Typically, October sees a glut of horror films at the box office, but this year's crop is surprisingly scant, limited to not more than "Saw V," "Quarantine" and "High School Musical 3."
This Halloween, it's up to you to provide your own fright-flick programming. Luckily, it can be done with a visit to your video store of choice to rent or purchase these seven spooky recommended DVDs, all released within the past month, offering a mix of chills, thrills and kills.
"Psycho" is arguably one of director Alfred Hitchcock's two or three best films, and Universal's new two-disc special edition gives it the treatment it deserves, with a digital remastering, shower-scene storyboards, a commentary and a terrific documentary.
Oh, and the movie still packs a punch in a number of now-iconic scenes. No matter how many sequels and remakes, the original's power remains potent and undiluted.
But for something you haven't seen already, try "Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer," a gory horror comedy about a redneck plumber (newcomer Trevor Matthews) who unclogs some pipes that turn his night-school professor (Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger) into a hell beast. It's fun, slick and more than a little sick " a mix of "Evil Dead" and "My Name Is Earl."
Even more trashy is "Trailer Park of Terror," a nice surprise based on a comic book few have seen. Nicole Hiltz (TV's "In Plain Sight") leads a horde of Confederate-flag-waving undead, terrorizing a group of wayward teens left stranded after a bus crash.
WICKED GALLOWS HUMOR
Rob Zombie would have a field day with such material, but the flick has fun without him, letting loose with wicked gallows humor and the occasional zombie rockabilly song. And Hiltz is quite the find.
Ditto "Dead Space: Downfall," an animated feature based on an "Alien"-esque video game. The creepy cartoon pits your standard spaceship crew against bloodthirsty zombies, in a graphic, anime style. While a bit long for a thin story, look at it like an excised segment from "Heavy Metal," and you'll appreciate its extreme excesses.
Ch-ch-ch-ah-ah-ah, everybody! "Friday the 13th: The Series" may have nothing to do with Jason Voorhees, but the in-name-only Eighties TV series has its dedicated fans. Judging from its first season " now finally on DVD " it's easy to see why.
In each episode, the trio behind the Curious Goods store has to hunt down a devil-cursed antique, whether that be a doll, a camera or a garden mulcher. Its very cheesiness is exactly what I love about it, but the show does pretty well at delivering small-scale terror for the small screen. (Look for a young Sarah Polley from "Dawn in the Dead" in the pilot.)
TV's "Torchwood" may be about as horror as "The X-Files," but that means a fair share of unsettling hours. The British show's five-disc second season finds the band of alien hunters encountering a theatrical freak show and various willies-inducing creatures.
And if the kids want to get in on the fun, too, "The Munsters: The Complete Series" is about the only safe bet. This 12-disc set contains every episode of the harmless Sixties TV comedy classic about the dysfunctional family of monsters, plus the two reunion feature films. It's a treat amid a slate of tricks.