With pumpkin spice lattes come October movie specials. Cult classics that we’ve all grown up with, from ABC Family’s Freeform’s 13 Nights of Halloween marathons to Disney Channel’s Monstober airings, these networks show our Halloween favorites that have withstood the test of time. It’s the season to snuggle up with trick-or-treaters’ Halloween candy (only to have to buy a new bag on the 31st) and simply enjoy nostalgia-filled family films to cleanse our minds from the horror movies our friends make us watch.
Here’s a few of our favorites:
Aggie Cromwell: “Being normal is vastly overrated”
You’re a wizard Harry… I mean, you’re a witch Marnie! Focusing on the trilogy (sorry Sara Paxton, Kimberly J. Brown will always be MY Marnie), Halloweentown is the ultimate movie for escapism. We all wanted Aggie Cromwell (RIP Debbie Reynolds, you angel) to teach us spells and buy us our first broom. A quick trip to grandma’s would mean a visit to the mythical Halloweentown– 365 days of Halloween. Not only was the first film solid, but they developed the storyline for the next 2 films perfectly. We see the Cromwell family grow as a unit and individually, with not only their improvement of magical abilities, but their personal journeys.
There are so many unique symbols to the film, from the giant jack-o-lantern in the town square to Benny the skeleton taxi driver and the colorful talking head walkie-talkies, each element truly captures the spirit of Halloween that we’ve come to associate with the film.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Billy: “Go to hell!”
Winifred: “Oh! I’ve been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely.”
The Sanderson sisters once sang, “I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine,” and this has rung true, as Hocus Pocus remains a cult classic widely popular today. A timeless curse initiated by a virgin lighting a candle, the Sanderson sisters illuminate the screen as a witty trio reminiscent of The Three Stooges, with the ghastly intent of sucking the souls of youth to remain alive.
It’s entertaining through and through, all thanks to the wonderful performances by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. The bright orange “Queen of Hearts” hair, lopsided lip habit, and seductress caricature all combine for the iconic traits of the 3 witches who enrapt the audience with their catchy songs and amusing banter, despite their evil tendencies. In fact, we may love them even more because they’re bad.
The Addams Family (1991)
“Are they made from real Girl Scouts?” – Wednesday Addams
In 1964, The Addams Family television show aired, twisting the idea of the “model” American family shown in regularly scheduled programming of the era. The celebrated narcissism endures within our culture, having been revived as the movie in 1991 and sequel Addams Family Values in 1993, into a Halloween special that argumentatively can be seen all year round. Cynics and dark humored fans gather to cackle at the seemingly sarcastic lines from Wednesday and the wicked romance of Morticia and Gomez, sensual and sinister in their own fabricated world that contradicts the bright and wholesome family of suburbia. And let’s not forget Cousin It, a hit with the ladies, and Hand, who is quite literally a hand that exuberates such personality with no lines or a body, much less a face.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Kim: “Hold me”
Edward: “I can’t”
While Corpse Bride (2005) and Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) are ideal stop-motion animation masterpieces for the holiday, I’ll revert my attention to Burton’s Edward Scissorhands in terms of live-action continuity. Notorious cinematography and eminent culture icons Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder are obvious factors that play into the timeless quality of the film. It’s the ultimate story of a misunderstood character who can’t help how he was made.
It triggers empathy, hitting us right in the pathos as Edward experiences harsh treatment because of his scary exterior, which he uses to create artful landscapes and hairstyles, but, as we also see, for eventual destruction in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The pale-pastel colored neighborhood, similar to The Addams Family twist on suburban perfection, experiences an internal change as the family learns a lot through the naïve innocence of Depp’s character. Framing of scenes are aesthetically pleasing and have a magical, otherworldly quality to the artistry delivered.
P.s. I miss Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp together *insert broken heart emoji*
“Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”
Ending on another Burton-Winona Ryder note, it can’t be Halloween without the baddest of the bad. Beetlejuice is the sleeziest, trickiest of evil villians that we can’t help but adore. In another world-building scheme, Burton establishes iconic imagery, such as the Handbook of the Recently Deceased, the sheet ghost scare, and of course, the dinner possession; “Day-o, day-ay-ay-o” never sounded so catchy. Truly exuberating dark, whimsical characteristics as only Burton does, this classic encompasses an impressive cast and a following that is well-deserved. Delving into the afterlife with remarkable special effects, costume and makeup, it’s a striking story that’s incomparable.
These films are still popular for a reason. There are so many noteworthy Halloween-esque films, the list is infinite! As niche as they are within the holiday, they’ve come to establish themselves as pivotal movies to represent nostalgic memories and a great balance of humor and dark satire. They’ll continue to entertain viewers generationally because of their iconic status and we’ll always associate this time to a town that’s Halloween year-round, three witch sisters who resurrect because of a virgin, a narcissistic family we wanted to be adopted into, a talented, Frankenstein-like man who just wants to be loved, and a perverted con we hate to love.