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Valley Vertigo: Living vicariously through trick-or-treat-themed films
Valley Vertigo

Valley Vertigo: Living vicariously through trick-or-treat-themed films

Remember the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Jimmy Stewart runs around Bedford Falls yelling “Merry Christmas” to everyone in town?

That’s how I respond to the Halloween season.

The crispness of the air, the socially-accepted spooky decorations in front lawns, the seasonal candy — It’s the best time of the year.

Though this year may not feel as Halloweeny as past years on account of the heat, the smoke and the nameless dread that comes with presidential elections, it’s always good to get into the Halloween spirit with a good movie.

Curling up under covers with a bowl of popcorn and a bag of candy corn is a tremendous way to spend an October evening.  And, due to the pandemic and the government’s restrictions on trick-or-treating, it may actually be the only way to spend an October evening.

Here’s a list of some of great streamable movies that take place on Halloween. The pandemic may have put a damper on trick-or-treating this year, but we can celebrate Halloween vicariously through the characters in the following films.

“Hubie Halloween” (2020):    Just the mere mention of an Adam Sandler film may be enough to get some people to panic and hide under the covers. I mean, have you seen “The Ridiculous 6?” Terrifying.  However, as a person who has sworn off Sandler movies somewhere around 2000’s “Little Nicky,” it pleases me to announce that the comedian’s newest Netflix offering is full of Halloween spirit, heart and laughs.  In the film, Sandler plays a socially awkward mama’s boy (of course) who pledges to protect the town of Salem on trick-or-treat night.

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966):  For the first time in 54 years, this classic Charlie Brown cartoon will be aired on broadcast television. Instead, it’s streaming on Apple TV+ as part of a corporate deal. Good grief.

“The WNUF Halloween Special” (2013): A found-footage film that allegedly shows a local news channel’s lost Halloween special wherein a local news crew gets more than they bargained for while investigated a haunted house.  The story itself is spooky and done well, but the real star is the film’s retro commercial breaks. The whole feel of the project perfectly recreates those childhood Halloween nights where you hoped to see something really scary. 

“Halloween” (1978): John Carpenter’s breakthrough hit not only launched the slasher genre that dominated the 1980s, but was so scary that babysitters could reasonably request hazard pay after seeing it.  While fairly tame by today’s standards, this may not be ideal for younger kids.

“Ernest Scared Stupid” (1991): Everyone’s favorite commercial spokesman-turned-movie star, Ernest P. Worrell does battle with a troll on Halloween.  Thanks to amazing special effects and hammy performances, this is has been a Halloween staple in my home for decades. Jim Varney is a national treasure. 

“Donnie Darko” (2001): Another film that probably won’t interest youngsters — due to both adult subject matter and the fact that they’d probably be super bored by its surreal psychological drama — “Donnie Darko” asks the question: what would you do if a giant rabbit told you the world was ending? The film takes place around the presidential election of 1988, a parallel which makes the film even more intriguing to watch this year.

“Boo! A Madea Halloween” (2016): I saw this movie on a whim and expected to hate it based on preconceived notions that I had about writer/director Tyler Perry being a one-note hack, but it quickly won me over. Equal parts scares, comedy, family drama and heart, the movie is a surprising amount of fun — especially if you find foul-mouthed old folks humorous. 

Parker Bowman is the editor of The Hanford Sentinel, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ Parker_THS or send an email to PBowman@HanfordSentinel.com

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