This alone got me thinking about fantasy and how that while I'm drawn to horror, there's no denying that I fell down the rabbit whole with fantasy as a young girl and have been smitten by the genre ever since. I love the idea of make-believe and fantastical places and creatures. I was--and remain to be--fascinated by mythology and fairy tales and the concept of folklore. I used to pretend there were monsters and fairies under my bed and play under there for hours. I had imaginary friends that I chatted with and fought with and quite honestly, scared the hell out of my parents with, but what I'm getting at here is that I was always somewhere else, the girl with an imagination too big to be contained in one room. I needed worlds to disappear to, to play and get beautifully, wondrously lost in.
Even thinking about these memories makes me smile, and as such, I wanted to share with you my top five favorite fantasy movies, Alice and Wonderland excluded because honestly, there's no competition there. She's my girl and everyone needs to smoke hookah with an existentialist Caterpillar at least once in their life.
1. Pans Labyrinth: This is one of my most favorite movies and the soundtrack is utterly gorgeous; I write to it often. Here, Ofelia, the stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into a dark, yet beautiful fantasy world complete with one of my favorite monsters. This movie speaks to me on so many levels because every child wants to be the chosen one, the one who has this secret destiny waiting for her just around the corner. Ofelia escapes the tragedy of the world around her by falling into legend, and as a result, we get to see how the light in the darkness, the life in all this death.
2. Labyrinth: Ah, the goblin king. What a great story, and you can't beat David Bowie showing up in your bedroom to grant your wishes and take your little brother away. The characters are great--shout out to Ludo, who is my favorite!-and Jim Henson really went above and beyond here with his puppets. I remember watching this for the first time clear as day.
3. The Wizard of Oz/ Return to Oz: A classic at its finest, The Wizard of Oz is a staple in my family. I swear my dad can recite the entire movie by heart, and the lot of us practically raced to the theater when Wicked came to town. As a kid, I loved the journey and world building that the story lets us be a part of--the Emerald City always my personal favorite-- and the Wicked Witch is just a hoot. In fact, my brother was terrified of her for a very long time when we were kids. But as I grew up, I grew to appreciate the books as well and the depth of Oz and the cities beyond it made me fall in love with it even more.
When I saw Return to Oz, I actually quite liked it better and yes, that's partly due to the fact that it picks up in an asylum and Fairuza Balk--who I love--is Dorothy. Throw in a headless queen and a giant pumpkin though and it's damned near impossible for me not to fall in love.
4. Bridge to Terabithia: This book broke me and the movie did a good job of salting my wounds, too. I love stories where worlds are built as a way to cope with stress, depression, or tragedy, and this book hit those points hard. I love how it details friendship through a world built around trolls, monsters, and ogres. After I read this book, I went outside with my neighbor and we built our first fort in the woods.
5. The Dark Crystal: First things first: Fizzgig is my spirit animal and probably my favorite creature of all time. If ever I connected with something, it's that feisty little fella. But jokes aside, I love how dark yet spiritual this move is. The prophetic nature of it and the Mystics paired with the grotesque nature of the Skeksis is alluring and trippy and I love how crystal healing and chaos magic comes into play here. Plus, Aughra- Keeper of Secrets is sassy and funny as hell and that's what I have a Pop Funko of her on my desk.
NOTE: Hat tip to pretty much everything that Roald Dahl ever created. I devoured: James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and The Witches as a kid. In fact, The Witches absolutely terrified me, and after a recent viewing of it, I can see why. Hell, it still scared me.
Also, a shout out to The Spiderwick Chronicles.