The Screening Room (Halloween Edition)

The harshest critic meets the best and worst movies.

The Witching Hour has come and gone but that doesn’t mean you can’t still watch these spooky movies. Whether you’re a frightful fiend or a ghastly ghost, these films will surely chill and thrill you to the core.


Hocus Pocus: ★★☆☆☆

-No Holiday season is complete without this classic Set in 1980s Salem The story follows Dani and Max Dennison; Allison; and Thacary Binx, a talking cat. They accidentally resurrect a group of witches called the Sanderson Sisters: Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, who were hanged after they absorbed the souls of children to regain their youth. 

Despite these witches looking deceptively young, they are actually hundreds of years old, and have to adjust to life in the 20th century. They need to brew a potion to remain young before sunrise, and in order to do this they must steal the souls of  all the children in Salem. Now it is up to the group of friends to stop them before time runs out. 

While the concept seems macabre , the film is hilarious–watching the witches ride a bus and mistake a random guy dressed in a devil costume for Satan is a funny scene to even the harshest critic. 

While the film is a cult classic, it does have it’s issues. 

Some of the pacing is off and not all the jokes land, especially in  this day and age when comedy has sadly become a lot less subtle and more off colored. But that’s not to say there aren’t really great moments as well. The party scene,  where the witches sing an amazing rendition of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’, “I Put a Spell on You” is an absolute classic. So if you can overlook those little critiques, this movie really is a fun time, not to mention a perfect film to get you into the Halloween spirit. 


The Nightmare Before Christmas: ★★★☆☆

-I am quite conflicted with this film. The fluidity of the stop motion animation is phenomenal and I cannot deny that some of the songs such as, “This Is Halloween” and “What’s this?” are insufferably catchy. However, the story lacks something that takes a halloween film over the top. 

The story centers around Jack Skellington, a resident of Halloween town and the hailed, “Pumpkin King”, who has grown weary of the Halloween season and wants something more. After going on a midnight stroll into the forest with his dog Zero, Jack stumbles upon a forest of doors leading to different holidays. One door catches his eye in particular: Christmastown. After discovering this new holiday, he soon grows fond of it and wants to replicate it in his own town. He studies different aspects of the holiday,  wanting  to become a  part of it,  and realizes that to do so he must take the place of the infamous “Sandy Claws”(Santa Claus). 

He enlists the help of a few friends to kidnap Santa and bring him back to Halloweentown so Jack can take his place, but these friends of his are secretly working for the infamous and sinister Oogie Boogie, who has other plans for the Christmas patriarch. After failing miserably at the role of jolly old St.Nick, Jack must learn the error of his ways and save Santa Claus before Oogie Boogie takes him out and ruins the holiday forever. 

While this film is a classic staple of the Halloween season, the story unfortunately isn’t very compelling and with a focus on the concept of, “ Halloween meets Christmas” , the lines are blurred between which season this movie really fits with. However,  the stop motion animation is truly a sight to behold, and the characters like Jack Skellington and Sally, Jack’s secret admirer, are pretty memorable in their personalities. An engaging aspect of the film is you can simultaneously root for and question Jack and his motives.  Tim Burton’s gothic touch is all over this and I love it. I have been a fan of his since first seeing, “Beetlejuice” and this just goes to a whole new level of spine chilling greatness. The bright shining Christmas colors and the dark and sinister undertones mix beautifully together. So while it’s not a perfect film, it’s definitely worth your time.