DVD Picks: Funny Halloween Movies

by Terri Robar, Learning & Research Services

Laugh Away Your Fears

Some people like to watch scary movies at Halloween but some of us like to laugh. So here’s a list of movies that have plenty of spooks and monsters but are unlikely to give you nightmares.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

When three college professors lose their jobs, they decide to go into the freelance “paranormal investigation and elimination” business. When ghosts go on a rampage, only these men can save the world. Soon every spook in the city is loose and our heroes face the supreme challenge. Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

Sidelined after their spectacular save of New York City five years ago, the heroes of the hereafter once again answer the call when an underground river of ghoulish goo threatens to rot the Big Apple to the core.

And one more time: Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, four women band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

The story of Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king, who decides to bring the magic of Christmas back to Halloween Town.

When flesh eating zombies go on the hunt for a bite to eat, it is up to Shaun and his best pal to save their friends and family from becoming the next entree.

Summoned by a will to his late grandfather’s castle in Transylvania, young Dr. Frankenstein soon discovers the scientist’s step-by-step manual explaining how to bring a corpse to life. Assisted by the hunchbacked Igor and the curvaceous Inga, he creates a monster who only wants to be loved.

A couple of likable ghosts contact the afterlife’s bio-exorcist to rid their home of a trendy New York family that moves in.

Earth is invaded by Martians with unbeatable weapons and a cruel sense of humor.

David and Jack are two American youths who just want to see a bit of Europe. A trek across the moors of northern England leads to an attack by a werewolf. Jack is killed, but returns as an undead corpse to warn David that he, too, will morph into a werewolf when the full moon rises.

A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

In a world that has become overrun with zombies, two men must figure out how to survive. Wimpy Columbus is afraid of his own shadow, while Tallahassee is the biggest, baddest, gun-toting zombie-slayer who ever lived. When they meet two sisters, Wichita and Little Rock, the four strike out for an amusement park that is said to be zombie-free. This mismatched group will have to rely on each other to survive, which could be worse than surrendering to the zombies.

Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one.









Pop Culture Post: TV Elections


By Ellen Davies, UGrow Fellow, and Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

With the 2016 Presidential election less than a month away, it will soon be time for another State of the Union address in January 2017. As portrayed in the show Designated Survivor you may know that one member of the President’s cabinet is selected to spend the address in an undisclosed location to guard against a catastrophic loss of the Executive and Legislative bodies of government. In the show Tom Kirkman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is that member of the Cabinet chosen to spend the State of the Union in an undisclosed bunker. After an explosion kills the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and many other cabinet Secretaries, Kirkman becomes President.


George McGovern on election night in Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1972. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

The United States Constitution specifies that the Vice President succeeds the President, but makes no mention of further succession. Two amendments clarify the role of Vice Presidential succession, while the rest of the line is governed by laws passed by Congress. Cabinet-level succession is determined by the founding date of each department. For example, the State Department founded as the Department of Foreign Affairs was the first federal agency created under the Constitution. It was approved by Congressional legislation on July 21, 1789, making its Secretary the first of the Cabinet positions. The Department of Transportation, number 14 in line, was founded in 1967.

Of course, before a line of succession can exist, a President must be elected. Elections and campaigning have been fertile ground for Hollywood to explore. Satire, political thrillers, and outright comedy go hand in hand with movies about elections and often overlap with each other.

One of the most popular comedic explorations of political campaigns, and the moments of joy and frustration they can bring, is portrayed in Parks and Recreation. The series stars comedian Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in small-town Pawnee, Indiana, and is known for her unwavering positivity, admiration (and borderline obsession) for powerful female politicians like Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, and undying belief in local government’s potential to have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. When she decides to run for city council, however, she quickly learns she must overcome the influence of gender bias as well as overall skepticism of government in order to effect any change in the small town. One idea that receives major pushback for instance is on combatting childhood obesity, a major health issue in Pawnee, where the existing city council has just decided to sell the space allocated for a new park to a fast food chain called “Paunch Burger.”

Other popular TV shows like House of Cards, Scandal, and Veep work to pull back the curtain on political campaigns and presidential elections, giving an inside look at Washington through the use of story lines tied to current events and allusions to American politics and politicians that blur the line between satire and reality. These shows mix all the things that aren’t supposed to be discussed in polite conversation: money, sex, and politics, and allow us to binge on them in the privacy of our own living rooms.

Family standing outside of the White House, 1970s. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

In the first season of Netflix’s wildly popular series House of Cards, Frank and Claire Underwood’s marriage reeks of the early Clinton years. Southerner Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a Democratic Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives who has aspirations of becoming President. Together he and his wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, are an unstoppable political duo ready to take on Washington and gain political power at all costs. Claire is the definition of a true “ride-or-die” and the pair have more of a business-like partnership than a romantic relationship, both more than willing to accept the other’s morally questionable actions and keep quiet about extra-marital affairs for the greater good of their own political careers. As the series evolves it ultimately becomes clear that while Frank is the public front man, Claire, like many first ladies and wives of politicians, is the tail that wags the dog.

Meanwhile it may be worth noting that Robin Wright, who plays Claire, recently made headlines for revealing that she earned less money than co-star Kevin Spacey in the first two seasons of the series and was only able to negotiate equal pay with Netflix after threatening to go public with the wage gap.

UM Libraries houses several books, movies, and television series related to political elections:

Election-Themed Resources


Being There


The Contender

Television Series

John Adams

The West Wing


The Manchurian Candidate

Too Close to Call

1920: The Year of Six Presidents

How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians

Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968

“Pink Powder” Exhibition Now On View


Silueta Works in Iowa, Ana Mendieta, 1976, on view at Richter Library. The photograph is part of Mendieta’s series depicting her silhouettes created from the earth over time.

September 20 – November 1, 2016
Otto G. Richter Library, 2nd floor

Featuring works by Tracey Emin, Naomi Fisher, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Ana Mendieta, and Susanne Winterling

Pink Powder, an exhibition of renowned works owned by the de la Cruz Collection is now on view at Richter Library. The exhibition brings together a group of artists whose work addresses the female form and identity.

Imagery varying from the quiet and ponderous, to the raw and rebellious, subvert the traditional role of the female muse within the canons of art history, literature, and popular culture.

From the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American artist, Ana Mendieta, to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami artist, Naomi Fisher; and from the confessional work of British artists, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Johnson, to the autobiographical work of Berlin-based artist, Susanne Winterling; the artists in this exhibition address the female body with an unapologetic intensity and encourage a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.

This exhibition is organized by the de la Cruz Collection in collaboration with the the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2016.