This article is brought to you by Fathom Events.
Obviously, the biggest thrill about October being upon us is the imminent arrival of Halloween. Even as you read these words your friends and co-workers are carefully curating their seasonal viewings to make sure that they can wring every possible thrill out of the season.
And why the hell not? The real world is a terrifying place, so it’s a most welcome thing to have cinematic escapes where the scares are entertainingly familiar… and that eventually end. With that in mind, we would like to suggest what we feel are two “must watch” films this, and every, Halloween: Alien and Ghostbusters. We’re sure there are those of you who already have these in your October viewing queue, but we really want to speak to the horror purists here who discount both these flicks from their Halloween watchlist because they incorporate science fiction and comedy into their chills.
Although both Alien and Ghostbusters have horror elements, they are unconventional genre efforts. When Alien originally hit theaters 40 years ago, no one was initially sure what to make of Ridley Scott’s dynamic fusion of elements–traditional monster movies combined with the sort of sci-fi existentialism best left to works like 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the most interesting anecdotes about the marketing of the film is how Kenner Toys–then riding a wave of unprecedented success with their Star Wars action figures – quickly snatched up the Alien license… only to be left with plenty of unsold product when the movie turned out to be a more terrifying, downbeat affair than what audiences got spending time in a galaxy far, far away.
Foregrounding a female action hero in an era when women characters were often nothing more than love interests or screaming victims, Alien was revolutionary. Then there’s H.R. Giger’s incredible creature design or the film’s still-effective chestburster scene. Simply put, Alien forced Hollywood to evolve and illustrated that mashing up genres could result in both critical and commercial success.
This was also the case for 1984’s Ghostbusters. The combination of a peerless cast that included Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver with ground-breaking special effects and an innovative script that seamlessly mixed big laughs with genuine scares (the Terror Dogs are legitimately chilling) was unlike anything ever seen before. To this day, Hollywood continues to frantically try to recapture the magic of the original–with mixed results.
So here’s what we suggest: take some time out this season and be sure to watch both Alien and Ghostbusters. More than just a tribute to the enduring kick-assery of Sigourney Weaver, these films are ideal examples of when horror goes outside of its comfort zone to expand the limits of storytelling. What results are two films that are perfect at Halloween, and always.
Ghostbusters, now 35 years old, plays Oct. 6 and 10. Alien, at 40, screens Oct. 13, 15 and 16. Tickets and more information are available at www.FathomEvents.com.