Scary movies may put 2020 in perspective

For those who have followed my column – or know me in life beyond the printed page – you know how I feel about Halloween. In case you don’t – I love it! This is my favorite time of year and my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second, but Halloween has my heart.

For the past week or two I have been enjoying all things Halloween, including movies. Last year around this time I offered my favorite Halloween movies, and this week I was reminded of so many that did not make the list – and some that never will.

I suppose watching these movies does a few things right now; for one, it takes me back to my youth when watching scary movies was a fun way to hang out with friends or a good excuse to clutch tightly to your date. It also makes me feel that 2020 (a horror show in its own right) could always be worse. In fact, a few movies have given some perspective on 2020. I admit, however, I have avoided anything that resembles our current global status, such as “Contagion.”

I recently watched several older “horror” movies and some still stand the test of time while others, not so much.

An all-time favorite is the original “Halloween” with Jamie Lee Curtis. The music still strikes a bit of fear as does that first scene of young Michael Myers, clad in a clown suit, picking up a knife for the first time, sliding his mask down his face and approaching his teenage sister. Still scary and better than its many sequels, which I also enjoy.

I watched the 1976 film “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane,” starring a teenaged Jodie Foster and Martin Sheen. This was billed as a “cross-genre” movie, with one of those genres being Horror. I enjoyed this one, but I would not call it “horror.” I suppose it is horrifying that a 13-year-old was living on her own and hiding bodies in the basement, but other than that, I didn’t feel scared. Not once. However, it was worth the watch.

I also watched one I’d never seen before. “Lady in a Cage.” This 1964 film was called a “psychological thriller” but unlike other films in that decade (“Psycho” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” for example) this film does not, in my opinion, stand the test of time. I found the characters to be annoying and I was not psychologically thrilled in any way.

Other notable movies on my recent watch list included “Annabelle” (love it), “Amityville Horror” (watched the 2005 version and it’s not nearly as good as the original), “Insidious Chapter 2” (thumbs-up) and “Drag Me to Hell” (not bad but some of the scenes involving vomiting grossed me out, even though “The Exorcist” is one of my favorites).

I also watched the Netflix series “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” This is a follow-up of sorts to Netflix’s hit “The Haunting of Hill House.” Much like American Horror Story uses the same actors in different settings, Bly Manor features familiar faces in a new haunted house. I did like Bly Manor, but not as much as Hill House. Maybe I’ve just seen too many scary movies, but I figured out pretty quickly that a few characters were already dead when we meet them. Knowing this didn’t ruin the show for me, but it did cause me to over-analyze each episode.

I am two episodes into another Netflix series – “Evil.” So far, so good and I am definitely feeling the psychological thrill. I have also watched some family-friendly Halloween flicks with my children, including “Hocus Pocus,” “Halloweentown High” and the Shrek’s “Spooky Stories.” I am sure that with a few more days to go until Halloween, I will find several more to watch.

What tops your favorite Halloween movie list? Send me a note with your recommendations to [email protected]

Wishing you all the thrill of things that go bump in the night . . .




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