What’s up, witches? It’s the Dash Man. Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. It’s October, you already know what time it is! This is Dash-O-Ween!
I’ve waited so long to do this again, I hope you guys are about as excited as I am. Now, before we begin, I would just like to get something off my chest. As some of you may remember from last year, I counted down the days until Halloween with a review a day. That was Hell…but it was still a lot of fun. Now, as much as I wanted to try and do that again, you must also understand that I’ve become a lot busier than I was last year. So, there won’t be an article a day like last time. However, I promise that I will do my absolute best to give you guys nothing but the best and will try even harder to be consistent with my work. I will do everything in my power to make this year bigger and better than the last. It’s all about quality over quantity this year, but you will not be disappointed. With that said, what have we got to start off Halloween this year?
Sorry, gorehounds…but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to start off “vanilla”.
‘Casper’ was a 1995 fantasy-comedy based on the Harvey Comics franchise of the same name, which follows the misadventures of the titular friendly ghost; although the script itself takes a much more serious and dark approach to the original comics and cartoons. With a budget of $55 Million, the film managed to make well over $200 Million worldwide and opened up to mixed reviews from critics. But, how does this friendly-ghostly picture hold up today? Is ‘Casper’ another Halloween classic, or should it cross over to the other side?
Now hold on a second, dead-head. To be fair, the story is kind of a convoluted mess. We got the obvious bad guys who inherit the mansion featured in the film, which also happens to be haunted by Casper and his uncles; Stretch, Stinky, and Fatso. So they hire this guy to try and get rid of them, and he brings his daughter because, why not? Of course, Casper gets a crush on the daughter, and there’s this hidden machine that Casper’s father built to bring the dead back to life, and there’s this Halloween party at the mansion, one of the bad guys dies and comes back so she can get this treasure, and whoa! Slow down! Seriously, this was pretty complex for a kids movie. At least, it was for me as a kid. I just wanted to see some cool looking ghosts.
Speaking of which, I have to say that I absolutely love the special effects of this movie. Keep in mind, this movie was made back in 1995 and the effects could still hold up in 2016. That was the one thing I was worried about before I had to rewatch the film for this review. Sure, the ghosts look cartoony but they were supposed to be. Casper has such an iconic look that it made sense as to why he still looks the same as he did in the past. That, and it’s still amazing seeing some of the interactions with the human characters.
I can understand that you need antagonists for a movie like this, but the villains were pretty weak. I suppose Cathy Moriarty’s character wasn’t too bad, but Monty Python legend Eric Idle was completely useless and underwhelming in this movie. At least when John Cleese ends up in bad movies, he tries to be funny. The antagonists definitely needed more work.
The real heart of the story relies on the dynamic between the ghosts and the Harveys(played by Bill Pullman & Christina Ricci, respectively). By the way…yes, I am aware that the name “Harvey” is a nod to the comics. Anyway, Christina Ricci plays Kat Harvey, while her father is played by Bill Pullman. Ricci is a very talented and beautiful actress who’s mostly known for her iconic take on Wednesday Addams in the ‘Addams Family’ movies, but I think she was also great in other roles, including this one. As for Pullman, I like to think of Bill Pullman as a pretty underrated actor. Aside from Lone Star from ‘Spaceballs’, I think this is one of Bill Pullman’s best roles. The father and daughter dynamic was definitely one of the film’s highlights.
Unfortunately, these two would sometimes get overshadowed by these guys.
I’m talking of course, about the Ghostly Trio; Fatso, Stretch, and Stinky(voiced by Bras Garrett, Joe Nipote, and Joe Alaskey). They’re loud, brash, disgusting, offensive, and are probably the funniest aspects of this movie. But, this is a “Casper” movie, is it not? I’m happy to say that Casper(voiced by Malachi Pearson) was perfect in this movie. It wasn’t just the effects that made me enjoy this character, it was the overall personality given from the voice actor. They got a little kid to play a little kid, and this is one of the rare moments where that actually works. When he’s nervous, happy, sad, playful, and lonely, we feel it. That’s what helps this role stand out the most for me, because of how natural Casper felt in this movie.
You’re welcome. Now wait, this is Halloween. What makes this movie scary? If you’re expecting genuine scares like ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘Halloween’, you’re clearly looking in the wrong direction. At the same time, however, this movie isn’t an hour and a half of jump-scares like most horror remakes. Instead, this movie attempts to be scary in a different way. The corny, cheesy, predictably-spooky kind of way. The kind of scares you’d expect from an electronic Halloween ornament that freaks out little trick-or-treaters, or from staying up late and hiding under your bedsheets reading Horror comics and ‘Goosebumps’ books. It’s spooky but relatively harmless. I will admit, though that a movie about a friendly dead kid is actually a lot deeper than you’d think. Kids are not stupid, I’m sure they can grasp the idea that ghosts are dead people. However, people dying and the loss of loved ones are things that you might not think about when you think of Casper The Friendly Ghost. Especially when it goes into Casper’s origin and the loss of Kat’s mother. Not what you’d expect from a movie full of cheap scares, childish humor, and pop-culture references. When it does tackle these moments, it’s handled quite well. It may not be ‘Schindler’s List’ or ‘The Color Purple’ sad, but it’ll probably make you feel some kind of way.
I-I don’t under…I didn’t understand one word you just said. Anyway, another thing I found enjoyable about this movie has to be the music. The music was done by the late, great James Horner and he has always been one of my favorite film composers for good reason. Arguably, one of the best scores he’s ever made, as it perfectly encapsulates the spookiness, sadness, and whimsy of the film. Even going so far as to incorporate the classic ‘Casper The Friendly Ghost’ theme in his music, which was a pretty sweet nod to the franchise and the fans.
I know I’m probably going to get a lot of crap for this…but the fact that a 21-year old kids movie can still be fun without the need for rose-tinted glasses is still saying a lot. Sure, parts of the story is a mess, the villains are uninteresting, and there are some moments that may not be a-okay with some parents. But this is still, hands down, a great spookfest for families. Great acting from most of the cast, Amazing special effects that still hold up today, beautiful music from James Horner, and enough goofiness and eerieness for the month of October. May not be good enough for “your” Halloween Marathon, but definitely worth the watch if you have children or little siblings…once the movie is over and they go to bed, THEN you can watch your precious ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. Sorry, kids. No dead monkeys for you.
Sorry, Casper. Anyway, we got a long way to go before Halloween…and I’ve got some “unfinished business” of my own.
Ugh…until then, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
Special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!
Videos & Photos:
Casper(owned by Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment & The Harvey Entertainment Company)
The Nightmare Before Christmas(owned by Touchstone Pictures, Skellington Productions & Buena Vista Pictures)
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy(owned by DreamWorks Pictures & Apatow Productions)
HBO’s Tales From The Crypt(owned by HBO, EC Comics, Genesis Entertainment, 20th Television & Warner Home Video)