Monday, October 24, 2011

13 Ghosts...and Ghouls, and Zombies, and Vampires...

"Seven more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! Seven more days till Halloween (Silver Shamrock)!"*

We're in the final countdown, folks (and now that song is going to be stuck in my head...)! I don't know about you, but I love to play Halloween-themed movies while my family gets ready for Trick-or-Treating. It really adds to the atmosphere (and gives candy-hander-outers something to do in-between doorbell rings), but given the variety of age ranges running through the room at any one time, it can be difficult to find something appropriate for everyone.

With that in mind, I compiled this list of thirteen of my favorite Halloween night movies. Now, they're not entirely all-ages movies, but there should be something on the list to suit every possible grouping of ages. Some are more appropriate for especially young kids, while others are more fitting to the tween and above crowd, but it really all depends on the child and their parents. To help you out, I've listed them in order from most to least appropriate for very young children. (I hope that made some semblance of sense...)

Anyway, here you go, starting with my pick for families with young children.

Hocus Pocus (PG)
This cute and creepy outing from Disney stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as three recently resurrected Salem witches with a score to settle. Not scary enough for nightmares, but filled with enough ghoulish delights to make this a perennial favorite. Don't miss the musical number!

Monster House (PG)
Three tweens figure out that the house across the street isn't just haunted, but is actually eating people! Smart, funny, and never pandering, this rollercoaster of a thriller will keep the kiddies--and adults--on the edges of their seats.

The Monster Squad (PG-13)
Middle-Schoolers battle the Universal monsters to stop Dracula from taking over the world. What's not to love about that?! (P.S. Wolfman's got 'nards!)

Dark and Stormy Night (not rated)
Lovingly crafted spoof of a 1930s "dark house" mystery. A will reading brings together a group of stock characters, who are then killed off one by one. No blood, no gore, and no scary images. Just tons of laughs in this family friendly comedy from the people who brought you The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

The Night Shift (not rated)
You didn't think I'd leave off my own movie, did you? Cemetery caretaker, Rue Morgan, and his skeletal buddy, Herb, fight off supernatural baddies in this rollicking adventure-comedy.

13 Ghosts (original) (not rated)
A family inherits more than a house in this kid-friendly "thriller" from horror legend, William Castle. These ghosts are no scarier than what you'd find on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney, but the sweetly cheesy "special effects" and suspenseful plot will keep older kids interested.

Ghostbusters (PG)
The perfect Halloween movie for tweens on up! Thrills, chills, great special effects (they still hold up!), and more laughs than should be legal! Kids and grown-ups alike will be shouting, "I ain't afraid of no ghosts!" The few mildly adult humor and situations should go over tiny heads.

The Wolf Man (original) (PG)
A normal man finds himself on the wrong end of a gypsy curse. Unrelenting suspense and a decent body count, but no graphic images, language or adult situations in this granddaddy of werewolf movies.

Beetlejuice (PG)
A "newly deceased" couple find themselves with an infestation of humans and hire an unconventional exterminator to rid the pests from their home. Check out some of Tim Burton's wackiest and most colorful creations in this comically-grotesque ghost story. Some images might be too scary for tiny-mites, but older kids will crack up at the "Ghost With the Most".

Plan 9 From Outer Space (not rated)
Ed Wood's masterpiece of schlock, and Bela Lugosi's final role. Widely considered one of the worst movies in history, Plan 9 is so laughably horrible you won't be able to look away. Zombies, vampires, and aliens have all converged on Earth...just don't try to figure out why. Absolutely nothing scary about this movie, and older kids will enjoy pointing out wires on spaceships and other technical uh-ohs.

Young Frankenstein (PG)
Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and company hilariously re-animate the Monster. Tons of adult humor and situations, but smartly written so as to go over young heads. Older kids will love the Brooks' signature brand of slapstick comedy and a singing and dancing Frankenstein monster.

Clue (PG)
Was it Miss Scarlet in the Library with the Candlestick? Find out in this wild and wooly comedy, based on the Parker Brothers board game. With a cast that includes Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, and Tim Curry, you're sure to die laughing! (groan, I know...) Mild language, adult situations, and some slightly scary images, but should be fine for teens.

Army of Darkness (R)
Action star, Bruce Campbell, takes on hordes of Medieval undead in the frighteningly funny final film of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. Think of it as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court with zombies. Rated R, yes, for "violence and horror", but all cartoonish and comedic in an homage to the Three Stooges and Warner Bros.' animated shorts. "Scary images" are akin to the skeletons in Pirates of the Carribbean. Had it been rated in today's society, the film probably wouldn't have scored higher than PG-13. Teens should be fine watching, but parents may want to screen first.

*Magical, invisible Internet points to whoever can tell me what that refers to.

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