Ah, it’s that time of the year again — Halloween. The season of ghosts and ghouls, monsters and maniacs. Halloween films have produced a storm of memorable characters that embody the holiday’s haunting sentiments.
Here — in no particular order — are five of the most spooktacular Halloween movie icons.
The Bride of Frankenstein
Who can forget the shockingly good hair of Universal Pictures’ Bride of Frankenstein, played by Elsa Lanchester. First appearing in the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein, the Bride is an amalgamation of the dead reanimated to — you guessed it — be the bride of Frankenstein’s monster.
Not only is the titular character iconic, but the film itself is hailed as a masterpiece of horror cinema, often regarded as superior to its 1931 predecessor Frankenstein.
At a time when movie monsters were almost exclusively male, this frightening female gained notoriety in popular culture. The character and the film went on to be referenced in many forms of media such as The Simpsons and, most famously, in Mel Brooks’ masterpiece Young Frankenstein.
Universal Studios’ impact on horror cinema was so influential that it was hard to settle on only one of their iconic monsters, so I didn’t. Bela Lugosi’s performance as Count Dracula, the murderous vampire from Transylvania, in the 1931 film Dracula is a classic in Halloween cinema.
The long, black, flowing cloak, slicked-back hair and heavy Eastern European accent was a far cry from cinema’s famous bloodsucker Nosferatu from a decade earlier. But Lugosi, who had previously played Dracula in a stage play, is widely regarded as the definitive Dracula.
Lugosi’s iconic image has become a staple in popular culture, most recently influencing Adam Sandler’s portrayal of the Count in the billion-dollar Hotel Transylvania franchise.
While Dracula’s gothic look may be memorable, it’s hard to compete with the Halloween goth queen that is Morticia Addams played oh-so elegantly by Anjelica Huston in 1991’s The Addams Family — with a solid supporting performance by her cheekbones.
Morticia is not only a Halloween style icon, deriving inspiration from gothic women like Elvira and Carolyn Jones’s own performance of Morticia in the 1964 television show, but she also embodies the spirit of Halloween.
Morticia enjoys the creepier things in life like torture and the macabre while still being loving and tender towards her family. Clearly, the public’s love for Morticia and the rest of the Addamses is still alive as just this year, a new animated Addams Family film has been released for us all to snap along with.
When looking at gorgeous icons of Halloween, it’s hard to ignore the pearl wearing, pickaxe toting, sexuallydriven “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” Dr. Frank-N-Furter. In the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, cinematic treasure Tim Curry sings and murders his way into our hearts as the mad alien scientist hell-bent on creating the perfect man.
Curry’s scintillating performance is one of the many reasons The Rocky Horror Picture Show revolutionized art house films while popularizing audience participation with movies. PS: free fishnets for whoever can name the University of Saskatchewan faculty alumni who was in the film.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Let’s look at a modern monster who has recently started haunting our nightmares. The sewer clown who feeds off fear: Pennywise from Stephen King’s It.
From Killer Klowns from Outer Space to Tim Curry’s original portrayal of King’s malevolent clown in the 1990 television miniseries of It, clowns have been scaring audiences straight for generations.
But Bill Skarsgård’s manic performance in the 2017 and 2019 It films put a new spin on the killer clown horror trope. His captivating yet terrifying presence makes it impossible to look away, but it is recommended that you watch through your fingers.
Halloween is a time for tacky lawn decorations, teeth-rotting candy and scary movies. If you like a good Halloween movie and aren’t afraid to be sacred, check out one of these classic films. But if you are planning on going trick or treating — just stay away from storm drains.
Graphic: Yashica Bither