It's the time of year for fear, meaning there's plenty of eerie entertainment and chill-inducing cinema available on screens big and small. And like a flashlight in a dark, creepy cabin basement, we're here to guide your way (minus the inconvenient flickering on and off). Here's a breakdown of what to see and where to be scared this Halloween weekend.
The only thing scary about last year's Halloween new horror offerings ... was that there weren't any. Thanks to "Rings" bailing out to a later release date this past January (because THAT plan worked so well), the only new release was "Inferno," which was frightening for all the wrong reasons.
Luckily, 2017 fares much better for scares. New this weekend in most theaters is "Jigsaw," doing its best impression of its own lead serial killer by resurrecting the "Saw" franchise after its supposed "final chapter" in 2010. The series may get a bad reputation for basically starting the torture porn horror trend – and also because the back half of the franchise was pretty miserable – but the first few entries, especially the first "Saw" (directed by current horror savior James Wan), were genuinely solid. So here's hoping the new entry – which, get this, is about a copycat killer placing people needing to learn lessons the hard way in brutal traps – is more like those early episodes and not the later letdowns.
That's not all, however. If you've somehow missed "It" – and the record-breaking box office numbers tell me you haven't – the Stephen King adaptation is still in several Marcus Theatres in the area, as well as other new frights like the domestic abuse thriller "Til Death Do Us Part," the "Groundhog Day"-meets-"Scream" slasher "Happy Death Day" (HIGHLY recommended) and the murder mystery "The Snowman." Plus, if you want a REALLY horrifying night out, there's "Boo! 2 A Madea Halloween" – a strong candidate for 2017's Title That Most Screams "We Did Not Expect To Make A Sequel" Award.
If you'd prefer to scare your senses without scaring your wallet (though Halloween does land on a $5 Tuesday this year), Marcus's Showtime Value Cinema – located in Franklin at 8910 S. 102nd St. – still has the surprisingly scary "Annabelle: Creation" and the "Flatliners" remake.
Plus, it wouldn't be Halloween without, well, "Halloween" (the original, not that Rob Zombie garbage), which will play Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m. at select Marcus locations for only $5. Unfortunately, John Carpenter's horror classic won't be playing on the exact day it's named after; that honor belongs to special 10 p.m. screenings of "Keep Watching," a new horror flick about an imprisoned family forced to play a brutal game of "Kill or Be Killed" while the bloody results are live-streamed over the internet. Still sounds more fun than playing "Monopoly"!
The AMC Mayfair has several of the same scream-worthy options: "It, "Happy Death Day," "Jigsaw," "The Snowman," a 10 p.m. showing of "Keep Watching" and – sigh – "Boo! 2 A Madea Halloween" (pardon me, that's "Tyler Perry's Boo! 2 A Madea Halloween"). However, for some old school scares – or at least all-out weirdness – the Mayfair will also have nightly 10 p.m. showings through Halloween of the ultimate cult classic, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." That being said, if you're going to do "Rocky Horror" this weekend, we'd probably say you should take a jump to left and take a step to ...
THE RI-RI_RIIIIIGHT! Sorry, we meant to say the Oriental Theatre, where they've been hosting the ultimate midnight movie experience on a monthly basis for decades upon decades – complete with costumes, crying out lines, dancing, depravity and all the festive freaky cheer a person can manage with bloodshot eyes at one in the morning. The party begins at midnight, but considering the event's non-stop popularity and the time of year, it'll probably start well before then – and rage well after the credits roll too.
It's a familiar pick of frights at the iPic: "Jigsaw," "Happy Death Day," a final screening of "It" and "2 Boo! 2 Furious A Madea Halloween."
Rosebud and Avalon
It's a common complaint that most special Halloween retrospectives pick the same horror classics: a little "Halloween," a little "A Nightmare on Elm Street," maybe "The Exorcist" if they're feeling really frisky. That's not the case with the Neighborhood Theater Group, however, and its "Shocktoberfest" celebration, which always collects some quality gems that don't often get back to the big screen.
In the case of the Rosebud this weekend, the Tosa theater will show 10 p.m. screenings of the original '80s cult classic "Fright Night," about a teenager who believes a vampire has moved next door (hate it when that happens) on Friday and Saturday night. They'll follow that up on Monday and Tuesday with special 7 p.m. screenings of the original "Evil Dead," making it also the rare opportunity to see an NC-17 movie in theaters.
Meanwhile, the Avalon has full days of frights lined up for the extended Halloween weekend. In addition to a full list of "It" screenings, starting Friday, the theater will have viewings of the locally-made horror film "Wraith," alongside retro replays of "Beetlejuice" at midnight and the nightmare-inducing anthology "Creepshow" at 10 p.m. (Friday also includes a final screening of the superhero period drama "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," which involves a different kind of, uh, getting freaky).
Starting Monday, the Avalon will flip out "Beetlejuice" and "Creepshow" for two days of "Rosemary's Baby" (showing at 7 p.m. both Monday and Tuesday) and the modern horror classic "Trick 'r Treat," showing at 10 p.m. both nights. So whatever tickles the terror HQ in your brain, the Avalon and Rosebud have you covered.
