Halloween has never been a particularly fun holiday for me. I don’t have the patience or artistic ability to make a good costume, I overeat Halloween candy which makes for a rough November, and I am the type of person who would give Top Ramen to trick-or-treaters because there is no way on God’s green Earth those little munchkins are getting their hands on my precious candy. This makes it difficult for me to engage in any sort of Halloween-themed movie parties, and If you’re anything like me, this can be problematic as you try to find friends to hang out with on Halloween, but you’re too much of a pansy to watch something that is legitimately scary. Luckily there are a plethora of “scary” movies that can appeal to the “wannabe scardies” and the “playing it safers.”
THE SLASHER FLICK: The Scream Series
The brilliant mind of Wes Craven put his name on the horror movie spectrum with the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. These were deemed “real” horror movies and have gone down in history as some of the most iconic scary movies of all time. When he created the first “Scream” movie in 1996, showed off his spectacular horror chops in a new way. Each of the four movies followed a set of incredibly unintelligent teenagers who are hunted down by a serial killer in a “ghostface mask,” which has more commonly been recognized as the “Scream mask.”
The reason these movies are so great is that they blend horror elements with a sort of parody aspect. These movies don’t go to the same sense of parody as “Scary Movie” or “A Haunted House”, and that’s why they are successful. “Scream” has all of the typical tropes that are in slasher flicks, from the tense jump scare moments when the killer can’t be seen, to the shrill soundtrack, to the characters being outright dumb. Because of these tropes, the franchise feels like horror movies. However, through close observation, the movies are incredibly self-aware, which adds a sort of comedic effect, thus making them appropriate for any audience who views them. You can rent “Scream” for just $2.99 on Amazon.
THE CREEPY WOODS MOVIE: Cabin in the Woods
“Cabin in the Woods” takes the same sort of approach to parodies as the “Scream” movies, although it hits it slightly more on the nose. In Joss Whedon’s brilliant take on the genre as a whole, the audience is seemingly instantly introduced to two different sets of people: an underground government agency and a group of college-aged adults. For the first half of a movie, it’s sort of a mystery what the point of the government agency is. As the movie progresses, the plan of the agency unfolds and the audience is treated to a brilliant realization that they have been subjected to every single horror movie in the past thirty years, which is where the parodic feel of the movie starts to come into effect.
The plot of these individuals is similar to countless horror movies. The five of them, a “dumb blonde,” a stoner, an athlete, a smart guy and a smart girl, take a trip to a cabin in the woods that one of the characters randomly found out about. When they get there, things seem normal until they tamper with something mysterious in the basement of the cabin. This is where things start getting wild for them, as the relic they tinkered with raises zombies (or a zombie redneck torture family if I’m trying to be accurate) start picking off the characters. Although this seems like a normal horror movie plot, there are many differences that make it a satire.
“Cabin in the Woods” is similar to “Scream” as it is a parody of horror movies without throwing itself into the realm of stupidity. However, “Cabin in the Woods” is a parody of the genre as a whole with countless references to every famous horror movie and monster in the past thirty years. The horror elements are abundant in the first three quarters of the movie, which makes it appealing to horror audiences, but it has enough comedic elements to make it watchable for the faint of heart. You can rent “Cabin in the Woods” for just $2.99 on Amazon.
THE GORE-FEST ZOMBIE MOVIE: Shaun of the Dead
The final not scary “scary movie” falls into the infamous zombie genre that provides the graphic violence and gore that comes with the genre while keeping things light hearted. Deemed the original Zombieland, “Shaun of the Dead” is a light-hearted British take on the zombie gore-fest genre of horror movies. The movie follows Shaun, who is a deadbeat manager of a technology store and his friends as they attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse in Britain. They ultimately end up hiding in a pub in order to fight off the incoming horde of the undead.
“Shaun of the Dead” acts as more of a comedy than a horror movie, but does so in a way where the typical appeals of a zombie movie, jump scares, gore and massive agoraphobia, still exist but don’t command the movie as much as the zany british comedy. While it may not be what a lot of horror fans are looking for on Halloween, given that there aren’t any real scares in the movie, it serves as a great comedic experience that can be viewed on Halloween for a group of people who would rather be laughing than frightened. You can rent “Shaun of the Dead” on Amazon for $2.99.