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Explainer: A freaky, frightening month of horror flicks

  • The glut of autumn scary movies is here, ready to ooze all over you. You can blame the months of September and October for the narrow marketing window, since Hollywood often acts as though Halloween were the only time of the year when people wanted to watch horror films. Seriously, you’d think it was a new holiday called Doom-Christmas.

    Unless you’re a devoted severed-head enthusiast you’ll probably be picking and choosing your scary movies carefully. Here, then, a guide to what’s new in death, misery, torture and unhappy endings where they set up the next sequel.

  • The remake that you're probably already annoyed exists: 'Let Me In,' Oct. 1

    The argument against this one is that “Let The Right One In” was already an amazing not-glittering vampire movie that haunted audiences worldwide. It just happened not to be in English. And that means a lot of lazy American movie-avoiders didn’t watch the Swedish film for that reason alone. Get-what-you-deserve logic would dictate that they don’t merit a good remake in their own language. But the counter argument for this one is that early buzz is good. There are weirder things than decent remakes of beloved foreign films. But not many.

    Review: 'Let Me In' is a faithful remake

  • The one with Renee Zelleger: 'Case 39,' Oct. 1

    The full-cheeked A-lister stars as a social worker trying to save a child from abusive parents. But that’s not all. Bradley Cooper is involved, too. And people who are that good looking are also usually pure evil inside. Even so, the presence of Zellweger could well mean that the scariest thing in the movie could be Botox-related.

  • The one that's going to be so gross they're releasing it unrated: 'I Spit on Your Grave,' Oct. 8

    The French have a lot to answer for these days. They keep flying the “torture-porn” flag making some of the most brutally unpleasant films of recent memory (“Martyrs,” “Inside,”) and so it’s no wonder that, for the fans of that genre, the grandmother of all stomach-churning, feel-bad revenge movies is back, updated for 2010. The story involves a horrible, protracted gang rape and the victim’s systematic revenge. The original outraged critics, prompted bitter debate over exploitation of women and even more study of the emergence of feminist horror. Early reviews are comparing it to the atrocities of war crimes.

  • The one from Wes Craven: 'My Soul to Take,' Oct. 8

    A killer stalks seven kids who were all born on the very day he was executed. So he’s ... a zombie? And the plot is a tiny bit reminiscent of the early 1980s slasher “Happy Birthday To Me,” the one that starred “Little House on The Prairie” alum Melissa Sue Anderson. But whatever, it’s Wes Craven. The guy invented Freddy Krueger. He’s a horror legend. He’s got more tricks up his sleeve for sure.

  • The one with the most hilarious premise': 'Chain Letter,' Oct. 8

    Some teenagers — great already, yes? — get picked off one by one by a maniac when they ignore one of those email chain letters and refuse to forward it. They also miss the opportunity to get 1.5 million American dollars deposited into their bank accounts by a Nigerian Prince. So, yeah, double bummer for them.

    Horror plots even dumber than 'Chain Letter'? Try killer snowmen, records

  • The one everyone's afraid will be as boring as 'Blair Witch 2': 'Paranormal Activity 2,' Oct. 22

    But there’s still hope. The trailer is creepy. There’s that baby and the dog and the rocking chair and stuff. And there’s no reason, at this point, not to trust that the people who made the first film can pull more scares out of their pitch black hallway. It’s just that we’ve all been burned before, so a certain skittishness is understandable.

  • The one from the franchise that has outstayed its welcome by about five movies: 'Saw 3D,' Oct. 29

    It’s time for the moralistic Nanny McPhee of murder to hang up his hat, it really is. The justifications for the human elimination reaches idiotic heights of self-righteousness almost every time a new “Saw” movie huffs and puffs its way into theaters. By this point Jigsaw’s next generation of death-minions are probably going after people who still use plastic grocery bags. Upside: this one is in 3-D and body parts will fly into your face.

    Dave White is a frequent contributor to TODAYshow.com.

Discuss: Horror movie fans, October is your month

Which scary flicks will you be covering your eyes through? Or will you stay home and watch "The Exorcist" on cable?

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