Looking for a Halloween horror binge for the weekend? Stream the three seasons of Penny Dreadful on Netflix. Want to frighten your friends and loved ones? Turn on Splatterdays, Pluto TV’s free marathon of horror classics. Keep reading to learn more about the season’s best Halloween programming.
(Photo by Picture Alliance/Everett Collection)
31 Nights of Halloween, Freeform
The annual event on the network features its usual lineup of Halloween-themed movies — The Addams Family, Maleficent, Hotel Transylvania, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and of course Hocus Pocus — along with a special (31 Nights of Halloween Special Fan Fest) and an all-day Hocus Pocus marathon on the day itself.
Visit the streaming service’s Halloween-themed hub for a personalized selection of popular Halloween TV episodes and movies. Hand-picked Halloween collections include Freaky Franchises, Foreign Frights, Psychological Horror & Thrillers, Sci-Fi Scares, Indies, Zombies, Humorous Horror, Anthologies, alongside Hulu Originals and Huluween Essentials.
Netflix & Chills, Netflix
The streaming service’s spooky hub contains plenty of horror movies and horror TV series, plus a selection of original movies and series debuting throughout the month of October.
Splatterdays and 31 Nights of Horror, Pluto TV
In the free streaming service’s horror marathon, watch a different scary movie every night starting at 10 p.m. ET. Selections include classics like Day of the Dead and Hellraiser and modern hits like You’re Next and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. In the “Splatterdays” terror marathon, watch a marathon of slasher movies every Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. ET. Titles include Prom Night, Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou, I Saw The Devil, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, and Severance.
On Halloween day, TNT will air nine hours straight of some of the CW hit’s spookiest episodes, including “Ghostfacers,” “Monster Movie,” “ScoobyNatural,” and many more. The marathon runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31.
A Shudder Halloween Collection, Shudder
The horror streaming service is highlighting classics including the Halloween movies and originals including Belzebuth and Terrified.
13 Nights of Halloween, HDNet Movies
A mix of classic and modern horror and thriller films will play every night on the network. Highlights include a Night of the Living Dead Marathon, an Edgar Allan Poe/Vincent Price night, and a 24-hour marathon on Halloween itself.
American Horror Story 77% — Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
Castle Rock 88% — available to stream on Hulu
Charmed — Fridays at 8 p.m. on The CW
Creepshow — streaming Thursdays on Shudder
Daybreak 70% — streaming Thursday, Oct. 24 on Netflix
A Discovery of Witches 83% — available to stream on Sundance Now
Glitch 80% — season 3 is now available to stream on Netflix
Legacies — Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW
Halloween Baking Championship — Mondays at 9 p.m. on Food Network
Haunted — available to stream on Netflix
Into the Dark 69% — Blumhouse’s horror anthology — available to stream on Hulu
Marianne 94% — available to stream on Netflix
Mr. Mercedes 91% — Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Audience
Light as a Feather 50% — available to stream on Hulu
Penny Dreadful 91% — available to stream on Netflix
Prank Encounters 40% — streaming Friday, Oct. 25 on Netflix
The Purge 42% — Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on USA
The Walking Dead 80% — Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC
Zomboat! — streaming Friday, Oct. 25 on Hulu
In the Tall Grass (2019) 36% — the film based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, now streaming on Netflix
Fractured (2019) 59% — a family’s car trip goes wrong in this film starring Sam Worthington and Lily Rabe, now streaming on Netflix
Wounds (2019) 47% — a New Orleans bartender’s life begins to unravel after a series of disturbing and inexplicable events that begin to happen to him after picking up a phone left behind at a bar, now streaming on Hulu
Little Monsters (2019) 79% — the critically acclaimed Australian horror comedy about a school field trip that ends with a zombie outbreak stars Lupita Nyong’o and is now streaming on Hulu
Rattlesnake (2019) 30% — a single mother (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter drive across the country to start their new life, but things go wrong when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the daughter is bitten by a rattlesnake, premieres Friday, Oct. 25 on Netflix
The Top Ten Revealed: Rockin’ Ghoulish Songs — premieres Sunday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET on AXS TV
Agatha Raisin — premieres Monday, Oct. 28 on Acorn TV
World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum — premieres Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. on A&E
The Very VERY Best of the 70s: Horror Films — premieres Thursday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. ET on AXS TV
The 13 Scariest Movies of All Time — premieres Thursday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, hosted by Dean Cain
(Photo by THE SIMPSONS ™ and © 2019 TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Evil 93% — “October 31” premieres Thursday, October 24 on CBS
The Conners 93% — “Nightmare on Lunch Box Street” premieres Tuesday, October 29 on ABC
Schooled 73% — “Run, Rick, Run” premieres Wednesday, October 30 on ABC
(Photo by Jack Rowand/The CW)
Riverdale 84% — “Chapter Sixty-One: Halloween” premieres Wednesday, October 30 on The CW
Nancy Drew — “The Haunted Ring” premieres Wednesday, October 30 on The CW
Young Sheldon — “Seven Deadly Sins and a Small Carl Sagan” rebroadcast Thursday, October 31 on CBS
Mysteries Decoded — “Vampires of New Orleans” premieres Thursday, October 31 on The CW
RELATED: The Scariest TV Episodes Ever
(Photo by Paramount Pictures)
Strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material – all involving teens. Or, at least, 30-year-olds pretending to be teens.
