So it’s Halloween. Have you looked outside? Since most of North America is experiencing the shittiest of weather, it’s not a great idea to go trick-or-treating. Let’s face it. You’re a little too old for that anyways. So the best thing to do is to grab a bag of candy and curl up in front of the television for a movie marathon. What’s that you say? You’re not a big horror fan? Well that doesn’t mean you can’t watch a movie. There’s still stuff to watch that can be linked with Halloween. In fact I got a list for ya! Now when you first glance at the list below, you might be thinking, “Wait. None of these films have anything to do with Halloween.” And you’d be right. But there are elements within these films that connect with this late October holiday. Not every connection has to be strong. It just has to be a connection. So take a gander at the list of options below and if you’re feeling lucky, throw one of these bad boys on tonight as you spend a not-so-spooky night in.
1. The Great Imposter (1961)
For those interested in a classic comedy with a pinch of drama thrown in, The Great Imposter, starring Tony Curtis is right up your alley. Based on a true story, this is a broadly fictionalized account of the life of Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr., a man who stole or created multiple identities and worked in numerous professions, often successfully. In the film, we see Curtis as FWD jr. take the on the job of a surgeon onboard a Warship, a marine, a prison warden and even a monk. The film has some great laughs. I’ll always remember seeing the end of this film and thinking, “That would never work.” But even with it’s outlandish, unreal moments, it’s an endearing film that has good comic timing and great characters. This film also features another great performance by Karl Malden. Now’s the part where you’re scratching your head on why this is a “Halloween” film. It’s simple. A big part of Halloween is dressing up and pretending to be somebody else. Halloween is every day of the year for this guy. These days, I really feel that the work of Tony Curtis is underaprreciated, especially when it comes to his comedic work. If you watch this and you don’t find his performance at least a little bit charming, you have no soul.
2. Point Break (1991)
I think the connection to Halloween and Point Break is a little more evident. Keanu Reeves is an FBI agent (yeah right!) who has gone under cover to infiltrate a group of bank robbers dubbed the Ex-Presidents due to the fact that they perform their robberies in rubber Halloween masks of Regan, Nixon, etc. And there’s a good amount of surfing as well. This film is essential schlock 90s action. Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze chew on the goofy dialogue and look like they’re having a lot of fun in this movie. So you might be asking, “What’s so great about this movie?” To tell you the truth, not alot except that it’s fun. And for you kids out there who might not know their action film history, if this film didn’t exist there would be no The Fast and The Furious as some ideas and plot are taken directly from Point Break (except they drag race instead of surf). As far as Keanu films go, this is one of the better ones as it doesn’t take itself too seriously. When you’ve got the line, “The Ex-Presidents are surfers”, you know you’ve got a fun film on your hands.
3. Darkman (1990)
On the entire list, Darkman is the one that fits best traditionally with Halloween. It’s a somewhat creepy tale of a scientist who’s been horribly disfigured and is out for revenge on the criminals that caused him to be so. Liam Neeson is great as the mentally deranged Peyton Westlake (aka Darkman) as he goes through terrible mood swings and bouts of mental imbalance on his quest for vengence. And he’s the good guy of this piece. In fact, Director Sam Raimi almost presents him as a Superhero. The results is a half gripping tribute to the matinee movies of yore, half cheesey comedy with an 80s action twist. Why is it included on this list? After Peyton’s disfiguring, he’s able to construct a mask that looks and feels like his former face. He’s also able to make masks of other people’s faces. So he can essentially dress up as anybody. Noticing a trend here? The downside is that the skin of the masks can only take 100 minutes of sunlight and then they start to melt. This makes for short dates. The film is great to watch now as it’s very different from anything Liam Neeson is known for doing today. Frances McDormand also stars. Great to watch if you want something a little spooky but not gorey.
4. Anything with Nicolas Cage in it after 1996
This is kind of dipping into the horror category as he is sometimes horrific to watch. Nicolas Cage is not a good actor. He never really was. But when you look back at his carreer, you can see that there was a time when he made pretty decent films. Raising Arizona, Amos and Andrew, Leaving Las Vegas. Hell, even Honeymoon in Vegas was entertaining. It appears that back then, directors and producers knew how to use Cage to the best of his abilities. Then shortly after The Rock, someone let Nic start calling the shots on his own. And that’s when all hell broke loose. It started out feeling like it was a joke. We were suppose to laugh at him in films like Con Air and Face/Off, right? There’s no way we were suppose to take that seriously. What followed was a pattern of making only two kinds of movies: movies that were bad and movies that were so bad, they were good. The key is knowing which is which. If you’re gonna take in some Nic Cage willingly, the best films to watch are the ones where you read the premise and go, “Really?”. The Wicker Man and The Sorceror’s Apprentice come to mind. Of course, you can always watch Kick-Ass again. It’s a pretty good flick and it’s got heroes dressing up….there’s that theme again. I knew there was a point to this one. If you want a real fright, watch some Nicolas Cage films post 1996. They’re bound to keep you up at night.
So that’s the list. Maybe one of these films will get through this cold, depressing night without scaring you. Then again, that Nic Cage is pretty scary. If you do settle on a Nic Cage film, make sure it’s got a freak out scene in it. They’re classic.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!