The question we get asked most often the week before Halloween is, “Do you have any scary movies?” Oh yes, my friend, we most certainly do. We have your standard scary movie fare – the Friday the 13th series, the Halloween movies, the Scream tetralogy. All excellent choices.
But we’ve dug a little deeper into our stacks to find some Halloween favorites that you may not have seen yet. Here are a few selections for the adults and the kids.
The Uninvited (1944): Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey star as a brother and sister who buy an abandoned house off the coast of England. As they settle into the home, they feel a strange chill in one of the rooms and awaken to the sound of a woman wailing. This is one of the first movies to address the presence of a ghost as a supernatural experience rather than using it as a comedic device. The movie is based on a book by Irish writer Dorothy Macardle, originally published as Uneasy Freehold. It is very difficult to find outside of the occasional airing on Turner Classic Movies. We are truly lucky to have it in our collection.
The Changeling (1980): A composer who has lost his wife and young child in a freak car accident moves to an historic mansion with the intention of immersing himself in his music. What he encounters is strange noises, a piano that plays itself and a child’s ball that bounces down the stairs out of the dark recesses of the second floor. There appears to be a specter in the house, but why is it haunting him? This movie stars the venerable George C. Scott and it scared the dickens out of me as a child. It was one of those situations where I wasn’t supposed to be up that late — and I certainly wasn’t supposed to be up that late watching this movie!
What Lies Beneath (2000): This film has been billed as director Robert Zemeckis’ homage to Alfred Hitchcock. It stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer as a professor and his wife who are renovating a family home. At the same time that her daughter goes off to college and a neighbor lady mysteriously disappears, the wife experiences an eerie presence in the house. Is she imagining things? Is she being haunted by the ghost of the missing neighbor? Or is it something altogether different? Be ready for a lot of twists and turns with this one. One of my favorite things about the movie is the house itself. I learned that they built it in a state park specifically for filming and tore it down immediately afterwards.
And two for the kids:
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949): This is Walt Disney’s version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The movie is divided into two parts. The first half is a cartoon snippet of the 1908 Kenneth Grahame novel, The Wind and the Willows. The second half is the 1820 short story by Washington Irving, here called Ichabod Crane. The movie is narrated by Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby and is full of Disney magic. It is the perfect movie for a child’s Halloween party.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966): Legendary comedian Don Knotts stars as Luther Heggs, a nervous typesetter for a small town newspaper. He has been assigned to spend the night in an old mansion on the 20th anniversary of a notorious murder. Luther gets more than he bargained for as an organ begins to play on its own, bloody fingerprints show up on the keys, and a knife protrudes from the portrait of the lady of the house. Can he solve the mystery and discover the identity the murderer? Mr. Chicken may not be such a chicken after all.