It's almost that time of year for vandalising pumpkins! Halloween is fast-approaching. But if abusing defenceless fruit isn't your thing, then watching horror movies is traditionally the best alternative for getting inspired/excited for this spooky annual tradition. However, what do you do if you don't like scary movies? And are there any nicer Halloween films out there that cater for the embarrassingly squeamish amongst you?
Yes. Thankfully there are several light-hearted "classics" that will make the run up to 31 October enjoyable for everyone, even for the most lily-livered yellow bellies out there. Hurrah! This monstrously brilliant list features a carefully selected list of motion pictures featuring vampires, zombies, witches, monsters, ghosts, ghouls, and Johnny Depp! No tricks here, they're all treats. Every last one. No bones about it. So if you're expecting to see Hocus Pocus, you're likely to be disappointed.
So, without much further ado, here are The Top 10 Halloween Movies for Wusses...
1) Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The first (and arguably the best) film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, 2004's rom zom com Shaun of the Dead is the gruesome twosome's cinematic love letter to George Rameo's zombie classics The Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead - but with added humour. Lots of it.
Simon Pegg (with a hilariously lackadaisical Nick Frost in tow) attempts to win back his ex-girlfriend while leading a small group of friends/relatives through a sea of zombies to their local pub, the Winchester, to have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this zombie business to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Mary the Zombie getting impaled is a bit gruesome. It's probably best to make a cuppa during this scene on 27:31 if you're overly sensitive.
2) Young Frankenstein (1974)
Young Frankenstein is the 1974 comedy directed by Mel Brooks with co-writer Gene Wilder staring as the movie's title character, the grandson of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. As you'd expect from Mel Brooks, the movie is a parody film, lampooning Mary Shelley's gothic tale and the classic horror films of the 1930s. So, if you're in the mood for a comedy send-up, but think that Shaun of the Dead may be a bit too much for your delicate sensibilities, then this daft black and white pastiche is more than a worthy substitute.
Wilder plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (sorry, Fronkensteen) who inherits his grandfather's castle and decides continue his controversial work after discovering that it's possible, despite having previously been ashamed of the "famous kook" and his corpse-meddling antics. But things go array when he accidently puts an abnormal brain into a brilliant Peter Boyle, AKA The Monster. Hilarity ensues.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Marty Feldman's eyes aren't CGI-ed. They're real.
3) Ed Wood (1994)
Yep, pretty much all of Tim Burton's directorial output could be watched in and around Halloween. Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Frankenweenie, Sweeny Todd. The list is endless. But I firmly believe that A Nightmare Before Christmas is an Xmas film (and Burton didn't direct it anyway) so I'm afraid Jack Skellington unfortunately misses out on this list. Sorry about that. But this superb black and white masterpiece is the best of the bunch! There's a spooky opening sequence/credits and a scene with trick-or-treaters in this delightful half-factual film, but the entire movie screams Halloween.
Ed Wood stars Johnny Deep as director Edward D. Wood, Jr., who produced famously awful movies in the 1950s and the worst movies of all-time. The cross-dressing director, who had a worrying fondness for angora sweaters, developed a friendship/working relationship with ageing horror star Bela Lugosi (Dracula in 1931), here portrayed by Martin Landau in a Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winning performance. Watch it while wearing an angora sweater to really get yourself in the mood!
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Seeing Tor Johnson's (George "The Animal" Steele) hairy back on 40:00. Ewwwww.
4) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Talking of men who like wearing ladies unmentionables, this cult musical has a loyal fan-base who take great delight in dressing up as Transylvanian transsexuals. Nice. However, while dragging up is not compulsory, it's the perfect opportunity for us guys to browse the knicker section in Dorothy Perkins! Take full advantage.
Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick are the young engaged couple whose car breaks down in an isolated area, forcing them to stay overnight in the nearby home of a transvestite nutjob going by the name of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). Let's do the time warp again!
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Seeing Tim Curry in suspenders. Horrific.
5) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
A joyful screwball comedy from the legendary Frank Capra featuring two sweet old ladies... who have eleven (or twelve) dead bodies buried in the cellar! Set in Brooklyn on Halloween, Capra embraces Halloween just like he later did with Christmas in It's a Wonderful Life. The opening credits features witches, black cats, and pumpkins, while the mise en scène features a blustery graveyard with trees that are seemingly hemorrhaging autumn leaves!
