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I watched a campy new horror flick on Netflix last night. It was called The Ritual and featured a group of friends encountering demonic forces deep in the Nordic woods. It was a fine movie and it scratched my itch for campy horror thrills, but it wasn’t all that memorable. There are some horror movies that stick with people. They become intertwined in the folklore of Halloween and bump to the top of many people’s “must watch” list come October. Movies like Saw, Paranormal Activity and The Conjuring come to mind. But there’s one Halloween movie that takes precedent before all others for me and it features cartoons fixated over an over-sized pumpkin that doesn’t exist. Maybe I have a soft spot for it, but It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the best Halloween of all time.
I’m sure many horror buffs will recoil at the assertion, but there’s something appealing about the Peanuts gang that bridges age groups and movie preferences alike during the Halloween season. Very rarely do you go to a Halloween party with a slasher flick buzzing in the background – regardless of age groups. Instead, movies like Hocus Pocus and It’s the Great Pumpkin reign supreme because they are approachable and get you in the Halloween spirit. There’s a reason why this thing is re-aired every October and that’s part of why it’s my favorite Halloween movie – because everyone has a basic grasp and appreciation of it.
I’m a sucker for any movie that can combine nostalgia with a digestible plot. With new horror movies, there’s too much foreshadowing, too much thinking through the intricacies of a plot, and too much analyzing how a character may or not be an example of society’s wrongdoings. The glory of the Peanuts’ movie is in their straight line and simple approach to storytelling. The kids tirelessly look for the promised Great Pumpkin but it never appears – leading to a reasonable conclusion between Charlie Brown and Linus. There’s very little frills or side plots, aside from the great Trick or Treating quest that leads to the timeless “I got a rock” line from Charlie Brown and several Snoopy gags mixed in.
Yes, there are probably more complex Halloween films with deeper meanings, better action, and more robust cinematography, but It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains the only Halloween movie I can watch year over year. Sometimes I like to numb my brain on the couch next to to an aggressive amount of delivery food with an easy to digest and familiar film. The Peanuts’ films, The Waterboy and Dumb & Dumber typically fit the bill. Maybe I’m a simpleton, but sometimes simple is better. Cheers!.