So it's Halloween. Have I mentioned I love this time of year? I must admit, with everything pressing down on us, and the prospect of not making it looming before us, it's been tough to get into the 'holiday spirit'. We've tried. We tried to keep an upbeat appearance at the sporting events, being thankful when we were available to watch them. We've tried to do what we've done in the past, eliminating things like the Renaissance Festival where justification for the expenditures simply didn't exist. But it has been tough. I fear worst of all, the kids have picked up on the malaise, and detected a certain vacancy in the festivities that once dominated this time of year.
Nonetheless, one thing we still have is electricity - so far at least. And with electricity comes scary movies! I know, big leap that. But anyway, scary movies with the kids are a staple of Halloween. Influenced by Simcha Fisher's post on scary movies for the kids, I thought I would toss out the ones we've let the kids watch over the years, including the more recent ones we've opened up as they get older.
One note, it's tough balancing things with multiple kids. Our youngest, of course, is out of the room when it comes to anything scary. We leave him to the cartoons and half hour specials mentioned in a previous post.
Universal's The Wolf Man: Another in the hat tip to atmosphere. I mean, is it ever not foggy in the world of Larry Talbot? Contrary to popular belief, many of the legends associated with werewolves are not legends at all, but were inventions by screenwriter Curt Siodmak. The Pentagram, the silver bullets (or cane as the case may be), even the poem that you are bludgeoned with a hundred times, all came from Siodmak's mind. The idea was simple, Siodmak had fled from Nazi Germany, where he saw good people he had known his whole life transformed into monsters by the frenzy of devotion to Hitler and his gangsters. Pentagram? Shall we say, yellow star?
Universal's The Invisible Man: Don't know why, but this has become a part of the monster repertoire in my house. The last couple years, they've watched this around late August, as if to start the pistons popping for more. The primary charm of this tale is in Claude Rains' performance as the sadistic, and eventually evil, scientist who gets more than he bargained for. Rains is a favorite among my boys, from Robin Hood to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington all the way up to the 'delightfully dapper' Louis Renault in Casablanca.
The Mummy: Whether the 1932 original, or the 1999 remake, you can't have enough mummies. Nothing based on classic literature here, the whole mummy craze was inspired by the famous, and sometimes strange, occurrences surrounding the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. The original is a bit slow, I'll admit. The 1959 Hammer Film, which my oldest got for his birthday this year, moved along nicely, though it's still not as spectacular funny, or overall clever, as the 1999 version.
Children of the Corn (1984 version): We let them watch this a year or so ago. We then promptly went out and found a corn maze. While trying to find our way about the maze, a flock of crows suddenly burst out of a nearby patch of trees. That did it. I never saw three kids run through a corn maze so quickly. This is as much nostalgia for me as anything. My autumn quarter of my freshman year of college saw a TV on a stand with a VCR player in the commons, playing various movies at various times. During October, horror movies were the rage, and that is when I saw this. No Oscars here, it's enough to see Courtney Gains running amuck, getting his comeuppance at the end.
Silent Films (Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Nosferatu): For years, during Tricks or Treats, we play various silent movies. This allowed for conversation with the family who stayed behind while everyone else went their rounds. Of course now, the family isn't really around. I think my oldest boy may stick around and help hand out candy. My Dad is no longer with us, and my sister has her family to walk around with, such as it is. Mom may stay now, as she's getting to the point where going out isn't easy. My younger three will go after the candy (my oldest may go around the block for our youngest and for old times' sake). But we'll probably keep these going until they're home, then watch A Great Pumpkin, or some special.
Those are the ones. There will be others, of course. Our oldest has already seen Alien, and our 8th grader is beginning to work up the nerve. A year ago, our oldest also watched JAWS. Neither of these are necessarily 'Halloween' proper, but he was taken by how intense they were, saying he was almost shaking when JAWS was finished. I told him that's what happens when you rely less on CGI, and more on things like character development, plot, and good old story telling.