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October is my favorite time of year; days are shorter (which means the night is longer), the LA heat is starting to fade (as long as we don’t get a sudden heatwave), and sometimes it means the beginning of the rainy season (not in recent years).  It’s also the month where my favorite holiday resides, Halloween.

I adore Halloween, I love everything about it.  I love the costumes, the candy, the parties, the creepiness, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, spider webs, skeletons.  I love Nightmare Before Christmas, and Disney Halloween, and Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, haunted houses and hay rides.  It’s also one of the only months of the year I can get away with wearing all black without being asked who died.

What Halloween is complete without some creepy or quirky or scary or horror filled movies?  Some are light hearted, some are most certainly not, but we all want to indulge in the dark and macabre around this time of year.  Or, if you’re like me, any time of the year is perfect for these movies.

The movies below fall solidly into dark comedies, quirky, or just plain so bad it’s good categories.  No matter what, you’re guaranteed to get some laughs.  Most of the movies below were both critical and financial failures, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good ride.  In addition, most of the movies have great casts that deliver their all.  Unfortunately, people either missed the silly point of the movies or marketing went horribly wrong.

What you won’t find on this list are the usual suspects; no Beetlejuice, Gremlins, Lost Boys, Underworld, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 28 Days Later, Zombieland, or Shaun of the Dead, etc.  Those movies are well known, cult classics, and a must see for anyone that is into the not quite so bright and shiny worlds.

Quirky and fun doesn’t necessarily mean no gore, it just means please don’t take these movies too seriously.  Quirky and fun also doesn’t necessarily mean good, it mean entertaining and a delight to watch.  You know what I’m talking about, movies that are so cheesy, and silly, they are great.  Think Resident Evil Movies, not good, but oh so much fun.

Presented in no particular order, quirky movies that will make you laugh this Halloween.

 

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Death Becomes Her (1992)

A comedy romp starring Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep, and Goldie Hawn is the fantastical tale of two women and the man between them.  When Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) runs off with Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis), Helen Sharp’s (Goldie Hawn) finance, it sparks a rivalry that hinges on the quest for eternal youth and beauty.

After discovering a secret potion sold by a Hollywood witch, Lisle Von Rhuman (Isabella Rossellini), Sharp is granted immortality with a side effect of youth & beauty.  Shorty thereafter, Ashton also discovered this secret in a vial and you can see where this is going.  Here is the catch, anyone taking the potion is immortal but that doesn’t mean they will heal (they aren’t vampires after all) so any damage done to the body is there to stay.  Forever.

Insert whacky hijinks as the two women fight over Menville and an enjoyable time is had by all.

 

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Just in case you aren’t aware, the television show was the continuation of the events that took place in this movie.  Staring Kristy Swanson as Buffy, Donald Sutherland as her Watcher, and Luke Perry as the love interest.  It’s a little bit lighter in tone than the acclaimed television series but still has the signature Whedon dialog.  The film was written by Joss Whedon, after all, so it still has all his marks.

We all know how this one turned out, but if you want to watch the silly and fun ride that started the legends of The Chosen One, here it is.  Also, Donald Sutherland as Buffy’s Watcher is pretty fantastic.

 

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Idle Hands (1999)

This is another teen comedy movie, similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but where Buffy goes light, Idle Hands leans heavily into the dark comedy theme.  You know the old proverb, idle hands are the Devil’s playground.  Well, this movie takes that literally when a lazy teen has his hand possessed and, somehow, manages to go on a killing spree while still attached to its owner.  I won’t spoil all the fun for you, just know don’t take anything in this movie seriously, it’s meant to be a joke.  Just look at that photo.

As with many movies on this list, it was a financial and critical failure.  As far as I’m concerned, people took the movie too seriously and missed the whole silly point.  Staring baby faced Seth Green and Jessica Alba, along with Devon SawaElden Henson, and Vivica A Fox.

 

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The Brother’s Grimm (2005)

Matt Damon and Heath Ledger star as the infamous Grimm Brothers.  You know the ones, they wrote down all those fantastic fairy tales that gave some people nightmares as kids.  In this version, the brothers are traveling con artists, in French-occupied Germany, during the earth 19th century.  While peddling their falsehoods, they encounter a genuine curse which requires real solutions instead of false exorcisms.

It’s a completely silly story filled with site gags and pratt falls as well as verbal and physical sparring.  But, as always, both Damon and Ledger are fantastic in their roles.  Not to mention, all of Ledger’s movies are a must watch, so don’t forget this one just because it looks silly.  Spoiler, it is, but it’s worth it.

Directed by Terry Gilliam, also staring Peter Stormare, Jonathan Pryce, and Monica Bellucci as the 500-year old evil Queen.

