http://moviemorlocks.com/2011/09/08/reinventing-lolita-in-murder-in-a-blue-world-1973/ The movie works on several levels – black comedy, sci-fi, exploitation film and curiosity piece.

I also favor a yearly screening of BURN, WITCH, BURN which I am proud to see Morlock Greg covered here – http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/10/03/that-sly-come-hither-stare/

And of course, I’m always game for CARNIVAL OF SOULS – anytime, anyplace. Plus I’ve always wanted to see an uncut version of THE BURNING COURT (out of print title), a Blu-Ray of Roger Vadim’s BLOOD AND ROSES (Criterion?) and naturally, THE SLIME PEOPLE, in any format – 8Track, whatever.

Posted By tdraicer : October 19, 2012 11:49 pm

Another fan of Trick R Treat, which I think is the best horror anthology movie since their heyday in the 60s and early 70s. And if I can’t have Peter Cushing, I’ll settle for Brian Cox.

Posted By tdraicer : October 19, 2012 11:49 pm

Another fan of Trick R Treat, which I think is the best horror anthology movie since their heyday in the 60s and early 70s. And if I can’t have Peter Cushing, I’ll settle for Brian Cox.

Posted By Richard : October 20, 2012 12:30 am

Every Halloween I try to find a very old film and a recent film to watch for the first time. I just found out that my local library has Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, which I am excited to see. I would also like to see The Woman Who Came Back. Has it ever been shown on TCM? Selecting a recent film has gotten more problematic over the years. I often feel let down by the newer horror films, but I never give up. This year I am considering Insidious or the re-make of The Hills Have Eyes.

I will also go to well loved favorites like Curse of the Demon, The Mummy (1932), and (Hey, a recent horror film!) Let the Right One In.

A movie with a very nice autumnal feel to it, while more Fantasy than Horror, is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Posted By Richard : October 20, 2012 12:30 am

Every Halloween I try to find a very old film and a recent film to watch for the first time. I just found out that my local library has Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, which I am excited to see. I would also like to see The Woman Who Came Back. Has it ever been shown on TCM? Selecting a recent film has gotten more problematic over the years. I often feel let down by the newer horror films, but I never give up. This year I am considering Insidious or the re-make of The Hills Have Eyes.

I will also go to well loved favorites like Curse of the Demon, The Mummy (1932), and (Hey, a recent horror film!) Let the Right One In.

A movie with a very nice autumnal feel to it, while more Fantasy than Horror, is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Posted By Alan : October 20, 2012 8:32 am

I believe there is a small Halloweeen party scene in Return of the Vampire (1958)….a tidy little autumn-set film.

Posted By Alan : October 20, 2012 8:32 am

I believe there is a small Halloweeen party scene in Return of the Vampire (1958)….a tidy little autumn-set film.

Posted By Alan : October 20, 2012 8:33 am

Correction, that should be: Return of Dracula (1958)

Posted By Alan : October 20, 2012 8:33 am

Correction, that should be: Return of Dracula (1958)

Posted By swac44 : October 20, 2012 12:04 pm

Glad someone else mentioned It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It’s not Halloween around my house until someone sighs, “I got a rock.” I also remember watching Halloween Is Grinch Night as a kid, but even at the time (I was 10 when it first aired), I recall thinking it wasn’t as good as the original Chuck Jones-directed Grinch Christmas special. Turns out the newer one was produced by Jones’ old co-worker, Friz Freleng, but lightning didn’t exactly strike twice.

At least we’ve finally go the complete Paul Lynde Halloween Special released on DVD. Now that’s quality viewing.

Posted By swac44 : October 20, 2012 12:04 pm

Glad someone else mentioned It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It’s not Halloween around my house until someone sighs, “I got a rock.” I also remember watching Halloween Is Grinch Night as a kid, but even at the time (I was 10 when it first aired), I recall thinking it wasn’t as good as the original Chuck Jones-directed Grinch Christmas special. Turns out the newer one was produced by Jones’ old co-worker, Friz Freleng, but lightning didn’t exactly strike twice.

At least we’ve finally go the complete Paul Lynde Halloween Special released on DVD. Now that’s quality viewing.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 20, 2012 12:20 pm

Yeah, even upon first viewing, my reply to HALLOWEEN IS GRINCH NIGHT was “No, it’s really not.” Oh, but I feel ABC’s BEWITCHED, ROSEANNE, and HOME IMPROVEMENT should get some love for their annual Halloween-themed shows.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : October 20, 2012 12:20 pm

Yeah, even upon first viewing, my reply to HALLOWEEN IS GRINCH NIGHT was “No, it’s really not.” Oh, but I feel ABC’s BEWITCHED, ROSEANNE, and HOME IMPROVEMENT should get some love for their annual Halloween-themed shows.

Posted By swac44 : October 20, 2012 12:30 pm

Not to get too far into the realm of television, but my favourite Halloween-themed episodes of late have come from the comedy Community, which takes its usual pop culture-obsessed sensibility to a new level at trick-or-treat time.

