Horror Movie Alternatives for Halloween Night

If you’re not in the mood for Michael Myers or paranormal activities this Halloween you might want to check out these equally creepy flicks that’ll make your holiday night just as heart-pumping. With the help of my friends and fellow horror nerds, Frank Pittarese and Aaron Reid, I’ve compiled a list of horror movie alternatives for your All Hallow’s Eve viewing pleasure!

Bad Ronald (1974) Ronald Wilby, teen misfit and social pariah, accidentally kills a young girl — so his overprotective mother (Kim Hunter) hides him in a secret room in their home. But when his mother dies, a new family moves into the house, unaware that an unhinged Ronald lurks within their walls. This made-for-TV thriller is one of my all-time favorites. They pack a lot into the 74 minute running time, giving Ronald a whole arc — from loser to lunatic — and we almost get two movies in one: the Ronald/Mom story, then the Ronald/Wood Family story. There’s a constant, underlying eerie discomfort in watching Ronald grow into a dangerous stalker, and Scott Jacoby runs the gamut from pitiful to creepy. You almost feel for the little weirdo. The climax is a bit abrupt, like they were holding back from doing something intense, but that (aside from an unintentionally comedic death) is my only minor gripe. -Frank Pittarese

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978) After their dog dies in an “accident,” the Barry family adopts a German Shepard puppy. What they don’t know is that the pup was bred by Satan himself, as a demonic creature, which soon takes possession of the family, starting with the children. This made-for-TV horror flick is most memorable for the kids. Co-stars Kim Richards (yep, the one from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) and Ike Eisenmann shared the big screen together twice before in Disney’s Escape/Return to Witch Mountain. Here, the wholesome pair head into new territory, becoming a couple of evil brats. Richard Crenna stars as their dad, forced to believe the unbelievable after the Satanic dog starts killing people (and after his wife starts slutting it up with Cliff Barnes from Dallas). While slow-paced, and suffering from some terrible special effects, this one is still enjoyable, if not thrilling. As a kid, the dog’s demonic form actually scared me, but I was a pushover like that. -FP

Drag Me to Hell (2009) “A dark spirit has come upon you.” Christine aspires to get the Assistant Manager promotion at the bank and is willing to make difficult choices to get her coveted job, including foreclosing on an elderly woman rather than granting one more extension. She soon regrets her heartless handling of the matter when she finds herself cursed. Inexplicable omens and visions of demons torment her until there is no denying she’s hexed. I decided to rewatch the unrated director’s cut of this cursed affair – the additional gore and extended scenes enhanced an already worthy horror. The impressive cast, creepy score, and beautiful cinematography amount to a classic story with personality. The pacing is flawless right up until the shocking ending. As Christine learns, be careful who you wrong in life because you just might be dragged to… Well, you know. “You will burn in Hell.” -Aaron Reid

Ghost Ship (2002) “We’re not the first people to board this ship.” A salvage crew discovers the lost MS Antonia Graza at sea, a mysterious luxury vessel that’s been missing for forty years. They board the ship to claim the riches inside, but the ghosts haunting this deadly cruise liner have other plans for their guests. I rewatched this haunted movie and returned to the ill-fated cruise ship for its final voyage. The opening sequence detailing what happened to the doomed passengers is still one of the most memorable and horrific scenes, to say the least. This haunted movie has an impressive ensemble cast coupled with creepy moments and a complicated storyline, making this horror a worthy rewatch contender, especially in October. The cliffhanger ending is a nice touch, wrapping up this haunting with a wink. If you‘ve never watched or it’s been a while, add this one to your list.  “We’re all trapped here.” -AR

Hell Night (1981) One of the better ’80s slashers, this creepy nightmare features Linda Blair as a new sorority pledge who along with a fellow pledge sister (Suki Goodwin), a horny frat hunk (Vincent Van Patton), and a frat gentleman (Peter Barton), are forced to spend the night in old Garth Manor, a gothic, abandoned mansion that is rumored to be haunted. The ghosts are tricks played on them by their school chums, but the murders are very real and the product of a deformed ancestor who still calls the manor home. Likable characters, a moody, Halloween-costume atmosphere, and some actual suspense make this terrific nighttime viewing. -Matt Dalton

House of Dark Shadows (1970) The first movie adaptation of the classic TV series, Dark Shadows, this is essentially a retelling one of the show’s most popular plots, that of 200-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), as he awakens within his coffin in modern day Collinsport, Maine, and feasts on the blood of his living relatives. This is a crisp, handsome production with excellent acting from Frid and the rest of the Dark Shadows ensemble, including cast regulars Nancy Barrett and Joan Bennett. It also happens to be one of the most effective vampire flicks of the ’70s. -MD

