The Horror Of Halloween: From Bette To Buffalo Bill

Sentinel And Enterprise
Halloween horror, from Bette to Buffalo Bill
By Peter McQuaid,
Posted: 10/03/2012

The majority of horror films, especially ones made in the last 20 years, aren’t that great. They’re either not scary (Paranormal Activity), or they take themselves too seriously (The House at the End of the Street/The Devil Inside/any of those movies with trailers that don’t offer much plot and end with one scary-looking frame and a piercing scream). There are all different levels of scary things that you can watch during October, so make sure you’re actually watching something good and not just another Exorcist knock-off.

Kiddie Scary

Hocus Pocus

My guess is that the only people that enjoy this movie are ones born after 1985, as we’re far enough removed from Bette Midler‘s prime to forgive her for her scenery-chewing role as the lead Sanderson sister from Salem. But come on, there’s a great musical performance of “I’ll Put A Spell On You,” lots of spells, zombies and witches, and an innocent-bystander-turned-really-old-cat named Thackery Binks, whose father didn’t even have a lisp and still named him that.

Scarily depressing

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I don’t know if the music is distracting or something, but I didn’t pick up how depressing all the Charlie Brown specials were when I was a kid. In this one, Charlie Brown gets rocks instead of candy and Linus waits in vain for the Great Pumpkin, who apparently is a fatter, more orange version of Santa. Like why is Pig Pen the only one who is ever consistently in a good mood? Charlie Brown might have gotten rocks, but at least he doesn’t smell like garbage. Lighten up, man.

Funny Scary

Drag Me To Hell, Planet Terror

Most of the time, the best scary movies are the ones that have intentional tongue-in-cheek humor.

Drag Me To Hell was the perfect combination of thrills, laughs and projectile nosebleeds. Director Sam Raimi erred more on the scary side, but Robert Rodriguez took a more cartoonish approach with Planet Terror, the first half of his Grindhouse collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. Blood splatters everywhere, stars die without warning, and Rose McGowan has a machine gun affixed to her leg. And the funniest, scariest part? Fergie acts!

Scary funny

Halloween episodes of The Simpsons, Freaks and Geeks and Boy Meets World

TV shows love holiday specials, and no holiday special has more installments than the “Treehouse of Horror” series on The Simpsons. The best ones to choose out of the 22? “VI,” which has Groundskeeper Willie as Freddie Krueger and Homer trapped inside Tron; “XI,” when dolphins walk and take over Springfield; and “XIII,” where Homer gets his magic cloning hammock. There’s also the Freaks and Geeks where Bill dresses up as the Bionic Women, as well as the Scream parody on Boy Meets World (it wasn’t actually a Halloween episode, but whatever) starring Jennifer Love Hewitt in her most acclaimed role. Seriously, Rotten Tomatoes determined that she is the worst reviewed actress of all time — and they don’t even count The Client List.

Scary Scary

Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, The Sixth Sense, Se7en, Rosemary’s Baby

Fine, it’s OK to watch something that’s actually scary. But when you can’t sleep after watching Buffalo Bill dance around in Silence of the Lambs or the final desert scene in Se7en, don’t call me — I’ll probably be busy laughing my head off watching Young Frankenstein.

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