Welcome to Crystal Lake, where the canoes are creaky, the dippin’ is skinny, and the camp activities are to die for. Since 1980, the shah of slashers, Jason Voorhees, has been terrorizing any who are unlucky enough to reach its shores. His murderous method? Anything he can get his naughty paws on, be it machete, harpoon gun, or sleeping bag. The original Friday the 13th was one of those no-budget grubby horror flicks with massive returns, secure among the likes of Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The franchise it spawned is a shining, bloody emblem of the golden age of slasher movies, though critics grew less appreciative of the series’ increasingly ludicrous carnage. But the Friday franchise’s memorable soundtrack, frequently tongue-in-cheek atmosphere, and iconic star has kept it in the horror conversation for decades, carrying audiences though 3-D (the third Friday, where Jason first dons the hockey mask), deep space (Jason X), celebrity death matches (Freddy vs. Jason), and utter meltdowns (Jason Goes to Hell).
Wherever this wacky world may take Jason next (therapy, perhaps?), Rotten Tomatoes will be here with this list of every Friday the 13th movie ranked by Tomatometer!
Horror has a way of making an unlit hallway look like a trek through hell, inducing heart attacks though jumping cats, and transforming everyday tools like chainsaws and double-barrel shotguns into instruments of doom. The marketing and posters for Us suggests that Jordan Peele’s new horror flick will do for golden scissors what Get Out did for tea cups, which also happens to be one of selections for the 25 most iconic props from horror movie history! Read on to get your fill of creaky carriages, demonic dolls, and bloody blades.
It’s October, people! That means it’s time to sharpen your pumpkin-carving knives, stock up on candy, and…turn on your TV (or at least set your DVR) to celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year. TV networks and streaming services are celebrating Halloween all month long with marathons, specials, series, episodes, and more.
Check back periodically throughout October as we update the list with the latest in Halloween programming!
(Photo by Picture Alliance/Everett Collection)
31 Nights of Halloween, Freeform
Expanding from 13 nights to 31, the network is celebrating Halloween all month long for its 20th annual celebration. Programming includes fan-favorite movies (The Addams Family, Maleficent, Hotel Transylvania, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the exclusive television home for Hocus Pocus), a new special (Decorating Disney: Halloween Magic), short-form content and an all-day Hocus Pocus marathon on the day itself.
31 Days of Halloween, Syfy
The network’s October programming includes the debut of multiple original movies, a new installment of horror anthology Channel Zero, new seasons of Z Nation and Van Helsing, and airings of fan-favorite scary movies including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Resident Evil, and The Cabin in the Woods.
AMC FearFest, AMC
Beginning Oct. 14, the network’s annual event includes marathons of the Halloween movies, The Exorcist, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, and Stephen King films; a Slasher-thon; and the AMC debut of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Rob Zombie’s 13 Nights of Halloween, HDNET
The cable network is resurrecting the horror icon’s Halloween programming with 13 films hosted by Zombie himself, airing nightly at 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 19. Selections include Zombie’s The Lords of Salem, The Blair Witch Project, Flatliners, and more.
Classic Horror, TCM and Filmstruck
The classic film network is dedicating different days of the week to various Halloween-themed programming. Every Wednesday will celebrate a different Horror Star of the Week (including Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Vincent Price), while Sundays are for the Monster of the Month: The Mummy (programming includes 11 of the best mummy-themed films ranging from 1936’s Mummy’s Boys to 1971’s Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb). On the network’s streaming service, Filmstruck, find a lineup of monster movies, Japanese horror films, and more.
Three new original series from Nerdist will debut on Legendary Digital Networks’ Alpha during October: Bizarre States: California, Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night, and The Dark Side, in addition to other Halloween-themed programming.
On Halloween day, TNT will air 12 hours straight of some of the CW hit’s spookiest episodes, including the pilot, “Bloody Mary,” “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” “Monster Movie,” and many more.
Halloween and Alfred Hitchcock Collections, Shudder
The horror streaming service is highlighting classics including Halloween, Halloween 4, Halloween 5, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and an Alfred Hitchcock collection that includes Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rope, and Shadow of a Doubt.
Halloween Programming, Cartoon Network App
Check out Halloween specials for popular Cartoon Network Series The Powerpuff Girls, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, Unkitty, and more.
Halloween Movies, Pluto TV
Stream ‘n’ scream with plenty of holiday classics, including Night of the Living Dead, Paranormal Activity 2, Leprechaun In the Hood, Silent Hill, Idle Hands, and more.
