horror · Uncategorized

Halloween movies: double feature

I’ve been working on a twitter thread of spooky movies that are similar to each other. And I decided to post them here, with synopses of all the films.

Frankenstein (1931) | Frankenweenie (2012)

Tim Burton’s 2012 feature is one of my favorites, and though different in tone to James Whale’s masterpiece, the films are otherwise, strikingly similar. Only Burton’s film is animated by a love for pets, and how hard it is to part from them. Frankenstein is much more concerned with man playing God, and it’s a classic that I can watch over and over.

The Old Dark House (1932) | The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Dark rainy nights, an assortment of guests gathered in an old dark mansion, a menace stalking through the shadows…both of these are perfect spooky viewing, especially if you’re like me and prefer your horror to be more suggestive than graphic.

Rebecca (1940) | The Haunting (1963)

A much more unexpected choice, but hear me out. The second Mrs. De Winter and Nell are quiet, introverted young women who are thrust into wholly new situations with other people. And the houses they both inhabit exert a sinister hold over them, and the presence of unfriendly forces, both earthly and not. While one house is destroyed, the other lives on and on.

The Wolf Man (1941) | Cat People (1942)

Beastly transformations, perfect shadowy cinematography, muted violence, an inescapable curse!

The Seventh Victim (1943) | Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

New Yorkers in satanic cults. Rosemary’s Baby is definitely the more unsettling of the two.

Curse of the Cat People (1944) | Corpse Bride (2005)

The sequel to Cat People actually isn’t a horror film at all, but an ethereal fantasy with the kind ghost of Irena and the bond she forms with a young girl. This film is also gorgeous to look at, it practically shimmers. Corpse Bride is another sweet Burton feature, with just enough creepiness to balance it out.

Gaslight (1944) | My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

Granted, Julia Ross is really a film noir, but I couldn’t resist. Gaslight also isn’t a traditional horror or supernatural film. Both evoke a spooky atmosphere through the cinematography, and both have female protagonists who are made to feel insane by the men in their lives. Kristen’s review of Gaslight is an excellent appraisal of why exactly it resonates with women.

The Uninvited (1944) | The Red House (1947)

Both films feature siblings, a haunted house, and a troubled young girl. While the latter film doesn’t have ghosts, it’s permeated by a foreboding that only grows in intensity. Obsession and secrets abound. The Uninvited however, is the ultimate ghost story, that’s best watched at dark underneath the covers.

The Bad Seed (1956) | Case 39 (2009)

Demonic children wreaking havoc, and two of the few films that utilize this trope that I enjoy. Movies with these kinds of children make me uncomfortable because they justify violence against kids, but these two are the exception.

House on Haunted Hill (1959) | The Bat (1959)

Campy horror both starring Vincent Price, with genuine thrills, frights, and murder.

The Innocents (1961) | The Others (2001)

Director Alejandro Amenábar cited The Innocents as an influence on his feature starring Nicole Kidman as a mother being terrorized by ghosts in the sprawling, secluded country estate she shares with her children. Deborah Kerr plays a pious women and governess who believes ghosts are possessing the children she’s taking care of. Both of these films are deeply disturbing in their own unique and low-key way. The 1961 film is a little more ambiguous about the existence of the spirits.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) | Train to Busan (2016)

Zombies in all their gory, bloody terror. The first one is an incisive commentary on race and was the first to star a black hero while the second is a more intimate film that devotes some time to a father-daughter relationship. Both are well worth your time.

Suspiria (1977) | The Silenced (2015)

While Suspiria is a darling among audiences and critics, its violence is more than I can take. But the girls boarding school setting and mysterious, frightening rituals happening behind the scenes makes it a perfect companion with The Silenced.

Coraline (2009) | Us (2019)

Mirror copies of characters living in another world, with sewing allusions! Scissors in Us, buttons and threads in Coraline. The former is kid friendly, and a great adaptation of the equally great Neil Gaiman novel. While Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out (2012) is steeped in symbolism about the perils of othering and the secrets sown into American soil, Laika’s debut feature functions more as a cautionary tale. Careful what you wish for.

ParaNorman (2012) | Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

A group of plucky kids investigating the rumors surrounding a misunderstood woman who is now long gone. It opts for compassion and empathy. Scary Stories was one of my favorite 2019 releases, because I identified so strongly with the heroine Stella, a bespectacled writer who loves monster movies. As someone pointed out, it’s a horror movie without malice, and it also shares that in common with ParaNorman. The message running loud and clear through both? It’s okay to be yourself, and even better to be weird.

Happy Halloween, girls and ghouls!

5 thoughts on “Halloween movies: double feature

  1. After seeing ‘Scary Stories’ on its opening week, I *immediately* thought of ‘ParaNorman’, what with the story revolving around a “witch” or a demonic presence who turned out to be someone who was wronged in the past, and I’m glad you made the connection and suggested the two as a double-feature. And as you said, the strong “be yourself/be weird” message that wasn’t communicated in a cliche fashion, its characters being believable (w/ the main being a writer with her specific interests), and its empathetic through-line made it all the better and a great example of a PG-13 level horror movie. Had a great atmosphere and the setting served it well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Wolfman and Cat People are united by another plot detail – the theme of forbidden love. The thing is, when Larry met Gwen and started looking after her … she was already engaged. Probably this hobby triggered a chain of events that turned him into a werewolf. While Oliver married Irene does not find the opportunity to get close to her and leaves for another woman. This ultimately exacerbates her condition.

    Liked by 1 person

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