Top 11 New Halloween Classics
October 14, 2014
(The Nostalgia-Ween 2014 opening plays out)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. We all know the Halloween classics that we watch every year.
(Images of classic Halloween movies and specials are shown)
NC: (v/o) From the old Universal monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein, to the 80s slashers like Freddy and Jason, to even kids' specials like Charlie Brown and The Nightmare Before Christmas. But the great thing about Halloween is we keep trying to push it further and further, and sure enough, over the years, some new classics have evolved.
(Footage of more newer Halloween movies and specials are shown)
NC: (v/o) The criteria for them isn't super-specific. It doesn't have to be a certain time-frame, very well known, or even necessarily a good product beginning to end. But they do have to be drenched in something new, something unique, something you can just look at and think one word: Halloween. We're counting down the all-time best new Halloween classics, and trust me when I say the best one doesn't disappoint.
NC: We're here to make the Top 11 Obscure Halloween films even less obscure! Why Top 11? Because I like to go one step beyond. So, sit back and enjoy the Top 11 New Halloween Classics!
(An image of a haunted house in the middle of a stormy night is shown as we see the list's title. The image of the haunted house will serve as the countdown's interlude)
NC: (v/o) The Saw movies. I'm not going to lie, I'm not a fan of these films. Even the first one, I didn't like so much. There's a million things that didn't make sense about it. You want more detail why? Go watch CinemaSins. But that doesn't mean I don't see why these movies became a staple of Halloween. The concept of each film is there's a killer known as Jigsaw, and he sets up death traps where, if you wish to get away with your life, you have to do something horrible; like kill another person, cut off a body part, or, heck, even force a terrible American accent.
(Cut to a scene of Lawrence Gordon and Adam Faulkner in the bathroom from Saw 1)
Lawrence: Technically speaking, he's not really a murderer.
NC: (v/o) Why, he sounds as American as Tommy Wiseau. The idea of torture horror certainly existed long before this film, but not only was this the one that made it mainstream, but it was also the one that people put themselves in the situation. "What would I do if I was there? Would I go through the terrible deed or would I rather let death take its toll?" The film was so popular that the demand for sequels, every Halloween, was always met. For several years, there wasn't a Halloween that went by without a Saw film. Hell, they even worked it into their advertising. Even if people thought the movie was going to suck, they had a tradition going and they always associate it with the holiday.
(A fan-made Saw poster called "Saw 850 Billion" is shown)
NC: (v/o) Even if it was the number eight hundred-fifty billion, as long as the word Saw was in front of it, there would always be an audience. The Jigsaw puppet (aka Billy) has also worked its way into the lineup of classic Halloween villains. Whenever you know that image, you know exactly who he is and what movie he came from. Whether you get wrapped up in the stories or not, there's no doubt about it that the Saw films have certainly left their mark, and chances are it's one that won't be healing anytime soon.
Jigsaw: (v/o on tape) You have given people the news that they're going to die soon. Now, you...will be the cause of death.
NC: (v/o) Halloween III: The Season of the Witch. Many hated this film when it first came out, and I'm not gonna lie, I did, too. Not only does it have nothing to do with the first two Halloween movies, which was later revealed that the producers wanted each movie to be a different story; but if that was the case, how come the first two continued the same story?
NC: (v/o) But the film itself just seemed downright silly. We go from a story about a slasher to a film about witches...kind of...that use technology....kind of...that uses spells....kind of...to kill kids, because....kind of no real reason. Yeah, it's a pretty nonsensical setup, even if you want to accept it as its own film. But as time went by, I did find myself thinking back to it a lot. I do remember the characters, I do remember the visuals, and who the hell could ever forget that goddamn song?
Silver Shamrock song: Good morning to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Good morning to Halloween, Silver Shamrock.
