The hilarious cult classic follows the Sanderson Sisters, three bumbling witches who, thanks to a curse, are resurrected on the night of Halloween. It is up to our protagonist Max, his sister Dani, and his love interest Allison to stop the witches from gaining immortality before the sun rises... also there's a talking cat.
Though the witches are mostly comedic in nature, there are a few moments when they're truly terrifying. The scene when one of the witches lies in a bed and pretends to be Dani is enough to make any kid want to sleep in their parents' bed for at least a week, and the scene when the witches break into Max's house by slicing the screen window open with their fingernail is just flat out creepy.
Still, the most traumatic scene has to be when the talking cat, Binx, gets run over by a bus. That's when the mostly fantastical movie decides to give us a healthy of realism by giving us a fairly graphic depiction of feline roadkill. That Binx doesn't actually die, but just inflates himself back to life like some creepy, zombie beach ball doesn't make things better.
Watching the movie as an adult, you pick up on some things you miss as a kid. Mainly, that the witches are basically just cannibals and the movie is largely about murdering and eating children. This isn't just implied, either. One of the first images of the movie is of the Sanderson Sisters sucking the soul out of a little pilgrim girl. The scene goes on for a few minutes after they finish stealing her essence, but if you look closely you can still see her lifeless body hunched over in a chair in the background. Then, towards the end of the scene, angry villagers come knocking at the witches door, and in an effort to hide their misdeed, they drape a blanket over the child's corpse. That this all plays out like an episode of Three's Company makes it infinitely creepier.
Oh, and there's also all those parts where Sarah Jessica Parker's character gets noticeably aroused at the prospect of torturing children, but I don't want to talk about those parts because, frankly, I'd like to sleep tonight.
Everyone's favorite moron, Ernest, accidentally fulfills a prophecy and brings an ancient evil back to life. Basically, it's just Hocus Pocus, only it replaces the witches with trolls and stars the voice of the slinky dog from Toy Story.
For a movie that's basically just Jim Varney being chased by a troll, there are actually a lot of pretty well crafted in scares in there. Ask anyone whose seen the movie if they remember the scene in which a little girl checks for monsters under her bed, only to turn around and see a the monster is actually lying in her bed with her. I guarantee you at least fifty per cent of them will tell you they were deeply scarred by it.
Though it seems innocent to a child, there is something deeply unsettling about the fact that Ernest is a grown man who only spends time with children. I'm not saying that Ernest is up to anything sinister, but no parents should be letting their kids play with him. I don't care how nice he is, you don't let your kids go into the woods with the local garbage man. Oh, yeah, did I mention they spend most of their time in the woods, because they do. Yeah, the whole movie is predicated on the fact that Ernest wants to build a secret treehouse fort for him, and a bunch of other people's children. Which... yeah... Also the movie makes it very clear that he has multiple personalities, so while Ernest may not want to do anything more than build a fort, who knows what kind of crazy shit the other fifty people in his head are into.
The story follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who has grown weary of Halloween. When he accidentally stumbles on Christmas Town, Jack decides to break out of his rut by kidnapping Santa and taking over the holiday.
The residents of Halloween Town are basically just a laundry list of things that make kids shit their pants: Ghosts, goblins, witches, Satan, vampires, two-faced politicians, axe-murder victims, and, of course, a clown who can tear its own face off. Of all of the characters in the movie, though, none is more frightening to a child than Oogie Boogie, a gambling and (judging by his love of black lights) cocaine addicted ghost, who is made of burlap and full of bugs. The scene in which he tries to chop Santa up on a conveyer belt has probably caused enough children's tears to fill an ocean.
Watching the movie as an adult, you realize that there is one character whose clearly scarier than Oogie Boogie: Dr. Finklestein. Looking how Paul Schaefer might if he were a paraplegic drag queen, Dr. Finklestein is a mad scientist who created Sally, and who spends much of his time in the movie trying to prevent her from escaping. This implies two things about the doctor that are deeply unsettling: First, because Sally is comprised of stitched together body parts, it means that at some point in his life, Dr. Finklestein defiled at least two corpses. Secondly, even though he imbued Sally with free will, he apparently has no problem with forcing her into a life of unwanted labor. So basically, he's both a grave robber AND a slave master. In a kids movie.