Can you sense it? Lurking in dark hallways. Standing outside the window. Watching us behave like silly teenagers. Breathing down our necks. Halloween is nearly here, you guys! And while it awkwardly falls on a weeknight this year, that doesn't make this weekend's Halloween programming any less PULSE-POUNDING. Your horror movie selection is enormous, but here's a smattering of some of the TV schedule's most notable scary flicks!
[Note: Listed times are generally PST and listed networks are HD whenever possible. Please do verify your local listings.]
Scientists! Always attempting to get fancy in their laboratories but unleashing literal monsters instead! This Vincenzo Natali film has just the right amount of thoughtfulness and insanity to make it worth your time, regardless of whether you think it's successful. When husband-and-wife "rock star" scientists (Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody) splice their own DNA into a new creature, their offspring is as beautiful as it is horrifying. And like all the best horror films, this is one that keeps upping the ante the whole time. Icky fun.
Bride of Chucky
Horror comedy is possibly the trickiest genre to pull off, but Ronny Yu's decidedly gonzo take on the Child's Play franchise is a rare win. After Chucky reanimates yet again and pays a murderous (and voodoo-tinged) visit to an ex (Jennifer Tilly), the situation devolves into TWO psycho dolls taking a nice girl (Katherine Heigl) hostage. Like all successful horror comedies, this one still makes an effort to be scary. It just so happens to also have a scene where two dolls have sex and also later a scene in which those same dolls have a shovel fight. So, you know, it's amazing.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Obviously this Platinum Dunes remake does not deserve to share a title with the franchise that inspired it, but it DOES have some redeeming aspects. Specifically its cast, which includes Supernatural's Jared Padalecki and Party Down's Ryan Hansen. I don't love the presentation of Jason Voorhees as an underground-dwelling lightning-quick behemoth (or the absence of camp counselors), but it's a pretty slick horror enterprise anyway. But yeah, this is an example of how a movie could be kind of okay if only it had its own title and wasn't a remake or connected to the original in any way. Oh well.
Oxygen, 5pm & 9pm
The Skeleton Key
For a more ghostly good time, it's hard to go wrong with this twisty Kate Hudson slow-burner. When a young nurse arrives for her new gig at an ancient New Orleans plantation, she encounters tons of eerie and mysterious phenomena around the house. Sure, most of them are jump scares and dream sequences, but a lot of people dig those sorts of things!
TV Guide Network, 8pm
The Wicker Man (2006)
LOL. I can't tell you how to live your life, but you should spend at least ONE evening of it on the couch with your friends drinking A LOT and watching this thing. Let's not even bother comparing it to the haunting semi-masterpiece that was the original The Wicker Man. This is a totally separate beast. A campy, over-the-top, highly ridiculous, Nicolas Cage-enhanced beast. NOT THE BEES!!!
Apollo 18, 9:30pm, SHO 2
Atrocious, 6:00pm & 11:30pm, Chiller
Beyond Re-Animator, 10:00pm, IFC
Dead & Breakfast, 3:00pm, FEARnet
DeadHeads, 12:00pm, SHO 2
Freddy vs Jason, 8:30pm, Encore
Fright Night, 4:00pm, Showtime HD
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, 1:00pm, AMC
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, 3:00pm, AMC
I Am Legend, 11:00pm, TNT
Jeepers Creepers, 5:00pm, AMC
Misery, 6:00pm & 8:30pm,, BBC America
One Missed Call, 4:00pm & 9:30pm, Chiller
Pumpkinhead, 8:30pm, AMC
Saw IV, 1:30pm, Syfy
Saw V, 3:30pm, Syfy
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland, 4:00pm, LOGO
Smile, 2:00pm & 7:30pm, Chiller
The Mist, 5:30pm, Syfy
The Objective, 12:00pm, IFC
Trick 'R Treat, 2:00pm, LOGO
Vampires, 5:00pm, FEARnet
Zombieland, 1:30pm, FX
Many of you have brought up Near Dark in the comments, and I don't blame you! This early Kathryn Bigelow classic is just SO GOOD. A young dude falls in love with a girl and ends up traveling around with her family of VAMPIRES. Except it's sort of a western? Except not? And it's violent and as messed up as you'd hope. It would not be controversial for me to declare that this is one of the best vampire movies ever made if not THE best. It's definitely top three. Don't just take my word for it, though!
