Ah, Halloween. My favorite holiday. I’ve always really liked horror movies and in the last few years, I’ve noticed that some of them have pretty problematic messages for people with disabilities. So here are a list of horror movies you can watch this Halloween that have disability-positive messages that won’t make you roll your eyes!
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
This movie came out in Jack Nicholson’s heyday and in it, he plays Randle McMurphy, a patient at a mental hospital who really doesn’t need to be there but pretended to be crazy so he wouldn’t have to go to prison. Although not a disability-positive message in and of itself, the strengths of the movie lay completely in the characters that live at the mental hospital with him. The nurse in charge, Nurse Ratched, is basically the personification of evil but the fact that she is terrible doesn’t make the other patients’ illnesses any less existent. While depressing on the surface, to me it speaks to the truth of any kind of disability. Most importantly, that you can’t make a disability go away just because it’s convenient to the plot.
4. Rear Window (1954)
The fact that this movie was directed by Hitchcock and the lead character is played by Jimmy Stewart helped make this movie into a classic. In Rear Window, L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies is stuck inside his apartment because he has a broken leg. Due to his immobility, he takes up the habit of people watching (a.k.a. spying on his neighbors) and he witnesses a murder. I think people with mobility issues can relate to this movie better than most. After all, who hasn’t felt frustrated by not being able to affect something you cannot reach or get to?
3. Wait Until Dark (1967)
In this classic starring Audrey Hepburn, Susy, a blind woman played by Hepburn, desperately tries to escape the grasp of three criminals who believe she has a doll filled with heroin that belongs to them. At one point, she plunges her apartment into darkness by breaking all the bulbs so that the criminals can’t see her and she has the upper hand of being acclimated to not having sight. She is badass in this movie and I would highly recommend it to anyone who asks.
2. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
Not only did this movie birth, or at least exacerbate, the notorious Feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, but it actually became a compelling story about two sisters, one of which is a paraplegic almost completely dependent on the other for her care. To make matters worse, the sister who is the caregiver is insanely jealous of her much more famous sister and becomes more and more unhinged throughout the film. And she’s so creepy. A small warning: this movie does contain physical and emotional abuse.
1. Hush (2016)
By far my favorite movie on the list. In this Netflix original film, a deaf author named Maddie deals with a home intruder who is all too excited to murder her In the scariest way possible. He spends most of the movie creeping around her house and since she can’t hear him, he gets away with this for an unsettlingly long time. And not only does this movie have a disability-positive message, but a women’s empowerment message as well! What’s not to love?