UWM Union Cinema
It's Horror Week (can't imagine why) at the UWM Union Cinema, which means a loaded slate of scares including a special new 2k restoration of "Kill Baby, Kill" – sounds peaceful – at 7 p.m. on Friday, the horror movie icons "Don't Look Now" (Friday at 9 p.m.) and "Night of the Living Dead" (Saturday at 7 p.m.), as well as ... a 35mm print of "Hocus Pocus"? The '90s children's witch horror/comedy? From the director of "High School Musical" and starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker? And Thackery the boy turned immortal black cat? Sure! That'll screen both Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. (because it's not like there's a Packers game you have to watch this weekend).
The Union Cinema will then wrap up its Horror Week on Halloween night with "Spooky, Scary, Gross, Otherworldly: A Halloween with FVANG," which is a collection of ghoulish work from grads and undergrads featuring the spooky, scary, gross, you get the picture.
So no one wanted to hang out with you on Halloween because your Pennywise the Dancing Clown outfit was WAAAAAY too creepily accurate? Here are some picks for streaming some screams from home (with probably all the lights on ... just to be safe).
Netflix (beyond "Stranger Things 2")
- "1922": In case you didn't get enough Stephen King from "It," this adaptation of a King short story about a farmer plotting his wealthy wife's murder, should do the trick.
- "Gerald's Game": In case you didn't get enough Stephen King from "It" AND "1922," this adaptation of a King short story about a wife who gets handcuffed to her bed for some freakiness with her husband and instead gets a different, infinitely more dangerous kind of freakiness.
- "The Sixth Sense": Even if you already know the twist – and if you don't, we have a lot to talk about, Recent 20-Year Coma Survivor – M. Night Shyamalan's ghost story hit is still a masterpiece of suspense.
- "Train to Busan": The zombie craze may have died out, but that doesn't mean there aren't great zombie movies getting made. For instance, this Korean zombie thriller about the walking dead menacing a train full of passengers.
- "It Follows": Another modern horror gem, this terrifying thriller follows a teenager haunted by a slowly walking menace (not zombies).
- "Hush": Mike Flanagan (also behind "Oculus," "Ouija: Origin of Evil" and "Gerald's Game" is one of our most underrated horror geniuses – and "Hush" is evidence of that keen craft.
- "Under the Shadow": A 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival pick, this Iranian horror film is a masterclass in suspense and dread. Definitely seek it out – and then seek out a blanket to hide under.
- "The Babadook": A new classic chiller, "The Babadook" follows a widow trying to comfort her son while a monstrous presence haunts the house.
- "Raw": College is a time for exploration – and in this French horror film, that means cannibalism.
- "The Invitation": Friends gather for a dinner party and ... well, the less you know, the better.
- "The Witch": Travel back in time to colonial New England for this eerie – and crazily period-crafted – tale about a religious family menaced by a witch.
- "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre": Tobe Hooper's all-timer, about teenagers stuck amongst insane rednecks, still brings the chills.
- "An American Werewolf in London": See some of the best special effects to startle on the big screen with John Landis' horror comedy.
- "Green Room": Nothing horrifically timely about this perfect grisly thriller about a punk band trying to fend off murderous neo-Nazis. Nope, nothing at all.
- "The Blackcoat's Daughter": Who better to guide you through a creepy Halloween than director Oz Perkins, the son of Anthony Perkins aka Norman Bates, either in this culty thriller or in Netflix's "I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House."
- "The Monster": Have you ever wondered, "What happened to the guy who directed the brilliant 'The Strangers'?" Wonder no longer! He directed this creepy little thriller, about a woman trapped in her car.
- "Night of the Living Dead": In case you miss the showing at the Union Cinema, George Romero's essential zombie horror story is available on Amazon Prime.
- "What Lies Beneath": Fun fact about this domestic ghost story starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer: It was written by Clark Gregg, aka Agent Coulson from "The Avengers." The more you know!
- "The Neon Demon": This flashy fashion melodrama is one to keep an eye on for a stylish creep-out this weekend.
- "Nosferatu": One of the grandfathers of horror cinema, this silent era classic is a must-watch for true horror fans – and true film fans, period.
- "Signs": Take a swing at M. Night Shyamalan's hit crop circle chiller – and do your best to ignore the plot holes at the end and the cameo from the director.
- "The Silence of the Lambs": You can find the all-too-human movie monster Hannibal Lector at his finest in this Best Picture-winning thriller from Jonathan Demme.
- "Sleepy Hollow": Tim Burton tackles this classic gothic tale with Johnny Depp and a whole mess of severed heads. In case you want a not-so-sleepy Saturday night.
- "Let the Right One In": Don't let its basic plot – a young loner befriends a young vampire – scare you away with its "Twilight"-esque sound. This Swedish thriller is creepy, with an unforgettable finale.
- "The Host": More a monster movie than a horror flick, but anytime I can recommend this brilliant South Korean smash-up of genres and emotions, I will.
- "I Saw the Devil": A haunting and thrilling look at revenge from South Korea. Not for the faint of heart, however, as this is a grueling, but great, experience.
- "Jaws": The ultimate summer blockbuster is still also the ultimate horror movie – even living miles away from an ocean.
- "The Thing": "Halloween" may get all the love this time of year, but the chilly paranoid thriller "The Thing" might be his best movie – and still some of the best creature effects ever made.
- "Shaun of the Dead": Who said a Halloween pick can't also be hilarious? Try on this zombie comedy from the genius mind of Edgar Wright – his big-screen debut.
- "V/H/S 2": Fast forward through the first horror anthology and jump to its sequel, featuring an exceptionally freaky little chapter from "The Raid" director Gareth Evans.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.