Ah, Halloween. That special day of the year when the streets are filled with children dressed as disney characters begging for candy and annoying teenagers are out wandering aimlessly. That actually sounds terrible, so you better just stay inside and watch movies! If you’re simply tired of the horror classics, the I Remember It Fondly gang has got you covered with a roundup of their favorite spooky cinema.
Disclaimer: What follows is not a list of the great horror films of our time. No, that’s another article altogether. This is simply a gathering of the most nostalgia-inducing scary flicks that the IRIF gang grew up with. These are the most wonderfully demented, cringingly campy and IRIF-iest of horror films from a simpler time.
Army of Darkness (1992)
The movie that made me a Bruce Campbell fan for life, Army of Darkness is equal parts comedy, horror and fantasy. Ash gets sucked through a portal in the woods, delivering him to King Arthur’s court with nothing but his chainsaw hand and his “boomstick.” His quest to get back to his own time sees him joining the medieval forces to battle the titular horde of undead. A lot of people might rank Evil Dead before this Ash outing, but come on—two Ashes are better than one!
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Yes, Ernest is campy. Yes, Ernest is dumb. However, I think you’ll agree that he’s at his best when he’s scared stupid. In the fourth movie of the franchise, Ernest joins forces with the neighborhood kids to stop a group of trolls from turning everyone into little clay figures. This was a film that I loved watching as a kid, and to this day, I still refer to milk as “miak.”
The Monster Squad (1987)
Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Monster Squad, it’s imperative that you add it to your October watchlist this year. A rag-tag gang of adolescents must summon their courage to take on the biggest monsters of pop-culture: Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, The Mummy, and of course, Dracula. Did you know that “Wolfman’s got nards?” You do now.
Pet Sematary 2 (1992)
Where I would argue that the first Pet Sematary is legitimately creepy, Pet Sematary 2 is the most made-for-TV-iest of sequels there could be, and that’s it’s charm. Edward Furlong buries his dead dog in cursed ground rumored to reanimate whatever is put in. It comes back… different. So, why not bury more things there, like people!
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
This was one of those films that legitimately scared me, but for some reason, I kept watching. Wes Craven gives us a disturbing look at that one house on the block that you know is hiding something terrible. The film that first introduced me to the concept of a ‘gimp,’ The People Under the Stairs doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in popular culture. Probably because there are no zombies in it. Whatever.
While there were many movie and cartoon spin offs; this original takes the cake. A “ghost therapist” and his daughter move into a mansion to settle the spirits that dwell within it: Casper and his three ghostly uncles. Casper is honestly one of the first movies I have vivid memories of watching as a kid, and the visuals still hold up pretty well. To this day, I still need an Up and Att’em Machine in my life!
To be completely honest, I have (and continued to love) everything and anything Tim Burton. Beetlejuice is no exception. Barbara and Adam find themselves recently deceased and they must rely on Beetlejuice to rid their home of the new family that has moved in. I may or may not have waned to be Lydia as a kid…From the absurdly priceless humor to the gothic costumes and design, this is a classic for anyone. You’re SERIOUSLY missing out if you’ve never had shrimp dinner set to “Day-O”.
No nostalgic Halloween list is complete without Halloweentown. A family of witches must stop an evil warlock from changing all humans into their Halloween costumes. Disney’s most popular made for TV movies just happened to be their Halloween movies and this one tops the list. I don’t know about you, but Halloweentown was at the top of my destination wishlist. I always wish my grandmother would’ve taken me broom shopping. Adult or child, this was always a Halloween tradition in my household.
The Frighteners (1996)
First off, who doesn’t love Michael J. Fox? Michael J. Fox plays a psychic investigator (a.k.a “A God damned spoon bender”) that enlists the help of some ghosts to discover the reason behind some recent, local deaths. While some of the effects don’t necessarily hold up; the film is beyond hilarious. I am so glad I watched this film as an adult to truly appreciate the humor. Do yourself a favor and check out this film!
There is no choice but to have a love/hate relationship with Slither. It’s one of those horror movies that we love due to the absurdness of it, but it’s perfect to get one in the Halloween spirit. Nathan Fillion? Check. Samantha Banks? Check. Daryl’s brother from The Walking Dead? Check. A small town is taken over by a alien plague that makes people into zombie like creatures that form together to make the hentai monster from your nightmares. And Samantha Banks is into it. Kind of. If you’re in the mood for a creature feature, give it a shot!
Delaila: Hocus Pocus (1993)
Hocus Pocus is one of the lighter, feel-good Halloween movies that puts the whole family in the spirit. Witches and trick-or-treating in Salem never seemed so fun. My favorite scene was when the three witches performed “I put a spell on you!” I also can’t get enough of black kitty cats. Honorable Mention: Beetlejuice is tied with being my favorite.
Sara: Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is one of the most bizarre examples of neo-gothic cinema that oddly works to convey both the melodrama and fear of the genre. Police Constable Ichabod Crane sets off to the town of Sleepy Hollow in order to discover the identity of a serial decapitator. What follows is a tale of blood, family, and loss, all done in period costume. This 1999 movie boasts the talents of Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Landon, Christopher Lee, and more. Of note is Christopher Walken, the most bizarre choice for the Headless Horseman, who ultimately delivers the most fitting performance of all.
Teen Witch (1989)
1989’s Teen Witch was desperate to bank off of the good will of Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf, but failed to achieve the same critical and commercial success. Louise Miller is a teenaged nobody, the kind that accidentally hands in fanfiction as homework, who becomes a witch on her 16th birthday. Only once she is able to conjure popularity, love, and the “best” of 1980s fashion does Louise learn that the true magic was inside her all along. A cult classic that likely kicked off the witch craze of the 1990s, the moment that sealed this film’s fate as the weirdest of supernatural teen dramadies comes when it breaks out into the whitest rap battle ever written, entitled Top That!