BBC AAAAAAmerica, BBC America
Get in the spooky spirit with a week’s worth of programming with movie marathons, a takeover of The X-Files, and hours of Hitchcockian horror. Plus, the network is partnering with streaming service Shudder for a Saturday of original films seen for the first time on television.
Halloween Baking Championship — Mondays at 9 p.m. on Food Network
The Purge 42% — Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on USA
American Horror Story 77% — Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
Mr. Mercedes 91% — Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Audience
Creeped Out — this horror anthology for kids bows Oct. 4 on Netflix
Into the Dark 69% — the first installment of Blumhouse Television’s monthly event series, “The Body” starring Rebecca Rittenhouse and Tom Bateman, bows Oct. 5 on Hulu
Z Nation — season 5 of the zombie series premieres Friday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Van Helsing — season 3 of the vampire hunter series premieres Friday, Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. on Syfy
The Walking Dead 80% — season 9 premieres Sunday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. on AMC
Light as a Feather 50% — based on the children’s game of the same name, all 10 episodes debut Oct. 12 on Hulu
Apostle — premieres Oct. 12 on Netflix
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell — the spooky baking show debuts Oct. 12 on Netflix
The Haunting of Hill House 93% — premieres Oct. 12 on Netflix
Charmed — the reboot premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. on The CW
Haunted — premieres Oct. 19 on Netflix
The Good Witch — season 5 premieres Sunday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark
Legacies — The Vampire Diaries and The Originals spinoff premieres Thursday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. on The CW
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 81% — premieres Friday, Oct. 26 on Netflix
Castlevania 94% — season 2 premieres Friday, Oct. 26 on Netflix
Midnight, Texas 61% — season 2 premieres Friday, Oct. 26 at 9 p.m. on NBC
Channel Zero: Candle Cove 93% — “The Dream Door” premieres Friday, Oct. 26 on Syfy and airs in full across Halloween week
Tell Me a Story — the creepy fairy-tale anthology bows Oct. 31 on CBS All Access
Stan Against Evil — season 3 premieres Oct. 31 at 10 p.m. on IFC
No Escape Room — a father and daughter check out a small town escape room and discover there is something sinister about the place in this original movie debuting Saturday, Oct. 6 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Cucuy: The Boogeyman — a teenage girl confined to her home on house arrest soon discovers that the nightmarish urban legends of the Mexican boogeyman, El Cucuy, are actually true in this original movie debuting Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. on Syfy
Karma — when recent college grad Manny has trouble making ends meet, his father-in-law offers him a job evicting delinquent tenants. Manny soon finds himself unleashing a karma demon which stalks him at every turn in this original movie debuting Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Killer High — Sabrina’s perfectly planned high school reunion goes south when a monster keeps killing all the guests in this horror-comedy original movie debuting Saturday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
The Good Witch — “The Tale of Two Hearts”
Dead in the Water — an all-female crew on a boat in the middle of nowhere must deal with an invader on their ship in this original movie debuting Saturday, Oct. 27 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
(Photo by Fox)
Fresh Off the Boat 94% — “Workin’ the ‘Ween” premieres Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. on ABC
Last Man Standing — “Bride of Prankenstein” premieres Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. on Fox
Raven’s Home — “Switch-Or-Treat” premieres Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel
Speechless — “I-n-Into the W-o-Woods” premieres Friday, Oct. 19 at 8:30 p.m. ABC
The Simpsons 85% — “Treehouse of Horror XXIX” premieres Sunday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. on Fox
Bob's Burgers — “Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street” premieres Sunday, Oct. 21 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox
Family Guy — “Big Trouble in Little Quahog” premieres Sunday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. on Fox
Rel 44% — “Halloween” premieres Sunday, Oct. 21 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox
The Goldbergs — “Mister Knifey-Hands” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC
American Housewife — “Trust Me” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC
Modern Family 85% — “Good Grief” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. on ABC
The Cool Kids 75% — “Politician, Freemason, Scientist, Humorist and Diplomat, Ben Franklin” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 24 9:30 p.m. on ABC
Superstore 93% — “Costume Competition” premieres Thursday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. on NBC
Young Sheldon — “Seven Deadly Sins and a Small Carl Sagan” premieres Thursday, Oct. 25 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS
MacGyver — “Dia de Muertos + Sicarios + Family” premieres Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBS
Hawaii Five-0 — “A’ohe mea ‘imi a ka maka (Nothing More the Eyes to Search for)” premieres Friday, Oct. 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS
Every Friday is special in the film world, but this week, the calendar yet again brings us to a particularly important date: Friday the 13th, otherwise known as the day horror buffs will forever associate with the gruesome antics of one Jason Voorhees. It’s been several years since we last saw a new chapter from the Friday the 13th franchise, but we aren’t letting that keep us from taking a look back at all of its films, ranked according to Tomatometer — or inviting you to rank your personal favorites along the way. Ki ki ki ma ma ma, it’s time for Total Recall!
