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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

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Twenty-Eight Minimally Researched Halloween Movie Reviews

Want to sound smart about Halloween cinema? This article won’t help you.
Abigael Thinakaran
Halloween decorations invade campus.

Hallo-ween. Last winter I wrote an article evaluating a glut of winter holiday movies. You can find that article here—very subtle journalistic self-promotion, I know. This article intends to conjure some of the same spirit of that article, witch, like this one, described movies I had mostly not seen. If you wish a movie was in this article but it isn’t, then you should join the Maroon Arts section and write this yourself next time.

Also, let’s just take a stand here. Halloween isn’t about horror. It’s about ghosts and ghouls and goblins. Witches are in. Zombies and serial killers are on the line. Aliens, animated dolls, and AI are out. The Shining and The Sixth Sense are great, but they’re not Halloween movies.

I have seen most some a few of these movies.


Perhaps the best slasher movie ever made. Which isn’t saying much, but sure. Moral: Popular kids and garage doors are deadly. By contrast, stab wounds are recoverable. Also, once you’ve seen the first Scream movie, you’ve seen all of the Scream movies.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Just watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower instead.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

So. Some have made the argument that because all the Harry Potter movies have Christmas scenes, they are Christmas movies. False. They are spooky films about witches and wizards with added monsters, ghosts, and werewolves. However, being about Halloween does not make a movie good. These movies are fine. I guess.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

This movie will scar you. Google Docs wants to autocorrect “scar” to “scare.” This movie will do that too.

The Blair Witch Project

At Doc Films last year, I was not only jump scared by Blair Witch’s opening credits, but also left two thirds of the way in, despite already having read the Wikipedia summary. This movie is legitimately frightening. It plays into our fears of doom and loss of control better than most horror movies. On the other hand, it also introduced us to what remains one of the most annoying cinematographic styles of all time: found footage.

Friday the 13th

I have watched this movie, by which I mean I have written an essay while my friends watched this movie. You’ll never guess what day they watched it.


Not gonna lie, I looked this movie up and it looks identical to Friday the 13th. Apologies to horror fans, but I frankly don’t care which movie copied which or whatever.

The Conjuring


Monsters Inc.

The second best Pixar movie, after Ratatouille, of course. Wall-E is sweet, A Bug’s Life is funny, and The Incredibles is a movie. But Monsters Inc.? It’s beautiful. The sushi restaurant scene in Monsters Inc. is peak Pixar. And this is definitely a Halloween movie—just look at the title, and at the fact it’s in this article about Halloween movies. Also, fuck all of you, The Incredibles sucks.


A classic. I’d say this movie was scary, or good, if it was either one.

Warm Bodies

Actually quite lovely, for what is really just zombie Romeo meets human Juliet. Don’t think too much, simply enjoy. Then, never think about it again. Which—not to get on too much of a soapbox here—demonstrates the fundamental issues with contemporary art seeking to be escapist and entertaining rather than intellectually challenging or morally reflective. But, you know, this movie really does have a heart. Unlike the zombies (for most of the movie). Oops, spoiler.


This movie is, in fact, not the best date night movie. Literally why in the world would this be the story to which you violate public indecency laws… unnamed Colorado congresswoman.


Only the original. This movie is, unlike Beetlejuice, actually weirdly erotic. Bill Murray at his best. ’80s spoofs at their best. Special effects at their worst. The supposedly-very-dangerous-specters don’t actually threaten anybody because this is a kids’ movie. Still, fun.

Shaun of the Dead

This movie, like an onion, has layers. There’s the top layer: the ’80s zombie movie. What the abundant blood and zombies veils is a great opportunity to laugh at British people. What the opportunity veils is ~a critique of consumerism~. What the critique conceals is a rather interesting take on the zombie genre, where the zombies don’t threaten death, they threaten the pub’s hours. And what that interesting take hides is that really, at its core, this movie is a great opportunity to laugh at British people.

Young Frankenstein

Otherwise known as Willy Wonka and the Human Factory. For what it’s worth y’all, just know that I was the kid who went around saying “Well, actually, Frankenstein is the doctor.” 

Monster House

This movie has a crazily high body count for a kids’ movie. Well, until it remembers it’s a kids’ movie. Boo. And also BOO!  


I’ve become increasingly convinced over the years that every character Jesse Eisenberg plays is Mark Zuckerberg. Which isn’t a bad thing, because Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg was terrific. It’s just an observation. For that matter, Woody Harrelson is in this movie as well, playing Woody Harrelson in every other movie. Again, cool.

Trick ‘r Treat

Why 82% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers think this movie is good is beyond me. Next.

An American Werewolf in London

Classic spooky monster cinema. Let’s go walking in the nighttime in the spooky English moors. What in the world could go wrong. Warren Zevon’s song is better, but that’s mostly because it’s Warren Zevon. Really, half his discography could be included as Halloween music, despite also subtly going after the excesses of modern society. Now, that’s art. RIP.

Night of the Living Dead

This movie is great, but it’s also definitely a movie from the ’60s. Let’s just say it has a different approach to horror movie tropes about race.

Sleepy Hollow

It was really difficult to choose which Tim Burton movie to include, especially given that I haven’t seen any of them.

Little Shop of Horrors

I have strong feelings about Broadway’s degradation and bastardization of the medium of theater. Surprise. Little Shop of Horrors is a musical, so I wanted to hate it, but darn this movie is sweet. (Well, depending on which ending you watch). This movie is also basically the Halloween version of Gremlins.


Do not fall for the lies—this is not a children’s movie. Unless your children are the kind of children who chop off the tails of lizards. Button up, buttercup.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

What a cast. Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins. And Westley from the Princess Bride! Who, despite what I just found out the correct spelling to be, I will continue to refer to as Wesley. Because that’s his name.

Cat People

Watch the trailer—this movie is as ’80s as it gets, in every possible definition of the word. As for the plot, I think the trailer puts it best: “An erotic fantasy about the animal in us all.” So, there’s that.

Paranormal Activity

Moral: Don’t try to film demons. Because, you know, they’re demons. Also, even more disturbingly, because doing so produces found footage. Really though, this movie is about toxic relationships…So basically, it’s just another horror movie.


Apparently there are books too.

The Exorcist

This is really an exercise in suspending children mid-air, and disbelief. It’s also about exorcisms. Isn’t the English language fun? If you want more mediocre puns, and to get free concert/theater tickets, join the Maroon Arts listhost by emailing This is what we in the business call sponsored content. Normally, I’m totally opposed to such a breakdown of the editorial/business line. Hypocrisy is pretty fun too, though. Look how subtly I’ve now advertised Maroon Arts. Boom.

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About the Contributor
Zachary Leiter, Deputy Managing Editor
From the humid bog of Washington, D.C., Zachary Leiter is a third-year in the College. In high school, he was Opinions editor for the newspaper and liberal president of the Government Club, two positions that emphasized for him the importance of civil across-the-aisle discussion and debate. He believes strongly in the importance of ethical, uncompromised journalism that acknowledges bias but does not lean into that bias. His areas of journalistic interest include rock-and-roll, theater, the environment, and the democratic process. In his free time, he plays Magic: The Gathering, draws, ballroom dances, and researches American offshore fisheries policy.
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