Sunday, June 16, 2024

Missing Halloween? Here are some throwbacks to extend the holiday

MosaicCreative ContentMissing Halloween? Here are some throwbacks to extend the holiday

Last month, four brave Mosaic writers (Danny Tull, Caroline Powell, Jeni Nance and Alex Lavinson), ventured through time and space to curate a collection of their favorite films from Halloween’s past. Although Halloween has passed for the year, you might be missing the spooky season already. No worries! We’ve got you covered with some Halloween throwbacks that are fun to watch any time of the year.

1. “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005, Netflix) – Danny Tull

Being a bit of a scaredy-cat, I decided to start my challenge with the tamest of the films on the list: “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” I must say, I’ve been missing out. This movie isn’t very scary. Rather, it’s energetic. 

The film is about Wallace and Gromit, rabbit catchers on the hunt for the were-rabbit they accidentally created. While attempting to mind-control the rabbits into hating carrots, Wallace’s device backfires, creating the monstrous beast in his basement. Desecrating the gardens of the townspeople, the were-rabbit poses a huge problem to the upcoming vegetable contest. As an agriculture major, seeing all of the townspeoples’ hard work in the garden go to waste gave me shivers and excitement. Shoutout to my dawg Gromit, who had to sacrifice the giant watermelon he grew himself. 

Wallace and Gromit have such a fun dynamic, with Gromit (a literal dog) using more common sense than his “smart” inventor owner. My favorite scene is when Gromit shakes his head calmly as he prohibits another dog from getting into his car, all while the dog’s owners are being attacked by the were-rabbit. The film includes love, action, thrills and a plot twist that will have you jumping in your seat from excitement. I highly recommend it as a silly start to your marathon.

2. “Girl vs. Monster” (2012, Disney+) – Jeni Nance

First airing in 2012 for Disney Channel’s “Monstober” marathon, I watch “Girl vs. Monster” annually during spooky season. As a kid, I remember always looking forward to “Monstober”  – a month of nightly Halloween movies – specifically for this film.

This Disney Channel original movie is about a girl named Skylar Lewis (played by Olivia Holt),  who discovers she is a fifth-generation monster hunter. After accidentally releasing a dangerous group of monsters from her parents’ lab, she has to face a fear she hasn’t had to confront for the past 15 years. The rest of the film follows Skylar and her friends, Sadie and Henry (played by Kerris Dorsey and Brendan Meyer, respectively), conquering their fears in order to save Skylar’s parents and defeat the monsters. 

What I love about the movie is how nostalgic it feels to watch. It is definitely on the cheesier side and has its cringey moments, but that’s to be expected with Disney. Despite its quirks, it’s not one I’m willing to pass up when I’m deciding on what Halloween movies I want to watch. 

3. “Twitches” (2005, Disney +) – Danny Tull

“Twitches” is an all-time Halloween favorite in my household. Any movies about magical kingdoms, especially starring people of color, were both rare but highly embraced by my sister and I growing up. The adventures of two siblings saving a magical realm in distress using their newfound magic powers was something we both could relate to. 

What’s weird about this film is that although it’s a Disney Channel original movie, the main characters–Alex and Camryn (played by Tia and Tamera Howry, respectively)–are celebrating their 21st birthdays. Watching this as a child, I could not relate to their adult struggles. They were talking about getting jobs, driving around in luxurious cars, shopping at expensive stores and generally learning how to be adults. Now that I’m older, however, I can agree that adulting is pretty scary.

The Twitches’ (twin witches) “magic” allowed for a lot of mischievous but fun moments. The plot is largely a dark story of how the Twitches’ secret magical kingdom is plagued by an evil dark spirit. This spirit killed their father and made them refugees in the “real world” with real stakes. In one scene, a customer at a restaurant is being annoying and loud, so the main characters of the film make his drink explode. There is a lot of magic and mayhem throughout the film. 

