This is the time of year to indulge in scary movies, but which ones? There are so many, of all shapes and sizes it was hard to know where to start. I’ve thought that it might be fun to watch a film per classic movie monster-a sort of tribute to what used to keep me up late when I first discovered horror movies as a kid. Of course Halloween can be funny and fun, too, not just scary. I started watching some of these but my list has got longer and longer …
Vamp out. When (grown-up) people think of vampires, Count Dracula usually comes immediately to mind, and not some shimmery teenagers from the Northwestern U.S. But which Count? Bela Lugosi was classic, but I’m not in the mood for a B&W barely-talkie. Frank Langella was beyond sexy. I admit it, I’m tempted. Gary Oldman was so over the top I’m afraid my movie marathon might get exhausted before it gets started. As much as I love Angel, I decided what I’d really like to see was Buffy vs, Dracula, with Xander quipping his way through his horror at how easily he became the next Renfield.
The Lycanthrope. There were a lot of fun werewolves to chose from. Again, Universal horror offers up a classic, with Lon Chaney Jr. as the man who bays at the moon and the gypsies who love him. I remember being creeped out and fascinated by Albert Finney in Wolfen (and he was the good guy). Our local library has the complete She-Wolf of London television series. Admittedly cheesy, but I used to love to catch this series about a young female college student who gets bit by the wrong kind of dog and then becomes a sort of monster/superhero. But my first impulse in this genre is An American Werewolf in London, with David Naughton as the unfortunate title character and Griffin Dunne as his rapidly decomposing friend. I loved this movie when it first came out and watched it more than once in the theater, but haven’t seen it in ages. It was hip and post-modern and referential. I may have to watch it and the T.V. show. This one may be a double-header.
I want my Mummy. This one was a no-brainer for me. It’s The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and all the other cool guys, The Mummy all the way. Too. Much. Fun.
“It’s Fronk-en-steen.” Also an easy choice, Young Frankenstein is not only one of my very favorite movies, which I’m not afraid to admit that I can practically quote word-for-word, but it is still funny as hell. There are too many great moments to reference, but darts, neighing horses, rolling in the hay, and “putting on the Ritz” come immediately to mind.
Day of the Dead. I’m not a big fan of zombie movies. I guess because the idea of them really creep me out way more than the other monsters. My daughter was little when the recent crop of well-reviewed zombie movies came out-little enough for me to use her as an excuse to skip them in the theater (I told you, they creep me out!) so I’m going with the ultimate, the classic, Night of the Living Dead. It doesn’t get much more scary or relentless than this. At least for me. And I think I can bring myself to watch it, with the lights on. I’ll let you know what I think about Zombieland when I catch up.
It came from outer space. I know October is almost over, but this may have to be a double-header, too. There is nothing scarier than what happens to one of my favorite actors, John Hurt, in Alien, and female heroes have been trying to catch up to Sigourney Weaver ever since. On a more humorous side, Men in Black is a lot of fun, and the kid might actually be able to watch … oh, Vincent D’Onfrio. Well, maybe not, but it’s still a fun film, and this is MY list, anyway.
Ghost of a chance. I think Poltergeist is the way to go. It’s not a perfect movie (I hate the guy in the bathroom scene), but it has such an easy relaxed vibe between Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as the two parents, that once it starts, you really don’t want it to stop. There are other great ghost movies to choose from, especially if you’re in a more classic ghost story mood: The Haunting, The Others, The Frighteners and the wonderful The Innocents, with Deborah Kerr, based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.
A little Depp’ll do ya. Finally, in a category all by himself, is Johnny Depp, who is drawn to all sorts of crazy and offbeat films-some of them quite monstrous. I personally would skip Sweeney Todd-once was enough, but to each his own. And there are so many others to choose from. Sleepy Hollow, if you’re not put off by my Sweeney Todd warning and want to keep the decapitation theme going. If you’re feeling ghostly, Pirates of the Caribbean is a good bet. There’s nothing creepier than his portrayal of Willy Wonka.From Hell is actually quite a good film about real-life monster Jack the Ripper. But my Depp pick would be Ed Wood, hands down-the lovely and loving portrait of the world’s worst auteur. It brings together so many of these classic monsters-creatures from lagoons, outer space, West Los Angeles-even Bela Lugosi himself.
This list of movies has kept things spooky and ooky around here and looks to continue to do so pretty much through Thanksgiving.