Spooky Suggestions 2022
By The Arts & Features Staff
‘Horror of Dracula’
By Owen Glancy
“Horror of Dracula” is a film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 novel “Dracula.” Released in 1958, this was the first color film adaptation of the novel.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is its use of color. The sets enhance the moody atmosphere, and the blood effects are excellent for 1958.
Peter Cushing plays possibly the greatest film version of Van Helsing ever, bringing sophistication and class to the character. Christopher Lee’s performance is also a stand-out as the nefarious Count Dracula.
Michael Gough is great as Arthur Holmwood and acts as a memorable sidekick and foil to Cushing’s Van Helsing. Renfield’s omission does feel strange considering how important he is in the original novel, but the film manages without him.
The story can feel very repetitive at times, but the bloody deaths keep viewers interested. Van Helsing and Dracula’s final confrontation is awesome and there hasn’t been a better showdown between the two yet.
“Horror of Dracula” is a memorable and entertaining adaptation of the novel that hosts some of the best horror performances in film history. The production values are fantastic, and the music fits well.
While there might be some boring characters and a slightly repetitive plot, “Horror of Dracula” is still a horror classic.
By Jack McLaughlin
“Midsommar,” from 2019, follows Dani (Florence Pugh) as she accompanies her boyfriend to their friend’s hometown midsummer festival in Sweden.
As the film progresses, more bizarre events occur which slowly unveils the twisted nature of the festivities to the viewer.
The film basks in its utterly shocking imagery. Many moments will leave you uneasy yet eager to know exactly how the filmmakers will follow up such scenes.
However, there is no over-reliance on these grotesque moments. The story is incredibly entertaining to watch unfold with many unexpected turns that help the film be memorable beyond its violent scenes.
Florence Pugh dominates as the star in this film, but that doesn’t stop supporting cast members like Will Poulter from getting a few great scenes as well.
The score by Bobby Krlic is also an outstanding highlight. “Gassed” is a track from the beginning that perfectly establishes the tone of the film and properly accompanies the uneasy opening scene.
Each scene holds so much importance which allows the near three-hour runtime to be justified.
Visually, there are many stunning moments - not just the gory ones. The film uses many bright colors and beautiful shots of the environment to bring this wild festival alive.
If you’re looking for a horror movie that manages to balance a great story and haunting imagery, this should be your pick to watch this Halloween.
By Branden LaCroix
For those who enjoy a slow-burn, creeping horror that sticks with you, the visual novel “Scarlet Hollow” is perfect for those dark October nights.
The game is set in the secluded mining town of Scarlet Hollow, North Carolina, where your character is traveling to attend the funeral of your aunt, the matriarch of the Scarlet family who owned the coal mines the town was built upon. But the town harbors a dark secret buried behind the boarded-up windows and empty streets - with strange creatures haunting the woods and a mysterious blood-covered man stalking you from the shadows.
The horror of the game relies less on jump scares and more on the eeriness and building dread of the story, aided by the impeccable art of Abby Howard, creator of the hilarious “Junior Scientist Power Hour'' and the delightfully gory “The Last Halloween.” While Scarlet Hollow does retain some of the silly charm of her previous work, it’s far darker, and when she dials up the spookiness, she dials it up hard!
One of the game’s greatest strengths lies in its diverse cast of interesting and charming characters. These include the cryptid-hunting YouTuber Stella, who is rarely seen without her elderly pug Gretchen, her friend Kaneeka who helps run the town’s general store and is the skeptical foil to Stella’s conspiracy-theorist mind, and Avery, a waiter at the town’s small, Twin Peaks-esque diner.
As the player, you choose two attributes that define how your character can proceed through the story. Depending on the choices you make, your interactions with the characters can bring you closer, even romantically, with some or distance you from others.
There are currently three episodes of Scarlet Hollow available out of seven. Episode four will be released Nov. 22.
No one said spooky live-action movies have to be horror. Though “Beetlejuice” definitely has aspects of horror and unsettling ’80s special effects, the PG comedy directed by Tim Burton is more than safe for most audiences.
The story follows Barbara and Adam Maitland through their death and subsequent haunting of their own house as it's sold to the Deetz family: a wealthy father, his daughter from his first marriage, and his second wife.
Betelgeuse (name pronounced Beetlejuice), a semi-malevolent spirit, is hired to help Barbara and Adam scare away the Deetz family. However, the daughter, Lydia, is able to see the ghosts and wants to help them because she, too, is not a fan of living here.
The movie is more than hilarious, with great acting and an inherently humorous story. Going back to the more classic vibes from the ’80s definitely provides a refreshing break from some of the ultra-polished CGI popular in modern film - even if the effects fall firmly into the uncanny valley at times, they only add to the humor. There’s no pressure not to laugh at how ridiculous everything is.