NC: (v/o) When I stopped trying to take it so seriously, I found it actually had its own strange unique charm to it. It's surrounded in eighties decor, has all sorts of broody atmosphere, and, by God, there's just Halloween stuff everywhere; I mean, everywhere. In a way, I actually associated this movie more with Halloween than I do the first Halloween, simply because Halloween is all over the place. It's nowhere near as good as the first film. In fact, I think you could debate whether or not it's even a good film at all. But its love for the holiday, from the classic costumes, to the candy, to watching specials as a family, and some fucked up supernatural thing going on while watching it as a family...and, Christ, I had to view much, but...I have a past...it actually does kind of get you in the mood for the season. Maybe that's why it was called "Season of the Witch", because it's not meant to deliver a story about the holiday, but rather an essence of the holiday. And there's no doubt you can feel that essence of the season all throughout the film. Whatever your thoughts, you know you get sucked into the witching hour whenever it's played on TV. What can you say but... (Sings) Silver Shamrock?
Silver Shamrock song: Good morning to Halloween, Silver Shamrock.
NC: (v/o) The Paranormal Activity movies. Again, splitting a lot of audiences down the middle, the Paranormal Activity movies still manage to produce major creeps with little cost. While many see the (picture of..) Blair Witch Project as the film that made the found footage genre popular, it was definitely Paranormal Activity that kept it going. The film, about a couple whose house seems to be possessed by an evil entity, started out in very few theatres.
(Footage of various trailers of the first film are shown)
NC: (v/o) But word of mouth spread so fast that they actually worked into their advertising that people asked the movie theater owners for it. Yeah, isn't that weird? A commercial for a movie that's actually asking you to demand the movie in your movie theater. Can you remember another film commercial that's done that? Having never been really asked that by our TVs before, audiences shrugged and said "why not". They demanded to see the film in their theatres, and sure enough, it became a smash, resulting in sequel after sequel coming out. And, just like Saw, it came out every year during Halloween. But unlike Saw, these films were much easier and faster to make, because it relied on fewer production costs. If it looked like amateur filmmaking, that was fine, because it was supposed to look like amateur filmmaking. It made it more realistic. And its point of view action made many audience members feel like they were right there, experiencing the scares as the characters were witnessing it. Now, are they all good? Even the most die hard fan would probably say no. Me personally, I think 2 is the only one that was actually great from beginning to end. But even at its worst, every movie has something new and innovative to offer. The first one had scary subtlety, the second one had brilliant editing, the third one had the slow reveal of the moving camera, the fourth one had the clever use of the household appliances, and the fifth one....
NC: (unsure) Um...the acting was nice.
NC: (v/o) It's understandable if not everyone gets scared by these movies, but the new ways each film delivers a new kind of scare is really something to admire, even if you do got to sit through a lot of repeated cliches to get to them. Always keeping the dread high, the Paranormal Activity films knew how to scare an awful lot with an awful little.
NC: (v/o) Cabin in the Woods. I've never seen a film that had such a devoted fanbase of people who have dedicated themselves to not spoiling the movie. It's amazing. Anytime you talk to someone, they always say "I can't tell you anything about it; you just have to see it". And, in honor of that, I won't spoil it for you either. Though I do have to talk a little bit about it, but still, we'll keep this mostly spoiler-free. The Joss Whedon-written horror film relies much on surprise and twists. So like I said, I won't give too much away. What I can say is that on the surface, it looks like any other scary film. A bunch of college kids go to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and, of course, some supernatural evil tries to destroy them. Sounds basic enough, but as the film progresses, you find out very quickly that this is a love letter to not one, but every kind of horror movie ever made, and in a way you probably never would have expected. It tries everything to incorporate classic tropes through scares, humor, and damn clever writing. And honestly, to say any more would ruin the fun. And I think that's why so many people consider it such a unique scary movie. It's a film you enjoy having revealed to you, and you get excited the more and more you start to figure it out. When you do figure out what it's up to, you realize you're having such fun with the concept, and realize that, not only is it paying homage to so many scary genres, but it's practically creating its own. I don't know; I can't think of any other movies that have done specifically what this film has done, at least while still remaining a horror film. The discovery is too delicious to ruin, and I won't be the one to do it. Let's just say, it's a ton of fun if you know the secret, but it's even more fun if you don't. It works as both a great trick and treat on Halloween night.
Curt: No matter what happens, we have to stay together. (Brief pause) This is where we should split up.
Holden: Yeah, good idea.