In the first known instance of bloodshed in Bogota, 80 American corporate workers living in the Colombian capital are locked in their building and forced to meet a new deadline…of death. Toeing the company line has never been bloodier than in The Belko Experiment, inspiring this week’s gallery of 24 more of the worst companies to work for from film and television history.
We here at RT went deep into the vault of horror franchises to tally up the victims of some of film and TV’s most deadly psycho killers. Take a peek at the results — if you dare!
Haunting Grounds: Bates Motel
Estimated Body Count: 20
Has there ever been a cinematic slasher more pitiable than Norman Bates? The poor guy is practically at war with himself, and his mom nags him from beyond the grave. Heck, every time he makes friends, they seem to end up dead. If Psycho exerted a profound influence on the slasher genre (and onscreen violence in general), it wasn’t because Norman was a particularly prolific killer. Alfred Hitchcock’s original (and the sequels) depicted a man in the clutches of inner torment and madness that was so gripping and scary that it didn’t need buckets of blood (or, in one memorable case, chocolate syrup) to be deeply unsettling. Nine deaths are attributed to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) on the five-season AMC prequel TV series Bates Motel. But, really, who can say for sure?
Haunting Grounds: The Jeepers Creepers series
Estimated Body Count: 20
When Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer wrote “Jeepers Creepers” in the late 1930s, they surely never guessed their snappy little pop ditty would go on to provide the theme song for a murderous winged creature who possesses a bee- and dog-like ability to smell fear, and who can regenerate body parts by ingesting those of his victims. And that’s not all — the Creeper can also overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews, too! Although critics kept 2001’s Jeepers Creepers from a Fresh certification, the Creeper was back just two years later with a sequel, and there was even talk of a third installment. Not bad for a bad guy who’s limited to a single 23-day feeding frenzy every 23 years, right?
Haunting Grounds: The Thing from Another World, The Thing, The Thing
Estimated Body Count: 20
Human beings have long wondered what otherworldy monstrosities might be lurking out in the far reaches of space, which helps to explain the enduring appeal of John W. Campbell’s 1938 short story, Who Goes There? It’s the tale of an Antarctic research team that unwittingly rescues a malevolent alien from an icy grave. The creature repays the favor by forcibly (and messily) assimilating every living being within reach, including 20 unlucky scientists and a handful of dogs. Campbell’s monster — referred to as the Thing — has provided rich fodder for filmmakers over the decades, inspiring 1951’s The Thing from Another World, John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic The Thing, and, most recently, the 2011 prequel/reboot of the same name.
Haunting Grounds: The Jaws series
Estimated Body Count: ~21, if you count the whale in Jaws 2
Most of the slashers on our list are bona fide film icons, but few of them can boast of having changed the entire industry the way Peter Benchley’s great white shark did: Before Jaws‘ 1975 debut, studios actually held their big films out of the summer market, believing the vacation months to be a commercial graveyard. Almost $500 million (and lots of bloody ocean water) later, a franchise was born — and although the third and fourth installments aren’t good for much besides unintentional humor, the original remains a certified classic with a 98 percent Tomatometer rating. Granted, the kill count here takes into consideration the havoc wreaked by multiple great whites over the course of the franchise, but it merely illustrates what Benchley already knew: the ocean is scary enough even without a gigantic bloodthirsty shark chasing you around, so tossing one in the mix just ups the ante.
Haunting Grounds: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series
Estimated Body Count: 30
The twisted true-life tale of grave robber Ed Gein has inspired many notable cinematic grotesques, from Norman Bates in Psycho to Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. However, Tobe Hooper may have done the most to immortalize Gein in the annals of perverse pop culture by emphasizing his habit of making clothing out of human flesh. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre introduced Leatherface, a developmentally disabled fellow under the control of his cannibalistic family. Though he started out as a pretty timid guy who was as afraid of visitors as they were of him, Leatherface came out of his shell in the sequels and reboots, making up for lost time in liberally employing his Poulan 306A.
Haunting Grounds: The Hellraiser series
Estimated Body Count: 35
By the late 1980s, the slasher genre was starting to feel a little stale — and then along came Pinhead, the sadomasochistic leader of the extradimensional pack of hooligans known as the Cenobites. The spike-headed hook fetishist wasn’t featured heavily in 1987’s Hellraiser, but Pinhead’s combination of creepy appearance, selective taste for victims, and clear fondness for gruesome torture stole the movie; throughout the eight-film series (four of which were released straight to DVD), Pinhead has remained the only constant, and for good reason: although his body count may be relatively low, no one else can match his prowess with a sharp, well-placed hook.