The movie also has many actors recognizable to audiences today. Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, and other fan favorites were great in the ’80s as much as they are in modern film and television.
Overall, “Beetlejuice” is absolutely worth the watch. It’s hilarious, at times tastefully unsettling, and the ending wraps it up so nicely. It can only add to this Halloween season.
By Kate Norrish
“Grave Importance” is a 2019 adult fantasy novel by Vivian Shaw. It is about a doctor for the supernatural named Greta Helsing - no relation to the Dracula character as far as I could tell - who is sent to work at a hospital/spa for mummies.
This leads her to discover a mysterious malady affecting her patients and loved ones, sending her to visit Hell for help.
While not especially deep or complex, this novel makes for a fun dive into the biology and lifestyles of vampires, demons, angels, and, of course, mummies. Many characters are also pulled from classic literature, such as Lord Ruthvon from “The Vampyre,” and Faust from “Faustus,” and almost every character is unique and likable.
I expect audiences will quickly develop favorites. Considering it is the first of a three-book series, I am excited to get my hands on further installments.
While I do not consider this a flaw, audiences should be aware that there are some mildly graphic medical scenes, just enough for it to possibly be a little much for those who are sensitive to that kind of content. Even so, this book makes for a great cozy October read, especially for classic horror fans.
By Ryan Schreiber
“Child’s Play” was released Nov. 9, 1988. “Child’s Play” has grown into an iconic horror movie giving us one of my favorite horror villains, Chucky.
Before the movie came out there had been a few movies that circulated around a killer doll, but all of those did a terrible job where “Child's Play” exceeded.
They introduced something that we hadn’t seen in movies back then, which was voodoo being present - especially when it’s transferring your soul into a doll before you die.
The movie follows a child named Andy Barclay, a cute kid who gets his hands on the wrong doll.
For the first half hour we don't see Chucky come to life, until we see him move and blink all on his own while watching the news. This scene introduces my favorite quote, “Aunt Maggie, Chucky wants to watch the 9 o’clock news.”
He goes under the radar until he fights and kills everyone who has done him dirty or is just in Andy’s vicinity.
How everyone dies by the hands of a 2 and a half foot doll surprises me.
We find out very soon that Chucky needs to transfer his soul into a body before it's too late, where he’ll stay in that body for the rest of his life. This is very bad for Andy.
“Child’s Play” did so well in the box office that six more movies were made as well as a TV show that is currently on its second season.
I love the “Child’s Play” franchise and can watch all of them every single day and never get sick of it.
‘Hocus Pocus 2’
By McKenzie Ward
After exploding into dust 29 years ago, the Sanderson sisters, Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, are back in Salem wrecking havoc after the Black Flame Candle was lighted once again by a virgin.
This time it was lighted by Becca, who was celebrating her 16th birthday after being gifted the Black Flame Candle by Gilbert, the shopkeeper of the Olde Salem Magic Shop, who was taught how to create the candle by Winifred’s spellbook.
During the movie Becca and her two friends, Izzy and Cassie, attempt to find a way to stop the child-hungry witches from taking revenge on Salem and killing Mayor Traske, a descendent of the reverend who banished the sisters from Salem in 1653.
While the teenagers are busy trying to stop the sisters, Winifred has decided that they will cast the Magicae Maxima spell that will grant them unimaginable power so that they can become the most powerful witches on Earth.
Even after 29 years, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nijimy who play the three sisters still are the stars of the film, especially with their witchified versions of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back.”
The film has multiple subtle nods to the original 1993 “Hocus Pocus,” including Sarah’s “amok, amok, amok” and Mary’s “I smell children!”
While nothing could ever beat Kenny Ortega’s “Hocus Pocus,” this film made me extremely nostalgic of my childhood Halloweens and who doesn’t love to hear Bette Midler sing?
'Community:' Season 2 Episode 6 ‘Epidemiology’
By Adam Levine
Dan Harmon’s hit sitcom “Community,” which aired from 2009-2015, is known for its pop-culture references and extravagant story lines. Each of the show’s six seasons follows the main characters in a new year at their community college.
“Community” season 2 episode 6 “Epidemiology” is the perfect combination of Harmon’s unique characters and a classic Halloween sitcom episode.
As expected in any good sitcom Halloween episode, there will be an abundance of pop-culture costumes. Harmon uses “Epidemiology” to capitalize on his expertise in this.
I have watched the full series twice and this episode more than I can count. It continues to be one of my favorite episodes. Although “Epidemiology” occurs after a full season into the show, it perfectly portrays each character and their interactions with each other.
Without knowing the previously established character development and intricate plot lines, “Epidemiology” is the perfect stand-alone Halloween sitcom episode.
The episode is driven by an array of timeless pop-culture references and is easy to watch if you have not yet seen the show. For me, this episode should be on everyone’s must-watch Halloween playlist.