The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Family friendly Halloween movies aren’t generally scary. In fact they are rarely good.
Fortunately for us, Tim Burton never got that message.
I remember the day I went and saw The Nightmare Before Christmas with my family. I was only nine. I remember being mesmerized. Visually, I was blown away, and the story is still one of the most creative and innovative in the children’s genre. Not to mention, the music by Danny Elfman was introduced to my ears that day.
Clearly, Tim Burton’s masterpiece is less about making Christmas dark, and more about bringing joy to All Hallows Eve. It was the first of its time, and to this day the only of its time. Everyone has seen this movie. If someone told you they hadn’t, you would make them go watch it, then most likely go watch it yourself.
As an adult, I can look back and see how Burton’s work really impacted me. As an unconventional kid, with unconventional interests, this film showed me that other kids liked weird stuff as much as me. Going to underground concerts and indie movies I can tell that those around me have a little Jack Skelton in them.
I don’t know if there will ever be a film quite like A Nightmare Before Christmas. But if I only have Sally and Jack to watch every October (and subsequent December), I will be quite happy with that.
The Halloween Tree (1993)
One of my favorite movies to watch during the month of Halloween – yes, I said month – is The Halloween Tree, a 1993 feature-length, animated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1972 novella of the same name.
The Halloween Tree, tells the story of a group of trick-or-treating kids who learn of the origins and inspirations for our Halloween after one of their best friends is taken across the globe and through time by the mysterious Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud.
I think the reason why I like this movie so much is because it recounts the history and origins behind one of America’s favorite holidays. It truly goes to show that America is a melting pot of all cultures, and we pull different aspects from each we derive from, and create our own traditions.
The Halloween Tree is narrated by Ray Bradbury himself, and boasts the voice talents of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Moundshroud, Darleen Carr, Lindsay Crouse, and Andrew Keegan. The Halloween Tree is a great movie for parents and children alike as both can learn and enjoy through this cartoon.
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
I was sheltered from horror movies as a kid. I knew about them and was awestruck at the sight of Freddy, Jason, Chucky and Pinhead but I wouldn’t see any of their movies for a long time. I may not have been watching Michael Myers or Leatherface, but in 1991 I did get to see Ernest Scared Stupid on the big screen.
Ernest brings a bit of fun to what is often seen as a scary or gory season, and I may be in the minority, but it’s the more lighthearted stuff that I enjoy about Halloween. Give me some cartoons and Ernest P. Worrell and then it’s Halloween.
It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)
As a kid, I stumbled onto a masterpiece of American Halloween cinema called “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” which somehow was able to capture nearly every facet of my Halloween childhood. The one thing that still hits me most, even after all these years, was Linus and his steadfast belief in the Great Pumpkin. Of his hope, or maybe it was faith, I really can’t say for sure.
As a 12 year old in 1989, I was invited to my first teen age “party” at the house of a girl I had a major crush on. I was told it was a costume party, so I showed up killing it in my Doogie Howswer costume, only to find that all of the older guys were just wearing all black. So I stood out like a kid who was clearly out of his league. But I was desperate for two things that night, a dance with and then hopefully a Halloween treat from a teenager named Crystal.
As expected, I ended up at home that night let down by my own Great Pumpkin. I remember watching the replay on CBS the next night and thinking that if Linus could still believe in his Great Pumpkin, then I should not give up on mine either. And I didn’t, because I caught my Great Pumpkin by Thanksgiving that year.
Never give up hope, Linus, the Great Pumpkin is out there!
Little Monsters (1989)
The first time I watched Little Monsters, I was in first or second grade. My first response was horror. To think that blue monsters could come out from under your bed once the sun went down was disturbing. Not to mention that they could get you in trouble for things that you didn’t do, but it did explain where all my missing toys were.
Once I got over my initial shock, I thought it was one of the coolest ideas ever. Who would not want to be able to go under their bed to a magical world of endless food, fun, and video games, and make best friends with a monster. There were often day dreams of being able to travel to a friends house by traveling under the furniture.
It may not have done well at the box office, but it gained a cult following, and many people I know still have a special place for it. For me, it helped cultivate an imagination, and provided endless hours of fun.
Halloween Town (1998)
Every year around this time kids of my generation, now adults, look at the guide on their cable or satellite boxes and look to see when to watch or when to DVR their favorite childhood Disney channel movie, Halloween Town.
I am one of those adults, or used to be, before I found the DVD with the first two movies. Now we get together with a Fall special drink and watch it. We laugh at the dialogue and some of the costumes, like the monsters that still have human hands.
Although I am more into the darker side of horror, it is always fun to go relive a childhood memory. Now if I can only find Under Wraps!
Ghostbusters II (1989)
I remember as a kid my Grandfather, who managed a retail store, would get promo copies of movies on VHS before they were released for sale. He would bring them home and we would have movie nights.
One of those nights, Ghostbusters II were the feature film of the evening, and it proceeded to stay the feature film of the night for quite a long time.
Ghostbusters II was my first Bill Murray movie, my first Dan Akroyd move, my first Ivan Reitman movie. It was the first comedy that I grew up watching and the older I got the more of the jokes I understood. It’s blend of humor, action, suspense, and witty dialogue is still relevant and entertaining today. But maybe most importantly, it captured my imagination and had me running around the hours with my imaginary Proton Pack catching ghosts and saving the day.
In short, Ghostbusters II is one of the cornerstones of my geek universe and one of the few films that I feel is perfect from beginning to end.