Spooky Halloween Flicks

Kyle Kaplan ’15
Arts Editor

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, I’ve seen people walking around Northampton in costumes, and convenience store windows bordered with cobwebs and jack-o’-lanterns on the front steps of most houses on campus. October 31st has always been my favorite day of the year, in part because I love the Halloween movie marathons shown on most channels. My roommate, Ashlynn August ’15, recently asked me if I had any recommendations for scary movies, and I narrowed it down to these five:

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Okay, now this film isn’t scary,  but I still get really excited when I turn on the TV and Bette Midler is glowering over the arrival of another “glorious morning.” Playing the wicked Winnie Sanderson, the eldest of the three Sanderson sisters, Midler is a powerful witch who conspires to live forever by consuming the life force of children. Her sisters, Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), joins her in this pursuit after they are all revived on Halloween night. Using hypnosis and campy musical numbers, the Sanderson sisters have until morning to consume the life force of Salem, Massachusetts’s children – or they will turn to dust.

The Shining (1980)

All work and no play makes Jack Nicholson give an iconic performance. The Shining is a movie I first watched the whole way through – I could not handle it at a sleepover when I was twelve – two years ago. Based on a novel by the indelible Stephen King, The Shining takes place at the Overlook Hotel, where writer Jack Torrance (Nicholson) stays with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his clairvoyant son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), as he tries to write a novel. Instead, he is driven mad by specters murdered in the hotel, forcing Wendy and Danny to try to escape.

The Ring (2002)

I’m still afraid Samara will climb out of my TV.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Before Paranormal Activity (2007), this movie used “found footage” to chronicle the terrifying story of three film students who travel to Burkittsville, Maryland, to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a local legend who allegedly killed people in the name of bad magic. The Blair Witch Project is scary not only because it was shot using handheld cameras, but also because of the paranoia that ensues from never actually seeing the Blair Witch. Instead, we learn of her existence through the breadcrumbs she leaves for the filmmakers, who learn they shouldn’t have laughed at the townspeople who told them not to go into the woods.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The only thing I didn’t like about this movie is that it wasn’t a TV show. Satirical, surprising, and clever, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon completely revitalize the-teenagers-go-to-an-extended-family-member’s-house-in-the-woods-and-accidentally-summon-evil spirits concept. Working for an evil demon, technicians of an underground facility use modern technology to turn five teenagers into stereotypes we’ve seen in so many horror films. Melding terror and social commentary, the screenplay for this critically acclaimed film was written, per Wikipedia, “in three days” – and yet it somehow managed to expose almost every cliché in the slasher genre.

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