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Getting in the Halloween Movie Spirit

by Sarah Soliman

Spooky Season is here, and between the perfect staying-in-on-the-couch weather, and the many many incredible films that — spooky or not — celebrate the Halloween spirit, there are few times of year or holidays that are a better match for movie watching. The staff of The Picture House shares some of our film favorites that you can watch this Halloween. So settle in for a good scare (or just a cozy night). 

The Vigil Rated PG-13 — Francile Albright, Deputy Director & Director of Education

While The Vigil is not my favorite scary movie of all time, it is my favorite find of this season. I love discovering lesser-known films successfully made with clever solutions to a small budget. When it comes to tension and spooky atmosphere, this film delivers. Set in an Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, the film begins with a refreshing bit of character development, and explores the conventional “good vs. evil” conflict through Jewish culture, folklore, and mythology. The Vigil has a flawed final act (like a lot of scary movies), but still well worth the watch for the great acting and fresh take.

Pet Sematary Rated R — Jon Bingham, Operations & Theater Manager

Pet Sematary is as creepy as movies get. The tragic death of a toddler takes an even more nightmarish turn when he comes back from the dead to destroy his parents. It’s sick. It’s twisted. Not to mention an awful flashback involving the mom’s sickly sister. This movie leaves an everlasting psychological stain. I don’t recommend watching it.

House Unrated — Tim Brisson, Theater Manager

One of my favorite films that is appropriate to watch around Halloween is House, the classic 1977 Japanese horror film. In this film the young “Gorgeous” decides to visit her aunt’s mansion with six of her friends from school. Upon arriving at the mansion, the girls quickly realize things are not what they seem.  The friends must fend off the supernatural mansion while attempting to make sense of what happens to them. The framing, editing, and acting in the film creates a unique experience that no other film has ever replicated.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Rated R — Clay Bushong, Director of Programming & Business Development

The scariest thing about this assignment is being able to pick only one horror film to talk about! I love this genre so much it’s hard to pick one, but I will go with the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Most of the great horror flicks came before or after my high school days. I hated the slasher indestructible villains of the 80s like Jason and Michael who just slashed through teens with no real plot. Freddy had a backstory and it involved questionable ethics of the parents as well. But most importantly, the dude could hop in and out of dreams! I love sleep so the thought of not being able to sleep is almost as scary as being killed by Freddy himself. If you haven’t seen A Nightmare on Elm Street recently, do yourself a favor and check it out this weekend.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Unrated — Sam Coughlin, Development Associate

There’s nothing that screams nostalgia quite like Charles Schultz during any holiday season. I can’t help but relate with each Peanuts special and the level of blind optimism that is presented within each of them. Whether it be Charlie Brown’s annual attempt to try and kick a football on Thanksgiving and thinking Lucy will not pull it from him or his yearly failure to put on a Christmas play, nothing quite matches the level of commitment that Linus has to discovering the Great Pumpkin every Halloween. In addition, I think we can all empathize in some way to Chuck’s constant disappointment and his underwhelming trick-or-treating experience, sorrowfully repeating that, “I got a rock,” while donning a last second, overly cut-out ghost costume. These yearly attempts always help to remind me that even though there may be a history of failure, we cannot help but to be optimistic that a change will come. After a year-long hiatus of Peanuts from national television, I am very much looking forward to sitting down and enjoying this longtime American classic once again. 

Get Out Rated R — Laura deBuys, President & Executive Director

I am not a fan of scary movies, but Get Out is such a great film, with horror elements that are perfectly plotted, it’s one of my all-time favorite movies. Perfect to watch on Halloween. Just don’t sit down for any tea.  

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Rated R — Ben Jones, Theater Manager

My favorite Halloween movie is Rocky Horror! I like the weird singing lips at the start of the movie. I like the goofy songs. I love seeing all the people with rice and costumes and umbrellas. I love shouting at the screen for the whole movie. It’s an experience I can’t get at home, and I always look forward to it. 

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Rated PG — Andrea Pace, Director of Membership & Special Events

Not a scary movie fan, my go-to Halloween film is E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  Who doesn’t love this heartwarming story about a lonely boy who befriends a kind alien? Ten-year-old Elliott forms a special bond with E.T., and on Halloween night, Elliott and his siblings Michael and Gertie (played by one of my favorite actresses, Drew Barrymore) dress E.T. up as a ghost and orchestrate his escape. When Elliott realizes that he must help E.T. get home even if it means losing his best friend, he learns important values of the meaning of true friendship. An oldie but goodie in my book. 

Over the Garden Wall TV-PG — Sarah Soliman, Marketing Associate

Over the Garden Wall is a spooky, yet quaint, animated series that’s perfect for Halloween scaredy cats like me. Brothers Wirt and Greg get lost in a mysterious forest and have a series of supernatural adventures as they try to make their way home. The fairytale premise allows for the chilling to sit side-by-side with the cozy in a delightfully surreal, witty, and ultimately, warm-hearted story. It’s become a favorite annual holiday tradition of mine to enjoy the gentle scares Over the Garden Wall has to offer.  

From Dusk Till Dawn Rated R — Victoria Sunko, Controller

When I received free passes to see From Dusk Till Dawn, all I knew was that George Clooney was in it. I had no clue what the movie was about. I was so shocked in the theater when vampires and gore presented themselves on the screen. It was totally unexpected — and fun! The vampires, gore, and utter shock from the unexpected always remind me of Halloween.