It is finally October, which marks the beginning of a chilling season filled with decorations, gore and all the thrill you can seek. If you love a good scare, then you’ll truly enjoy celebrating the holiday with a variety of hair-raising films that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Halloween happens to be my favorite holiday of the year. I personally consider the season to be a calm change of pace for people everywhere. As the weather cools down and the sun sets earlier, the annual traditions resurface—and so do the unearthly creatures of the night. Before things become too wicked, I want to help build some tension with a few spooky flicks for the fall.
To begin, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992) just so happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. The film, starring Kristy Swanson, set forth my obsession with vampires and the supernatural at a very young age. The plot introduces Buffy Summers, a typical high school cheerleader whose life suddenly changes after being introduced to Merrick. Merrick conveys to the rather unbothered teen that he was sent to train her to fight vampires because it is her destiny: she is the chosen one. While reluctant to assume the position, she eventually becomes a quick learner and spends her nights slaying vampires while her peers do homework. Once a vicious vampire arises, he begins to wreak havoc and it is up to Buffy to stand against him. With that said, Buffy is not your average damsel in distress with a knight in shining armor coming to her rescue. In fact, she’s the woman who saves everyone from peril and strife without ruining her manicure. Joss Whedon may have written the cult classic, but it was directed by a woman with an eye for charisma and empowerment, Fran Rubel Kuzui. After my first viewing, not only did a passion for fantasy and sci-fi arise, but a passion for becoming a woman of strength and resilience no matter the obstacle—or monster. The showrunners went on to create two spin-off series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” both highly favored and worth the watch.
Another personal favorite is “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), with an all-star cast starring Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp. Like most Tim Burton films, its depth of creativity and mystique sets this film apart from many others. Edward is a timid human being created by a scientist who dies before he can finish assembling him, leaving him all alone with a frightening appearance. What does not help Edward’s looks are the large scissor blades he has instead of hands. Luckily, one day Edward is rescued from his life in solitude and is welcomed into the loving home of Peg, a saleswoman. Throughout his time there, he falls deeply in love with Peg’s teenage daughter, Kim. However, not everyone approves of Edward. Despite his many talents and benevolence, the town turns against him and his hands, treating him like the outcast he once was. The setting is equally as captivating as the characters, with the suburban community being pastel and polished to resemble perfection, or the “American Dream,” in comparison to Edward and his dark, eerie mansion on the hill. The motion picture goes far beyond the subtle thrill and anxious feeling it brings forth. Burton’s films never fail to move you, even if they appear to be somewhat bizarre. There is always a much deeper meaning to the story, with a lesson that never seems to leave you.
“Beetlejuice” (1988), another Tim Burton classic that remains a most-loved choice for many during the spooky season. Also starring Winona Rider, the film reveals that a young married couple, Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin) die in a car accident. However, their spirits remain trapped in their home, and they find themselves unable to leave. Therefore, they are stuck haunting the residence, attempting to scare the new buyers out of the house. The couple is unsuccessful and hopeless, turning to Beetlejuice—a menacing spirit—for help. Unfortunately, things quickly take a turn and the lives of the Maitlands and young Lydia become jeopardized. While it may not be the most sinister movie, it offers a rather comedic approach to horror that is digestible and appropriate to enjoy with the whole family.
“Candyman” (2021) is a sequel to the 1992 film about a homicidal man with a hook for a hand, who is summoned unintentionally by a graduate student conducting research on myths about the creature. The sequel, which was far better than I could have ever imagined, involves the housing projects of Chicago. For a while, Cabrini-Green was overcome by a horrifying ghost story pertaining to the supernatural. The legend told a story about a killer with a hook for a hand that an artist begins to explore for a piece. Unknowingly, he begins to look further into the myth, developing an obsession that causes him to lose sanity and stir up an uproar of devastating chaos throughout the community. Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele take an incredibly unique approach at retelling the original story and transforming it in a terrifying way that most fans will greatly appreciate.
Remember to stay safe this Hallows’ Eve and try not to scream too much!