The film isn’t very scary, and the CGI effects are similar to other 2000s shows and films. An oldie but goodie, this film is still a nostalgic Halloween favorite for me.

4. “Monster House” (2006 , Hulu) – Danny Tull

If a creepy old guy named Nebbercracker in your neighborhood tells you to stay away from his house, I’d go ahead and listen to him. Otherwise, you’re going to end up getting trapped inside and find out that his house is alive. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to experience that. Although maybe that’s the stuff that you’re into – no judgment here.

This movie somewhat traumatized me as a kid and still makes me unsettled as an adult. Since watching the film, I haven’t enjoyed walking past old houses in nice neighborhoods. My fear of the house coming to life and chasing me is real. The film’s backstory of Nebbercracker’s wife being buried alive beneath the house and being able to visibly see her corpse in the basement is something that I may need to talk about in therapy.

The dated CGI animation of “Monster House” is basically the king of the uncanny valley. The human designs are basic, but the limited movement of human actors in motion capture suits make the characters seem like they’re possessed 24/7. This increases the creepy factor a lot, so great job, animators.

5. “Coraline” (2009, MAX) – Caroline Powell 

The first time I watched “Coraline,” I was about 10 years old, and my uncle insisted that I watch it because the main character’s name was similar to mine. I remember falling in love with the movie, making my uncle press replay at least 20 times. Since then, it has been in my top three favorite childhood movies. 

The movie follows a young girl named Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who has just moved into a strange town called Ashland, Oregon, with her parents. Both of her parents are busy with work, meaning they rarely have time to play with Coraline. As days go on, she meets her wacky neighbors and learns more about the apartment building she’s residing in. 

One night, she wakes up to mice going through a small door in her house. She follows the mice through the door, where she enters another world with “Other” parents. Despite her “Other” Mother having buttons for eyes, Coraline really likes being around her “Other” Mother and “Other” Father in this “Other” World. But underneath it all, there’s a dark secret that challenges Coraline to make drastic decisions in order to save the ones she cares about. 

This movie has raised many questions and theories about the Coraline universe. Its style and animations have made it a Halloween classic for movie lovers. However, as an adult, I would say the plot is a lot scarier than I remember it being as a kid. 

6. “Totally Killer” (2023, Amazon Prime Video) – Jeni Nance

The first time I caught wind of this movie was actually on TikTok. I was scrolling through my feed and stumbled upon a clip from the movie, which was just released this year. The few clips I had seen made the film seem like a fun comedy with a bit of a gory twist. I also didn’t watch the trailer, so I didn’t realize “Totally Killer” was truly a horror film until I watched it. 

The movie is about a girl named Jamie (played by Kiernan Shipka), whose mother is murdered by a serial killer that resurfaces 35 years after his first killing spree. She has to travel back to 1987, where she meets her teenage mom.  They work together to try to catch the killer in order to prevent the murders from happening in the future. 

Overall, I thought the film was really funny and a solid beginner movie for those who are interested in horror but get scared really easily. There are a number of jump scares throughout the movie, but there’s nothing that will make you wet your pants too bad. 

7. “Hereditary” (2018, MAX) – Alex Lavinson

Despite “Hereditary” only being five years old, filmmaker Ari Aster’s sinister debut has already been cemented in spooky season history. It’s a film so notorious for its terrifying content that it has accumulated an entire subsection of moviegoers reluctant to even watch it. But to me, calling “Hereditary” scary is only beginning to scratch the surface on what makes it so special.

At its core, “Hereditary” is a drama depicting a family’s battle with grief and mental health in the aftermath of a tragedy. For the most part, it’s grounded and reminiscent of what it’s actually like to experience unimaginable trauma, whether through its cold and empty atmosphere or brewing insanity and delusion.

It isn’t until the family’s misery is ignored, tampered with and flat-out denied that the demons come out to play, with the film’s final act blending surrealist imagery and supernatural consequences. “Hereditary” is certainly one of the best horror movies in recent memory.




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