As a result of this tarted up behavior of mine, I will watch almost anything that has Halloween in it, at least once. I've discovered several enjoyable little movies as a result, most of them aimed at people about 25 years younger than myself. Hooray for emotional immaturity!
Christopher Llyod's DAAAAID in this! This dvd came WRAPPED IN PLAAAAAASTIC! Did you see what I did there? Huh? Huh? Didja?
The first of these titles is the underrated and hugely enjoyable When Good Ghouls Go Bad, starring Christopher Lloyd, Joe Pichler, and Brittany Byrnes. I watched this absently one day while folding laundry, and was fell in love with it; the story is sweet, it's got great timing for the comedic parts, and while there is some cgi it's used more to augment the practical special effects. That's right, folks! You got real people as zombies, or, if too dessicated, puppets! I think the special effects have a lot to do with the charm of this film-- had it all been cgi it would have taken on a static, sterile quality instead of the lively goofiness that is instead inherent. The costuming is also a lot of fun-- a lot of decayed velvet and shredded silks kinda deal, which I personally love.
The plot is simple as well as unlikely, like any good holiday special should be: the town of Walker Falls doesn't celebrate Halloween anymore, fearing the wrath of the ghost of Curtis Danko, who after committing suicide (I think. I need to rewatch this. Today, probably. NCIS is fun and all, but the dead people don't tend to smart off. They just lay there. How inconsiderate.) in 1981, swore that a curse would come down on the head of anyone who brought Halloween back to the small town. Theyve bumped along fine for twenty years, until the Walker family that the town's named for, comes back to reopen the candy factory that established the town in the first place. Christopher Lloyd plays Uncle Fred, the patriarch of this clan, who is goofball incarnate. Everyone calls him Uncle Fred, something he put into place for branding reasons years before; even his adult son and 12 year old grandson Danny call him this. There's a lot of family dysfunction here; dad works too m uch, leaving Uncle Fred as playmate for Danny, who is bullied a lot at school. The usual plot of coming to realize your loved ones are the best thing ever, blah blah blah.
This is very much aimed at kids, but it's got enough gleeful ghoulishness that parents can watch along and enjoy it. Minimal smarm, more of a focus on Dead Folks Crackin' Wise, which is fine by me. This is actually a great gateway drug for kids to get their feet wet in the horror genre. There is a love story of sorts, between both father and son Walker; both are sweet and not saccharine, thanks be to God. Trouble starts when Danny is pressured into looking at the "cursed" statue that Curtis Danko made the night he died. As an aside, isn't Curtis Danko just the perfect name for a town legend?
How perfect does he look for the school weirdo circa 1981? You KNOW he listened to Bauhaus and the Smiths.
Shortly there after, weird shit starts to happen all over town, and Uncle Fred accidentally drops dead. But it's when he resurrects as a zombie that trouble starts to really fly. There are great bits where Uncle Fred gets an arm or two ripped off, and then needs his limbs reapplied via power drill and hammer! Like a I said, there's a happily morbid streak in this film. It's also revealed that many of the children of Walker Falls have been having Halloween in secret, in the now derelict home that Curtis Danko once lived in. It's a very sweet, sort of Secret Garden vibe; the kids decorated and come in costume while bringing candy, music, etc. I really like these scenes because there are some great costumes floating around in the background; more thought than usually goes into costumed extras scenes. But at the same time, a lot look exactly like what you'd expect a kid to come up with on the fly, especially in a town where Halloween hasn't been since 1981.
Curtis Danko post crypt. He's a really great looking puppet. How cool would that look in a yard haunt?
Give it a watch if you like anything pertaining to Halloween, and especially if you have kids. It's a great way to help kids find delight in horror, instead of seeing it as something to be avoided until they're 20 and finally bring themselves to watch Poltergeist as well as A Nightmare on Elm Street, and only then with an alcoholic booster. Autobiographical? Perhaps. A little.
Or a lot.