5 Classic Halloween Movies (That Are Secretly Screwed Up)
For those too old to go trick-or-treating, Halloween night is best spent watching movies in the comfort of your own home, preferably while gorging on miniature pieces of candy you can buy in a store like a goddamn adult. But on the off chance that your vision isn't obscured by fistfuls of chocolate bars, you might notice some rather shady details in everyone's favorite Halloween classics, such as ...
Hocus Pocus -- A Disney Movie Obsessed With A Young Boy's Virginity
Aside from the fact that it turns a group of hysterical murderers into righteous protectors of decency, Hocus Pocus is pretty fun. It tells the story of a group of kids battling three ancient witches on Halloween night. But since it's for children, the brides of Satan mainly want to spread their evil through showstopping musical numbers.
No, the creepy part of Hocus Pocus isn't in the witchcraft, but in certain choices the writers of this family movie made. For some reason, the witches can only be resurrected when a magic candle is lit by a virgin. That's exactly what happens when our hero Max decides to light that sucker, presumably out of pent-up hormonal frustration.
And it works. The lit candle does bring back the witches -- which confirms Max is a virgin, prompting his little sister to make fun of him.
Again, all of these characters are kids, but because one of them is a teen boy, the movie continually reinforces that he should feel some sense of shame for his lack of doin' it, as if the script were penned by his own sex-obsessed high school classmates. And it's not just Max's sister. When the trio track down a "police officer" and ask him for help battling the dark forces of the occult, he too can't help but interrogate Max about his sexual inexperience.
The "cop" is in fact a random dude in a costume, which only makes the situation shadier. Just watching this Disney movie in which an adult stranger grills a minor over his sexual history feels like enough to get you fired from making a Disney movie.
Casper -- Casper Drove His Dad Insane, And No One Cares About A Death Cure
As we've mentioned before, '90s family favorite Casper is the story of a middle-aged dead guy (who happens to look like a child) creeping on a high school girl. But that's just the tip of the iceberg of craziness in this goddamn movie. Another detail you may have missed as a kid: Casper ruined his father's life. When Casper and Kat are digging through old newspaper clippings, we learn that Casper's father was "declared legally insane."
If you read the fine print, it's revealed that Casper's dad was committed after he "claimed that he was haunted by the ghost of his dead son." Which was true. It seems Casper was too lazy to back up his father's story as the poor guy was hauled off to the asylum.
We also learn that Casper's father built a machine to bring Casper back to the world of the living, seemingly powered by vials of Kool-Aid. Initially, Kat is going to use the last vial to necromance Casper back into full Devon Sawa-ness, but then her dad gets drunk and kills himself. Though to be fair, the construction crew that dug a giant hole directly in front of a bar entrance should probably shoulder some of the responsibility.
Kat's dad then comes back as a ghost (and is wearing clothes, suggesting that Casper and his uncles have embraced nudism in the afterlife). So Kat fires up the machine and it totally works! Holy shit! Then they immediately ... go to a Halloween party?
They literally found a cure for death, which is easily the most groundbreaking scientific achievement in human history. That machine wasn't powered by magic or something; it was a combination of chemistry and mechanical engineering that somehow brought a dead person back to life. Kat and her dad have a huge ethical decision to weigh. Like, shouldn't they tell someone about this? Remember, there was some remaining goo in a second vial that could totally be analyzed by medical professionals. They could bring back Einstein! Or MLK! Or Hitler, and then kill him again!
Also, come to think of it, the machine brought Dr. Harvey back to life using only his ghost ... meaning that his festering corpse is still out there somewhere. So regardless, the Harvey family is going to have a lot of questions to answer.
The Nightmare Before Christmas -- Non-Christian Holidays Aren't Legitimate
For some, the stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie. For others, it's a Christmas movie. For gothy preteens, it's a lifestyle brand. In any case, the story begins in some magical woods (where some kids are presumably discovering some magical Playboys offscreen). We see a ring of trees, each with a doorway into enchanted holiday dimensions. Most notably, there are towns dedicated to Halloween and Christmas.
While those two doors are the story's focus, you might have noticed a few other holidays featured on the adjacent trees, such as the presumably rabbit-and-Jesus-filled Easter Town. Hell, there's even a St. Patrick's Day door, which easily could have led to a way darker movie in which Jack Skellington dies of alcohol poisoning 20 minutes in.
