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