The Norliss Tapes (1973) Roy Thinnes stars as David Norliss, an occult investigator, called into action by Ellen Cort (Angie Dickenson), who was attacked in the night by her walking dead husband. As the body count rises, it becomes apparent that there’s a sinister secret behind James Cort’s resurrection — something demonic. Made for TV, this Dan Curtis production feels a whole lot like The Night Stalker, Curtis’s very successful pilot film that aired the previous year. That movie got a sequel and a TV series. The Norliss Tapes did not. But the structure is the same. We have a supernatural creature, an investigation, occasional cutaways to some poor soul getting murdered, and an overarching narration from the lead character. In this case, the narration comes from tapes, recorded by Norliss. Had this gone to series, that would have been the monster-of-the-week format. Unlike The Night Stalker, this is mostly humorless, and the opening ten minutes that set up the “tapes” premise is incredibly dull. But from then on, turn off the lights and soak it in, because this is Dan Curtis doing what he does best: death, crypts, and shock-value storytelling. -FP

Session 9 (2001) Although it doesn’t contain the typical horror movie tropes or slasher cliches, Session 9 is so unnerving and suspenseful that it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat while you down your popcorn and candy corn. Taking place almost entirely within the walls of a former sanitarium, the film follows a small asbestos removal team as they try to clean the place before the week is over. Tensions builds among the coworkers as personalities butt and ulterior motives are brought to light. Although its paranoia subplot seems to have been borrowed from The Thing, this is a smart movie with interesting characters and an overwhelmingly bleak environment that adds to the plot’s intensity. It all leads to a genuinely disturbing ending. -MD

Sleepy Hollow (1999) Tim Burton’s atmosphere-drenched adaptation of the famous Washington Irving story was a return to form for the director after the lunacy of Mars Attacks! with a perfectly cast Johnny Depp as the nervous Ichabod Crane who’s sent to the small village of the title to investigate a series of bizarre murders. The chilly, woodsy setting along with the visually rich set decorations of jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, and the Headless Horseman ring true for a dazzling Halloween viewing. -MD

Frank Pittarese has been an editor of comic books for 30 years. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter. A Massachusetts native, Aaron Reid is also on Instagram and writes movie reviews for Letterboxd.

Mini-Reviews: Horror Now Streaming

Anything for Jackson (2020) A good idea is not fully realized in this lackluster crossbreeding of Rosemary’s Baby and James Wan. An older couple (Sheila McCarthy and Julien Richings) turn to Satanism in order to bring back their dead grandson, Jackson, by imprisoning a pregnant woman (Konstantina Mantelos) in their house and using witchcraft to transfer Jackson’s soul into the unborn baby. After a good first 30 minutes the screenplay (by Keith Cooper and Justin G. Dyck) descends into unbelievable plot twists and dreary character motivations that don’t make any sense. Nice try, but no cigar. (Shudder) C

Blood Beat (1983) An obscure supernatural slasher about a group of friends spending Christmas in rural Wisconsin and are in danger when the bloodthirsty spirit of a samurai warrior starts killing in the area. This is plagued with unnecessary subplots (two characters are psychic) but once the paranormal stuff kicks in this is an enjoyable, nonsensical myriad of oddball aesthetics and dream-like structure. Writer/director Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos admitted to being on drugs at the time he wrote the screenplay, which explains a lot. Under the right circumstances, this could be your new favorite Christmas horror movie. (AMC, Shudder) B

The Brain (1988) A sort of cross between David Lynch and Roger Corman, this schlocky Canadian low-budgeter pits a high school rebel (Tom Bresnahan) and his girlfriend (Cynthia Preston) against a mad scientist-type (David Gale) who’s using the mind powers of an alien brain creature to control the population of the nearby town. Rubbery but fun monster FX and a sense of spirit help lift this above its mediocre plot. Re-Animator‘s Gale is underused but Bresnahan and Preston are likable and if you don’t take any of it seriously you might enjoy this late ’80s cheese fest. (Amazon) B

Dahmer (2002) An example of a good performance trapped in a mediocre film, this biopic of notorious killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, stars Jeremy Renner as the Milwaukee Cannibal who, in his younger years, started picking up men at bars, drugging and raping them, and eventually graduating to murder. Renner is terrific in the title role, giving the character both the charm and hint of underlying boiling rage the real Dahmer evidently had. Unfortunately the script (by director David Jacobson) doesn’t give the real life figure much to do, at times making the movie feel somewhat aimless and transparent. (Tubi) C

Freaky (2020) Amusing variation on Freaky Friday in which a mousy teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) switches bodies with a serial killer (Vince Vaughn). A good cast (Vaughn is pitch perfect) and some funny moments help mask an uneven screenplay that at times feels forced and lacking the organic flow found in writer Christopher Landon’s earlier, and superior, Happy Death Day 2 U. A terrific opening and the use of practical gore FX throughout give this a slightly higher rating than it deserves. (HBO Max) C+

