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Pet Peeve: Halloween Movies that Skimp on the Halloween

Some of the movies in this little list I like. Some I loathe. But all of them would be even better if they followed through on their Halloween setting. It bugs me a weird amount when movies have a character say it’s Halloween, but there are no visuals to back it up and give it that seasonal punch.

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013): Between my original review and a recent podcast, we’ve dug into Texas Chainsaw 3D quite a bit around here. For all the things that went wrong in the film, though, setting it on Halloween with no follow-through is the most egregious (not really, but I like to be dramatic). I listed this one first because, really, there is a tiny bit more than just mentioning that it’s happening at Halloween. They do stumble through that Halloween kinda carnival thing where Leatherface battles someone dressed like the Saw horse guy. But really, why bother, unless you’re going to go full bore on Halloween in the background. Some orange lights and jack-o-lanterns coulda salvaged this film and turned it into at least some nice seasonal lighting. Maybe.

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012): Are you getting tired of the Wrong Turn series? I’m not. Part two was fun as hell, and while the third installment took a dip, the franchise picked back up with four. So how does part five stack up? Well, it’s set at Halloween, so that automatically merits a watch at the Bloody Popcorn house. However, as you can assume from its inclusion on this list, it does not feel ultra-Halloween-y—they mention the holiday a few times, but there is nary a jack-o-lantern to be seen. A group of kids is on their way to a Burning Man-style music festival in West Virginia. You know they’re gonna run afoul of a bunch of inbred hillbillies. This particular bunch is led by Doug Bradley (who calls them “pinheads”). The movie is not without its flaws of course. The movie does not take place in the woods, which feels weird, and nothing really happens to any of the hillbilly guys. But by the end of the final reel, I can say I had a good time. But you know what would’ve enhanced my good time? Not setting the movie at Halloween if they weren’t going to set the movie at Halloween!

The Wickeds (2005): I always want to like just about every horror movie that is set at Halloween. That’s not always possible, unfortunately. Take John Poague’s The Wickeds. When it first came out, I rented it, not knowing it “took place on Halloween”, and could barely get through it. A year or two later, I revisited the film as part of an October-long, watch-every-Halloween-themed-horror-movie-I-can-think-of thing. It still sucked; most movies that boast Ron Jeremy as their main draw do. There is nothing really Halloween about this movie. I think one character one time mentions the fact that it is Halloween. If not for that sentence, you would never even know. A bunch of kids, on that perennial quest for the ultimate party, run afoul of some grave robbers and a bunch of zombies. Some junk happens that is probably not even worth trying to remember. The credits roll, and I curse myself for renting this movie not once, but twice.

Scarecrow (2013): The Bloody Popcorn household rarely turns down a made-for-SyFy movie (even before Sharknado). So some Saturday night, bag o’ candy corn in hand, we settled in to watch Scarecrow, which had the added bonus of being set at Halloween, according to the description. First things first, this is not to be confused with the 2002 Tiffany Shepis DTV flick Scarecrow (which is a fun, brainless movie too!). Now, this movie is indeed set at Halloween, circumstantially. But there are no costumes, parties, trick-or-treaters or any other symbol of the holiday. We just know that it takes place in the last week of October. That aside, the movie is enjoyable enough. Nothing spectacularly bad or insanely awesome. Middle of the road Lacey Chabert-ness about a group of kids on some sort of all-day detention (no Breakfast Club-esque reasons are given) who are tasked with disassembling a scarecrow that needs to be brought into town for the annual festival. Why the hell does it take six kids, a teacher, Lacy Chabert and another dude named Eddie to disassemble a scarecrow? That seems like a two-person job, max.

Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery (2015): I took a more detailed look at this movie last year. This one, more than any other on this list, is frustrating because I genuinely and thoroughly enjoy the movie. It’s so much fun. But setting it at Halloween by dialog only is such a missed opportunity. So many Halloween-ready elements. Scooby-Doo and the gang. KISS. Fighting the Crimson Witch. At an amusement park. On Halloween night! If this animated film were dressed with pumpkins and the like around the park, it would’ve turned into a Halloween staple across the board. Plus, the stylized opening already lends itself to Halloween. It looks like the opening to a rock n’ roll-themed Halloween special, if you added some seasonal touches. Still. It’s fun and worthy of a watch this year, even if you don’t get that frothy PSL feeling in your brain.

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Categorised in: Halloween, Movies

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