DON’T LET HALLOWEEN END: Other Holiday-Themed

Movies You Can Watch Instead

(Oh, and it’s our anniversary too) 


When I watch a movie, it’s like there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, the kind of movies we call POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life. It goes without saying that these guys don’t always see eye to eye.


POPCORN: Dude, I dunno.

CINEMA: Yeah, I know.

POPCORN: It’s been at least a week since we saw it.

CINEMA: Two, actually.

POPCORN: I’ve been thinkin’ about it. Letting it settle, like you said.

CINEMA: Because, like me, you really wanted to enjoy it.

POPCORN: Yeah.

CINEMA: But it’s not settling.

POPCORN: Nope.

CINEMA: And you’re not liking it any more than you did.

POPCORN: Naw, man. Kinda liking it less the more I think about it.

CINEMA: You’re wondering why they deconstructed everything that came after the original 1978 film, eliminating all that nonsense about Laurie and Michael being related, removing all those flimsy motives they had given him to kill her, returning him to the mysterious boogeyman status (which was far more disturbing) . . . only to make him pop a vengeance boner and go after her again in the final thirty minutes like it was just another mindless sequel.

POPCORN: I’m wondering why it sucked the butter right off my popcorn.

CINEMA: That seems to be the consensus . . . though there are many things it got right.

POPCORN (pouting): It didn’t get anything right.

CINEMA: Well, there was that opening, which was intense. The soundtrack was great. The Cramps. Boy Harsher. They included ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ at the end. Brutal kills. Great effects, impressive cinematography. Some DONNIE DARKO vibes. It didn’t do what everyone expected it to, which was pretty ballsy, in my opinion.

POPCORN: Dude, it was a trick, not a treat.

CINEMA: Do you want to talk about it?

POPCORN: Naw, man. Ain’t sure I even wanna talk about movies anymore.

CINEMA: Oh, come on. Do you know what this is?

POPCORN: My childhood, ruined.

CINEMA: No, my friend. It’s the fiftieth Popcorn Cinema . . . seven years since this whole thing began . . . and it’s Halloween . . .

POPCORN (almost childlike): Our birthdays.

CINEMA: That’s right. I don’t think our audience even knows that.

CINEMA turns to face you, the reader, in a literary version of breaking the fourth wall.

CINEMA: Hey, folks out there in Internet Land. Did you know that Popcorn and I share a birthday? Or that it’s on Halloween? Granted, it’s often the only thing we have in common –

POPCORN chuckles halfheartedly.

CINEMA: – but it sometimes stops us from stomping on each other’s heads with a heavy pair of steel-toed work boots.

POPCORN: Or impaling each other on a wall with an unusually sturdy butcher knife and standing there looking at it like some kinda art or something.

CINEMA: That’s the spirit. We mentioned the original HALLOWEEN the first time we appeared here on Psycho Drive-In, do you remember?

POPCORN: We did?

CINEMA: It was on Day 21 of the 31 Days of Halloween. Our generous host, John E. Meredith, had conflicting opinions on the film FUNNY GAMES, so he set us loose for the first time. No surprise, but we had vastly different views on it ourselves. Especially when one of the sinister characters didn’t like that he’d gotten his comeuppance, so he turned to the audience and rewound the very film he was in. Take a look . . .

The screen fuzzes out like an old VHS tape and flashes back to October 21, 2015.

CINEMA: Haneke believes that the prevalence of modern movie brutality, especially in an age where we can create any gruesome thing we can imagine for the screen, has totally domesticated violence. It’s left us numb to the most unspeakably shocking images. By dragging you out of the moment, just as it starts to “get good,” is his way of making you think about . . . I mean, really think about . . . what you’re seeing.

POPCORN: Well, when that douche-bag grabbed the remote control and rewound that scene, all I could think about was that I really wanted to punch the director in the face.

CINEMA: But why was that your reaction?

POPCORN: Because one of the bad guys was finally gonna get it! That poor family suddenly had a chance. It felt really good to see that bastard get a big hole in the middle of his chest.

