While the new adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” has arguably raised the stakes in terms of what will pass for watchable horror flicks, the annual scare fest is still bursting at the seams.
With new releases at first-run movie theaters and classics showcased by local film buffs, there will be no shortage of screams, gore and guts this fall.
After much research, we’ve put together a short list of shriek-worthy films.
Release date: Sept. 29
The remake of the 90s-era cult horror film, originally starring Julia Roberts and Keifer Sutherland, is a highly anticipated retelling of a group of medical students who go to extremes to discover what happens when we die. The characters “die” and are resuscitated, but the process isn’t quite that simple. Their heart-stopping experiment becomes increasingly dangerous as they face their demons and paranormal karma.
The reboot stars Ellen Page of “Juno” and “Inception” along with filmmaking heartthrob Diego Luna of “Y Tu Mamá Tambien” and “Star Wars Rogue One.”
Critics and movie buffs can’t wait to see if the remake measures up to the original, particularly if it captures the moody angst, grit and despair as set by the progenitor.
“Happy Death Day”
Release date: Oct. 13 (Cue “Friday the 13th” stalking music.)
This film waxes horrific on a very Groundhog Day-esque theme: Protagonist Tree, played by Jessica Rothe of “La La Land” fame, tries to figure out the identity of the smiley face mask-wearing psycho who offs her at her birthday party. She relives the day over and over again and attempts to piece together the murderer’s identity through process of elimination.
Her list of suspects is long, as Tree has more enemies than friends. In order to break the cycle, she must find out who the killer is and why he or she wants her dead.
Release Date: Oct. 20
“Let the Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson takes on Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø’s novel of the same name. Starring Michael Fassbender of the “Alien” and “X-Men” franchises and Val Kilmer of “Batman Forever” fame, the movie follows a detective’s quest to find a serial killer who leaves a snowman behind with every victim.
Release Date: Oct. 20
In this campy slasher comedy, two high school best friends, played by Brianna Hildebrand of “Deadpool” and Alexandra Shipp of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” aim to gain social media traction by becoming amateur crime reporters. They decide that being investigators isn’t enough and push it to the next level by becoming murderers themselves. Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, plays a shy classmate while “Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson plays the quintessential cocky heartthrob. The Sydney Morning Herald regarded the movie as “‘Heathers’ meets ‘Scream’ for the Instagram era.”
Release date: Oct. 27
In the eighth installment of the “Saw” saga, which is actually retitled as “Jigsaw,” more perverse, impossible choices are presented to an unlucky lot of characters. “Jigsaw” is the first film from the franchise in seven years and is directed by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, whose work includes the vampire doomsday flick “Daybreakers.”
They bring a fresh perspective to the series. In an article on “Gamespot,” Michael said the production is “perhaps not quite as vicious” and “more fun” than previous “Saw” movies.
The plot also seems to beg the question: is John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, still alive? A decade after Kramer’s presumed death, bodies start popping up all over the city, whose cause of death match Kramer’s M.O.
Some local venues have ominous offerings for the Halloween movie experience.
The Alamo Drafthouse is hosting “Dismember the Alamo” on Saturday, Oct. 21 starting at 4 p.m.
“It’s a secret horror marathon,” said Kyle Alvarado, the theater’s creative manager. “We’re showcasing films maybe people don’t get to see on a big screen, and some probably not even a chance of seeing them at all.”
In a very secretive, “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you” fashion, Alvarado alluded to a combination of classic and modern horror films for the event. He, along with the help of the American Genre Film Archive, curated a total of four movies for the event.
Alvarado added that the theater has horror film programming throughout October, including a more off-the-wall approach to the genre.
“The films I picked give people a chance to see different types of horror and different approaches to horror. That’s important to me as a programmer,” he said. “They’re not necessarily the biggest hits of horror, but [it’s about] the way different writers and directors approach the genre.”
That doesn’t mean the Drafthouse will skimp on horror staples. Look forward to “Halloween” on Halloween night, “Evil Dead 2,” “Scream 2,” which marks its 20th anniversary this year, and “Goosebumps,” which includes R.L. Stine’s latest book “Slappy Birthday to You.”
Local film buff and historian Jay Duncan took a slightly different approach in his selection of frightening movies for the Sunset Film Society, which screens films for free at the International Museum of Art on 1211 Montana Ave.
He’s endeavored to explore the realm of the psychotic through a less traditional lens within the theme “Crazy Am I,” which runs each Saturday in October at 2 p.m., with the exception of Oct. 21 during the museum’s third annual Murder at the Museum event.
“I’m trying to do something off the beaten path rather than going with the obvious like ‘The Shining’ or ‘Psycho’,” Duncan explained. “I always try do something for the audience. . . maybe something they haven’t been exposed to before, or seen a dozen times already.”
The titles for “Crazy Am I” include Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, “Play Misty for Me,” “Falling Down,” in which Michael Douglas disproves the tenet, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” and “The Others” starring Nicole Kidman.
The society also screens a monthly feature at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing and will soon announce an Oct. 22 screening.
For a list of times and dates of the Sunset Film Society showings, visit SunsetFilmSociety.com.
In the box office, "Kingsman" dethrones "It"
By Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The R-rated spy comedy “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” displaced the horror sensation “It” as the No. 1 film in North America. The 20th Century Fox release opened with a weekend-leading $39 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
But “It” still continues to pull in record crowds. With $30 million over the weekend, “It” is now the highest-grossing horror film of all time, not accounting for inflation, with $266.3 million thus far. (1973’s “The Exorcist” grossed $232.9 million domestically, or more than $1 billion in 2017 dollars.)
Twentieth Century Fox’s “Kingsman” sequel sought to expand on the 2015 original’s $36.2 million opening, and its $414 million worldwide take. Made more for audiences than critics, reviews for the gleefully distasteful spy romp were poor, at 51 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Director Matthew Vaughn is planning a third “Kingsman” film.
The Stephen King adaptation “It,” from Warner Bros. and New Line, may have slightly eaten into the ticket sales for “Kingsman.” Few believed “It” would still be such a draw in its third week of release; horror films usually drop severely after release. But the film has already established itself as the biggest hit ever in the month of September – a welcome relief to Hollywood after a dismal August.
In its second week of release, Darren Aronofsky’s already infamous psychological thriller “Mother!” failed to turn the tide. The film, made for $30 million, last week became one of the few movies to receive an “F’’ CinemaScore on release. The horror parable, starring Jennifer Lawrence, slid to sixth place with $3.3 million, bringing its two-week haul to $13.4 million. Paramount has proudly defended the film as intentionally divisive, daring filmmaking, the kind seldom produced by major studios.
Theaters are suddenly flush again. Though the year is still 4.6 percent behind the pace of 2016, the month of September is up 20 percent, according to media analytics company comScore.
“The fact that we’re sitting here in September on the verge of what looks like a record-breaking month, powered by the unprecedented success of ‘It,’ tells you how quickly box-office fortunes can rise and fall in this marketplace,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore.