Welcome to last day of your Halloween marathon.
We made it! It is now Halloween (at least in the timeline of these articles), and we’ve watched some great movies and television specials together while eating spooky snacks. But the time has come for the most important movie selections of the entire week. It’s not a big deal if you botch one of the other days, but I always try to get Halloween right. Let’s see if I can pull it off.
During all seven days of this marathon, I only stepped outside the self-imposed 1980s designation once. The last time it was for It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, which I argued was a pervasive television special throughout the ‘80s and beyond, making it a timeless classic.
If there is any one other piece of entertainment that should be allowed this same free pass, it must be the original Halloween. Yes, it was released in 1978, but like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, the movie is so intricately tied to the holiday (and every decade since its release), that I have absolutely no problem adding it to our list of 1980s entertainment.
Is it even really Halloween without hearing John Carpenter’s classic score? Without seeing Laurie Strode walking the streets of Haddonfield? Without Michael Myers peeking from behind trees and hanging bedsheets? Without Loomis tracking Myers? Well, not for me at least. I’ll admit this is an obvious pick (as will be the rest of this list), but I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here. Forget deep cuts. For me, Halloween traditions are as sacred as ones for Christmas.
Halloween II (1981)
Speaking of obvious..
The second installment into the Halloween franchise gets mixed reviews at best, and I don’t disagree; it doesn’t live up to its predecessor. And yet, Halloween rolls so perfectly into Halloween II that I can’t bear to separate these siblings.
There are plenty of valid criticisms to Halloween II, including Laurie being benched for most of the movie, the screen time dedicated to hospital scenes, and the lack of characterization for many of the new faces. What remains from the previous installment, however, is the atmosphere, effective score, and great kills. There are far worse entries in the series and when paired with the first movie, Halloween II satisfies my entertainment craving for Halloween night.
Elvira’s Halloween Special (1986)
We need at least one choice that we can “watch” during the point of the night when all the little ghouls and goblins are knocking on your door screaming “Trick or treat!” I’ve made this mistake many times over the years: starting one of my favorite flicks for Halloween just as trick or treating starts for the night. Then I’m pausing the movie over and over as I give out candy.
What we need is something we can let play in the background while we take care of candy-craving kids. Something that we don’t really mind missing a few minutes of here and there. Elvira’s Halloween Special fits the bill perfectly (especially if you watch one of the versions on YouTube complete with original commercial breaks).
There are a couple different “cuts” of the special on YouTube, but the most complete one also features music videos along with Elvira’s skits. I won’t call this one a "must watch” for the season, but I do think it plays an integral role during trick or treating time.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
I’m placing NotLD on the end as bonus viewing for two reasons. The first is that, yes, this came out long before the ‘80s. While we’ve fudged the rules a couple times during this marathon, I thought this might be a bridge too far for some. The second reason is that admittedly, I usually play Night of the Living Dead at the very end of the night when I’m in bed and falling asleep. I love the movie, but I’ve seen it a million times and don’t mind passing out halfway through. For me, it’s the perfect final taste of the holiday.
We’ve reached the end of our epic, week-long Halloween movie marathon, and boy oh boy has this been a fantastic series to write. There are of course many movies and specials that didn’t make it onto the list because they were made before or after the 1980s, and you can bet I’ll be watching those too. But if you want to stick to the theme, this list will serve you well.
Instead of leaving you with a single recipe for a Halloween snack, this time I’ll tell you about all the different things I like to put on my Halloween night menu. No Halloween is complete without a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. I usually use the Libby’s recipe on the can, but there are tons of specialized recipes out there if you’re looking to diversify.
Along with the pie, I roast the pumpkin seeds from my Jack-o'-lantern, make caramel apples, and eat plenty of candy. As for dinner, this changes from year to year, but in the past I’ve opted for easy options like pigs in a blanket (made to look like mummies), pumpkin-shaped pizza, and “Slimer” hot wings (made with green hot sauce). This year I may select one of the Halloween-themed hamburgers from the television show Bob’s Burgers.
What’s on your menu?
Well, gang. The time has come for me to sneak into the autumnal forest and prepare myself for the big night. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found at least a few good movies and snacks for your own marathons.
Happy Halloween, and of course…
Breathe deep of the night.
All previous installments: