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or treat host
a halloween movie night
Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
your favorite thrift stores are boasting kitschy fun costumes in
their display windows; the telephone poles are awash in flyers advertising
debauched Halloween carousing at one club of another. In years past,
you’ve done the crazy costume party thing yourself, checked out the
annual parade, endured the bar crawl. This year, though, no real
plans have yet materialized. You’re too broke to spend a night out
on the town; you’re too stressed to labor over a creative costume;
you’ve recently moved to a new pad, and the place just isn’t fit
to host a great big crowd of rowdy masqueraded revelers.
Still, with less than two weeks left till Halloween, you’re feeling
a little bummed that you have no plans for celebrating one of the best
holidays of the year. But wait -- no need to resign yourself to a boring
night at home just yet. With only a modicum of advance prep, you can
pull together a Halloween movie night for you and your fellow party-deprived
pals that’s low on money and effort, but still buckets o’ fun. Here’s
the lowdown on how to host a fabulous movie spook-a-thon…
Pick a theme
One of the great things about hosting a Halloween movie night is that
you can tailor it to suit just about any crowd simply by adjusting
the movie theme. Halloween movies come in all sorts of styles and
genres, from bloody gore-fests and creepy psychological thrillers
to classic kiddie animations and lighthearted comedies. You can choose
mainstream blockbusters or indie arthouse gems; go for thrills and
scares, or aim for laughs and nostalgia. So the first thing to figure
out, once you’ve set your mind to hosting your film fest, is what
movies you’re going to show. Choose two or three flicks that relate
to one another, and that are likely to go over well with your particular
group of pals. A few themed ideas to get you started …
Zombies! | Any of George Romero’s Dead films (Dawn of the Dead, Night
of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead), Evil Dead 2,
Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Resident Evil
I vant to suck your blood (classic vamps) | Nosferatu, Dracula, Bram
I vant to suck your blood (hipster vamps) | From Dusk till Dawn, Blade,
Straight outta hell | Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen
Psycho killer (qu’est-ce que c’est) | Halloween, Psycho, The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th
Boo! (funny ghosts) | Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice
Boo! (scary/creepy ghosts) | The Sixth Sense, The Shining, The Others,
Halloweenies (non-scary, family-friendly fun) | The Nightmare Before
Christmas, Corpse Bride, Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit,
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Sinful sweets and savory treats
With feature films decided upon, it’s time to start thinking food.
Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without indulging in some sugary-sweet
treats. As kids, we had to schlep door-to-door begging for our candy;
all grown up now, getting to that sugar high-inducing goodness is
a whole lot easier … just mosey on over to the store, and load up
the shopping basket. For your fright night movie-fest, then, you’ll
want to make sure to stock up on everyone’s favorite Halloween sweets.
Fun-sized Halloween candy bars are, of course, a must; you can also
set out bowls of candy corn, mellowcreme pumpkins, and gummy worms.
Meanwhile, if you’re planning any homemade sweet yummies, make sure
to go with grab-and-go foods that can be easily consumed while schlumped
on the sofa or floor watching a movie. Now is not the time for fancy
cakes and pastries that require a fork and knife and steadily balanced
plate; think sturdy cookies and cupcakes, foods you can eat with
Because we’re all about the balanced meal, a few salty nibbles should
also be provided. Movie night pretty much demands popcorn; offer both
a plain buttered-and-salted version and a hellishly hot Fires From
Hell Halloween-inspired version as well. Toasted, salted pumpkin seeds
also make a tasty and seasonally appropriate savory snack.
Meanwhile, if you’re starting the movie marathon relatively early
and a substantial meal is in order, I have one word for you: pizza.
Whether you go with the take-out version or get all Martha Stewart
and make your own, there’s no better food for getting folks through
a long, lazy night in front of the television.
Fires of Hell Popcorn
Pop up a big batch of unflavored popcorn, whether your preferred method
is microwave or stovetop doesn’t matter. For every 10 cups or so
of popcorn, mix the following seasoning combo: 2 Tbsp. melted butter,
1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder. Toss
with the popcorn. Taste, adding salt and more seasoning as needed
to suit your tastebuds.
The Great Pumpkin Cupcakes
The perfect accompaniment to that childhood Charlie Brown classic,
or whenever you want a sweet-n-spiced Halloween treat.
1/2 cup (packed) of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled for 10 min.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners.
2 Mix the sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla in a big bowl and whisk
well. Stir in the pumpkin. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate
bowl, and stir well. Now pour about 1/3 of the dry ingredients at
a time into the wet ingredients, stirring until just about combined,
then adding more and repeating until the ingredients are all mixed.
Don’t be overly zealous in your mixing.
3 Fill the lined cupcake cups. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until
the tops spring back when pressed and a toothpick/skewer inserted in
the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes,
then transfer to a wire rack. When the cupcakes are completely cooled,
frost. Top with a mellowcreme pumpkin, or decorate however you like.
Cream cheese frosting
4 oz. cream cheese (generous 1/2 cup), room temp
4 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a mixer bowl, and blend just until
Now, naturally, you’ll need something to wash down all that candy and
popcorn. So what’s the perfect beverage to accompany ghouls and goblins,
spine-tingling terror and devilish delights? Red wine is the no-fuss
choice, as its ruby hue goes perfectly with a night of gore, but
you can also serve up cocktails in keeping with the theme of the
movies at hand. Mix up a big pitcher of zombies for your walking-dead-fests
or a crimson-hued vampire for a movie marathon featuring the blood-loving
undead; shake up a few black devils for your night of movie e-vil
or make some black cats for a witchy-themed shindig. For the non-drinkers
in your group, offer red beverages like cranberry juice, pomegranate
juice and fruit punch, or go with a big jug or two of fresh apple
To costume or not to costume? Tell folks to show up in an old costume
if they like, but reinforce that no big efforts are necessary, and
that showing up in regular old street clothes is fine too. Meanwhile,
dig out any remnants from Halloween costumes past, whether it’s wigs,
masks, funny hats, or feather boas. Have them out and about for anyone
who might be in need of some masquerading.
a little ambience
Ambience, as any decent horror movie director knows, is what primes
the audience for those big scary screams. Dim light, a murky fog,
a suggestive silhouette, a dissonant tune playing softly in the background:
it’s the little details that can make all the difference in the world.
So as you’re making the final preparations for your movie night,
spare a moment or two to ready your surrounds.
As one of the prime draws of a Halloween movie night is that it’s
a low-key alternative to full-blown costume parties, there’s no need
to go too nuts with decking out your digs. Instead, concentrate your
efforts on spooking out the key areas: namely the TV, and the food
table. This can be as simple as draping dining/coffee table and TV
cart in black sheets or fabric, adding some orange or purple string
lights, and maybe accenting the whole shebang with a carved jack-o-lantern.
If you’re dying to pull out your collection of kitschy Halloween décor,
though, by all means go all out with plastic spiders and fake skeletons.
Of course, on the more logistical side of decking out your pad in
preparation for your party, you’ll want to make sure that there’s plenty
of seating around the television. Rearrange sofas and armchairs as
necessary, pull in as many pillows and blankets as you can dig up in
case some folks need to get comfy on the floor.
With just these few small touches to ensure the proper fright night
mood and seating comfort, you’ll be ready to settle in for a nice long
evening of Halloween movie fun. Turn the lights down low, fire up the
DVD player, and enjoy.
lounge . nourish
host . laze
. home .