Haunting Grounds: The Child’s Play series
Estimated Body Count: ~38
Chucky may have devolved into a pint-sized Tony Clifton at this point, but the original Child’s Play was a superior genre piece — creepy, suspenseful, and blessed with an insidious sense of humor. Child’s Play riffed on the idea of innocence gone horribly wrong, with a quasi-Cabbage Patch Kid embodied by a vicious serial killer thanks to a voodoo ritual. Subsequent sequels — the most recent of which, Curse of Chucky, just recently made its way onto home video — have delivered more camp than scares, but Chucky’s left a trail of more than 35 corpses in his wake — and probably didn’t enamor himself to Teddy Ruxpin.
Haunting Grounds: The Nightmare on Elm Street series
Estimated Body Count: ~39
Arguably the most recognizable movie monster of the 1980s, Freddy Krueger may not be able to compete with other horror icons when it comes to killing in bulk. But the dermatologically-challenged Elm Street resident certainly wins points for style; in addition to his expert use of claw-tipped leather gloves, Freddy is adept at shape-shifting, strangulation, and generating geysers of blood from the bodies of future heartthrobs. Even accounting for the various forms Freddy has taken over the years in his efforts to turn the sweetest dreams dark and bloody, we’ve got his kill count somewhere in the vicinity of 39. That might be fewer than one might expect, but Mr. Krueger is an artiste who chooses his victims very specifically.
Haunting Grounds: The Final Destination series
Estimated Body Count: 39
Remember the old margarine commercials that said you can’t fool Mother Nature? Well, according to the Final Destination series, you can’t cheat Fate, either. It’s often said that revenge is a dish best served cold — but for the unseen hand of Fate, it tastes even better when garnished with a series of incredibly brutal (and, it must be said, very morbidly entertaining) booby traps. The series’ unseen antagonist has dispatched 39 victims, using everything from the mundane (death by falling brick) to the cleverly rewind-worthy (shower cord strangulation, ladder through the eye, death by falling cherry picker). By the time we surpassed The Final Destination and got Final Destination 5, the series was clearly aware of its silly appeal, and each creatively choreographed death was equally as hilarious as it was cringeworthy.
Haunting Grounds: The Scream franchise, Scream (TV series)
Estimated Body Count: 49
One of the rare slasher antagonists who’s a killer by committee, the Scream series’ Ghostface is played by a revolving door of mask-donning, knife-wielding psychopaths. Their motives are different (peer pressure, revenge, etc.), but the results are the same, no matter who wears the Edward Munch-inspired getup: teenagers will turn up dead, following the conventions of horror movies. And, as with other horror franchises, the body count increases with each sequel. Adding to the mayhem was the first season of MTV’s Scream, which aired this summer. All in all, this council of killers is responsible for at least 49 slayings.
Haunting Grounds: The Leprechaun series
Estimated Body Count: 50
The Leprechaun series is the embodiment of the finest that Irish culture and letters has to offer, easily surpassing the works of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. The titular antihero is murderously committed to acquiring a pot o’ gold, an undertaking that prompts travel to such exotic locales as Las Vegas, Compton, and outer space. Despite his diminutive stature, the Leprechaun’s super-sharp claws and teeth have helped him tally 50 onscreen fatalities, including a very young Jennifer Aniston, who made her big screen debut in the first film.
Haunting Grounds: The Saw series
Estimated Body Count: 60
John Kramer was first christened “Jigsaw” by detectives who discovered the serial killer’s calling card was a puzzle piece-shaped hunk of flesh carved from the corpses of his victims. The name stuck as the cops closed in on Kramer and realized his elaborate, irony-laden traps were designed to punish those he deemed guilty of criminal acts or taking life for granted (he must have been a fan of Se7en). More characters and plot twists (Jigsaw doesn’t work alone! Something about cancer!) were introduced as the series wore on, and Saw evolved into a labyrinthine annual soap opera drenched in blood and agony. A Grand Guignol for our times.
Haunting Grounds: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, Hannibal (TV)
Estimated Body Count: 98
Before 1991, you may not have even known what fava beans were — but after Anthony Hopkins’ first appearance as Doctor Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, nobody ever thought of them the same way again. Like Jason Voorhees, Lecter doesn’t appear in much of the famous reboot — he’s only in a little over 15 minutes of Lambs — but it was the first time we actually witnessed the good doctor rack up a few kills on screen (both Manhunter and its remake Red Dragon only imply Lecter’s murdered some folks), and audiences had a clear, um, appetite for the flesh-craving serial killer’s brand of mayhem: he’s gone on to appear in a number of other books and movies. Although we just saw the end of Hannibal‘s three-season run on NBC, series creator Bryan Fuller insists we haven’t seen the last of Lecter just yet.
Haunting Grounds: The Halloween series, minus Season of the Witch
Estimated Body Count: ~107
The best-known escapee of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael Myers has never been a big fan of babysitters, nor is he particularly fleet of foot. He digs Blue Oyster Cult, and makes special use of Star Trek paraphernalia and kitchen cutlery. Since the release of John Carpenter’s landmark Halloween, Myers’ legend has been told in a number of sequels, and if his reasons for killing are obscure, he’s still coldly efficient at the task; he’s racked up a whopping 100-plus notches on his belt.