Widely considered The Scariest Movie of All Time (not by me though, I'm not religious enough), The Exorcist is a masterpiece of atmosphere and imagery. You can have your pea soup spewings and crucifix masturbation, but for my money the scariest scene is when Regan's at the hospital having tests done. So unsettling! And there's also, you know, the recurring subliminal images of THAT FACE or also the Pazuzu statue lurking in the shadows. That's the stuff that gets me. Unrelated: I recently saw a stage production of The Exorcist that starred Brooke Shields as the mom. It was not very good!
When Peter Jackson's riff on ghostbustin' was first released back in 1996, CGI wasn't yet the ubiquitous special effect it is today. So to my teenage brain, the near-constant computer-generated effects of The Frighteners were just straight-up stunning. Unfortunately these days this movie looks like a Hanna Barbera cartoon. Oh well! It's still a fun time: Michael J. Fox plays a psychic exorcist whom people can hire to get rid of ghosts. But when the Grim Reaper itself starts picking people off, he finds himself caught in the middle of tons of life-or-death drama. Not so caught up that he can't quip a ton. Because he quips a ton in this movie.
It's debatable whether this Korean monster movie is technically horror, but let's go with it! It certainly has shocks and scares, it's just that it's also a fairly heartfelt family drama as well. In fact, it's the latter element that vaults this flick into near-classic status. I know people who hate this movie for how it ends, but I love the audacity. Plus, it's a testament to how much you care about these characters if you can be so upset by bad things happening to them, you know? Anyway, The Host is about a toxic waste-enhanced giant monster who attacks South Korea and snatches away our hero's daughter. Frightening and occasionally hilarious revenge ensues!
Whoa, remember this one? Over the years Paul W.S. Anderson's The Shining-in-space has developed a passionate following, but I think it's okay to admit that it's not the best movie. It's fairly stupid. That being said, IT IS SCARY. No denying that. Anyway, this is a movie about a spaceship accidentally flying into hell. It could happen to anyone!
Addams Family Values, 4:00pm, ABC Family
Apollo 18, 2:45pm, Showtime HD
AVP: Alien vs Predator, 5:00pm, AMC
Bear, 2:00pm, Chiller
Bedlam, 4:30am, Turner Classic Movies
Cat People, 6:00am, Turner Classic Movies
Dance of the Dead, 12:00am, IFC
Darkness Falls, 7:00am, FX
Dawn of the Dead, 4:30pm & 11:00pm, Syfy
Devil Doll, 3:00am, Turner Classic Movies
Devil's Playground, 9:00pm, The Movie Channel
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, 9:00am, Turner Classic Movies
Dracula: Prince of Darkness, 7:15am, Turner Classic Movies
Dream House, 11:30am, HBO2
Dying Breed, 3:00am, IFC
Friday the 13th, 4:00am, MTV
Fright Night Part 2, 12:00am, AMC
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, 12:30pm, Syfy
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, 2:30pm, Syfy
Grace, 9:00am & 3:00pm, FEARnet
Gremlins, 6:00pm & 10:30pm, The Hub
Grindhouse Presents: Planet Terror, 10:30am, Syfy
House of Wax, 1:45pm, Turner Classic Movies
I Bury the Living, 11:00pm, Turner Classic Movies
Idle Hands, 1:00am & 11:00am, FEARnet
Jeepers Creepers, 10:00am, AMC
Macabre, 1:45am, Turner Classic Movies
Maneater, 10:00am & 8:00pm, Chiller
Marabunta, 3:30am, Chiller
Maximum Overdrive, 1:15pm, IFC
Monster House, 8:00pm & 10:00pm, ABC Family
Priest, 12:45am, Starz
Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes, 1:00am, Syfy
Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud, 3:00am, Syfy
Red White & Blue, 12:00am, Sundance Channel
Rise of the Zombies, 9:00pm, Syfy
Scream 3, 5:00pm & 10:15pm, IFC
Seed of Chucky, 2:00am, MTV
Slaughter High, 5:00pm, FEARnet
Sorority Row, 12:00am, MTV
Stag Night, 2:55am, HBO2
Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, 5:30am, AMC
The Fog, 5:00am & 11:40pm, Encore
The Fourth Kind, 1:05pm, HBO2
The Island of Dr Moreau, 3:20am, Encore
The Omen, 2:30am, FX
The Stepfather, 7:00pm, FEARnet
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, 10:00pm, MTV
The Violent Kind, 10:40pm, The Movie Channel
Tooth and Nail, 9:15am, IFC
Underworld Awakening, 9:00pm, Starz
Wolf, 12:40pm, Encore
Wolf Town, 12:00pm & 10:00pm, Chiller
Zombie Apocalypse, 7:00pm, Syfy
Comedy Central, 8:45am & 4:45pm
Shaun of the Dead
I haven't met a single person who doesn't love Shaun of the Dead. (Caveat: I don't get out that much.) That is because it's a very good movie! Another example of horror comedy done right, this movie has plenty of laughs but you never forget the tension and horror underlying every scene. Well done, Edgar Wright! So yeah, Shaun of the Dead is about a beaten-down slacker who finds himself roused into heroism after a zombie apocalypse hits. A tale as old as time.
