ONE of my earliest childhood memories is of watching Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man with my Mum in front of a roaring fire one cold Halloween in the early 1980s.
I was transfixed by it all, but thanks to my Mum chuckling away at the terrible acting, not too frightened. It started an obsession with horror movies that’s still with me today.
It began with the old Universal films like Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. Later on came the brightlycoloured Hammer films that I had to creep out of my room to watch downstairs, before running back up to my bed when they got too scary.
When I was about 11 yearsold, among my peers it was considered a rite of passage, much like a native American ‘ Vision Quest,’ to claim to have actually seen films like The Thing or An American Werewolf in London. These films were thought to be so terrifying that you might go mad if you watched them, and so when we eventually did, they had to be watched in groups of at least four.
Now that I have my own children, I quite like the idea of watching something ghoulish with them on Halloween, but the problem with horror movies is that they tend to be, well, horrible and there’s only so much a responsible parent would reasonably want their kids to go through, even in these days of jaded youths becoming desensitised on a daily basis by YouTube videos and the like.
If you want a Hollywood Horror experience for all the family on Halloween that won’t lead to emotional trauma, here are a few recommendations. Beetlejuice, with Michael Keaton as a ghostly exorcist of unwanted humans is a hoot. On a similarly spectral theme, anyone dismayed at the recent Ghostbusters remake would do well to introduce their young ones to the 1984 original, though you might be amazed at how many of the characters smoke!
The first two Addams Family films are enormous fun, laced with a poisonously funny satirical thread aimed straight at the grownups. Any children of the ‘80s might want to reacquaint themselves with Gremlins (though the ending is still surprisingly scary) or even the slightly forgotten 1988 film The Monster Squad, which feels now like an episode of Stranger Things.
Some of the best recent horror films for kids have been animated. Paranorman was impressive, as was Frankenweenie, but best of all is Monster House which is an ingenious ghostride of a film. Or you could try Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, but beware the acting really is terrible.
Your kids will be full of sweets by now, but what about you? And what are you supposed to do with all that pumpkin you were forced to spoon out into a bowl today? It needn’t go to waste. Read on…