How to Have a Very Hitchcock Halloween
“We all go a little mad sometimes,” as a certain psychotic cinematic killer once said, so why not go mad for the man who brought Norman Bates to the big screen this Halloween? Hitchcock is a controversial figure, but his body of work is suspenseful, psychological and terrifying. Perfect for Halloween and even more perfect for a Halloween party for cinephiles.
If you’re planning on holding a gathering at your home to celebrate the creepiest of holidays this Thursday, October 31st, then why not eschew the ghouls for a theme with terror that mounts gradually over time, features lots of blondes and focuses on the undisputed master of suspense? Below I’ve compiled a list of suggestions to make your Halloween a Hitchcockian one.
Variety may be the spice of life, but imagine how cool a room full of your friends all dressed in their best Hitchcock suit and ties would be. The director’s trademark garb is universally recognizable and an easy costume to pull together at the last minute. Give out awards for the best dressed Hitch and recreations of Hitchcock cameos.
The prize? How about giving winning guests their very own (fake) bird or a shiny new butcher knife (for cutting food items, not shower attacks, of course).
Hitchcock’s perfectionism included the dishes prepared in his films, as The Guardian points out. Preparing a Hitchcock themed meal should be snap, especially with Southern staples like fried chicken and pecan pie on the menu. A quick bit of googling should turn up a fair amount Hitchcock recipes if you don’t have a copy of the French compilation of Hitchcock foods lying around.
If you don’t feel like whipping up a whole meal, pun-inspired appetizers are an option too: psychotically hot chicken wings, anyone?
Forget flowers and chocolates; tell your guests to shower you with MacGuffins. Hitchock was famous for using non-consequential plot devices to motivate the characters in his films. Have your guests do the same and remember a MacGuffin is no good without a story in which it plays a completely unexplained role.
Before everyone leaves for the evening, have them circle up with their MacGuffins in hand and spin a Hitchcock worthy tale. If someone happens to make their Macguffin chocolate then name them the party’s guest of honor. Then eat their chocolate. Hey, it is Halloween.
The highlight of the evening should be the Hitchock films you decide to show. I would go with a double feature, but the number of films shown is entirely up to you and the stamina of your guests. Here are few of my favorite pairings:
Psycho/The Birds: The two most famous Hitchcock films are also the scariest. From Norman Bates’ disarmingly sweet smile that quickly turns sour once Janet Leigh hops into the shower, to the horror of a mass bird attack, these two films play on our most primal of fears. They may be a conventional choice, but there’s nothing wrong with sticking with the tried and true when they’re this reliably scary.
Rear Window/Rope: My two personal favorite Hitchock films star James Stewart. In the first he’s a photographer trapped in a wheelchair, helplessly watching a man get away with murder. In the second, he’s a brilliant professor who inadvertently inspires two of his students to concoct the perfect murder. Both films are notable for giving viewers a sense of claustrophobia as they take place almost entirely in apartments. They also happen to showcase Stewart’s range as an actor, but if you’re looking for a different Stewart pairing try the one below.
Vertigo/The Man Who Knew Too Much: Vertigo is now considered Hitchcock’s masterpiece, and it certainly makes use of stars, Stewart and Kim Novak’s talents. It’s a twisty mystery right up until the very end. Meanwhile, The Man Who Knew Too Much is the only film Hitchcock made twice, and the second version with Stewart and Doris Day is the more compelling of the two. Stewart and Day’s desperate attempts to get their son back are gripping, and it’s fascinating to follow up Stewart as an obsessed pseudo-stalker with his more atypical role as a devoted father.
The 39 Steps/The Trouble with Harry: Yes, dear readers, Hitchock did unconventional romance films. In the first, a man goes on the run, literally handcuffed to a beautiful woman. In the second, Shirley MacLaine (in her first feature) and John Forsythe meet cute over the body of her dead husband. Hilarity ensues. Seriously.
North by Northwest/Dial M for Murder: Paranoia run rampant in these two classic Hitchock films. The first features Cary Grant’s awe-inspiring journey across the United States as he flees a mysterious organization. In the second, Grace Kelly must unravel her husband’s plans to off her before it’s too late.
There are plenty of other Hitchcock’s to choose from as well. If none of these combinations fit your theme, then dive deeper into the director’s past and find some hidden gems from his British era.
Have more suggestions on how to throw an awesome Hitchock-themed party? Share them below, and if you decide to make your Halloween a Hitchockian one, share your pics with us via Twitter!
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