Last year, Americans spent an enormous US$7 billion on candy and costumes for Halloween, and one quarter of all candy sold in the U.S. annually is purchased for Halloween. Just as it is with every other holiday or celebration that occurs each year, capitalism has firmly grasped the festival and converted it into an overblown, yet successful, money making venture.
Halloween as we know it began life as the Celtic Samhain celebration, which marked the transition into winter, something that was, and still is, associated with death. The celebration consisted of building massive bonfires, sacrificing animals to the Celtic deities, and telling each other’s fortunes, which would provide people with comfort in the face of the looming winter months. Samhain began its transition into the billion-dollar industry that it is today when large Irish communities immigrated to the United States, bringing the tradition with them across the Atlantic.
The rise of the horror flick
Love or hate the consumerist hijacking of Halloween, nobody can complain about the rise of spooky Halloween flicks and all-out horror movies resulting from the popularity of the celebration. So, to get you ready for Oct. 31, we’re giving you a list of our top three favorite Halloween-themed movies from the last few decades.
One for the family
Tim Burton’s cult classic, Beetlejuice, isn’t going to be winning awards anytime soon, but something about its unique and quirky style, as well as its fair share of laughs has made it a must-watch over Halloween time. The film, which stars Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Michael Keaton, focuses around two ghosts (Baldwin and Davis) who haunt the house that they used to live in. Quite upset that new owners have moved in, they employ the exploits of the mischievous demon Beetlejuice, the self-proclaimed exorcist of the living, to reclaim their home.
Not one for the family
Donnie Darko is more than just your average Halloween spook fest. This disturbing psychological drama refrains from the use of conventional jump scares, but instead uses the constant buildup of tension to instill a bone-chilling sense of terror within the audience that never lets up.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie, a troubled high-school student who receives nightly visits from a giant, contorted imaginary rabbit. The mind bending story that ensues is both fascinating and alarming.
Definitely not one for the family
If truly terrifying horror films are not for you, then we suggest you miss this one out. If, for some reason, you enjoy being scared to the point of cowering behind your sofa, then John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween, might be just the film for you. This blood-curdling, nail-biting, horror-thriller film tells the story of a serial killer who returns to his quaint hometown of Haddonfield, where he brutally murdered his first victim. This one is a tough watch, making it all the more rewarding for those who can bare the scares that Halloween provides.