The National Student
Creepy Countdown: 13 spooky Halloween films suitable for wusses
Anneka Honeyball at Southampton, University of 13th October 2017
Halloween is almost upon us, and with this joyous holiday, comes a certain expectation to engage in all things spooky. Horror films are a sure-fire way to get in the mood for October’s end of the month fear-fest, but they’re certainly not for everybody.
For those of us who can’t stand frivolous gore or constant jumpscares; terrifying monsters or unnerving mind-fuckery, a different, less traumatising approach has to be taken. So, for all the self-confessed wusses out there, here are some wimp-friendly watches – in order of potential scariness – for you to enjoy whilst still getting in to the spooky spirit. 1. Hocus Pocus (1993)Let’s start off easy. Simply put, Hocus Pocus is far too flamboyant to be in any way scary. It is also a fabulous movie. The film follows the camp calamity that happens when a teen virgin lights a candle in a spooky old cottage, and in the process, resurrects three gloriously over the top witches, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimi and Sarah Jessica-Parker. Thirsty for youth, the witches hatch an elaborate plan to suck the souls out of all the children in town – and only the teens, a zombie and a talking cat can stop them. Brilliant. Are there any scary bits? Aside from Bette Midler’s make up, it’s all family-friendly fun.
2. Scooby-Doo (2002)Continuing with the trend of family-friendly (for now), Scooby Doo is kind of a classic. You could watch some of the old episodes or the feature-length mysteries from your childhood (Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost is highly rated by this writer), but the first live-action Scooby-Doo also does nicely. Written by James Gunn – a.k.a: the guy behind Guardians of the Galaxy – it’s a fun, nostalgic watch, complete with haunted castles, zombie monsters and a Pamela Anderson cameo. What more could you want?
Are there any scary bits? The monsters are pretty gnarly looking and the “dinner show” is mildly disturbing, but there are enough gags and fart jokes to settle even the most fragile of minds.
3. Hotel Transylvania (2012)Ain’t nothing wrong with spooky ‘toons. Hotel Transylvania is a totally wuss-appropriate animated film about a hotel for monsters, run by Count Dracula himself. When a human traveller happens upon the hotel during a gathering for Drac’s daughter, Mavis, chaos ensues.Are there any scary bits? Some of the stuff that Andy Samberg’s character says is a little embarassing, but otherwise it’s Cerfificate U AF – and one of the few movies in which Adam Sandler is perfectly tolerable.
4. The Addams Family Values (1993)Even if you’re not a wuss, there’s no excuse not to watch The Addams Family at Halloween. You could watch the first one, but personally, I think Family Values is much better. A murderous nanny (played wonderfully by Joan Cusack) comes to claim the family fortune by seducing Uncle Fester – only to find that getting rid of him isn’t easy. Wednesday and Pugsley are also sent to the ultra cheery Camp Chippewa – the results of which are just too funny not to watch.Are there any scary bits? Wednesday smiles in one scene – but then she takes over a Thanksgiving reenactment and burns it to the ground, so… balance is restored.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)It’s rare that you find a film that can be cherished on not one, but two major holidays. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a beloved cult classic for good reason. Infused with Tim Burton‘s unique brand of gothic spook, this stop-motion animation follows the disillusioned King of Halloween Town, as he sets out to find something more exciting to do – resulting in his grotesque hijacking of the festive holiday.
Are there any scary bits? Doctor Finklestein and Oogie Boogie are quite creepy-looking. But it’s nothing that will give you nightmares.
6. Ghostbusters (1984)A classic through and through, the original Ghostbusters is essential spooky viewing. Sure, you could also watch the sequel, the reboot or the vintage animated series (currently available on Netflix), but nothing can beat the original. Bill Murray getting slimed is pure joy.Are there any scary bits? The library ghost might inspire a fright, but the reactions of the ‘busters will make you feel 10 times better.
7. Beetlejuice (1988)If you’re looking for Halloween-appropriate movies, Tim Burton is your man. The likes of Sleepy Hollow andSweeney Todd are a bit much for us wusses, but Beetlejuice hits just the right spot. When a dead couple have trouble getting rid of the new residents of their beloved home, they call upon the sleazy “bio-exorcist” Betelgeuse to scare them away.Are there any scary bits? Betelgeuse’s methods are pretty surreal – so much so that anything that could be scary is made less so.
8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)A beloved cult staple of stage and screen, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is iconic – and therefore a must watch at Halloween. Dress up to the nines and sing-along as Brad and Janet happen upon Dr. Frank N Furter’s lair of lurid experiments and strange, Transylvanian conventions.Are there any scary bits? For Donald Trump, maybe. But for the rest of us, it’s a risqué musical of wonder.
9. Gremlins (1984)It might be set at Christmas, but like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gremlins can be enjoyed across holidays. Joe Dante’s black comedy follows a family who take in an unusual pet named Gizmo. However, when they break the three all-important rules of mogwai care, a group of mischievious gremlins break free and cause chaos.Are there any scary bits? Full disclosure: Stripe scared the shit out of me as a child. But, Gizmo is just about cute enough to dissuade any ill feeling towards the more grotesque (and surprisingly violent) mogwai.
10. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)For a while, you couldn’t see for vampire films – but if you’re too much of a wimp for The Lost Boys, Blade or Underworld, don’t settle for Twilight. Do yourself a favour and watch Taika Waititi’s mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows. Set in New Zealand, the film follows a group of immortal housemates who, ála The Office, discuss what it’s like living as vampires in the modern world.Are there any scary bits? The scene in which Viago attempts to feast on a woman – only for blood to spurt everywhere – might be a bit much for some. But otherwise, it’s just very funny. #WerewolvesNotSwearwolves
11. Shaun of the Dead (2004)Zombie movies are a lot to take in for a wuss – they’re gruesome, gory and usually pretty violent to boot. Thankfully, there are films like Shaun of the Dead that can ease our discomfort. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star as two slackers who venture out to save their friends and family during a nationwide pandemic – electing to take them to the only safe haven they can think of: the pub. Are there any scary bits? For those with a weak stomach, there are some scenes that are a bit gruesome – e.g: when Bloody Mary impales herself or when David is devoured by a zombie hoard. But if you look away from those bits, what you’re left with is an insanely quotable comedy.
12. The Mummy (1999)So far, we’ve got wimp-picks covered for vampires, zombies, witches, monsters and demons. The Mummy is the only classic horror figure we have yet to find a wuss substitute for. Thankfully, Stephen Sommers’ 1999 action-fantasy does well to persuade us. Brendan Fraser’s charismatic adventurer leads an archeologist and her brother to the hidden city of Hamunaptra, where they accidentally revive a vengeful high priest.Are there any scary bits? Imhotep, when in his decomposed form, is quite something – and the scene in which he harvests a dude’s eyes and tongue, although largely suggested, is a bit vom-inducing. Watching the scarab beetles feed beneath someone’s skin is also a bit squeamish, but it’s all totally worth it for Rick O’Connell’s one liners. Promise. (Watch with a cat – certified Mummy deterrent – if you’re scared.)
13. Zombieland (2009)Our final pick is another comedy that takes a scary concept and makes it so funny, that we can just about manage to ignore everything else. Penned by the guys that aced Deadpool, Zombieland follows a group of survivors who, after some reluctance, band together to avoid the zombie apocalypse and find sanctuary (and twinkies).Are there any scary bits? There are zombies, clowns and at one point, a zombie clown. BUT, there is also a brilliant Bill Murray cameo.