 

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Van Helsing (2004)

The notorious monster hunter, Van Helsing, is sent to Transylvania to stop Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein’s research and a werewolf to further his sinister plot.  If that twisted premise doesn’t get you, then maybe the actors will.  Staring Kate Beckinsale, in another leather and corset wearing action role, as Anna Valerious, opposite Hugh Jackman‘s trench coat wearing Van Helsing, the movie starts with the cheese and doesn’t let up until the credits roll.

Underworld came out the previous year, firmly cementing Beckinsale as an action heroine, and the marketing capitalized on the success of the Vampire v Lycan movie.  Unfortunately, the ads took a less fun approach and, instead, decided to play up the dark atmosphere and the few serious moments.  If the marketing concentrated on the tongue planted firmly in cheek style, the movie may have taken in more money.

As it stands, the movie spawned no sequel despite leaving the possibility open, and was a critical and financial failure.  But that shouldn’t stop you from the silly enjoyment.

 

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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Continuing the fighting monsters in tight leather, we have the witch hunting siblings, Hansel & Gretel, played by Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner.  Remember the fairy tale where they were captured by a witch living in a gingerbread house?  Well, it left its mark on the siblings and they now devote their entire life to hunting down and eradicating witches.  With Famke Janssen playing the Witch Queen, Muriel, it’s a cast to die for.

While it was critically panned and didn’t bring in much at the box office, rumors swirled for a long while regarding a sequel.  Unfortunately, it’s meant to be, dreams of a sequel died in 2014 leaving us only with this gem of a movie.

 

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Based on the book of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, the premise is simple, the 16th President of the United States is also one badass Vampire hunter.  After learning of a plot where Vampires want take over the U.S., he does what any good President would do, vows to destroy all the blood-suckers.

What follows is a gore filled, action fest that takes itself a little too seriously.  While the book was meant to be silly fare, the movie missed that memo by a small margin.  But, as long as you know what you’re getting into, this so bad it’s good movie will have you laughing at the absurdity.

Staring Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln, with Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

 

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Also based on a book by the same name, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter forgot to do, it doesn’t take itself seriously.  Knowing the subject matter is utterly ridiculous, the cast and story leans into it, giving the audience proverbial nods and winks to let us know they are in on the joke.  What we get is a fantastic mash up of the Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice,  and a zombie movie.  Seriously, it’s a period zombie flick, what isn’t there to love?

Starring Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley as Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bella Heathcote as Jane Bennet, Ellie Bamber as Lydia Bennet, Millie Brady as Mary Bennet, Suki Waterhouse as Kitty Bennet, and the amazing Lena Headey as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Matt Smith as Parson Collins.

 

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

A documentary team films the lives of a group of vampires, recording the ups and downs of life as an undead, night dwelling, blood sucker.  Filmed in reality TV style, we follow a few vampire roommates as they go about their daily grind.  Uh, or rather, nightly grind.  This is one movie that doesn’t even remotely take itself too seriously.  The entire movie is one big joke, from the opening moments all the way to the credits.  The actors play it straight, but it’s the kind of straight that permeates Monty Python and Benny Hill sketches.

Directed by and starring Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi (the Thor: Ragnarok).  If you enjoyed the Team Thor short, the one where we find out where Thor was during Civil War and are introduced to Darryl, then this movie is for you.

 

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Dark Shadows (2012)

The only Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp movie on the list.  This is the movie that started the downfall of both, a remake of the 1966 television show of the same name the movie centers on the Collins family.  Johnny Depp plays the vampire ancestor that reemerges after several hundred years, and attempts to acclimate to the modern world.  Unfortunately things aren’t that simple as each member of the family, along with a few others, harbor secrets of their own.

It was never meant to be a serious movie but it had high expectations.  A movie directed by Burton, staring Depp along with Michelle Pfieffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Johnny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, and Chloe Grace Moretz brought people into the theater.  Unfortunately, the movie didn’t live up to the hype and left the theater fairly quickly.  However, as long as you go into it expecting cheesy fun, then it’s a laugh out loud silly time.

 

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(BONUS) Hocus Pocus (1993)

Just in case you are not fortunate enough to be aware of the delight that is Hocus Pocus, I’m throwing this on the list.  While fare such as Beetlejuice, Gremlins, Rocky Horror Picture Show are popular and normal Halloween viewing, this one has faded into the background.  While well known in certain circles, I’m not entirely sure it’s broken out of its niche audience to a wider acceptance.

Three witch sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) are accidentally resurrected on Halloween night in Salem, Massachusetts.  It’s up to three kids and an immortal cat to stop the bumbling sister’s return to power.  Yes, that description includes an immortal cat.

This is a Disney movie so no gore, no cursing, no anything that could be considered questionable.  There is even a musical number for your listening delight, because there would have to be with Midler present, it only makes sense.  The movie is aimed at kids but I continue to enjoy it each year and I am most certainly no kid.  Like with most good children’s movies, the jokes are layered in a way that makes them fun for both the young and not so young.

Stephanie Cookies
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