Whether at the multiplex or on cable, it’s always easy to find scary movies this time of year. But what if you want to share a little Hallowe’en fun with the kids? Here are some film treats the family can enjoy together.
Ghostbusters: (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver) Three New York university professors go into the “paranormal investigations and eliminations” business, and end up saving the world. A few frightening images, and some saucy language, but these are overpowered by a blockbuster cast, amazing special effects and a hilarious, endlessly quotable script. My favourite movie, hands down.
Beetlejuice: (Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis) It’s sort-of a reverse on Ghostbusters - two ghosts hire a “bio-exorcist” to scare away the family that’s moved into their old home. But the mischievous Beetlejuice has plans of his own. Directed by Tim Burton, so expect a lot of crazy macabre imagery and black humour.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: (Animated. Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara) More Tim Burton – this was his first feature-length stop-motion animated production. Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, stumbles through a door into Christmastown, and decides to take over Santa’s job. A very different kind of Disney musical. (Already seen it? Try Corpse Bride or Frankenweenie.)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: (Animated TV special) Retro cartoon fun with the Peanuts gang, as Linus hangs out in the pumpkin patch waiting for the spirit of Hallowe’en to show up. Meanwhile, good ol’ Charlie Brown’s ghost costume has far too many holes, and his trick-or-treat bag is full of rocks.
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie: (Animated) So the very young can get in on the action. When Pooh eats all the Hallowe’en candy, Roo and Lumpy bravely go after the dreaded Gobloon, who will grant them a wish for more if they can catch him. Assuming, of course, that the Gobloon doesn’t turn them into “jaggedy lanterns” first. There’s a lot of talk about being afraid, but nothing too scary here.
Monster House: (Animated) A boy and his friends discover that the house across the street is actually a living, people-eating monster – and Hallowe’en night is coming! Too intense for young kids, but older kids will like it. Plenty of laughs amid the scares. (Already seen it? Try ParaNorman, which may still be in some smaller theatres.)
The Addams Family: (Angelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd) Based on the 60s TV show, which was based on a darkly humorous comic strip. A creepy but lovable family is set upon by con artists after their fortune who claim to have found long lost Uncle Fester. Everyone is very gothic and seemingly homicidal, but nothing frightening actually happens. Huston and Julia are fantastic. Followed by a nearly-as-good sequel, Addams Family Values.
Young Frankenstein: (Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman) Introduce your teens to a classic. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronck-en-steen”) inherits his grandfather’s castle and knack for raising the dead. One of Mel Brooks’ funniest films. Sure, it’s full of groaners and sexually-suggestive dialogue, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the latest Adam Sandler nonsense. (Teenage film or history buffs might also be interested in the original Frankenstein, too.)