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Image: The Thing
Universal Pictures
The remake of "The Thing" takes another look at a creepy creature found in the Antarctic.
updated 9/9/2011 5:37:18 PM ET 2011-09-09T21:37:18

Ready for a fall full of fright? Studios love to release their scariest movies in the fall, especially around Halloween. Here's a trick-or-treat bag full of cinematic sneak peeks for those who love to be scared.

Story: Fall movies offer some very familiar faces

'The Thing' warms up
The cold weather is about to creep in for most of us, and the icy setting is what helps make  "The Thing" (Oct. 14) look so eerie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars in what's being called a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 classic. Scientists in the Antarctic find a giant creature frozen in the ice and things just go downhill from there. The trailer's full of dread and scares and a lot of snow and ice. Even if you've never been to Antarctica, you'd think you'd know things like trust the animals' intuition — when they freak out, there's a reason. And maybe it's not such a good idea to dig a strange creature out of the ice and leave it alone to thaw. But it's hard to beat the tagline: "In a place where there is nothing, they found something."

Video: Watch 'The Thing' trailer (on this page)
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'Paranormal Activity 3' goes back in time
Oh, come on, makers of the "Paranormal Activity" series! You made us terrified of things that go bump in the night in the first film. And even fans may have resisted the second movie since the trailer clearly revealed it involved a dog and a baby in danger -- that's dirty pool, "Paranormal." Now for "Paranormal Activity 3" (opens Oct. 21), you go back in time to 1988, when cursed sisters Katie and Kristi were kids and are first confronted by the demon. It's even hard to sit through the trailer, where the kids play that famous "Bloody Mary" game where they chant the legendary ghost's name three times in front of a dark mirror. You know someone's going to show up, and sure enough. Third time's the charm? Or the curse?

Video: Watch the 'Paranormal Activity 3' trailer (on this page)

'Skin I Live In' creeps us out in Spanish
A mad plastic surgeon with a tragic past? Elements of "The Skin I Live In" sound like campy 1950s horror-sploitation, but add in acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar and star Antonio Banderas and things start to get interesting. Almodovar describes this Spanish-language film as "a horror story without screams or frights," but based on the plot summary (burned wife, surgeon experimenting to create a super-skin, forced medical experimentation), screams seem almost a given. We've seen various release dates for this film, including Oct. 14.

Story: Fall movies offer some very familiar faces

'Dream House' is really a nightmare
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, real-life spouses, play a couple who move into a "Dream House" where a father apparently murdered his family. But when Craig tries to find out about the killings, he realizes that he himself may have been the murderer. Or was he? The trailer flip-flops so many times it's tough to keep track. But Craig's steely James Bond aura serves him well as a father who seems genuine, but may have as much to fear from himself as from anyone else. Premieres Sept. 30.

Video: Watch the 'Dream House' trailer (on this page)

'Tucker & Dale' mixes horror and humor
"Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" (Sept. 30) subscribes to the "Shaun of the Dead" school of thought — meaning horror can be hilarious. Tucker and Dale are two genial hillbillies just trying to have a nice weekend in the woods. It's not their fault that a bunch of college kids happen to stumble upon them and wrongly think the two doofuses are trying to horribly murder them. And then start killing themselves in stupid ways, like falling (diving?) into a woodchipper. This film could prove a refreshing light balance to the more serious horror offerings coming to theaters this fall.

Story: Trailer of the Week: 'Tucker & Dale' kill 'em with comedy

'Red State' mixes politics and scares
There's usually not a lot of party affiliation or political leanings in horror movies. Freddy Krueger and the shark from "Jaws" don't stop to ask which way their victims vote before chopping them to bits. Leave it to "Clerks" director Kevin Smith to mix the topics in his new independent horror film "Red State." The film, which seems to be inspired by infamous pastor Fred Phelps, will be running in theaters for one night only — Sept. 25 — before moving to Video On Demand and DVD.

Slideshow: 10 horror-movie icons (on this page)

'Piranha 3DD' has bite
If you loved last month's "Shark Night 3D," you may adore "Piranha 3DD," which opens Nov. 23 It's certainly one of the best-named sequels of all time. Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd — yes, really! — star in the horror comedy and it appears the toothy fish find themselves an all-you-can-eat buffet at a town waterpark. Can we start engraving the Oscar now?

