Mandatory Halloween Viewing

Pumpkin time is upon us, and with it a time to sit down and watch some fun stuff on TV. I present my favorite Halloween movies:

Arsenic and Old Lace is not only an all-time Halloween favorite, but one that’s best watched on Halloween itself: preferably after the trick-or-treaters have gone. Cary Grant is at his all-time best in the tale of Mortimer Brewster, a dramatic critic who’s written dozens of books against marriage but nevertheless has just married a minister’s daughter, and finds out the same day that his sweet old aunts are serial killers of lonely old men (it’s one of their charities). While he spends the evening trying to commit his crazy brother Teddy “Roosevelt” to an institution so the blame will fall on him if the crimes are ever discovered, his far more psychotic brother Jonathan shows up with a plastic surgeon and a dead body of their own in tow. Chaos ensues. It’s absolute comic genius all the way through.

A few years ago my wife introduced me to Hocus Pocus. I don’t know how I missed out on this film all these years, but it’s fantastic. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are terrific as the resurrected Sanderson Sisters, and the only thing standing in these witches’ way are three kids and a talking cat. What’s not to love about this flick?

Spaced Invaders will always have a special place in my heart. It’s Halloween in sleepy Big Bean, Illinois, where a Martian asteroid patrol crash-lands after mistaking a broadcast of War of the Worlds for an actual invasion. You really have to look past the silly premise of little green men using all kinds of Earth colloquialisms, but once you do, at its heart the movie is a tightly-written, sparkling comedy. It’s much, much funnier the second time you see it, as subtle jokes that were lost the first time around become clearer. More comedies should be written this way. Heck, more movies should be written this way. My only gripe with the DVD edition is that they seem to have edited a couple of totally innocuous lines to make them even more innocuous, and in one particular scene the change from “morons” to “maroons” loses a lot of punch.

Not being a horror aficionado myself, I don’t care much for scare-fare, but I have always rather liked The Sixth Sense and, lesser known, The Others.

I think I’ll also have to watch John Dies at the End again; that would be a horror comedy. I thought the movie was decent, but not great; it captures the first act of the book perfectly, understandably ditches the second act, but loses a bit in the third act which is just a bit too rushed. If you don’t watch the movie, though, read the book. It’s by David Wong, who is now a senior editor at cracked.com, and is both one of the funniest and scariest things you’ll ever read.

Important: Because I intend to beat this horse (and by horse I mean stupid new trend) long past its demise, please be sure to tell everyone you know not to park on the roadside with their headlights on on Halloween night. Short version: You can see the kids, but oncoming vehicles can’t. Let’s save some lives this year. I even contacted a local morning DJ on this one to try and get the word out. If you have kids or know anyone who does, please do the same.

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About Lummox JR

Aspiring to be a beloved supervillain
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