Like murderous genetic mutations recently escaped from a top-secret facility, we are chasing down the Halloween season! Seriously guys, how are your costumes coming along? No it is NOT too soon to ask, because unless you are a himbo or bimbo planning to just wear some kind of trampy thing, it is time to start PLANNING. And what better way to work on your costume than during a scary movie marathon? That is one of my favorite Halloween traditions: good friends, a candy bowl, a hot glue gun, and dozens upon dozens of C-list actors running screaming into the night. Halloween is the best! Anyway, out of all the scary movies airing on TV this weekend, these are some of the best ones!
[Note: Listed times are generally Pacific Daylight Time and listed networks are HD whenever possible. Please do verify your local listings.]
The Hub, 6:00pm & 10:00pm
You know what, I'm going to make a confession: I prefer Gremlins as a Christmas movie rather than as a Halloween movie. But it's just so good that I can't NOT mention it. Not only is Gremlins a nasty little comedy, it's genuinely scary, too. It also provides a wonderful life lesson that everyone should take to heart: Don't purchase dangerous, mythical mogwais that elderly Chinese proprietors initially refuse to sell you, and then especially don't get them wet or feed them after midnight. I realize that last part is confusing because it's technically ALWAYS after midnight. Still though. Just don't. Word to the wise.
If there's one thing everybody can agree on, it's that most children are evil. The problem is only compounded, however, when a child is killed by a car, buried in a forbidden graveyard, and resurrected as a murderous ghoul. That's just Parenting 101. At that point it's on you to just keep scalpels away from your undead toddler, and also to try to restrict his hangout time with Weird Aunt Zelda. Nothing good will come of this, or parenting in general. Glad we could all agree!
Long before The Vampire Diaries thrilled us to our very essences on a weekly basis, a young upstart screenwriter named Kevin Williamson changed the dang game with this slasher parody that was ALSO a real slasher! See what he did there? It was funny AND scary. Few sequences can beat Drew Barrymore's cold open, but the entire Wes Craven film still remains scary to this day. Not bad for a 16-year-old! (Holy moly this thing is 16? We are all racing toward the grave.)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The original film is considered by some to be a bit of a classic, but in my opinion that's just by default. Based on actual events that might've been interesting in the '70s, the Margot Kidder original has not aged well. But you know what HAS aged well? A half-naked performance by Ryan Reynolds, who had just come off his Blade: Trinity bulking phase and seemed to insist on showing off the effort for much of this film as well. Waste not, want not! I'm not even sure what else happened in this movie besides this. There might've been a ghost? Who knows/cares?
If you are a lady or a gay who was a teenager during any point in the '90s then you probably have a special place in your heart for The Craft, certainly one of the best films ever made about goth witch outcasts. When a new girl in school (Robin Tunney) falls in with a trio of self-professed weirdos, they all dabble a little bit too much in the dark arts! Fairuza Balk is nothing less than brilliant in this movie, and the snake-filled finale gives me nightmares to this day.
Christine, 5:00pm, AMC
Cujo, 3:00pm, AMC
Dead Souls, 6:00pm, 8:00pm, and 10:00pm, Chiller
Lake Placid, 4:45pm, Cinemax
Pet Sematary II, 9:00pm, AMC
Shutter Island, 5:00pm, Syfy
Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers, 6:00pm, LOGO
The Bride, 1:00pm, FEARnet
The Happening, 11:00pm, FX
Thinner, 1:00pm, AMC
Valentine, 3:30pm, LOGO
IFC, 7:15pm & 11:15pm
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
In this remake/sequel to the original shoestring version of Evil Dead, director Sam Raimi went full horror-comedy and leading man Bruce Campbell brought his A-game. But despite its wackiness this thing is still completely messed up, you know? Maybe don't watch this with your grandparents or pastor. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn tells the tale of two couples who attempt to spend a delightful weekend in the woods but then mistakenly conjure a gaggle of demons after nosing through a flesh-bound Necronomicon. It could happen to the best of us.
Fright Night (1985)
I don't mean to be controversial, but there's a good chance I prefer the Fright Night remake to the original. Even still, this one certainly has its merits. First off, that vampire makeup is some of the best in horror-movie history. (Though it's not explained how Amanda Bearse's short haircut suddenly gets all long.) But despite what version you watch, the plot is the same. A teenage guy and his single mom suddenly get a new neighbor: A handsome single guy who may or may not be a vampire. (He is.) From then on it's a surprisingly dark road for our hero. Bad things happen and everything! So yeah. Recommend.
Final Destination 5
Alright, I love this franchise so much, but I will not judge you too harshly if you don't. It's an acquired taste! So this one follows the same formula as the previous four: Disaster in the beginning, psychic premonition, survivors dying one by one, etc. But not only is this one particularly well-made (the bridge disaster is straight-up incredible), its closing "twist" is as amazing as it is stupid. Part 5 is really one for the fans, though. Or people who want to see David Koechner get a wrench lodged in his skull. Either way! Fun.
