It’s now September, therefore I declare that spooky season begins now, for all of our sanities. As an author of a horror blog, I am always in the mood for a scary movie. However, sometimes it’s hard to convince the viewing party to join the fanatical ways. Therefore, I took the time this week to conjure up a loose fitted plan to ease even the biggest scaredy cat into spooky season.
This will be the first installment, and while there isn’t necessarily horror forward movies on the September catalogue, there are plenty of good romps on here. This plan starts now, as Halloween candy and pumpkin spice are already making strides into a part of our regular diet for the next few months, so what are we waiting for? Let’s begin this journey and explore other genres’ takes on the spooky season.
The First Half of September: Easing In
Most of the films listed in this first half could easily be in the final week of October. I prefer to ramp up the scares then, so I put a lot of comfort in this first half. As the sunshine drifts away and seasonal depression might start to sink in for some, nothing is more comforting that goofy, sometimes heartfelt movies. I’m talking 1990s and early 00s cheesefest kind of movies. That is not a derogatory sense, as I love all of these movies myself. The movies also listed here can be good replacements for October films if you either A) have little ones to be cautious of or B) don’t like to get scared.
Practical Magic, BeetleJuice and Ghostbusters
Topping my list is actually not a horror movie, but rather a movie about family, magic and of course midnight margaritas: Practical Magic. This movie has always been a staple for my mom and I during fall time, so not only does it bring fuzzy feelings, but also a boat load of nostalgia. It also includes many familiar faces, with the two main stars being Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Check it out if you haven’t, it probably is my favorite film about witches (see below for hot take about Hocus Pocus, I’m sorry).
This is also where Beetlejuice goes for me surprisingly. I usually get to this movie later in the season despite me placing it here, but this movie fits in with the semi-lighthearted, cheesy vibe, even though it is a magnificent film. I haven’t ran into many people that hasn’t heard this story before, especially with the recent surge in popularity of its Broadway counterpart, but if you haven’t seen it, I have a few questions. First, what are you doing still reading this? Second, why aren’t you watching it right now?
With the new sequel coming out in November, it is impossible not putting Ghostbusters on this list. This movie was a childhood staple for me, and my favorite character isn’t even pictured here and that is Rick Moranis’ character, Louis. This is forever a classic, and a good light felt romp fit for younger kids when you’re looking for some Halloween classics.
Hocus Pocus and Others: Family Friendly (Except One)
Okay, okay, yes. A large chunk of the population watches this on Halloween, and I get that. But most years, I don’t even watch Hocus Pocus. It isn’t one of those comfort movies for me, even though it can be enjoyable, but–in the most hipster way possible–I kind think it’s overrated. I’m not alone in this opinion either, check out this piece from Sarah El-Mahmoud: Who Decided Hocus Pocus Was A Great Movie?Other than the three witches, every character annoys me and if the film just consisted of Winifred and the gang causing chaos rather than the weird plot they forget about half the time, I would probably like it more and consider it part of my ritual. It’s a staple for most however, so no judgement if this is in your regular spooky regimen.
Below is a gallery of other films that I like to partake in/think fit this tone. Most are kidfriendly but they are fun films nonetheless.
The Second Half of September: Dancing Through Life
The leaves actually start changing, the equinox comes and there is fall euphoria in the air. It feels like you could burst out into song any moment. So why don’t you? There are plenty of spooky musicals out there. Most are cult classics at this point, while others might have been revisited since childhood.
The Rocky horror Picture Show & Little Shop Of Horrors
There is an obvious crowning jewel to this subgenre, which is most enjoyed at midnight in your local theater. If you aren’t giving yourself over to absolute pleasure, a couple viewings of this masterpiece will have you doing so whilst scantily clad and throwing toast at the screen. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has quite a legacy, and what kept alive is fans and notoriety. Most people have seen this film, and I haven’t met anyone who has absolutely hated it. Even musical haters have a soft spot for this film. It is truly a transcendent cultural icon, and should be indulged every spooky season, every year for how many times that you wish to watch it (I average about four times a year, it’s a deep comfort of mine). Also, yes, this gif embodies probably my favorite Frank-N-Furter moment.
Another comfort film of mine is a bit more hush hush than the previous, but a cult classic nonetheless. Little Shop of Horrors features a great array of actors and one of the most impressive uses of practical effects and puppetry. All the songs are bops and will get stuck in your head, so much so that they may sound familiar. You’d be right, as the writers are the same people that did the music for Disney’s 90s Renaissance. “Somewhere That’s Green” is the same exact tune as “Part of Your World,” meaning it isn’t plagiarism if you steal from yourself. and the characters are likeable, even when they are doing terrible things. There’s also a weird but hilarious S&M scene between Steve Martin and Bill Murray that is not one to miss.
Claymation Classics: Thanks, Laika
Stepping into the spotlight is Laika Studios, who is responsible for most of the claymation films we see today. Not all of these are musicals, but a lot have musical elements and are perfect for spooky season. The two I want to feature are Corpse Bride and Coraline. Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas should be a feature here too, but I do consider that film a November film in between seasons. Corpse Bride features beautiful music from Danny Elfman and adopts Tim Burton’s usual style. Coraline revolutionized claymation and pushed the limits on what is advertised as a children’s film or not. Both are spooky and perfect for pushing the limits on older kids looking for a mild scare. If they love them, congrats, you’re raising a future horror fanatic.
Honorable Mentions for A Playful End to September
Below is a gallery of other films to consider as we ramp up to October. Yes, we embrace the Bowie Bulge here.
I warned there was not a lot of horror on this list, and while I believe every time is horror time, this is a guide for everybody. Some people don’t like the spooks, and sometimes needs coaxing to be down to watch the scarier movies. That’s completely okay! However, if you’re depraved like me and are ready for the scares, stay tuned, as October 1st comes 31 Days of Horror, a calendar strictly for horror fans and those ready to be scared this October. Don’t forget to sign up for email notifications and I’m excited to embark with you all on The Void of Celluloid’s first spooky season. Now to feast on copious amounts of pumpkin bread.