Family Friendly Frights!
By Kristin Battestella
Scary? Perhaps. However, these macabre bemusements are perfect for mom, dad, the kids, and 2.5 dogs to nestle on the couch and have a spooky night in with the popcorn!
Beetlejuice– Don’t say the bio-exorcist’s name three times! Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast in this humorous tale about a country couple turned ghosts trying to rid their house of a snotty New York family. Winona Ryder is creepy as the goth daughter Lydia, and all of director Tim Burton’s odd touches have their moments-from Juno’ smoke coming out her slit throat to Delia’s infamous ‘Dayo!’ dance party. Multiple viewings are in order here.
Edward Scissorhands – This 1990 tale of a lonely, incomplete man with scissors for hands is a little more mature and dark then some of my other suggestions. However, this early, spooky, and yet heartwarming collaboration from director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp has all the whimsy and freakiness needed without getting too comical, bizarre, or just weird. Fine performances from a lovely ensemble cast including Winona Ryder, Kathy Baker, Dianne Wiest, and Vincent Price blend humor, love, and innocence into one charming little tale young and old can enjoy.
Elvira Mistress of the Dark– There’s a touch of mature innuendo, but it’s a treat to see Cassandra Peterson’s alter ego host in a full length picture. The plot’s a predictable fish out of water scenario; with sexy Elvira taking an inheritance in a quiet, conservative town. Nevertheless, Peterson’s wit, bosom, and personality are all in spooky good fun.
Ernest Scared Stupid– Everyone loves Jim Varney and his plethora of goofy characters. Add a creepy house, trolls, and Halloween and you’ve got all the hijinks for a family fright fest. Yes, it might be stupid as the title suggests, but who cares?
High Spirits– Peter O’Toole and his Irish friends turn their foreclosed castle into a haunted showplace to attract American tourists. Unfortunately, Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson really haunt the place! Some goofy humor, funny romance, even a few scary scenes make this Neil Jordan haunt a keeper.
Munster, Go Home! and The Munsters Revenge– Boxers or Briefs? Lennon or McCartney? The Munsters or The Addams Family? Enjoy this funny, charming family of monsters in their 1966 theatrical debut Munster, Go Home! as they take their hijinks-now in Technicolor!- abroad. Though more about the caper at hand instead of the family, The Munsters Revenge is still a treat for fans of Herman, Lily, Eddie, and Grandpa.
Silver Bullet– Ah, a wheelchair bound Corey Haim insists there’s a werewolf in town but no one believes him! A well-rounded cast and scary wolf mysteries make you jump in your seat the first time you see this one. Several memorable, frightening scenes here still stick with me 25 years later. Younger audiences might be too frightened-but it’s only a movie, isn’t it?
Sleepy Hollow – Here’s another less bizarre and family fun spookfest from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. This 1999 period piece also starring Christina Ricci isn’t as dark and decrepit as a film about Ichabod Crane could be, but its hint of goth and turn of the century humor is perfect for a scary night in for families growing beyond Hocus Pocus. The suspense, ensemble cast, and surprisingly disturbing performance from Christopher Walken as the Headless Horsemen keep this one worthy as the successor to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Who doesn’t love that one?