Because it's October and All I Want to Do is Watch Movies Under a Blanket with Tea and Pumpkin-shape
October is most definitely my favorite month. No, it's not my birth month, it's Halloween month. It is the month of black cats, witch hats, caldrons of candy, wearing masks, ghouls and goblins, dancing skeletons, dead leaves, and really, all things dark and macabre. I LOVE dark and macabre. And I take advantage of the *whole* month (as our new neighbors learn every time we move). Forget the bullshit in the stores where they begin selling Halloween candy in August, I mean that on October 1st, out come tombstones for the yard, gargoyles that watch over the porch, black candelabras with black candles in them. And Halloween town. This is a spooktacular town I've been slowly adding to since I moved into my first apartment. Some years were slim (you know, monetarily) and some less so, but each year I have added at least one small thing. Last year's addition was a light-up winery called "Blood of the Vine" with little barrels of blood and bottles of different blood vintages. Adorable. But that's not what I wanted to focus on for this post; I want to talk about movies.
Though I love the classic monster movies and monster B movies (bless your shriveled, lifeless heart, Ed Wood, you made some of the best), every year, without fail, I will watch a short list of animated Halloween movies. I would like to share a portion of this list with you. If you have not seen these movies, I highly recommend them. Yes, all of them. Seriously, have a binge movie day or maybe take a week off from work and pace yourself. (you have no idea how often I wish all normal life responsibilities would stop during October so I could devote my time to monster movies, stop motion animation, Halloween crafts, and baking pumpkin-flavored goodies).
1. Frankenweenie (2013)
When it comes down to it, this is just your classic love story of a child and his dead dog. Who wouldn't want to keep their best canine friend forever? (but not in the horrid Pet Cemetary way, thank you very much Mr. King.) I've actually been a fan of this story since first seeing Tim Burton's 1984 short film as an extra on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD 15 years ago.
One of my favorite things about the full length version (aside from no Shelley Duvall) is how weird all the kids are. It's not your regular, poor-unathletic-smart kid who everyone picks on protagonist. The rest of the kids in school are equally (if not more so) bizarre. I want them all to be my best friends.
2. Monster House (2006)
The house is literally a monster. It's not a house where monsters live, the house is a monster that tries to eat children who trespass on the lawn. Does anymore even need to be said?
3. Coraline (2009)
No joke, this movie is kinda fucked up. I mean, it is supremely beautiful, with dancing old lady mermaids, a fleet of angel dogs, an awesome grumpy black cat, and people's whose souls have been stolen and their eyes are replaced with buttons. Wait, whaaaaat!? Yes. Buttons for eyes. And evil parents who want to do the button sewing. I think this movie tapped into at least half of the deepest nightmares that live inside the child trapped in my grown-up body.
4. ParaNorman (2012)
So, I know that a lot of these movies are from the 2000's, but something happened during the first decade of this century that made it so these frightening and wonderful films could be made. Maybe Tim Burton finally got to a level of power in Hollyweird that he just started producing everything that he wished he'd written . . . whatever the reason, I am grateful. And ParaNorman is at the top of my list. Again, genuinely creepy and surprisingly violent for a kids movie, while also being incredibly well-written and endearing. The protagonist doesn't just see dead people, they are his community, some of the people who care for him most outwardly. As a bonus, one of the significant plot points has to do with the power of telling stories.
5. Corpse Bride (2005)
I haven't seen The Book of Life yet (it's on my list of October activities), but based on the trailers, they definitely used Corpse Bride's representation of the afterlife as inspiration for the vibrancy and romantic nature of the world of the dead. Based on a 19th century Russion folktale, Corpse Bride tells the story of a man who accidentally marries a corpse. It's like your worst Tuesday made manifest through Johnny Depp's terrible British-y narration. For reals, who isn't afraid of accidentally marrying a corpse? It's sorta a musical too. So double awesome points.
Clearly this is by no means an exhaustive list. And you may even be saying to yourself, hold up! Why isn't the Nightmare Before Christmas on this list? Clearly that is one of the greatest animated (technically stop-motion-animation) Halloween movies (though some naysayers argue it is a Christmas movie - I spit on that argument), and in fact, I would argue that it is the BEST animated Halloween movie. But that argument is long and what I'm working on for my next blog post. Yes, it will get its own post. Just wait.