IFC, 5:00pm & 9:00pm
The Devil's Rejects
Here's one of those classics that would not be considered a classic at all were it not for its ending. If you've seen it you know what I'm talking about. It's like 90 minutes of unpleasantness in which a gang of super-loathsome low-lives torture innocent victims, concluded with a sensational sequence that redeems everything that came before it. I don't know if Rob Zombie will ever make a watchable movie again, but this one's reputation is well deserved.
ORIGINAL MOVIE, Syfy, 9:00pm
American Horror House
I have not seen this yet! But I'm highlighting it because I applaud Syfy's commitment to funding original horror movies. I'm not saying I don't love the network's awful sci-fi monster movies, but I have a soft spot for straight horror, I wish they'd make more of these even though, just being real, it's probably garbage. Anyway, American Horror House stars Morgan Fairchild and Alessanda Torresani as residents of a sorority house who must deal with a severe haunting situation AND a murderous house mother. Assuming that house mother will be played by Morgan Fairchild, this movie will be guaranteed watchable.
Apollo 18, 8:00pm, Showtime
Corridors of Blood, 2:45am, AMC
Dark Fields, 10:30pm, TMC
DeadHeads, 4:25pm, Showtime 2
Devil, 12:00pm, HBO2
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 9:00pm, Starz
Ghost Town, 3:00pm, Syfy
Gremlins, 4:00pm & 9:00pm, The Hub
Haunted High, 5:00pm, Syfy
House of Bones, 7:00pm, Syfy
Killer Pad, 11:00pm, FEARnet
Mother's Day (2010), 1:00am, Showtime 2
Offspring, 12:15am, IFC
Pet Sematary, 3:00am, AMC
Pet Sematary II, 5:00am, AMC
Road Train, 12:00pm, Chiller
Satan's School for Girls, 1:00pm, Lifetime Movie Network
Smile, 6:00am & 10:00pm, Chiller
The Amityville Horror (2005), 11:00am, 1:00pm & 11:00pm, Syfy
The Amityville Horror (2005), 2:00pm, Chiller
The Bride, 1:00am, FEARnet
The Creeping Flesh, 11:00am, FEARnet
The Grudge 2, 7:00pm, FEARnet
The Grudge 3, 9:00pm, FEARnet
The Happening, 2:00am, FX
The Haunting in Connecticut, 9:00am, Syfy
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (2007), 1:00am, Syfy
The Others, 7:05pm, TMC
The Tomb, 10:00am, Chiller
The Toolbox Murders (2003), 3:00am, Syfy
Vlad, 8:00am & 8:00 pm, Chiller
When a Stranger Calls, 4:10pm, Starz
BBC America, 4:00pm
Here it is, the granddaddy of all art-horror films. Because I'm not a classy person, The Shining is not always my first choice of horror film when I'm in the mood for a scare. But boy will this movie suck me in when I'm channel surfing. Director Stanley Kubrick's fondness for symmetry and one-point perspective makes for a hypnotizing experience! Part of me wishes I'd read the book before seeing this; I'm sure the Dick Hallorann death would've been that much more shocking. Still though, for a deeply unsettling (if overly cerebral) horror experience, it's hard to beat this.
28 Days Later
The main problem with 28 Days Later is how crappy it looks. Like, I get it, it's filmed on camcorder. Unfortunately camcorder technology was so terrible during this era. You know, miniDV tapes and all that. But this rage-virus zombie film remains terrifying. Cillian Murphy exploring an evacuated London is still haunting, and Naomie Harris remains supremely badass. This movie probably wastes too much time at that army base, but I'm not complaining. This is a classic. (I love 28 Weeks Later too. THAT movie looks great!)
Before Frank Darabont unleashed The Walking Dead on us (which I think can be seen on the Dish Network, but I'm not sure), he made this adaptation of the Stephen King novella about a mysterious fog that settles over a New England town. Obviously the monster movie aspects are a lot of fun, but personally I love Marcia Gay Harden's unhinged performance as a religious zealot who starts worshipping the monsters. THAT is scary to me. Oh, and can we talk about how insanely grim Darabont's ending to this movie is? No, you're right, let's not. Too horrible to think about.
Jeepers Creepers 2
The less we discuss Victor Salva the better. That being said, I do enjoy these Jeepers Creepers movies, and I might even prefer this one to the first. It picks up minutes after the events of Part 1 and this flick follows a bus load of high school basketball players who suddenly find themselves preyed upon by a cowboy hat wearing bat-beast. Best of all is Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) as a grieving father going full-Ahab and seeking revenge on the monster that ate his son. Good times.
Do you remember this thing? It was supposed to have been a dream reunion between Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven and a hopefully hip new take on werewolf lore. Unfortunately the Weinsteins forced Wes Craven to reshoot almost ALL of it, and the end result is a bona fide mess. That being said, it does retain some of Williamson's snark and it also features fun performances by Joshua Jackson, Jesse Eisenberg and Milo Ventimiglia. Not Portia de Rossi though. She was terrible in this. So yeah, only recommending Cursed because it's kind of an oddity and a weird footnote on Kevin Williamson's pre-TVD resume.