Posted By swac44 : October 20, 2012 12:30 pm

Not to get too far into the realm of television, but my favourite Halloween-themed episodes of late have come from the comedy Community, which takes its usual pop culture-obsessed sensibility to a new level at trick-or-treat time.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 20, 2012 4:29 pm

Alan, yes! Thanks for jogging my memory – I had forgotten about the Halloween party from The Return of Dracula and definitely should have included it!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : October 20, 2012 4:29 pm

Alan, yes! Thanks for jogging my memory – I had forgotten about the Halloween party from The Return of Dracula and definitely should have included it!

Posted By Doug : October 20, 2012 6:27 pm

Well, the Star Wars holiday special is more horrific than all of the torture porn titles put together!
Wasn’t Jimmy Stewart costumed as a skeleton in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? I think a Halloween party is where he met the grown up Mary.

Posted By Doug : October 20, 2012 6:27 pm

Well, the Star Wars holiday special is more horrific than all of the torture porn titles put together!
Wasn’t Jimmy Stewart costumed as a skeleton in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? I think a Halloween party is where he met the grown up Mary.

Posted By ilene : October 21, 2012 9:06 am

i really love the turner classics movie channel. it calms my nerves after work and i find myself in awe of the mannerisms and all together clothes and time period. i fall asleep with my tv on tcm. im only thirty one years old but i believe i must have an old soul because i really look forward to watching these lovely old movies every day. very enjoyable. tcm has really got something great.

Posted By ilene : October 21, 2012 9:06 am

i really love the turner classics movie channel. it calms my nerves after work and i find myself in awe of the mannerisms and all together clothes and time period. i fall asleep with my tv on tcm. im only thirty one years old but i believe i must have an old soul because i really look forward to watching these lovely old movies every day. very enjoyable. tcm has really got something great.

Posted By Jenni : October 21, 2012 9:32 am

No, didn’t Jimmy’s George Bailey meet Mary at a school dance? I believe it was the school dance for the graduating seniors, which George’s little brother Harry was a member of. Having lived near St. Louis for 20 years, they have a distinct ritual to trick or treat night. The child who approaches someone’s door for a treat must first tell a joke. I have talked with other Missourians, who didn’t grow up in St. Louis or near it, and none of them had to ever tell a joke to get their treat. I like to think it’s an offshoot of the tricks the kids must have played years ago on Halloween night, as depicted in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Posted By Jenni : October 21, 2012 9:32 am

No, didn’t Jimmy’s George Bailey meet Mary at a school dance? I believe it was the school dance for the graduating seniors, which George’s little brother Harry was a member of. Having lived near St. Louis for 20 years, they have a distinct ritual to trick or treat night. The child who approaches someone’s door for a treat must first tell a joke. I have talked with other Missourians, who didn’t grow up in St. Louis or near it, and none of them had to ever tell a joke to get their treat. I like to think it’s an offshoot of the tricks the kids must have played years ago on Halloween night, as depicted in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Posted By Doug : October 21, 2012 6:48 pm

This is what I get for being too tired to check something-what I thought was a ‘skeleton costume’ turned out to be an old time athletic uniform that George Bailey was wearing. My apologies.
I stand by my Star Wars holiday comment.

Posted By Doug : October 21, 2012 6:48 pm

This is what I get for being too tired to check something-what I thought was a ‘skeleton costume’ turned out to be an old time athletic uniform that George Bailey was wearing. My apologies.
I stand by my Star Wars holiday comment.

Posted By fumanchu32 : October 22, 2012 9:17 pm

An interesting piece; I especially liked the section on John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978). This is among the films that I watch every Halloween because it does masterfully capture the ambiance of All Hallow’s Eve (or Samhain)- as well as spin a yarn that is enhanced by the performances of the actors and Carpenter’s deft direction. Bottom line: this is just one hell of a scary movie that plays out without gore.

Posted By fumanchu32 : October 22, 2012 9:17 pm

An interesting piece; I especially liked the section on John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978). This is among the films that I watch every Halloween because it does masterfully capture the ambiance of All Hallow’s Eve (or Samhain)- as well as spin a yarn that is enhanced by the performances of the actors and Carpenter’s deft direction. Bottom line: this is just one hell of a scary movie that plays out without gore.

Posted By D : October 24, 2012 12:37 am

I’ve always felt that connection between the movies you mentioned and the scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I could never pinpoint it until now. Great article!

Posted By D : October 24, 2012 12:37 am

I’ve always felt that connection between the movies you mentioned and the scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I could never pinpoint it until now. Great article!

Posted By fantomex9 : October 24, 2012 5:40 pm

How could anybody put downParaNorman? It was one of the best of 2012, and the moral/conclusion was one of the best of all time; that getting revenge just because you can isn’t a great or good thing. Mark my words, this movie will become a Halloween classic in years to come along with Coraline (which are both from the same studio, Laika) along with many others; I’m also betting that it will be a Best Animated Picture nominee at the Oscars.

Posted By fantomex9 : October 24, 2012 5:40 pm

How could anybody put downParaNorman? It was one of the best of 2012, and the moral/conclusion was one of the best of all time; that getting revenge just because you can isn’t a great or good thing. Mark my words, this movie will become a Halloween classic in years to come along with Coraline (which are both from the same studio, Laika) along with many others; I’m also betting that it will be a Best Animated Picture nominee at the Oscars.

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