Jeruzalem (2015) An interesting take on Cloverfield, this features a small group of travelers who’re stuck in the middle of literal hell when the city of Jerusalem cracks open and spits out various demons and monsters, all caught through the camera of a character’s smart glasses. Because of obvious budgetary restraints there’s too much time spent on uninteresting characters standing around and talking, but when the action gets going this is an enjoyable monster mash. (Tubi) B

Mini-Reviews: The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY Series

Paranormal Activity (2009) A young couple, Katie and Micah (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), come to believe their home is haunted and set up video cameras to capture evidence. Things get progressively worse and they call on the help of a psychic, who informs them it’s most likely a demonic entity that is after Katie. Although The Blair Witch Project kick-started the modern found footage craze, it was Paranormal Activity that opened the floodgates and released a wave of imitators, many of which are still being released today. Thanks to its minuscule budget and extremely effective approach at the subject matter (showing less is indeed more), this is a terrifically fun and unsettling little scare show that reminds us of why we are naturally afraid of the dark. A

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) Taking place a few months before the events of the first film, PA 2 centers on Katie’s sister, Kristi’s (Sprague Grayden), family and the arrival of her new baby boy, Hunter, which is subsequently followed by a mysterious break-in that prompts Dad to set up security cameras. Both respecting and adding to the mythology, PA 2 is a good follow-up that doesn’t overplay the scares or abuse its power by trying to exceed the original in special FX. It smartly focuses on likable characters and builds suspense naturally. Although not as intense as the first film – more family members lessens the horror of the activities – this is still a worthy entry. B

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Shaking things up for the series is this fantastic third entry that takes the storyline to 1988, when Katie and Kristi were kids, and shows how they became the targets of the malevolent demon that terrorized them in the previous films. When little Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) begins talking to an imaginary friend named Toby, and strange things begin to happen, her stepdad (Christopher Nicholas Smith) sets up VHS cameras around the house to find out what is going on. Ignoring the subtlety of the first two, PA 3 goes full-out funhouse with inventive, scary set pieces and a less serious approach, although the last 20 minutes will have you on the edge of your seat up until the slam-bang finish. B+

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) Returning to the present day, several years have passed after the events of the first two films. A new family is seemingly bombarded by paranormal activities after they meet their weird new neighbor, Robby (Brady Allen), whose mother is mysteriously absent. PA 4 is a misstep in the series, with dull characters and a muddled plotline that doesn’t seem to make sense or really fit in with the overall mythology. The use of modern technology (Skype/FaceTime video and Xbox Kinect) to document the action is clever, but the lack of scares and a climax that is essentially ripping off PA 3 is a bummer. C

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) A return to form, this fifth entry in the PA series wisely spins-off from the focus of Katie, Kristi, and Hunter, and delivers a new story about teenager, Jessie (Andrew Jacobs), who believes his neighbor, Ana, is a witch. After he and his friends break into Ana’s apartment he begins experiencing bizarre mood swings and unexplained activity in his home, including levitation and a retro Simon game that communicates with him. Written and directed by Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day 2 U), The Marked Ones is injected with much-needed energy and sympathetic characters; as with PA 2, the movie both respects and adds to the mythology and introduces a plot twist that actually works. Fast-paced, funny, and scary, this is probably the best of the sequels. B+

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) After discovering a specialty videocamera that allows you to see spirits, a father (Chris J. Murray) uses it, and other cameras, to find out what’s happening in his new house when his daughter (Ivy George) begins acting strangely. Basically just recycling the plot of PA 3, Ghost Dimension lacks the verve of Marked Ones and by now the mythology is becoming a bit convoluted, showing just how thin the filmmakers are stretching the already overused plot. There are some good scares and the use of 3-D is clever, but one can’t help have the feeling of déjà vu when a lack of surprises envelopes the already shaky foundation. C+

Mini-Reviews: BLACULA, DARKNESS FALLS, NIGHTMARES, and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

Blacula (1972) Classic ’70s exploitation flick starring the great William Marshall as Prince Mamuwalde who is turned into a vampire by Count Dracula and, centuries later, rises from his tomb in modern day L.A. Director William Crain focuses more on well-written characters and suspense than cheap shocks and in doing so creates a movie that’s much better than its schlocky title would suggest. B+

Darkness Falls (2003) Thinly plotted ghost story about a small sea-side town terrorized by a vengeful spirit, whose attached itself to a man (Chaney Kley) who witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of the malevolent entity years earlier. Stiff acting – Buffy‘s Emma Caulfield Ford is wasted in a one-dimensional role – and transparent plot devices harm the already mundane story, and even at just 85 minutes this feels way too long. D+