100 Feet, 3:00am, Syfy
American Horror House, 1:00am, Syfy
An American Werewolf in Paris, 2:40pm, Cinemax
Brotherhood of Blood, 1:00am, IFC
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2, 7:00pm, FEARnet
Dance of the Dead, 9:30pm, IFC
Dark Fields, 2:00am, TMC
Fright Night, 5:00pm & 11:00pm, FEARnet
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 8:20am & 6:20pm, Starz
Ginger Snaps Unleashed, 5:00pm, FEARnet
Hatchet, 9:00pm, FEARnet
Killer Pad, 3:00am & 1:00pm, FEARnet
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, 1:30pm & 11:00pm, BBC America
Red Riding Hood, 5:15pm, HBO
Resident Evil: Afterlife, 11:00pm, USA
Scream 3, 7:00pm, IFC
Scream of the Banshee, 11:30am, Syfy
Slaughter High, 1:00am & 3:00pm, FEARnet
The Descent, 5:00pm & 11:15pm, IFC
The Grudge 2, 9:00am, FEARnet
The Grudge 3, 11:00am, FEARnet
The Messengers, 9:30am, Syfy
The Village, 1:30pm, Syfy
Underworld Awakening, 2:50pm & 9:00pm, Starz
When a Stranger Calls, 1:40am, Starz
The Cabin in the Woods
This 2012 entry is certainly one of the best and most fun horror movies I've seen in years, but that might just be because of how familiar I am with all the tropes it's celebrating. If you haven't seen this movie yet, then tell me something: You crazy? Come on, you might be crazy. Chris Hemsworth is in this! And it's hilarious! And it has one of the most go-for-broke attitudes in modern cinema. Anyway yeah: Five kids go to a cabin in the woods and things happen, some expected but mostly not. Saying anything more would ruin the fun.
I haven't watched this yet, so I should probably take my own advice on this one. But the premise is this: After a sudden tsunami floods a town and strands some grocery store customers atop some shelves, man-eating SHARKS start picking them off one by one. In the grocery store. One of those patrons is played by none other than former The Secret Circle witch Phoebe Tonkin. It seems weird that I would have to say anything else to entice people into seeing this, but not as weird as the fact that *I* haven't watched it yet. Ugh, I am so disappointing.
Okay this one I have seen. BOY HAVE I. If you have seen it also, then you and I should go chat about it in private and not ruin it for anybody else. If you haven't seen it, I'm jealous? Anyway, Kill List is a movie that starts out one way and ends in quite another. It's one of those. I can't even tell you what genre it is because that might spoil the surprise (that I've included it in this roundup is a big hint though). But keep in mind this movie—this violent, disturbing, and reprehensible movie—is basically a puzzle. Things that might seem stupid or implausible actually aren't. It just doesn't want to spell everything out, so it leaves you slowly putting the pieces together yourself until the final vision is nothing less than terrifying. Yeah, not trying to oversell it, but Kill List is one of the most audacious films I've seen in a very long time. Even if you hate it, your brain will still tingle from being fully engaged. Just sayin'!
Some of you pointed out that I neglected to include Candyman last week, but that was because it wasn't on normal TV! Luckily it's on Netflix Instant, so let's talk about this stone-cold masterpiece. Candyman tells the story of a grad student (Virginia Madsen looking golden-era gorgeous) who investigates an urban legend at Chicago housing project Cabrini Green. The Candyman, the legend goes, will appear when someone says his name in a mirror five times. If you want to know if this legend comes true for Helen, you will probably have to watch the movie and find out! (Spoiler: It does.) Oh, and the Phillip Glass score is some of the best horror movie music in history. It's right up there with "Tubular Bells" and Carpenter's Halloween theme, it's that good.
One thing that seems to catch people off-guard about Hellraiser is that it is NOT some kind of slasher film where Pinhead comes out and kills people. No, this movie is much stranger, melodramatic and gothic than that. Clive Barker's dialogue is lurid and over the top; the gore effects are stunningly disgusting. The plot is almost too involved to describe, but let's say it involves a puzzle box that, when opened, summons a group of demons who will escort you to a painful oblivion. But when a man escapes their clutches and reforms into a bloody skeleton, it's up to his innocent niece to send him back to Hell. OR SOMETHING! I'm telling you, it's a film better seen than described. And the best part? When you are done you can watch Hellraiser II: Hellbound, which is just as good.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
You know, I can't tell you how to live your life. But I can tell you that if you are interested in a Guillermo Del Toro produced remake of an old made-for-TV spookfest, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is probably your best bet. It has a distinctively childlike tone while also being legitimately nasty, plus it's one of Katie Holmes' best performances in ages. I'm not sure it totally comes together, but this movie LOOKS great and the effects are terrific. So yeah. Why not?
Home invasion horror is the kind of thing that frightens some people more than others, but this French thriller should do the trick for just about anyone. After a young couple moves to a secluded home in the countryside they soon find themselves fighting off what seem to be multiple hooded intruders. The premise and twist were unfortunately overshadowed by The Strangers (itself a modern classic, in my opinion), so it unfortunately doesn't quite stack up to that one. But that doesn't mean this one isn't extremely effective also. Kids these days! (Spoiler.)
Will YOU be watching scary movies this weekend? Which ones?