What's the scariest movie you ever saw? Tell us on Facebook.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is TODAY.com's movies editor.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Video: Watch 'The Thing' trailer

Photos: 10 horror-movie icons

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  1. Braaaaains!

    George A. Romero resurrected the zombie character with 1968's "Night of the Living Dead" and kept them alive for numerous sequels, including the film seen here, 2004's "Dawn of the Dead." Nicknamed "Grandfather of the Zombie," Romero created or popularized many of the characteristics moviegoers regularly associate with the undead, including brain-eating, shambling walks, and deteriorating flesh. The zombie in front seems to only be zombified to his navel. Whoops.

    Trivia: Blood in the original "Night of the Living Dead" was Bosco chocolate syrup. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Don't mess with 'Texas'

    Human skin-mask wearing Leatherface of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is the boss of a cannibal family in Tobe Hooper's 1974 film. His chainsaw would later be picked up as the weapon of choice in numerous slasher flicks to come.

    Trivia: Leatherface was partially based on real Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein, who also wore the skin of his victims. (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. We're gonna need a bigger boat

    Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster film, "Jaws," scared many Americans out of ocean waters for quite some time. It sparked the trend of releasing big-budget blockbusters during the summer season, and "The Omen" and "Star Wars" both followed suit.

    Trivia: The mechanical shark was named Bruce, supposedly after Spielberg's lawyer. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Trick or treat

    In 1978's "Halloween," Michael Myers murdered his sister and was committed to an insane asylum. Years later, a now-grown Michael broke out and started a new killing spree, and launched a new genre of slasher film.

    Trivia: Michael's mask is the face of William Shatner, as the costume department found a Captain Kirk mask, decided it had the blank look they wanted, and painted it white. (Dimension Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Ch-ch-ch ...

    Jason Voorhees and his famed hockey mask played off the success of "Halloween" to help start the slasher genre with 1980's "Friday the 13th." In the first film, Jason was the young son of the camp cook, and when counselors let him drown because they're having sex, his mother takes revenge. Sequel after sequel follows, and Jason, who was not supposed to be the series' main villain, gained weird supernatural and mystical powers to become the unstoppable killing machine of the movies.

    Trivia: The character was originally called "Josh," but writer Victor Miller thought that name sounded too nice. (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. One, two, Freddy's coming for you

    Freddy Krueger of 1984's "Nightmare on Elm Street" and its many sequels, was a child murderer who was burned alive by angry parents. He now haunts teenagers in their dreams.

    Trivia: Creator Wes Craven reportedly was inspired to create Freddy's famed bladed glove in part by watching his cat scratch his furniture. (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Needles and pins

    Creepy Pinhead was introduced in 1987's "Hellraiser." He's a Cenobite, an extradimensional being created by author Clive Barker.

    Trivia: "Pinhead" wasn't really his name, it was just how he was described -- the other Cenobites have various other piercings and markings, not pins. (Dimension Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. My name's Chucky, wanna play?

    No doubt, some dolls are creepy. But the creepiest of all is Chucky, shown here in 2004's "Seed of Chucky." In the original film, released in 1988, a murderer dies in a toy store and sends his evil soul into the nearest doll.

    Trivia: Chucky's full name, Charles Lee Ray, comes from murderers Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray. (Rogue Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. I ain't got time to bleed

    An elite army team on a mission in Central America stumbles across the "Predator," an alien who lives in the jungles and skins humans. The film spawned two sequels plus two crossovers with the equally popular "Alien" franchise.

    Trivia: Two future governors, California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Minnesota's Jesse Ventura, starred in the 1987 original film. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. See 'Saw'?

    The creepy Jigsaw Killer was introduced in 2004's "Saw," in which he kidnaps people and forces them to perform cruel tests to try and save their own lives. (Usually, they don't survive.) The "Saw" franchise took off, and now a new movie comes out right around Halloween every year.

    Trivia: In the first film, all the victims who die are men -- unusual in horror flicks. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Universal Pictures
    Above: Slideshow (10) 10 horror-movie icons
  2. The Weinstein Company
    Slideshow (17) September movies

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