Haunting Grounds: The Invisible Man (1933)
Estimated Body Count: 123
We were shocked (shocked!) to discover that killers with high body counts could even be found in Old Hollywood fare. Based on the H.G. Wells 1897 novel, James Whale’s pre-code horror film featured Claude Rains (Casablanca) in his American film debut as the titular villain, also known as Dr. Jack Griffin. Hiding away in a snowy village, Griffin experiments on himself while working on a drug called “monocane,” which he believes is the secret to invisibility. Although he does succeed in turning himself invisible, he also becomes a crazed murderer. Killing those who get in his way, and a train full of people just for kicks, Griffin eventually causes the death of 123 people – including himself.
Haunting Grounds: The Friday the 13th series
Estimated Body Count: 146
Rocking facial protection that would do Jacques Plante proud, Jason Voorhees terrorized Camp Crystal Lake with cold precision (and an ability to cheat death that Rasputin would envy) in Friday the 13th. Occasionally, he breaks out of the bucolic confines of the countryside to wreak havoc in the big city (Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan), Hades (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), and the future (Jason X). According to our research, Jason has put a whopping 146 unfortunate souls on ice. Pretty impressive for a cat who drowned in 1958.
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, girls in tan speedsuits! Mass hysteria has gripped the nation since the hyperventilating presence of a femme Ghostbusters swooped in with a trailer, becoming the most disliked in YouTube history. Would a Mannequin remake cause the same tribulation? Only time will tell.
For now, as the Ghostbusters franchise crosses the mainstream once again, we look at 24 more ’80s movie remakes, ranked worst to best by Tomatometer! (Only original properties included — no Annie or Conan — while movies like 2011’s The Thing, which explicitly extend the original plot, are excluded.)
Why did they make God’s Not Dead 2? The divine hand of the free market christened the original God’s Not Dead with a $60 million box office tally, and against its $2 million budget, that makes it one of the most profitable movies ever in these United States. So, sweet Jesus, of course they would make a sequel! And that inspires this week’s gallery: the 24 most profitable low-budget (under $5 million) movies ever (in America)!
There have been so many horror remakes that there’s no way we could cover them all at once. We did, however, decide to collect a sampling list, making room for some of the best, worst, and most puzzlingly misguided examples from the genre. Let’s get started, shall we?
Like many of the movies on this week’s list, the latter-day Amityville Horror was produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes — and like more than a few of them, it suffered in comparison to the original. Which is a shame, because Amityville‘s central story — about a young family moving into a horrifically haunted house — is both devilishly simple and allegedly fact-based, which has helped the franchise retain its aura even through a series of sometimes-silly sequels and spinoffs. Unfortunately, despite a talented cast that included Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, and a young(er) Chloe Grace Moretz, this Horror was mainly scary for the studio execs who had to account for its $64 million domestic gross, which sentenced the franchise to years of direct-to-DVD purgatory.
Inspired by the way David Cronenberg used modern special effects and less-campy storytelling to amp up the horror in The Fly, Hollywood spent a portion of the late 1980s rushing to the vaults and searching for other long-dormant properties that might benefit from the remake treatment. Hence 1988’s The Blob, in which an alien goo plops down in a small town and starts gorging on its unsuspecting residents. It was just as fantastically cheesy a premise as it had been in 1958, when Steve McQueen starred in the original — but thanks to a solid screenplay from future Shawshank Redemption director/adapter Frank Darabont, as well as a (slightly) more believable Blob, it managed to just about reach the rather low bar set by its predecessor, which is about all one can hope for when making a film about hungry interstellar plasma.
The original Cat People, produced on the cheap by Val Lewton in 1942, emphasized suggestion over explicit horror; four decades later, director Paul Schrader used the movie’s central idea — about people whose sexual desires trigger a sometimes-deadly feline transformation — as the basis for a steamy softcore flick that made up for its lack of genuine scares with an abundance of Natassja Kinski and a cool soundtrack featuring David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder. While it may not be the most terrifying movie on this list, it’s probably one of the hardest to turn away from if you happen across it on the cable dial during a bout of late-night viewing.
“WHY ARE THE GOOD PEOPLE DYING?” screamed the poster for George A. Romero’s paranoid The Crazies about the side effects of a military accident that resulted in a small American town being poisoned with a biological weapon that turns people into violent lunatics. Sadly, the tagline for Romero’s 1973 effort might as well have been “WHY WON’T MOST THEATERS SHOW THE CRAZIES?,” because the picture died with a whimper at the box office — but a good idea always turns up again in the horror genre, and in 2010, director Breck Eisner repurposed Romero’s original to create a sleek, gleefully nasty update that managed a surprisingly robust 71 percent on the Tomatometer. Alas, while Eisner’s Crazies at least made it to wide release, they didn’t fare a whole lot better at the box office, managing to slash together ony $54 million worldwide. The result of a military-industrial conspiracy, perhaps?