CINEMA: But why?

POPCORN: Dammit. Okay . . . you like John Carpenter, right? THE THING. CHRISTINE. And HALLOWEEN, you really got into that.

CINEMA: I appreciated the way it paid homage to PSYCHO. In the way that you remember so much blood, but when you see it again . . . there’s really very little. Having Janet Leigh’s daughter there was a nice touch too. And even though it’s all in this nice, safe suburban neighborhood, it’s almost chiaroscuro, light and shade, and . . .

POPCORN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, Carpenter was talking about how we’re a violent country, always have been. And the monsters, they are us. The dangerous part of us that wants to destroy, the part of us with a reptile brain. We put this stuff in our stories because it’s out there.

CINEMA: But isn’t that just contributing to a violent world, pouring more violent images into it?

POPCORN: It’s like giving us a safety valve, dude. Like, I really hate going to work and sometimes I just wish I could kill someone, but obviously I can’t, I won’t. But to go sit in a theater with all the lights off and see someone else do it . . .

CINEMA: But Haneke teases us. Other than that a few select moments, he never really shows that much violence. Cruelty and violence aren’t the same thing.

POPCORN: No, but a little violence might’ve relieved the stress of all that cruelty. What I got instead was a terrible case of horror movie blue-balls.

CINEMA: But all that frustration has you thinking.

POPCORN: I’m thinking that I don’t like this feeling.

The screen fuzzes out again, returning to the present.

POPCORN: This ain’t gonna be one-a those flashback episodes is it?

CINEMA: No, we’ve got at least thirty more episodes until we resort to desperate tactics like that. What I propose is something a bit more timely. Since many people out there feel like you do about HALLOWEEN ENDS, I thought we might suggest some alternatives for their holiday viewing pleasure.

POPCORN: Like . . . fifty of them?

CINEMA: Like fifty of them. We make a couple lists, since we don’t want to sit here until Thanksgiving. We each choose twenty-five films that are Halloween-themed, or at least take place on that day. Does that sound fair?

POPCORN: You’re just gonna talk shit about every movie I pick.

CINEMA: No, I won’t, I promise.

POPCORN: Alright then, I’m gonna go first.

CINEMA: Okay.

POPCORN: ERNEST SCARED STUPID.

CINEMA: Oh, for fuck sake.

POPCORN: Hey, you said . . .

CINEMA: Alright, alright. So, uh, why do you start your list with . . . this movie? What . . . in the everloving hell . . . makes ERNEST SCARED STUPID worthy of ninety minutes of my time on Halloween night?

POPCORN: So, like, not everybody wants to be terrified, right? Some people just wanna laugh. Some got kids. Dude, you can’t go wrong with Ernest.

CINEMA makes a face like he’s just smelled rotten eggs.

POPCORN: Jim Varney, man. The dude was better than they give him credit for. Like, the French thought Jerry Lewis was a genius, but he did stupid shit like Ernest all the time. This is the fourth movie in the series and the last one he did with Disney.

CINEMA: Whew.

POPCORN: Ernest is a garbage man in this one, right? But it’s like he’s not really workin’ too hard at that, cuz he stops to help these kids build a tree house. And, I mean, this is one bomb-ass tree house, dude. The shit was epic. But, in the course of building it, he accidentally sets loose an ancient troll . . .

CINEMA: I read that the troll face we see everywhere, in relation to online ass-hats, is based on a sketch of Jim Varney’s face from this very movie.

POPCORN: Sounds about right. This is kid-friendly, for the most part, but that troll is pretty gross. All practical effects, and they even used parts from the KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE costumes. There’s this one scene where it’s chasing some kid and it calls him in his sister’s voice. Kinda creepy. There’s another one where another troll gets blasted and turns into, like, this pile of gore with bones in it and stuff. I was like, coooool . . . 

CINEMA: Kids love piles of gore with bones in it.

POPCORN: I did. The opening credits, too, they might appeal to your geek side. They play over these clips of old horror movies. There’s, like, THE SCREAMING SKULL and KILLER SHREWS and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, that kinda thing. I challenge you to name every one. 