30 Days of Night
I'm not quite sure why more people don't love this movie. Based on the classic graphic novel, this movie is about a small Alaskan town who, for once a year, bids the sun goodbye for a full month. That's when sunlight-averse vampires decide to descend and only the town sheriff (Josh Hartnett) can stop them. In addition to featuring one of cinema history's best overhead tracking shots of all time (seriously, I love it so much), this movie also boasts some of the scariest and most vicious vampires in the entire genre. You can have your handsome, conflicted vampires... I like mine monstrous, and this movie delivers that in slades. Because David Slade directed this. Nevermind.
Yes, it is ridiculous when the characters in [REC] rewind the footage for playback while ALSO recording themselves, but still. This Spanish language original about a live news broadcast gone wrong is one of the finest found footage movies ever made, and I'm happy to argue about it. From the excellently staged chase scenes to the cryptic and unsettling finale, [REC] is SO GOOD. Its U.S. remake Quarantine is pretty solid too, but I prefer the explanation/final boss of [REC] better. (Pro tip: [REC]2 is also good and makes for a terrific back-to-back double feature. On the other hand, [REC]3 is its own thing, you can watch that one separately.)
The Crazies (2010)
Certain remakes are just better than the originals. This is one of them. Sorry, don't be mad. I like George Romero just as much as the next guy. But if you had the original The Crazies in front of you and also this Timothy Olyphant-starring one, which would you pick for a Halloween scary movie marathon? I like the new one, but that's me. Anyway, in this modified zombie-virus-outbreak film, a small town sheriff must evacuate a town before it's (A) overrun by his ghoulish former neighbors and also (B) obliterated by the military that had caused the outbreak in the first place.
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Again, I recognize the importance of Wes Craven's original shocker, but this is the one I'd rather watch again. Not only does it star Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and Raising Hope's Garret Dillahunt, it's slightly less sadistic. Slightly. This tale of two girls who hang out with the wrong group of maniacs is so masterfully tense and stressful it makes the original look like an awkward home movie. Again, I completely understand and accept the original's audacity and its Vietnam War metaphors, but this version is my preference. Deal w/it.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, 3:00pm, Syfy
Addams Family Values, 1:30pm, ABC Family
Bad Girls From Valley High, 9:20am, HBO2
Bride of Chucky, 2:00pm & 8:00pm, LOGO
Christine, 2:00pm, AMC
Coraline, 12:00am, ABC Family
Cujo, 10:00am, AMC
Devil's Playground, 12:15am, The Movie Channel
Dream House, 2:40am, HBO2
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 7:00pm & 10:45pm, IFC
feardotcom, 11:00pm, Syfy
Friday the 13th, 11:00pm, MTV
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, 9:00am, Syfy
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, 11:00am, Syfy
Frontiere(s), 12:45am, IFC
Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later, 7:00pm, Syfy
Halloween II, 12:15am, MTV
I Know Who Killed Me, 1:00pm, Lifetime
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, 3:00pm, TV Guide Network
Jennifer's Body, 1:30pm, FX
La Monja, 11:00am, FEARnet
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, 11:30am & 10:30pm, BBC America
Mimic, 12:15am, AMC
Misery, 8:00pm, BBC America
Monster House, 3:30pm, ABC Family
Nightmare on Elm Street 5, 5:00pm, Syfy
No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker, 3:00pm, IFC
