Hoot Recommends: Halloween edition

“Halloween”

The 1978 spooky classic Halloween is perfect if you are looking for a nostalgic 70s movie about a rogue psychiatric patient turned stabbing murderer. Although the violence definitely appears toned down to modern day viewers, and the stabbing and the gore are almost comically fake, the film maintains its worth through the surprisingly deep themes it explores, such as family, mental health and what happens to teens when they commit all the vices. The ability to laugh at this movie’s production capacity of its era is part of the fun. This movie is perfect for anyone that’s in for a fun Halloween movie but is not the biggest fan of horror movies. The classic slasher film has influenced so many more subsequent films which makes this O.G. film a must watch. You won’t be able to recognize young Jamie Lee Curtis as she scrambles to fight off this crazed murderer that has just escaped from an insane asylum. Yes, you will be yelling at the screen telling her what she shouldn’t be doing, but that’s part of the reason we watch spooky movies, right? —Uma Jagwani

My Babysitter’s A Vampire”

“My Babysitter’s A Vampire” is vastly overlooked and underappreciated. Though originally just a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), it grew into a two-season television show that is somehow still on Netflix even after the creation of Disney+. The film follows Sarah (Vanessa Morgan) navigating life as both a teenage girl and a fledgling vampire. It’s got nerdy main characters, evil undead boyfriends and, of course, magic. Ethan (Matthew Knight) and Benny (Atticus Mitchell) struggle to infiltrate a vampire party without becoming their dinner. With some help from Sarah, who is technically Ethan’s babysitter, the boys have to save both their souls and the souls of their classmates. A recent revisit to this film has proved it to be funny and cheesy in a good way, but nine-year-old me was definitely spooked!

Things really pick up in the television series as Ethan, Benny and Sarah get into new magical hijinks every episode. Dolls come to life, pets become zombies and love potions are brewed too strong. As expected with a Disney show, nothing too heavy is touched upon and every episode is full of funny one-liners and a plot just entertaining enough to capture your attention. Pair this with a budding romance between Ethan and Sarah, and you’ve got a Disney classic. “My Babysitter’s A Vampire” is wholesome, fun and an all-around delight to watch. —Emma Lichtenstein

“Hotel Transylvania”

What says Halloween more than a movie about friendly monsters who just don’t want to be killed by humans? “Hotel Transylvania” follows Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), in a coming of age type of story. Dracula owns a hotel—hence the name Hotel Transylvania—for monsters where there are no humans. The story begins with Dracula throwing Mavis a birthday party for her 118th birthday, inviting all of his friends. Dracula’s world turns upside down when Johnny (Andy Samberg), a 21-year-old human hiker, visits the hotel. Dracula tries his best to hide the fact that there is a human in his hotel, but his efforts are in vain, as (spoiler alert) Mavis falls in love with him.

The humor of the movie was absolutely phenomenal. We found ourselves laughing every minute because of either a witty/sarcastic remark or even “inside jokes” that the movie created for itself. By the end of the movie, our faces actually hurt because we laughed so much! Adam Sandler did an amazing job with Dracula’s accent: it sounded almost real, but it was also funny. You could laugh just because Dracula was speaking.

The one critique of this film we can think of is the slight cliche of the storyline. Over-protective father, rebellious daughter and an unwanted love interest: it really doesn’t get any more basic. But the movie is so kind overall, that it is hard to hold anything against it. 

Overall it was a very light-hearted and wholesome movie: with everything going on in the world, it was just what we needed. We are excited to continue watching the series! —John Fornagiel and Sasha Skarboviychuk 

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

When it comes to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” you are either a die-hard fan  or you don’t really care about it. I fall in the latter category; there’s nothing incredibly spectacular about it for me. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how iconic it is, I just think it’s a bit overrated. There are some beautiful cinematic shots like Jack Skellington standing on Spiral Hill (very original name might I add) and even the clip of Jack Skellington’s house is pretty cool. But aside from that there’s nothing that great that makes me want to watch it every year around this time. 

The characters are kinda (really) creepy looking, especially the three trick-or-treaters. They’re legitimately terrifying even when they aren’t doing anything that creepy. And yes yes I know, I get it, that’s supposed to be the whole point because it’s meant to be spooky. And I guess that’s on me for being a wimp and not appreciating spooky things. 

Also, how does Sally poison the doctor who (basically) holds her in captivity if they’re all supposed to be dead. What? Can you die once you’re already dead? Answer that, movie! 

But the biggest turn off is that I don’t know how to categorize the movie. Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Rather than enjoying the content of the film, I’m left wondering when I’m supposed to be watching it. Do I watch it around Halloween, or around Christmas, or do I watch it twice a year, once around each holiday just to cover my bases? Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving movie, right in the middle of the two holidays. —Victoria Morrongiello 

“We’re Alive”

If you love scary zombie stories but can’t get through an episode of “The Walking Dead” because of the too-realistic makeup, then “We’re Alive” is perfect for you. You can listen to all episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever else you get your podcasts.

“We’re Alive” is a podcast produced by Wayland Productions, and since releasing its first episode back in 2009, this fantastic audio drama has received nothing short of awards and all-around praise. This audio drama follows the story of a group of both civilians and ex-military in the light of the zombie apocalypse, which, like almost every zombie apocalypse story, seems to come out of nowhere. 

The characters of the story are all incredibly complex and multifaceted, all of them doing their best to survive in a less-than-ideal situation. Nearly all the characters—even the more morally gray ones—are characters you root for, and at the end of the day, you’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat, hoping that everyone gets out of the zombie apocalypse alive. 

Besides the characters, however, there are some other genuinely wonderful things about the podcast: the storytelling is incredibly rich, adding on a whole other layer to zombie storytelling that audiences probably haven’t seen before. The zombies seem to have an actual plan, for one, and listening to them gradually outsmart the humans is something that’ll make listeners stop dead in their tracks (no pun intended). 

The story doesn’t just end with this podcast, either. Wayland Productions has since released two spin-off audio dramas from this universe, one titled “We’re Alive: Lockdown” (the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of prison inmates) and “We’re Alive: Goldrush” (the apocalypse with an old Western twist). 

So what are you still doing here? Go listen to your zombie-loving hearts’ content! —Caroline O

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