CINEMA: Well, I will . . . if I ever watch another Ernest movie, I will watch that one. Are you done?

POPCORN: Yeah. Go ahead with whatever Italian art film or obscure-ass TV movie you’re about to drop on us.

CINEMA: Whatever. It’s not always like that.

POPCORN sits grinning, eyebrows raised.

CINEMA: My first choice is THE HALLOWEEN TREE, an animated made-for-television film from 1993, directed by Mario Piluso . . . okay, don’t even start with me . . . it’s written by Ray Bradbury, based on his own book from 1972. He even acts as the narrator for the film, so you know he approved of the adaption.

POPCORN: Pretty sure I used to see that on the Cartoon Network.

CINEMA: Yeah, they still show it sometimes. It’s about these four kids who get dressed up on Halloween night – as I recall, a witch, mummy, monster, and skeleton – and they are on their way to get their fifth friend, Pip. However, Pip is being raced to the hospital for an appendectomy, so they take a shortcut there through the spooky woods. They think they see him out there, but it’s this strange man who lives in a strange house –

POPCORN: Don’t try this at home, kids.

CINEMA: His name is Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud. He expresses his disappointment that none of them really know what their costumes symbolize or even what Halloween is really about. He reveals that Pip has stolen a pumpkin with his face on it – that he’s after the boy’s ghost – but, if they can keep up with him, they might be able to get him back.

POPCORN: Don’t they get, like, a history lesson or something?

CINEMA: They do. Moundshroud takes them back through time . . . to Ancient Egypt, Stonehenge, Notre Dame, the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico . . . they learn a little about history and about their costumes, before they have to figure out how to save their friend . . .

POPCORN: I might have to be high for that one. Speaking of which, my next movie is Rob Zombie’s 31 . . .

CINEMA: Okay, so it’s time to go to the list.

POPCORN: Hey, Cinema.

CINEMA: Yes, Popcorn.

POPCORN: Thanks for hangin’ with me, man.

CINEMA: Like I had a choice.

POPCORN (breaking the fourth wall): And thanks to you guys too.

CINEMA: Here’s to another fifty.


POPCORN’S LIST

  • ERNEST SCARED STUPID (1991)
  • 31 (2016)
  • THE CROW (1994)
  • SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019)
  • GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
  • KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)
  • TRICK OR TREATS (1982)
  • TRICK OR TREAT (1986)
  • TRICK R TREAT (2007)
  • ALL HALLOW’S EVE (2013)
  • SCOOBY DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND (1998)
  • YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
  • MONSTER SQUAD (1987)
  • THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991)
  • THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
  • THE CRAFT (1996)
  • NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)
  • VHS (2010)
  • DEVIL DOG: The Hound of Hell (1978)
  • THE CORPSE BRIDE (2005)
  • BEETLEJUICE (1988)
  • FLESHEATER (1988)
  • BABYSITTER MASSACRE (2013)
  • HALLOWEEN: XXX Porn Parody (2011, Directed by Jim Powers)
  • HALLOWEEN (1978)

CINEMA’S LIST

  • THE HALLOWEEN TREE (1993 TV movie)
  • THE LADY IN WHITE (1988)
  • HALLOWEEN 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • SONG OF THE SEA (2014, animated)
  • THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (1985 TV movie)
  • THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1908, silent)
  • THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE (1921)
  • WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU (1968, BBC TV production)
  • IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN (1966)
  • SCOOBY DOO AND THE WITCH’S GHOST (1999)
  • RETURN TO OZ (1985)
  • THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980)
  • THE WITCHES (1990)
  • WITCH (2016)
  • PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998)
  • MEAN GIRLS (2004)
  • BOYS IN THE TREES (2016)
  • COCO (2017)
  • FRANKENWEENIE (2012)
  • SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)
  • DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981, TV movie)
  • THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVED DOWN THE LANE (1976)
  • ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975)
  • DONNIE DARKO (2001)
  • SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983)
(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)