Did George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead really need a remake? Perhaps not. But if we were going to get one, it might as well have been one that blended the the visual wizardry of director Zack Snyder with a screenplay from future Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn, and that’s just what we got with this 2004 “re-envisioning” of the zombie classic. Using the original’s basic framework as an effective delivery mechanism for a fresh round of gruesome gore and heart-pumping action, the new Dawn proved surprisingly bright for most critics, including Aisle Seat’s Mike McGranaghan, who wrote, “Dawn of the Dead is ultra-violent, excessively bloody, and extremely gory — all in a good way. I left the theater feeling pumped full of adrenaline.”
It might seem a little odd to base a horror remake on a TV movie from the 1970s, but the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — starring Kim Darby as a housewife whose new home comes with some nasty little tenants lurking in the basement — is a cult classic for aficionados of the genre, so a theatrical version was probably inevitable. Given that the 2011 edition was co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, fans had reason to be hopeful that the remade Dark would be even scarier than the first; alas, after being trapped in studio limbo for months due to Miramax’s shuttering, director Troy Nixey’s update on the story — which focused on an eight-year-old (Bailee Madison) and her father’s girlfriend (Katie Holmes) — was greeted with lukewarm indifference by audiences and critics alike. Perhaps some things are just more frightening on the boob tube.
How in the world do you put together a remake of one of the most beloved horror-comedy cult classics of the last 40 years? If you’re director Fede Alvarez, you film a new version of Evil Dead with production input from creator Sam Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell, a much bigger budget, and a far more serious take on the story of young campers who unwittingly unleash a demon plague while goofing around with the Book of the Dead. The amped-up gore in Alvarez’s Evil Dead certainly wasn’t for everyone, but it arguably made more sense, given the film’s narrative outline — and the resultant uptick in attention to the franchise helped lead to the subsequent TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
The original version of The Fly, released in 1958, was a Vincent Price classic that didn’t really need to be remade, but that didn’t stop producer Stuart Cornfield (working with an uncredited Mel Brooks) from getting the ball rolling on a new version. After several years in development, plenty of studio struggle, and some turnover at the screenwriter and director positions, Cornfield had his movie: David Cronenberg’s gorier, more suspenseful take on The Fly, which went back to George Langelaan’s 1957 short story and emerged with one of the more delightfully suspenseful horror/sci-fi movies of the 1980s. Unfortunately, Cronenberg’s Fly — starring Jeff Goldblum as the ill-fated scientist whose experiments leave his DNA accidentally intertwined with the titular pest, and Geena Davis as the woman who loves him — was too successful to prevent a sequel: 1989’s rather uninspired The Fly II. Rumors of another remake (and a quasi-sequel penned by Cronenberg) have popped up over the years, but it’s all been for naught. So far, anyway.
Featuring a “star” hidden behind a hockey mask and a brilliantly low-budget conceit that needed nothing more than anonymous young actors capable of screaming in various states of undress, the Friday the 13th series was one of the most reliably profitable horror franchises of the 1980s — and ripe for the reboot treatment in the 21st century. Platinum Dunes did the honors in 2009, reimagining the murderous Jason Voorhees as more of a lethal maniac and less of a lumbering dolt, with cooler special effects and plenty of T&A; once again, the formula worked, producing plenty of pure profit for the studio and signaling that perhaps a new slew of sequels was on the horizon. Alas, Jason slumbered for the next several years, although he’s currently set to terrorize a fresh batch of Crystal Lake campers on May 13, 2016.
If director Craig Gillespie had polled horror fans in 2011 and asked them if he really needed to remake 1985’s Fright Night, the answer probably would have been a resounding “no”; after all, the original was not only a surprise hit, it had matured into a solid favorite among scary movie lovers, and little seemed to be gained by updating the story of a horror-loving teen (William Ragsdale) who makes the awful discovery that his new neighbor (Chris Sarandon) is secretly a vampire. While it may not have been strictly necessary, the new Fright Night — starring Anton Yelchin as young Charley Brewster and Colin Farrell as the undead addition to the neighborhood — proved surprisingly potent, with Farrell’s charismatic performance matching Gillespie’s confident lens. While box office returns were fairly weak, the remake brought the Fright Night franchise back to life, with a direct-to-video sequel arriving in 2013.
By the 2000s, producer Moustapha Akkad’s once-proud Halloween franchise had fallen on hard times, with deathless serial killer Michael Myers resurfacing in a series of low-budget sequels that bore little resemblance to John Carpenter’s classic 1978 original. All that was left was to start over from the beginning — and that’s what director Rob Zombie did with 2007’s Halloween, which retold Myers’ gruesome origin story and returned him to poor, unfortunate Haddonfield, Illinois for a gorier version of his first grown-up killing spree. While Zombie had previously flirted with critical respectability with 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects, his Halloween mustered a mere 25 percent on the Tomatometer — not as high as 1982’s much-maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but still better than the sixth installment in the series, 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, and good enough to greenlight a sequel (dubbed H2) in 2009. A planned 3D follow-up eventually fell off the schedule, but the next sequel, reportedly titled Halloween Returns, is currently in development.