Cary Grant is the poor recently married man who discovers that his beloved aunts are homicidal maniacs, and he really goes to town playing Mortimer Brewster in one of the finest slapstick performances in film comedy history. Grant actually hated his performance in this 1944 movie, donating his $100,000 fee to the U.S. War Relief Fund. Film critics at the time were also largely unimpressed. However, like a fine (elderberry?) wine, this movie has aged extremely well.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Mortimer Brewster's deranged brother, who's a dead ringer for Boris Karloff, coming in from behind the curtain at around 50:30 is the one and only jump-inducing moment.
6) Ghostbusters (1984)
One of the greatest movies from the 1980s... and all-time. The blockbuster, directed by Ivan Reitman, is obviously an absolute must for Halloween due to all the ghosts. But it's not the apparitions, poltergeists, and giant marshmallow men that make this 1984 movie essential Halloween viewing, it's Bill Murray's wisecracking and apathetic Dr. Peter Venkman who steals the show here! Back off, man. He's a scientist.
Dan Aykroyd (Ray) and Harold Ramis (Egon) wrote the script for the film about a trio of parapsychology professors who lose their academic funding/jobs from Columbia University, resulting in them launching a professional ghost removal service in New York, which happens to coincide with the city heading for a disaster of biblical proportions. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! Who ya gonna call? Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy? Pfft.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: The library ghost at 11:34 is quite scary for a PG rating.
7) La Belle et la Bête (1946)
Those of you who studied GCSE French at school may have translated the title to Beauty and the Beast. Très bien. Jean Cocteau's legendary 1946 interpreting of the famous fairy tale à la française is one of the most spellbinding films in the entire history of cinema, being gothic and magical in equal measure for an off kilter Halloween selection, putting Disney's little cartoon effort 45 years later to shame.
A beautiful young lady (Josette Day) takes her father's place as the prisoner of an ugly beast, who subsequently falls in love with her. However, you'd be right in thinking that it'll take more than a bit of manscaping for Beauty to fall for La Bête.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: The film begins and you realise that it's black and white, French, and you've got to read subtitles for an hour and a half.
8) Horror Of Dracula (1958)
A Hammer Horror? Surely this is a gore-fest? Well, surprisingly not. This first Hammer Dracula movie came out in 1958, hence the majority of the violence and neck-biting is intended to be imagined rather than seen. Phew! Scenes that were shocking in the late-fifties now look a bit naff and somewhat humorous these days. Still, you may want to watch it surrounded by cloves of garlic and armed with a crucifix, just in case.
The late Christopher Lee is the cloaked man with impressive incisors looking for claret, moving from Transylvania to England (did he get through Calais unscathed?) to spread his undead curse. Peter Cushing portrays Van Helsing, the stake-loving doctor from the classic Bram Stoker novel. So, why don't some people like watching Dracula movies you ask? Probably coz he's a real pain in the neck! Sorry. Bad joke.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Cushing is seen driving a stake through the heart of a lady vampire at 53:10. Perhaps some things won't be left to the imagination after all then.
9) What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement and his former The Humourbeasts comedy partner Taika Waititi are the men behind this amusing independent film from last year. This New Zealand comedy mockumentary, written and directed by the duo, goes in a slightly different direction than Horror Of Dracula, following a small group of vampires living in Wellington, NZ. And as you'd expect from a vampire flick, the lighting is low and the soft furnishings are very old school - but it's going for humour rather than chills. The budget was very small, but the laughs are big.
Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonny Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) are the trio of undead vampires living in 2014. We see the blood-thirsty flatmates discussing how they became vampires, going to nightclubs, using Google, carrying out their household chores, explaining why they drink virgin blood ("I think we drink virgin blood because it sounds cool"), and generally going about their daily (or should that be nightly?) business.
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: Viago biting a victim's neck and blood spirting out on 20:10 is particularly messy. He really should have put more towels and newspaper down.
10) Wizard Of Oz (1939)
We're off to see the wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...because, because, because because...because of the wonderful things he does. Actually, we're not here to see the silly little candy-ass Wizard. We're here to see The Wicked Witch of the West! Greatest. Villain. Ever. The reason why this iconic 1939 film, directed (in the most part) by Victor Fleming, is now a Halloween classic is largely due to the superb performance by Margaret Hamilton. She'll get you, my pretty readers, and your little dog, too!
The plot has Dorothy (Garland) ending up in a magical land after an altercation with a tornado, and she embarks on an adventure down a yellow brick road with a tin man, a scarecrow, and a cowardly lion in an attempt to meet the Wizard to help her return back home. But will the Wicked Witch stop them? Oh, what a world!
SCARY MOMENT WARNING: I don't care what anyone says, those flying monkeys are the scariest thing that I've ever seen!