One of the best parts about Halloween is grabbing your popcorn, turning out the lights, blowing out the candles, wrapping yourself in a heap of blankets, and flicking on your favorite scary movie. It’s a holiday staple! From “The Exorcist” to “Hocus Pocus” to “Ghostbusters,” everyone has their favorite. But what about our professors? Surely our instructors have their own Halloween favorites too. As a matter of fact, they do!
Kim Trevathan, writing communications professor and faculty advisor for “The Highland Echo,” says his favorite essential Halloween movie is a tossup between the horror classics “The Blair Witch Project” and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” As an outdoorsman, Trevathan says he likes both films so much because of their creepy use of setting. But “The Blair Witch Project” sticks out as especially frightening.
“I watched “Blair Witch” at home when I lived in the country and the mockumentary style was still fairly new, so it seemed like something real that these kids had filmed, even though I knew it wasn’t,” Trevathan said. “Before I took a multi-week canoe trip on the Cumberland River, my friend Randy Russell and me, camping the whole way, agreed that it was forbidden to utter the phrase ‘Blair Witch Project’.”
Trevathan was not the only professor who had a hard time choosing between movies. Dr. Will Phillips, associate professor of English in the languages and literature department, also had a hard choice, though his Halloween movie picks were very different, a mix of cult classic and family friendly.
“Back in high school and more sporadically later, I would go to showings – or watch at home, although that is much less fun – of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Phillips said . “I might have just as much fondness for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when I was watching it with my kids – when they were at that age.”
Cult classics seem to be a favorite among professors at Maryville, considering Dr. Nancy Locklin-Sofer also pointed out a movie that’s just as campy as “Rocky Horror” but a little lesser known – “Plan Nine from Outer Space.”
“It’s possibly the worst movie ever made and it’s hilariously bad but close to my heart,” Locklin-Sofer said. “It’s on Prime and Vudu so I think people can find it. Definitely a movie night must. Meant to be a scary movie but more campy fun. Look up the trailer. It’s outrageous.”
Staying in that realm of campy, goofy Halloween favorites, Dr. Heather McMahon who teaches theatre studies and gender studies, is not fond of the scary stuff. Instead she chose yet another cult classic for crucial spooky season viewing.
“I hate scary movies. “Nightmare on Elm Street” scarred me as a child!” McMahon said. “I love “Little Shop of Horrors,” which is, of course, based on a stage production. It is campy fun and has great songs. The performances by Ellen Green, Rick Moranis, and Steve Martin are on point. So, I love that silly musical— even if it is problematic in its portrayal of gender stereotypes!”
As for other instructors, the classics are all well and good, but modern thrillers are where the fun is. For Kevin Grigsby, technical director of the theatre department, is partial to the 2009 horror-comedy “Zombieland” for his holiday go-to.
“Woody Harrelson is a genius!” Grigsby said. “The weird asides for the rules are the perfect thing for that movie. That and his constant search for Twinkies.”
Comedies seemed to be the favorite of most professors, but some, like lecturer of writing communications Christina Seymour, like a little more depth to their spooky movies, like the new Netflix original “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”
“I really like the psychological thrill of it,” Seymour said. “I like how they play with time, and its actually scary to me because it plays with psychology and memory and because I’m a poet I’m thinking about that a lot. It’s just well-written and well-shot and the acting is really good!”
Whether it’s classic horror or cult classics, MC professors and instructors have their own wide range of Halloween gems they return to year after year. Be sure to curl up on the couch with a scary movie, your candy, and your popcorn – maybe one of your favorites is the same as your favorite professor’s.