Two weeks ago I started my October themed Top Five lists with 2013 Movie-Inspired Costumes. I followed it up with Classic Halloween Picks for Kids. This week, I have my Top Five Halloween Scenes from Movies that Aren’t About Halloween.
5. “Toilet Troll,” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
It is hard to imagine a more magical Halloween than one hosted by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Some fans of the Harry Potter series criticize Chris Columbus for his execution of the first two films but I believe he gave them the right amount of whimsy and gloss described in the books. The Halloween scene is particularly memorable with its floating pumpkins, delicious looking food, and mouth-watering sweets. The subsequent struggle with the troll is a perfect finishing touch to a festive scene. There is a light-hearted celebration, followed by a little adventure and troublemaking. Plus, it’s the official start of the Harry, Ron, and Hermione epic friendship.
4. “This is Halloween,” The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Some will argue that this is in fact a Halloween movie because it takes place in a place called “Halloween Town” and features a variety of spooky creatures. I argue that it isn’t because the story begins just after Halloween finishes, and ends on Christmas. Plus, it’s more about the spirit of Christmas than it is the spirit of Halloween. That being said, the opening sequence is one of the best scenes in film to capture the essence of Halloween. Danny Elfman’s music throughout the film is spectacular and he did an exceptionally good job with “This is Halloween,” in describing the excitement surrounding the holiday and what it means to many people.
3. “Boo is a Hero,” To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
I remember this part in the book being very tense and that transfers well onto the screen. The chaotic events of this pivotal scene evoke a great sense of creepiness. Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham) are attacked on their way home from the Halloween pageant. Jem is knocked unconscious and as the attacker goes for Scout, an unknown person comes to their rescue. Scout’s costume is the only thing that saves her from more harm. We soon discover it was Bob Ewell (James K. Anderson) that went after them, and it was Arthur “Boo” Radley (a young Robert Duvall) that saved them. It’s scary (and unfortunately not fictitious) to see a grown man attack children out of anger and revenge. Thankfully all turns out well for them.
2. “Halloween Night,” Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
The movie follows the Smith family in early 1900s St. Louis, going through each season with them. The Halloween scene is wonderful because it starts from the viewpoint of the children, running amok, stealing furniture to throw on the bonfire, and “killing” the neighbors (throwing flour in their faces). Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), the youngest Smith daughter, is sent to “kill” Mr. Braukoff. She takes the long walk down the darkened street to the most feared neighbor’s house. Though clearly scared, she does the deed and throws the flour in his face, proclaiming that she “hates him!” He grumbles at her and after she runs away screaming, we see him crack a smile and shake his head. The adults are all in on the trick. They enjoy watching the kids have fun and go along with it. It’s such a sweet scene and so true to how children see the holiday as a thrilling night where anything is possible.
1. “Halloween,” E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and Elliot (Henry Thomas) dress E.T. up in a ghost costume and pass him off to their mom as Gertie in order to sneak him out of the house. As they walk to the point where the real Gertie (Drew Barrymore) is waiting with the bikes, they pass kids out trick or treating, including one dressed as Yoda (an obvious nod to Spielberg’s friend George Lucas). Showing the scene from E.T.’s eye level is something Spielberg does a couple of times in the film. We’re seeing the world from his view. How strange this holiday must seem to someone not of this world. It is such a great scene because we get to experience his reaction to something so normal to us. He really is like a child experiencing everything for the first time.