The Harry Potter movies have started to become something of a fixture on television around this time of year, so I don’t think I’m surprising anyone by including one on this countdown, and if you’re already a Harry Potter fan, you probably won’t learn anything new in this post. But I did want to talk about why I’m singling out the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban specifically, and why it rightly deserves to be included among my elite 31 DVDs of Halloween.
Out of all eight Harry Potter films, Prisoner of Azkaban has the honor of being my all-time favorite. But the REAL reason I chose it for the countdown is because it also happens to be the Halloweeniest of them all. True, Sorcerer’s Stone has the awesome Halloween feast scene and subsequent troll fight but it’s only a fleeting glimpse into a proper Hogwarts-style Halloween, whereas POA (you guys don’t mind if I call it POA, do you? Prisoner of Azkabanis getting tiresome to type out) feels Halloweenish almost throughout the entire film. It’s got the Monster Book of Monsters, the witchy choir singing “Double Trouble,” scary Dementors, The Whomping Willow, The Shrieking Shack, boggarts, huge pumpkins, ghosts, ravens, giant spiders–all this AND a werewolf! Not to mention plenty of eerie horror movie-ish scenes and an overall grim, gloomy autumn aesthetic. Oh! And I almost forgot the Honeydukes Sweet Shop scene. A kid-friendly Halloween movie isn’t complete without candy.
Director Alfonso Cuaron, whose body of work I absolutely adore, really puts a lot of attention into all the little details that make the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry seem to come alive. For example, there’s a lovely little transition scene of a single dead leaf falling from the Whomping Willow before the tree grows impatient and shakes the rest of its yellow foliage to the ground. His style is just gorgeous and all of the extra touches he adds to each shot of POA provide a rich backdrop of spooky Halloween-ish scenery to soak in.
In a lot of ways, Prisoner of Azkaban is the perfect, most “Harry Potterish” Harry Potter film, if that makes sense. The cast is old enough in this one not to make you feel like it’s a straight-up kid’s movie, it takes place before SHIT GETS REAL™ with Voldemort and therefore isn’t as “heavy,” giving us a welcome reprieve from the ongoing teenage angst-fest that is Harry’s emotional battle against The Dark Lord and his followers, barring that whole “HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!” thing. You can have your Oscar moment this time, Harry.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…
What is 31 DVDs of Halloween?
As a special feature for the Halloween Countdown, I’m showcasing 31 Halloween DVDs from my personal collection. I have a lot of Halloween-related and horror DVDs in general, but for this year’s countdown I’m only going to focus on my absolute favorites–the ones I consider 100% essential for my enjoyment of the holiday.