(Something breaks through a wall, causing the characters to scream)
NC: (v/o) Oculus. Yep, this film is not even a year old, but already, it has the makings of a classic. From its advertising, it looks like any modern day horror film, but when you start to watch it, you realize how diabolically genius it is. A young man is released out of a mental institution where he is greeted by his sister. He was under the thought that a haunted mirror was responsible for the death of his parents, and was thus put away for it. Just as he's released, and he thinks he's gotten better, he discovers that the sister has found the mirror, and wishes to prove to the world that it is indeed haunted, murdering several people in the past, including their folks. What follows is an exercise in insanity, trying to figure out what's real and what's not. The idea of a haunted mirror is clever enough, but all throughout the movie, we have no idea if this thing is really possessed of if it's just our two heroes going crazy. The mirror apparently plays with your mental state, making you see one thing when something else is going on. The reason this is so ingenious is that the brother has spent years having it drilled in his head that it's not, and the sister has spent years totally convinced that it is, and is literally devoting her life to proving it. Both battle back and forth as we descend into the madness of the past, present, and even future of what's to come. We're seeing the story literally as they're remembering it, if they're even remembering it correctly. And they're constantly getting visions of what could happen to them, or maybe what will happen to them, but again, they have no idea if the cursed mirror is real, or if it's literally them sharing the exact same madness. Either way, they're both going crazier and crazier trying to figure it out. As such, we don't know either what's going on, and are terrified to see if they'll make it out if this alive or continue to torture themselves both physically and mentally, maybe to the death. You, too, have a hard time trying to figure out what's real or even where you are half the time. The line is so blurred that you share in the insanity and the paranoia of what's going on, constantly having to second guess everything, and keeping the suspense high. Even if you don't find it scary, it's a great psychological dive into the tortured mind of two siblings who don't know what's real anymore, transitioning the battle from the internal to the external. With great imagery, wonderful acting, and one hell of a great concept, Oculus may be recent, but I get the feeling its staying ability is gonna last for a long time.
NC: (v/o) Murder Party. You've probably never heard of this one, but trust me when I say it's worth the search. A low budget horror comedy, the film takes place on Halloween as a lonely nobody is given an invitation to a murder party. He has no idea what it is, so he decides to get in a costume and go ahead anyway. Without giving too much away, he's led to a location of the most insecure and pretentiously psychotic people you'll ever meet in your life, and the rest of the film is just him trying to figure out a way to use their own stupidity as a means to escape them. The whole film works as a messed up version of The Emperor's New Clothes, trying to use the second judgement of what's popular and what's not to try and gain superiority. But as the film goes on, you have no idea what each character's definition of superiority is, or how far they're willing to go to get it. One by one, we see a new level of idiocy revealed, and we, like our main character, try to figure out what degree these people are dangerous. Thus, he has to use his understanding of each person's moronic ways to figure out how to best them; even though he himself is not particularly smart. Think a conversation at the Mad Hatter's tea party, except instead of being seated in the chair, you're tied to it, and every action you make will either result in you living or dying. You're both on the edge of your seat and laughing your ass off as you watch these totally insane people try to act like they're one step ahead of the curve. High on creativity, gore, and, of course, a shitload of laughs, Murder Party is an invitation you want to resist, but can't help but eagerly attend.
NC: (v/o) Coraline. It's funny what Tim Burton started with The Nightmare Before Christmas. It seems every stop-motion movie released, though few there are, is trying to recreate that dark yet child-centered cult following that turned into big bucks with Jack Skellington. But, instead of turning into something that's boring and tired, every single film has demonstrated something that's creative and new. And Coraline is no exception. Directed by the same person who did Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline focuses on a girl who wishes she had a more interesting life. She finds a small door where, on the other end, seems to be exactly that. She has a new mother and father that seem just like the old ones, except they seem nicer and better. But as she continues to visit this world, it only gets more and more psychotic, and soon, it becomes an attempt to escape from the clutches of an evil demon. It's pretty much as batshit insane as it sounds. One of the joys of this family film is that there really is no perfect character. Everyone is at least a little bit selfish; even Coraline can be kind of mean-spirited. But at the same time, it's made clear when they realize they've gone too far, and when they realize who are the real monsters, and who are the ones they love. This is one of the few movies that actually warrants the PG-13 rating, but I mean that in good away. It's not just a G film with a swear word or a sneaky sex innuendo in there; it's definitely some extreme imagery with some extreme scary ideas, especially for kids. But at the same time, it still has the charm and timeless characters to make it continually watchable; characters that kids can easily relate to and enjoy viewing. At a time of the year when kids like to be scared, this is one to get them creeped out without having to go too gory. In fact, it's not gory at all; it's just scary imagery. The whole film is filled with rich environments, creative landscapes, and strange creatures. The cold colors are perfect for being welcoming one moment and terrifying the next; just what any little kid is looking for on Halloween. Intimidating and intense, but always coming back to the spirit of home, Coraline knows how to create a fantasy world with a dark edge.