Pet Sematary, 4:00am, AMC
Pet Sematary II, 6:00am, AMC
Psycho, 12:15am (Monday), Encore
Pulse, 8:00pm, Syfy
Quarantine, 3:00pm, FEARnet
Quarantine 2: Terminal, 5:00pm, FEARnet
[REC] 2, 9:00pm, FEARnet
Resident Evil: Extinction, 6:15pm, TNT
Rise of the Zombies, 1:00am, Syfy
Saw II, 5:00pm & 8:45pm, IFC
Silver Bullet, 8:00am, AMC
Slaughter, 6:15am, IFC
Slaughter High, 1:00am & 1:00pm, FEARnet
Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers, 7:30am & 4:00pm, LOGO
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland, 9:30am & 6:00pm, LOGO
Splice, 11:00pm, FEARnet
The Eye, 4:15am & 1:00pm, IFC
The Last House in the Woods, 8:15am, IFC
The Others, 4:30pm, The Movie Channel
The Phantom of the Opera, 10:00pm, Turner Classic Movies
The Pumpkin Karver, 3:00am, Syfy
The Shining, 5:00pm, BBC America
The Stepfather, 3:00am, FEARnet
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, 2:45am, MTV
The Violent Kind, 2:00am, The Movie Channel
The Wicker Man, 10:00pm, TV Guide Network
Thinner, 12:00pm, AMC
Thir13en Ghosts, 1:00pm, Syfy
Tormented, 12:30am, Turner Classic Movies
Underworld Awakening, 3:50am & 3:50pm, Starz
Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans, 10:00am, USA Network
Valentine, 11:30am, LOGO
The Omen (1976)
Because not enough true horror classics are airing this weekend (where you at, Halloween?), allow me to point out some good stuff on Netflix Instant. Let's start with The Omen, still one of the best and scariest spawn-of-the-devil films ever made. After a wealthy diplomat accepts a mysterious baby into his family after his wife delivers a stillborn, things start going very wrong in very public ways for this family. Decapitations, dead babysitters, freaky nannies, angry dogs. THE DEVIL. Yeah, this is a good one.
Except for the telekinesis, religious zealotry, public menstruation and mass murder, I think we've pretty much all lived this story, right? This Brian DePalma classic is basically just a documentary on being a teenager! But more than just being the ubiquitous pop-culture fixture it's been for the past 36 years, Carrie is also one of the most artful and unusual films ever made. That carousel-filmed prom scene! When you get right down to it, Carrie is only really scary for about ten minutes or so, a rare feat for a supposed horror mainstay.
Under no circumstances should you mistake this original Japanese masterpiece for its dreadful American remake. Few films have toed the line between art film and horror flick quite like Pulse, a film about computers and ghosts that takes a turn for the apocalyptic. Seriously, this is not a film about jump scares as much as sheer existential dread. Quiet, haunting (in multiple ways!) and ultimately depressing as hell, Pulse is one cinema's scariest bad times.
Speaking of slow-burn, this low-budget Brad Anderson flick has developed a big following over the years for its atmospheric horror. David Caruso stars as the head of an asbestos-clearing team tasked with cleaning out an old asylum over a long weekend. It should go without saying that they encounter dangerous situations while inside, but is the danger psychological or supernatural? I can't answer that for you.
The Fog (1980)
John Carpenter's 1980 original is not quite perfect, but few movies have so perfectly combined personal terror with epic scale like The Fog. After a mysterious fog starts rolling over an entire town, certain citizens come to find themselves murdered by ragged, be-hooked silhouettes. While the explanation for the horror is nowhere near as scary as the initial cryptic imagery, The Fog still works as an ensemble horror movie about ghosts from the past. Another strong pick for your Halloween marathons.
Will YOU be watching scary movies this weekend?