I decided to do one last double feature because I just couldn't chose between these two movies. Both are among my "must watch" movies every October. One is a great family film and at the opposite end of the spectrum, a movie that helped shape the slasher movie genre. I am referring to Hocus Pocus and the original 1978 Halloween.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
This movie was released by Walt Disney Pictures in 1993. It is considered a dark comedy/horror (sort of). This movie stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, with a supporting cast that includes Omri Katz, Thora Birch, and Vinessa Shaw. The story takes place in Salem, Massachusetts and follows the lives of three sister witches who were put to death only to be accidentally resurrected on Halloween night by an unsuspecting teenage boy.
This movie was actually not well received when it was first released but has since become a cult classic and enjoys a bump in video sales every Halloween. A sequel to this holiday classic is currently in development for Disney+. This is a great film the entire family can enjoy together which is not the case for the second movie if you have young children.
This movie was released in 1978 and is a clear American horror film classic. It was directed and scored by John Carpenter and co-written with Debra Hill, producer. The film stars Donald Pleasence and was the film debut of Jamie Lee Curtis.
The story follows the tragic lives of the Myers family. On Halloween night, a six-year-old Michael Myers decides to kill his older sister. He is placed in a mental hospital where he lives quietly for 15 years. For reasons unknown at the time, Michael breaks out of the mental hospital in 1978 and returns to his hometown and stalks Laurie Strode (Curtis). Michael kills several of her friends as Michael's psychiatrist (Pleasence) tries to stop him.
This film grossed $70 million at the box office making it one of the most profitable independent films. Its success spawned the Halloween franchise which includes 11 movies, with two more slated for release in 2021 and 2022, comic books, video games, toys, costumes, and novels.
It has been suggested that this film was a social statement on the teenagers of the 1970s. In the film, the victims of Michael Myers are portrayed as sexually promiscuous, drug users while the heroine who is able to survive Michael's attacks is held as a virginal icon of innocence and purity. This theme would be played out in other slasher films of the time period, eventually leading to the "rules" to survive a horror movie as mentioned in the movie Scream.
Halloween is a fascinating look at the cultural views of the 1970s in American. It was even honored in 2006 by the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It was selected for preservation as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." That is pretty impressive for an independent, slasher film.
Now, how can these two films be tied in any way with westerns? It is actually surprisingly easy thanks to two supporting actresses, Kathleen Freeman (Hocus Pocus) and Kyle Richards (Halloween).
Freeman plays Miss Olin in Hocus Pocus, a teacher at Jacob Bailey High School. Freeman has a long career that includes numerous credits in films and TV shows. She acted in some of my favorite western movies including North to Alaska, Support Your Local Sheriff, and Support Your Local Gunfighter. On the small screen, viewers might recognize her from roles on Wagon Train, Rawhide, and Bonanza.
Kyle Richards plays Lindsey Wallace in Halloween, one of the children Strode (Curtis) ends up babysitting and saving from Michael Myers. Richards started her acting career as a child star. One of her early credits was as Alicia, the adopted daughter of Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie. Richards appeared in 19 episodes.
So now it's time for some movie snacks. How about a super simple brownie treat from The Farm Girl Gabs website. Check out her ingenious Hocus Pocus Brownies (<--- click here) decorated to look like Winnie's book of spells.
A Jack-o-Lantern plays a significant part in the Halloween movies, especially this first movie. A Jack-o-Lantern is used in the opening credits and during the film both Tommy and Laurie are seen carrying pumpkins. On Halloween night, Laurie and Tommy carve a Jack-o-Lantern together before popping corn and watching scary movies.
This iconic image makes these sliders the perfect snack to pair with this movie. Don't forget to add plenty of ketchup to bump them up a bit into super Halloween slasher sliders.
So now it's time to get your snacks and settle in for another great Halloween double feature! Be sure to share your favorite Halloween movies with us in the comments. We would love to hear from you!