NC: (v/o) Hotel Transylvania. As much as we all love to dump on Adam Sandler movies, I can clearly say this is one of his best films in years. Energized, spontaneous, romantic, and downright hilarious, this is one of the most realized renditions of what seems like a one-note idea. Count Dracula has opened a hotel where all of the classic monsters can be safe from the pitchforks of humanity. But his only daughter is restless, because she wants to leave and see the world. Overprotective of his child, Dracula is horrified to find a human, about her age, accidentally stumbles across the hotel and quickly falls in love with her. The rest of the film is trying to keep the human boy's identity a secret, while also trying to keep peace in his humble abode. There's too many good things to count in this movie. The characters are all memorable and funny, each with a unique identity, and mostly SNL alumni to voice them. The story balances out fast and timeless jokes with surprisingly dramatic and heartfelt moments as well.
(Footage mainly focusing on the film's fast-paced animation is shown)
NC: (v/o) The animation, amazing. This is some of the quickest and most energized movement I've ever seen onscreen. Every action is filled with sharp and distinct motion. Every character has a distinct walk, every character has distinct movement. But again, it never goes too far to interrupt the slower, emotional moments.
(Footage focusing on Count Dracula is shown)
NC: (v/o) Sandler as Dracula sounds like a horrible choice, but again, he brings a real heart and passion to it, making him completely irresistible. Look at that smile. How can you not light up whenever he makes that face? What should have been a non-motivating idea takes advantage of every joke and every opportunity that can be done with it, turning out to be one of the most hyperactive animated movies ever. It's just always on, it's just always moving. It never lets up, except for the moments where the characters' turmoil needs to shine through, and that's done pretty good as well. Its ambition is only matched by the dedication of its crew, and this crew went above and beyond what it needed to do. If you want to laugh at the things that go bump in the night, this is the perfect place to stay and witness it.
Count Dracula: Welcome to Hotel Transylvania!
NC: (v/o) Shaun of the Dead. We all know about the classic zombie films like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc., but this is one of the few films that not only satirizes zombie films, but somehow still stays faithful to them. The British comedy stars a lazy, absent-minded Simon Pegg with his even lazier roommate played by Nick Frost. When the zombie apocalypse happens, however, they turn into unlikely heroes trying to fight off baddies while also trying to get laid and drunk at the same time. People are so familiar with this movie, it's hard to know what to say about it. Lots of hidden jokes in both the foreground and background are constantly flying by, the characters' selfishness and idiocy constantly makes for lots of laughs that are silly, but still kind of identifiable. Which music album would you hold onto during bad times?
(The scene where Ed and Shaun are looking for albums to throw at zombies is shown)
Ed: Purple Rain?
Ed: Sign o' the Times?
Shaun: Definitely not.
Ed: The Batman soundtrack?
Shaun: Throw it.
(Ed throws it, but misses)
NC (v/o): But what really makes it stand out is that it still works as a traditional zombie film. There's still a lot of suspense, there's still a lot of dread and grief, there's tons of social satire, they even have the painful moments where tough sacrifices have to be made, incorporating a lot of the character tropes like the pessimist, the optimist, the kind soul, the mean old bat, and, of course, the brainless losers. This makes for a very strange but enjoyable combo of comedy and scares, still showing their love and dedication to the zombie genre but also poking fun at it at the same time. What else do I even need to say about it? If you've seen it a million times, you'll see it a million more. It's dead on arrival, but in a good way.
Barbara: Good luck!