The movie seems to be saying that these are the true holidays, worthy of their own secret magic kingdom. The unintended implication is that Christian celebrations are legitimate, while those of other religions aren't. Seriously, would it have killed them to throw a dreidel on one of those trees? Oddly, secular Western holidays are also magically enshrined in this forest. There's even a firecracker, either leading to a Fourth of July Land or Hunter S. Thompson Town.
Obviously, the U.S. has only been celebrating Independence Day since 1777, so how long have these holiday dimensions existed? Or is space limited, so they painted over the Ramadan tree one day? Sure, one could argue that this is merely a simple (possibly autobiographical) children's movie, but within the world of the story, the religious implications of this forest are massive. The least the filmmakers could do if they truly respect their audience's beliefs is add a Hot Topic logo on one of those trees for all future re-releases.
Beetlejuice -- It's Implied That Beetlejuice Took His Own Life
Before Tim Burton became focused on the "Johnny Depp is wearing an amusing hat" genre, he made some iconic movies. One of the early ones was Beetlejuice, the story of Adam and Barbara Maitland, a small-town couple who die tragically, then hire a perverted demon to terrorize a family of yuppies. And it all totally made sense in 1980s America.
While we were all distracted by giant snake monsters and Calypso music, the movie snuck in an odd subplot. When the Maitlands first journey to the surprisingly bureaucratic afterlife, they encounter a receptionist, a former beauty pageant contestant who slit her wrists:
This might seem like nothing but a one-off gag, but later in the movie, interior designer / paranormal expert Otho claims that anyone who commits suicide becomes a "civil servant" in the afterlife.
This would explain why everyone working in death's office complex seems to have met suicide deaths -- one poor guy is still hanging from a noose. This raises a couple of big issues. For one, the movie was adding to the stigma of mental illness by suggesting there's some kind of cosmic punishment for those who take their own lives. Dick move. Secondly, the Maitland's caseworker, Juno (who sports a nice big cut along her throat), mentions that Beetlejuice used to be her assistant:
If Beetlejuice worked with Juno, then he too was a victim of suicide. Early versions of the screenplay apparently spelled this out explicitly, revealing the depressing backstory that Beetlejuice drunkenly hung himself (or jumped out of a window if you go by the prequel, Birdman). This also adds weight to the scene wherein Lydia is about to commit suicide herself, but is essentially stopped by Beetlejuice, who asks her "why" she would want to end her life. Knowing the backstory, there's a subtle hint of sincerity and sadness in his delivery.
This all makes sense from a storytelling perspective. Beetlejuice isn't just an anarchic foil for the Maitlands; he serves as a thematic contrast to Lydia, a living (so to speak) representation of how death doesn't solve any problems. Maybe this explains why they're inexplicably having fun cartoon adventures together a few years later.
Ghostbusters Punishes Dana For Rejecting Men
Look, we all love Ghostbusters. Somehow, the story of a gang of disgraced scientists using dangerous equipment to imprison our deceased friends and loved ones wormed its way into all our hearts. Who among us didn't have their own toy proton pack, or drink cartons of Ecto-Cooler, or hang around abandoned fire stations just to feel closer to the titular gang?
Even so, certain elements of the movie are undeniably creepy in retrospect. Like the fact that Peter Venkman brought powerful tranquilizers on dates, or how Dana Barrett's whole arc feels like it could have been dreamed up by a men's rights subreddit. When we first meet Dana, she's constantly rejecting the awkward advances of sleazy men. First, there's her annoying neighbor, Louis:
Then there's Venkman, whose professional demeanor is akin to a drunk trying to pick up women at the bar of a Chili's:
Soon Dana's body is taken over by the "Gatekeeper," which occurs in a surprisingly gropey attack.
Dana's sexuality, which she had previously maintained autonomy over, is now out of her control. When Venkman shows up at her apartment, she's given herself a supernatural makeover and is suddenly all over him. This isn't an isolated incident. The other dude who unsuccessfully hit on Dana becomes the "Keymaster," and unless your parents covered your eyes, you might have noticed that they totally had sex.
So Dana's arc is basically: 1) woman rejects weirdos, 2) woman becomes satanic sex toy, and 3) woman has to be saved by one of the weirdos, and suddenly they're dating. As The Daily Beast puts it, it's as if the movie is "punishing" Dana, "if not for her contempt of protagonist Venkman, then for her heretofore accomplished, self-sufficient lifestyle." Which is upsetting and gross, but perhaps less upsetting than Dan Aykroyd insisting that a Playboy Playmate should dress up like a ghost and pretend to blow him in the name of family entertainment.
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