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Moviegoer: Spooky Streaming

A scene from the movie ParaNorman. Supplied by UPI media website.

 Scary movies for a stay-at-home Halloween party 

By Diana Beechener 

If the pandemic is keeping your Halloween celebration indoors, there’s no reason you can’t have a scary movie marathon filled with plenty of tricks and treats. Below are five films with different levels of scares so you can have a safe and spooky holiday.  

Hocus Pocus  

After moving to Salem, siblings Max (Omri Katz) and Dani (Thora Birch) find out there’s more than superstition to the legend of a trio of local witches. When Max accidentally wakes up the Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker), the whole town of Salem falls under their spell.  

Can Max and Dani figure out a way to send the witches back to the grave? 

Featuring a zombie, an enchanted black cat, and plenty of witchy antics, Hocus Pocus has been a Halloween staple for years. The film is more silly fun than genuinely frightening, but Najimy, Midler and Parker offer up brilliant performances that will win over even hardened horror fans. This is a perfect introductory scary movie for anyone who might be susceptible to nightmares.   

Scare Rating: Good Ghouls of All Ages * PG * 96 mins. * Disney+ 

ParaNorman 

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has plenty of friends in his New England neighborhood, but there’s only one problem—they’re all dead. Though Norman’s talent allows him to keep close with his dead grandmother, no one else in town understands him. Regarded as a freak, Norman is ridiculed by family and classmates, until the legendary witch of Blithe Hollow awakens.  

Now the town is full of zombies and it’s up to Norman to speak to the local witch and convince her to return the town to normal and the dead to their graves. Can Norman help his town? And better yet, why should he?  

A brilliant parable about the dangers of mob mentality and condemning things you don’t understand, ParaNorman has a lot of heart along with some pretty decent scares. Laika Studios continues its trend of combining brilliant storytelling and awesome graphics with this Halloween tale that’s perfect for younger viewers or adults that want a little social commentary with their scares.   

Scare Rating: Tween Terrors and U* PG * 92 mins. * Netflix 

Good Manners 

Clara (Isabél Zuaa) is hired to help Ana (Marjorie Estiano) through a difficult pregnancy. Clara assumes she’ll be spending her days catering to pregnancy cravings and soothing mother-to-be worries. What she’s not planning on is watching her patient slaughter and eat a cat while sleepwalking during a full moon.  

But a little animal murder won’t dissuade Clara from her duties. How far will this dedicated nurse go to keep her charges safe?  

A scary and heartbreaking story of maternal protectiveness and the monsters we all become, Good Manners isn’t your typical monster movie, it’s basically a monster musical. Think of it as The Shape of Water meets Parenthood. This is a great option for adults who like to think with their chills and thrills.   

Scare Rating: Bloody Good for Adults and Teens * NR * 135 mins. Kanopy 

Overlord 

On the eve of D-Day, paratroopers are dropped behind enemy lines with one goal: Disable a radio tower in a small French town. It’s a simple enough mission, until the soldiers realize there’s more to the town than just a radio tower. The Nazis occupying the hamlet have been taking citizens into the bowels of their camp and experimenting on them. The resulting undead army might put a cramp in the American’s plans for the radio tower.  

Who doesn’t love a good zombie film? Underrated and underseen by most horror fans, Overlord is a rollicking good time with plenty of tropes and jokes. The winning cast make what could be a simple story of Nazi zombies into a great B-movie splatterfest. This is the perfect flick for horror fans who don’t mind a little blood and guts.  

Scare Rating: Gory Good Fun * R * 110 mins. * Hulu 

Hereditary 

After the death of her domineering mother, Annie (Toni Collette) has trouble coping with the loss and connecting with her family. Already suffering with the vestiges of abuse and trauma, Annie can’t seem to let go of her past or make inroads with her teen son.  

When an incomprehensible tragedy rocks the family, Annie’s tenuous grip on sanity begins to crack. Can Annie break free of her mother’s hold? Or is she doomed from the start? 

An unbearably tense and gory delight, Ari Aster’s debut film marries inherited trauma with actual trauma. Featuring a breathtaking performance by Collette and a some truly gnarly visuals, this isn’t a movie for the faint of heart. A brilliant piece of filmmaking that will stay with you long after you view it, Hereditary is for the brave.  

Scare Rating: Have a Therapist Ready * R * 127 mins. * Amazon Prime