NC: (v/o) ParaNorman. As a follow-up to Coraline, many people thought this would just be a retread of what's already been done before with the creepy kid-centered stop motion film, but those who saw it know not only was this film different from Coraline, but it surpassed it. Norman is a little boy who has the ability to see dead people...yeah, again...
(Poster for The Sixth Sense is shown briefly)
NC: (v/o): ...sounds like we'll be retreading quite a bit here, but what makes it interesting is that a witch's spell has brought back the dead as zombies, and Norman has to find a way to get them back to rest. Beyond that, much like Cabin in the Woods, I can't say too much more. A lot of it plays with expectation of character types, but it takes it in a totally different direction than Cabin in the Woods did. The film never goes straight-up satire, it still keeps the focus on the emotion and turmoil of our characters that seems to get stronger and stronger the more you see what's revealed. We realize it's not the ghouls that are haunting many of our characters, but rather the decisions of the past. As you learn more and more, there's a surprisingly powerful story about acceptance vs. vengeance. You find yourself not only getting invested in it, but feeling for every single person who's involved. That's pretty rare not only for a Halloween film, but for a family Halloween film. The line for how to feel about these characters is so blurred that you don't know whether you're supposed to fear them or hug them. It could've been so easy just to make this a good vs. evil story like a lot of Halloween films, but then we wouldn't be so involved in the tragedy of the story and become so emotionally engaged. ParaNorman might surprise you in how sophisticated it can be with its overall theme. It has lighter moments, sure, but it doesn't shy away from some very tough and heavy elements. It certainly gave much more than I thought it was going to and for those who love it and have watched it over and over, we know it's had quite an impact on us. It's that love and commitment and not just the idea behind the creepy characters, but the feelings behind them as well. That's what makes a great monster movie a great monster movie. It's finding that the scariest part about the scariest creatures is that they are human and any of us can become these things at anytime, but ParaNorman does it in a way that's a little bit different. Again, I can't go into too much detail, but it's gripping, it's interesting and even kind of touching. Its third act is radically different than what you probably would've predicted it would be, but again, that's part of why it's so great. It's constantly surprising and constantly delightful. Awesome visuals, a creative story and memorable characters, that's more than enough for a downright fantastic new Halloween classic.
NC: (v/o) And the #1 greatest, fucking badass awesome new Halloween classic is...
NC: You know what? I should do a runners-up. I don't usually do it, but I like the subject; I think it deserves it this time.
(The honorable mentions are shown as "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saens plays in the background)
NC: (v/o) The Ring: Okay, it doesn't hold up the best overtime, but that creepy ending and that image of that girl in every single Halloween store is definitely worth mentioning. The Halloween That Almost Wasn't: Pretty silly and awkward, but the performances from these hilarious actors totally makes it worth it. The Halloween Tree: A lot of people wanted me to review this. I don't get why. It's creative, it's educational, it's Ray Bradbury, what's not to like? Raggedy Ann and the Pumpkin that Couldn't Smile: Yeah, sounds lame, and it is kind of slow, but its atmosphere is so laid back and drenched in Halloween, it's hard not to like it. The original (The) Haunting: Pretty well known, so I didn't include it, but a timeless classic all the same. Trick 'r Treat: Kind of a hit and miss, but it might be the first film where the trick or treater is actually one of the villains. That alone is worth an honorable mention. Exorcist 3: Practically an apology for Exorcist 2 with a much better story and scares. Zombieland: A great comedy with great laughs, but I think Shaun of the Dead just did it a little better.
NC: Now on to #1, and I mean it when I say how awesome it is. It's nostalgic, it's funny, it's soaked in classic Halloween; let's get right to it!
NC: (v/o) The all-time number one new Halloween classic is.....
NC: (thinking) You know what: This film is so awesome and so cool...it deserves its own review. Yeah, so that's what I'm going to do. Tune in next week, guys, as I'm going to dedicate an entire review to this 80s bomb that turned out to be a fantastic, awesome, kick-ass Halloween classic. I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and I can't fucking wait.
(He gets up from his chair to leave, but after a few seconds, he comes back into frame)
NC: But I probably shouldn't build it up that much.
(He exits the frame only to return again)
NC: Yes, I should! IT'S FUCKING AWESOME!
(The credits roll)