If Gus Van Sant’s Psycho serves as an argument against remakes, then the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers an equally persuasive rebuttal. While the 1956 original is one of the most highly regarded sci-fi/horror movies of its era, director Philip Kaufman’s update matched it with a thrillingly gritty, ensemble-driven look at what might happen if alien spores landed on Earth and started sprouting eerily emotionless replicas of our friends and loved ones. Sharpening up the special effects without overly relying on them, the new-look Body Snatchers featured solid performances from a stellar cast that included Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum — and although it definitely made its share of money at the box office in 1978, if anything it’s even more highly regarded today. Here’s hoping Kaufman’s Snatchers continues to stand as the most recent version of the movie for many more years to come.
If you’re looking for fright value, bad guys don’t come much more elegantly brutal than a bloodthirsty lunatic with a pickaxe, which might be why the low-budget 1981 Canadian slasher flick My Bloody Valentine — about a miner who survives a collapse by dining on his fellow crew members, goes crazy before being rescued, and wages murderous revenge — proved even more potent when its 3D remake surfaced in 2009. And although it may not have generated blockbuster numbers at the box office, it fared surprisingly well with critics; it can’t be long before we’re treated to yet another Bloody Valentine.
Given how much money the Nightmare on Elm Street movies made for New Line during the 1980s and early 1990s, remakes and/or reboots were probably always a matter of course; problem was, the series was just as memorable for Robert Englund’s outstanding performance in the role of series killer Freddy Krueger as it was for its scores of inventive on-screen murders. Faced with the unsolvable problem of replacing Englund, the folks at Platinum Dunes hired Jackie Earle Haley to take over the part for their 2010 reboot — and although Haley is certainly a talented actor, and more than capable of exuding a sinister aura, he isn’t as physically imposing as Englund. Add that to a story that hit many of the same beats as the original, and the end result was a movie that, while certainly profitable, failed to land with as much impact as it had the first (eight) time(s) around.
Werner Herzog’s filmography offers more than a few case studies in audaciousness, not the least of which is 1979’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. Occasionally referred to by its less cool English title, Nosferatu the Vampyre, this remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic 1922 silent film finds Klaus Kinski stepping into the bloodsucking role so memorably inhabited by Max Schreck, with all parties involved acquitting themselves admirably. No less a cinematic authority than Roger Ebert agreed, writing that “To say of someone that they were born to play a vampire is a strange compliment, but if you will compare the two versions of Nosferatu you might agree with me that only Kinski could have equaled or rivaled Max Schreck’s performance.”
Of all the remakes on our list, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho embraces the concept more eagerly than most, delivering a somewhat bafflingly precise update on the 1960 Hitchcock classic with a shot-for-shot replication that, while assembled and acted by talented creative types, exhibited no real creativity of its own. But while Van Sant’s Psycho wound up bottoming out at a rather miserable 37 percent on the Tomatometer, he dodged a few bullets in at least one sense — unlike a lot of remakes of classic films, his attempt to re-Hitchcock Hitchcock inspired more critical bafflement than anger or derision. Ultimately, the 1998 Psycho serves as a perfectly persuasive (albeit most likely unintentional) argument against remakes in general.
A man, a plan, a chainsaw. Oh, and a facemask made out of human skin. It may not sound like much, but from the moment 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre terrified its first audiences, it’s served as the basis for one of the horror genre’s more surprisingly durable franchises — in spite of the mostly miserable track record suffered by its spate of periodic prequels, sequels, and spinoffs. The horror remake enthusiasts at Platinum Dunes tried to take things back to the beginning (again) with their 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and although most critics claimed time had dulled Leatherface’s blade, audiences still turned out to the tune of more than $100 million in box office grosses. Yet another prequel followed in 2006, followed by a 3D sequel to the original in 2013, and the origin story Leatherface is currently scheduled for 2016. Confused? Don’t think too hard; in the end, it all goes back to those first simple ingredients.
There are worse (and far, far better) horror remakes than Neil LaBute’s update on The Wicker Man, but we absolutely had to include it here, because no other film provides its particular brand of sheer, cackling lunacy. While it’s misguided on just about every level, the 2006 Wicker is chiefly noteworthy thanks to Nicolas Cage’s presence as police detective Edward Malus, whose journey to a secluded island in search of his abducted daughter ends very badly for all concerned — including any audience members not prepared for the unforgettable sight of Cage punching a woman in the face while wearing a bear suit, or the equally memorable sound of Cage screaming “Oh God! Not the bees!” Avoid it if you’re looking for truly scary viewing, but it still needs to be seen in order to be believed.
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.
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