Happy Halloween! By all means, go out and party. But what if you're a grumpy loner like me and all you want is a nice quiet spooky evening at home? Well, there's no better way to spend a dark and stormy night than with a creepy, scary or generally disturbing movie.
Last week I asked a bunch of folks on Twitter and Facebook to recommend some of their favorite queer and queer-friendly Halloweeny films, and I get some spooktactular suggestions. I gathered up my favorites, threw away the raisins and now here are your best bets for a scary film fest:
Almost all of the suggestions fell into two categories: powerful women and weird men. Topping the list of powerful women is Death Becomes Her, featuring Meryl and Goldie battling both each other and old age. They find a potion that provides eternal youth, but there's a catch: Eternal youth can be kind of unseemly.
Next up: Serial Mom, a murderous suburban rampage that's John Waters plus a little Alfred Hitchcock. If you're watching this with children, by which I mean anyone under 20, you'll have to pause the movie to explain what "rewinding the tape" means. And by the way if you're a fan of either the movie Serial Mom or the podcast Serial, you might enjoy this strange mashup of the two that I made awhile back.
Speaking of kids, you can give them some guaranteed nightmares with The Witches, a children's film that is waaaaaay too scary for children. I like book is better, but the movie achieves a strange terror that most adult horror films never reach, thanks in large part to Anjelica Huston's deliciously evil Grand High Witch. I explored the strange allure of witches in a prior video, and sure enough when I asked for Halloween recommendations I was pointed repeatedly to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. It's of a genre you might call spooky-goofy -- kind of scary, with lots of dumb puns, plus an alarmingly plunging neckline. Or for something slightly tamer, consider pairing it with Hocus Pocus, a film that basically depicts witches as drag queens.
That brings us to the second category of Halloweeny films: weird men. Take a look at Bram Stoker's Dracula, one of those period films that manages to remind me more of a 90s music video than the period in which it's actually set. You might try pairing that with The Lost Boys, a vampire movie that's oozing with heart throbs and homoeroticism. It's got two Coreys for the price of one -- Haim and Feldman -- plus Keifer Sutherland and a vampire gang that looks like a hair band waiting to be discovered.
My personal favorite is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I just posted a separate video about how this film changed my life, but if you have somehow managed to get this far without seeing it, all you need to know is that it's haunted house rock musical with an uncontrollable libido, and the main villain -- or hero, depending on how you look at it -- was doing things with gender before they were trendy.
That's Tim Curry, by the way, who just a few years later was inexplicably appearing in a dreadfully schlocky special called The Worst Witch. At first glance, it just looks like a strange movie, but it becomes a thing of genius when Tim Curry appears to sing "Anything Can Happen on Halloween," featuring the state of the art in 80s video effects.
You may also find yourself transfixed by Nightmare on Elm Street 2, a movie that's at the upper limits of the level of scariness I can cope with. What's so amazing about this sequel is how it inverts the usual victim of a slasher film: instead of a terrified girl, it's a boy. Although he's clearly in touch with a feminine side. I made a whole video about this movie's queer subtext -- and occasional supertext -- which you can find on my YouTube channel.
Now it's going to take some planning, but if you really want your movies and your holidays to coincide, you'll space out the Addams Family over the next two months. Anjelica Huston is back as Morticia, but really every member of the cast is perfectly on-point as the altogether ooky family who lives in a state of perpetual Halloweenishness. The first film should carry you through Halloween. The second one features a Thanksgiving sequence that deserves to be your new annual tradition.
I really wish there was a third Addams movie to bring us to Christmas -- but fortunately, that's where Nightmare Before Christmas takes up the slack, as one of the only films that has a timeliness extending all the way from early autumn to the dead of winter. And I do mean dead.
Well, there you have it -- plenty of movies to keep you busy all through Halloween. I'm sure I missed a whole ton of good ones, so tweet at me @mattbaume to let me know what movies or specials you'll be watching as you hide from the pesky children ringing your doorbell.