This year has been a never ending firehose of garbage with bad news being replaced by worse news being replaced by terrible news. An entire continent lit on fire. WWIII was briefly on the horizon. The entire freaking planet has been going through a pandemic for months. The Venture Bros. was canceled. All in all, it’s been pretty lousy, which is all the more reason why we should sit back and enjoy something nice and pleasant this Halloween in the form of some nice animated family films which can take us away from the never ending terror which our daily lives have become.
The Halloween Tree:
The first of our spooky animated fare is this 1993 made-for-tv movie based off a Ray Bradbury book of the same name. Bradbury also provides narration for the movie, and its written factor shows with the colorful working behind the narration. The story follows four friends as they travel through time and take a look at some of the history and traditions that have led to modern day Halloween. They are on this excursion to save their friend WHO IS ABOUT TO FREAKING DIE!!! They follow his ghost through time while also trying to keep his spirit out of the hands of their nefarious guide who wants their friend’s soul for his titular Halloween Tree.
Spelling it out like that makes it sound nuttier than it actually is, but it is still a fun romp through the history of Halloween dating all the back to ancient Egypt. Don’t expect world class production here, as its made-for-tv nature keeps its ambitions in check. Except for the foley artist! Whoever that cat was for this production did a bang up job, as it has some of the most satisfying sound effects out there, and feels like some proto- ASMR stuff. An innocent little movie that is a dandy of a way to celebrate Halloween.
This spin on the haunted house is one of the better Halloween movies to come out in the past 20 years, and features some shockingly grim stuff despite its PG rating. Rather than a house being inhabited by spirits, this house is the spirit, as it is possessed by the wrathful ghost of the inhabitants deceased wife. The former circus act was tormented by children on Halloween and wants to take out her revenge on all children that tread near her in the form of COMEING TO LIFE VIA THE HOUSE AND FREAKING EATING THEM ALIVE!!! AND NOT JUST KIDS, BUT DRUNK SCHMUCKS AND COPS TOO- ANYONE WHO EVEN WALKS ON THE LAWN!!!
This is a more intense film than either of the others, and it is one of the few legitimate modern Halloween films. While there is a litany of Christmas movies (though fewer coming out recently), but there are relatively few Halloween movies, as most of them seem to just be general horror films. Monster House is an underappreciated film with some surprising voice talent who were reeled in for just a few lines. It is an interesting take on the haunted house concept, and a fine film to add to a Halloween lineup.
Nightmare Before Christmas:
The quintessential Halloween films, and one of the most iconic Disney films of its generation has spawned a legion of dedicated fans and scores of Hot Topic merchandise. Seemingly able to be recognized from a single frame, everything is distinct. The characters, the environment, the sound and the overall feel of the movie is entirely unique. It is the most well-known Halloween movie, and it spends half of its duration masquerading as a Christmas movie.
Speaking of duration, this film is shocking short with a brisk 76 minute run time which barely even qualifies for feature length. Regardless, it has made significant impact in spite of its limited chance for exposure. It is well known for a reason, as it has terrific characters, a bananas concept and some ear worms which will stick in your head- just try to keep “This is Halloween” from crawling around in your head for the next week, heck even take the Marilyn Manson version for a spin.
This is a film which has been a staple of the Halloween season ever since it released, a role and reputation which it has earned. It is a film which will provide an experience which cannot be replicated in any way…unless you watch Corpse Bride. It is a must watch for any fans of Halloween films, animated films, or films which have a unique vision and are unlike anything else they can find trudging through a streaming service.