Halloween movies span genres

By Staff Report

MCT CampusGory movies with terrifying story lines have come back out of the cabinet and into the DVD player to help create an atmosphere reminiscent of the fearful season.

These movies are largely segmented by hands turned into blindfolds and terrifying journeys to relieve an overworked bladder for those easily frightened by horror films.

Many dread the Halloween film scene. Luckily there are alternatives: parodies of horror films and science fiction, such as Richard O’Brien’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“Rocky Horror Picture Show”

The film follows the misadventures of a prim couple, Brad and Janet. On an ominous, stormy night, they become stranded with a flat tire and are forced to a nearby castle in search of a telephone.

This castle, as the newly engaged couple soon discovers, houses an outlandish crowd of people scantily clad and in celebration. While the group’s leader — a transsexual scientist, Frank — is hospitable enough to allow the couple into his home, the others somehow cannot find it in their hearts to loan the frightened couple a phone. Instead, they are determined to guide Brad and Janet on a journey of self-discovery and sexual freedom — a journey that leads the audience on their own path of discovery, both about themselves and about Frank and his followers.

Not to worry, though. Each odd and sometimes horrifying twist is accompanied with an upbeat performance — “I’m a sweet transvestite!” Frank proclaims in song — as a reminder that the film shouldn’t be taken more seriously than the holiday. So, for those of you just trying to survive until the Christmas movies are unveiled, try “Rocky Horror.” No one has ever been too frightened by a musical.

“Night of the Living Dead”

Just like the zombies in this classic horror film, “Night of the Living Dead” refuses to die.

Set in rural Pennsylvania, the film follows Ben and Barbra along with five others, who are all trapped in a farmhouse, attempting to fend off a horde of zombies. Pretty standard, right?

Back in 1968 when director George Romero’s soon-to-be-horror classic premiered in Pittsburgh’s Fulton Theater, movies starring our favorite brain-dead villains were not as widespread as they are today, allowing “Night of the Living Dead” to claim the title of zombie movie pioneer. The film also set the tone for blood, gore and all-around nastiness, earning itself a place in the hearts of horror movie fans, along with a backlash from those who weren’t as happy with the gruesomeness of the film — one of the reasons why the Motion Picture Association of America developed a film rating system one month later.

Ultimately, the legion of fans “Night of the Living Dead” amassed rivaled the amount of zombies in the film, as the independent film went on to gross over $250 million to date, earning itself a spot in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry and in movie history.

Pittsburgh is still at the forefront of the zombie movement 50 years later, playing host to the Walk of the Dead, which set the world record for largest zombie walk with 894 participants on Oct. 29, 2006, at Monroeville Mall. This record was broken shortly after by the second annual Pittsburgh Walk of the Dead, which had 1,028 participants in October of 2007. Since then, new records have taken its place, but Pittsburgh will always be the first.


When we think about epic cinematic struggles between good and evil — Jedi vs. Sith, Gondor vs. Mordor, Will Smith vs. Aliens — we are mistaken to leave out the world-historic struggle between Marnie and Kalabar — the town’s mayor — that unfolds in “Halloweentown,” the 1998 Disney Channel film.

From beginning to end, “Halloweentown” embodies the qualities that made Disney Channel originals, such as “Smart House” and “Brink,” excellent forays into made-for-TV films. Following the exploits of 13-year-old witch-in-training Marnie, this coming-of-age story captures all of the horrid wit and vague cliches that make a terrible movie great. Despite itself, it is a joy to watch.

Although Marnie’s grandmother seeks to train her in magic, her mother refuses to allow her to learn the antiquated magical arts. What follows is a magical journey typical of the golden age of Disney Channel movies.

Although neither scary nor complex, this Halloween movie is a classic because of its light-hearted tone and age-friendly silliness.

“Edward Scissorhands”

Tim Burton has created many classics over the years, but this ’90s film holds a consistent fan base because of its compelling and not-too-spooky plot.

“Edward Scissorhands” chronicles the story an unlikely character who happens to have scissors for hands. Edward Scissorhands is a gentle man who was gifted with an unusual physical attribute. He falls in love with Kim while he attempts to acclimate himself to society. And despite his desperate attempt to blend into a world where each person has skin-covered fingers rather than those made of shears — Edward even works in a beauty parlor as the ideal hair cutter — the film demonstrates that outcasts sometimes remain separate from the rest of the world.

But this film isn’t just a quaint attempt to eliminate bullying. “Edward Scissorhands” sheds light on frequent misconceptions people make about others based solely on appearances. Edward’s appearance, although somewhat frightening given his facial scars and wild black hair, does not reflect his personality at all. Edward is a gentle human with an unfortunate disposition, and those around him are unable to see past his physical disfigurement.

“Edward Scissorhands” isn’t a particularly scary movie, but the eerie darkness that Burton evokes in all of his films definitely resonates from the ghost-like characters and paranormal features. The fact that Edward comes from a dusty old castle — not necessarily the most comforting of movie settings — alongside the other darker elements and themes that plague the film helps to create a spooky atmosphere. Still, the movie has humorous moments that keep the plot light and make Edward one of cinema’s favorite misfits.

Though the film ends on a melancholy note, this movie still leaves its viewers with a sweet taste.