Today is the day, today spooky season comes to an end, today we’re celebrating Halloween! And how better to celebrate than with a giant bundle of spooky goodness. Don’t worry, this is spooky, scary skeleton situation rather than a grisly horror asylum thing. To me, spooky season is the antidote to Christmas season and I love them both equally and in very similar ways – I love the décor, the outfits, the movies, the parties and the creativity behind it all. So let’s do this day justice with a big old trick-or-treat situation before I have to get spooked up for tonight’s activities.
First, a little trick – as in something to avoid, really. I am not a big fan of horror movies anymore but I have seen my fair share in my youth, so before we get into the treats (yes, plural) of today’s post, let me get a mini review out of my system. Skip this part if you don’t want spoilers for Halloween Kills. I watched this one by accident. In a sneak preview. I have not seen the rest of the franchise but I was familiar with the premise of the mentally unstable and probably supernatural killer Michael Myers. I have to say, this movie committed the cardinal sin: it was boring. I don’t think there could be any more boring serial killer name than Michael. And the town was made up of very stupid, aggressive lunatics who didn’t even really need him to become an angry mob. Actually, that part might’ve been one of the most interesting developments of the movie, if awful.
I also liked that it had Kyle, an actual Real Housewife of Beverly Hills and my favorite from that show. And I absolutely loved a couple called Big John and little John and everything about their relationship and aesthetic. A middle aged couple who chose to move into a serial killers home BECAUSE of the fact, who enjoyed all things creepy and spooky AND had interior design skills worthy of an AD home visit. I need a prequel about them. Everything else was bad and or boring tbh, so this is my review – it’s like toilet paper in a tree: boring, unimaginative and a waste of time and effort.
But now, without further delay and as one post because it is in fact already Halloween, here comes a double feature of two of my favorite underrated Halloween time treats! But wait, there’s more! The first one is a two-movie franchise and the second one is in four parts! And they are all fun!
Let’s dive into Zombieland (2009) first. The premise is as simple and dystopian as can be: Humans are nearly extinct because most of them have turned into brain eating zombies. So yes, it is a bit gory but not overly so. Jesse Eisenberg is a very geeky and neurotic kid (Columbus) who might’ve gone on to invent something like Facebook if the apocalypse hadn’t hit and survived because of his cautious, anxious nature. He has come up with a bunch of great survival rules that come up A LOT, but in a fun way. He is a bit unlikely to be useful in the situation but he really is and Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee), who is the epitome of a badass zombie killer, gets that too. And then there’s tough and fierce Emma Stone (Wichita) and her little sister Abigail Breslin (Little Rock).
Without going into too much detail of the plot, they movie focuses on very human traits like looking for hope and family in even the worst of times. It is a very fun and well thought out take on what happens after the apocalypse, what people would do and what they absolutely shouldn’t do. It’s also a great reminder to do enjoy the little things and do more cardio, just in case. It is billed as a horror comedy and there is a lot of zombie shooting going on – and what’s most disconcerting, those zombies can run – but it is also just very funny with a whole set of great characters. I do have issues with the final climax but I don’t want to spoil anyone. It is just a super fun movie!
With that said, Zombieland: Double Tap is probably one of the best sequels I’ve seen in a while (it’s up there with Venom 2 and that is just amazing!). Ten years elapsed between the movies AND inside the world of it and it’s great how seamless they fit together but also clearly show how much time has passed. Of course, its most notable with Little Rock who went from 12 to 22 but all of the characters and their changing world were painted in a realistically grown way. Functioning cars are much rarer, food is too, they have their set ways and somewhat of a home and they are way more nonchalant about everything. But, zombies have evolved too and Little Rock is now grown up enough to want out. So everything gets reset and taken on notch up, as every good sequel should do: There are worse zombies, more other characters and a bigger arc to complete.
It touches on all of the old themes and brings in some new ones and balances the line between surprise and fan-service really well. Some choices seemed not well thought though but then again, who can say how weird people would actually get in the apocalypse. I watched both movies back to back and it works really, really well which is very interesting for something with that big of gap between installments. Oh, and stay for the after-credit scenes of Double Tap – both movies are available on Netflix and you’ll find the trailers here and here!
Moving on from Zombieland, we’re entering a much more mystical and much less gory world: Halloweentown! This series of Disney Channel original movies had four installments all through the 90s and was probably my first real touch point with Halloween as a concept since the whole thing wasn’t really much of a thing at all in 90s Germany. As you could probably guess, the Halloweentown series is made for kids and thus more spooky-cute than scary. It follows main character Marnie Piper from the age of 13 as she discovers that she is a witch and that her grandmother actually lives in a different dimension in a place called Halloweentown, where mystical creatures like trolls, witches, werewolves and so on live together in quaint and picturesque Halloweentown. All made up of a lot of silicone masks, pumpkin decorations and of velvet dresses with pointed hats – of course with a vibrant color palette of purples, oranges and greens.
It is the cutest version of small-town America with a perpetual fall twist and some magic thrown in and I would move there in a heartbeat. But, of course, there is drama – a lot of it over the course of four movies! There is a power hungry wizard, a threat of magic being revoked, a delegation of Halloweentown High exchange students (including one who went on to become Ryan, Sharpay’s brother in HSM) at the regular high school and finally, a very eventful course of time travel events at Halloweentown University! Of course, these movies are over 20 years old AND where made as straight to television movies for kids in the first place but in my opinion, they have a special quality to them that makes them Halloween classics. My favorites are the first and the last one, but absolutely any will do for a cozy fall day! All of them are available on Disney+ which is a dream come true since they were never available on DVD or stream before (in Germany)!