I am certainly not a fan of horror films. I have never understood the human desire to be scared, whether it be at the movies or at the amusement park on a roller coaster. These are thrills I do not seek. Call me dull, whatever.
However, I do have a few suggestions for Halloween-y movies to watch tonight. If you are like me, you turn off the lights and pretend you are not home and spend the evening watching a movie. Call me dull, whatever.
1. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
In this romantic story set in the early 1900s, young widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) moves to the seaside English village of Whitecliff despite the fierce disapproval of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. She falls in love with and rents Gull Cottage, where she takes up residence with her young daughter Anna and her devoted maid Martha. On the first night, she is visited by the ghostly apparition of the former owner, a roguish sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), who “allows” her to stay. Eventually they write a book together which saves her from financial disaster. I say this a lot I know, but truly, they do not make movies like this anymore: low-key, touching and, yes, romantic. I watched this movie recently and it made me cry.
2. Signs (2002)
Signs is my favorite film in the M. Night Shyamalan oeuvre. Written and directed by the brilliant Shyamalan, it was scary the first time I saw it, but not so much now. However, it is worth watching over and over, because it is also a great movie about an Episcopal priest who has lost his faith. Yes, there is a lot more to this movie than extraterrestrials! By the end of the movie (spoiler alert!) the hero/minister has found his faith again and donned his collar, having saved his family from extraterrestrials in the bargain. Mel Gibson (not a favorite of mine) is really good in this movie, as are Joaquin Phoenix and, as the children, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. I saw this movie recently and it made me cry.
3. and 4. Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989)
In the first Ghostbuster movie misfit parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Ackroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) lose their jobs at Columbia University and establish a paranormal extermination/investigation service known as “Ghostbusters”. They go on to save New York City. In the sequel (which unlike most sequels, is pretty darn good) they save NYC again and all is once again well in the world. Also I should note that these movies are funny without being overly vulgar. There is a funny joke about a guy being “Dick-less”, but it is pretty restrained by today’s standards.
Venkman: Or you can accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean,”biblical”?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff!
Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Venkman: Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!
Mayor: Enough, I get the point! And what if you’re wrong?
Venkman: If we’re wrong, then nothing happens! We go to jail; peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it! But if we’re right, and we can stop this thing… Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.
Please Note: This movie will not make you cry, unless you laugh ’til you cry.
Do you have any suggestions? Young Frankenstein (1973)? The Addams Family (1991)? What will you be watching? Personally, I may hunker down and binge-watch Angel, Season One.
If you are not in the Halloween mood at all, you could choose to celebrate the birthday of the late, great John Candy (October 31, 1950 – March 4, 1994), who is a particular favorite of mine, by watching one of his movies.
Recently I was channel surfing and found Uncle Buck (1989) which I watched for awhile. I laughed so hard I was literally (literally) weeping during one scene where Candy goes into the empty Men’s Room at an elementary school and finds a wall of mini urinals. The man was a comic genius. I should note that the OM watched this scene with the great stone face, never breaking so much as a smile. He was not amused. What can I say? To each his own.
*Bill Murray in Ghostbusters