Nightmares (1983) Light but fun Twilight Zone-like anthology of four stories centered around urban legends. The first (and best) features Cristina Raines as a mother who, along with the rest of the town, is living in terror after a madman escapes from a nearby sanitarium. The second has Emilio Estevez as an arrogant teenager whose obsession with a video game leads to dire consequences. Third has Lance Henriksen as a disillusioned priest who finds road rage with a demonic pick-up truck. The last chapter pits Veronica Cartwright against a giant rat that has invaded her suburban home. Definitely worth a look for the anthology fan. B

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) Before Michael or Jason there was this influential slasher based on a real case about a hooded killer terrorizing a small Texas town in 1946. A surprisingly taut film, director Charles B. Pierce smartly injects moments of humor in between scenes of brutal, and intense, violence, creating a terrific pace and solid storytelling. Only a needless voiceover narration hurts an otherwise good little movie. B+

Special Guest Review of the CHILD’S PLAY Series, Part 2

By Frank Pittarese

Bride of Chucky (1998) After three movies with the same basic plot, this one takes the series in a (mostly) new direction. Charles Lee Ray’s lunatic girlfriend (played by Jennifer Tilly) gets hold of Chucky’s remains and magically resurrects the little maniac. But when she pisses him off, he kills her and transfers her soul into a bride doll. The plastic pair manipulate and eventually terrorize a couple of runaway teens, with the intention of digging up Charles Lee Ray’s body to retrieve a magical amulet. That amulet, which supposedly would let them transfer their souls into the teens, is a total retcon. It was never mentioned before now, and a crime scene photo here shows Ray wearing it when he died. Nope. Didn’t happen. I checked the footage. But okay, okay…whatever works.

While the body-swap is still central to the plot in a minor way, this really is a breath of fresh air. First off, it’s a lot more comedic than what we’ve seen so far. It owns the fact that the premise is ridiculous, and leans hard into the absurdity of the situation. Tiffany makes an excellent partner for Chucky. He finally has someone to play off of — someone who isn’t a child — and she’s strangely sympathetic, at times. They mayhem is endless, the teens (Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile) are likable enough, there’s a gay kid who isn’t at all cartoonish, and John Ritter makes an appearance as an overbearing uncle. The kills are clever, but the most over-the-top moments are the sex scene — between the dolls — and the ending, which is a real jaw-dropper. Chucky is back on track. For now. Grade: A-

Seed of Chucky (2004) Six years after Tiffany gave birth (yep, that’s what I said), we catch up with the kid, Glen, living a life of captivity in England as part of a ventriloquist act. Meanwhile, Chucky and Tiffany — now just normal dolls — are being used as props in a Hollywood feature film about their murder spree. When Glen sees their parents on TV, they head to America and — using that bullshit amulet invented in the previous movie — restores their evil souls to their doll bodies. And if that’s not complicated enough, the Chuck & Tiff want to use actress Jennifer Tilly (who plays herself in this one, as well as providing the voice of Tiffany) to birth ANOTHER baby, and transfer their souls into the bodies of her and her chauffeur. My head is spinning and I just watched the damn thing.

Any gains made in Bride of Chucky are lost here. The slasher element is still in play, but the comedy is what drives this one, and almost all of it feels tortured (if not straight up vulgar; I could live without seeing Chucky whack off). The body-swap aspect of the series has become exhausting. With Bride, they had the chance to do something else and they alllllmost succeeded, but here we go again.

Glen (sometimes Glenda) is an interesting character, though. The child of Chucky and Tiffany is non-binary, which is pretty progressive in 2004. While they play it for laughs, but only to a degree (and most of the wisecracks come from Chucky), it’s still an interesting choice. But Glen’s design is hideous. They look like the mutant offspring of Chucky and Annabelle. Jennifer Tilly, bless her heart, is really committed to this insanity, and I guess the concept was nutty enough to attract the likes of John Waters, who plays a sleazy photographer. But as much as I want to like this one, it’s a rough ride. Grade: C

Curse of Chucky (2013) Soon after a Good Guys doll arrives at the Pierce household, the matriarch of the family dies under mysterious circumstances. Chucky circumstances. Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif, daughter of Brad Dourif — the voice of Chucky), paralyzed since birth, plays host as her sister —  with family and nanny in tow — arrives to reminisce and bicker about money. Things seem normal, except for that creepy doll. And why is Charles Lee Ray in the family’s home movies? Let the murders begin!

After the sloppy misstep of Seed, the franchise returns to proper horror-mode. With a gothic vibe and a slower, more deliberate pace, Curse hits all the right notes. Chucky is used minimally for maximum effect, and while he still spouts the occasional wisecrack, this one plays things straight. It’s a huge relief.

One small problem: the unrated cut has a post-credits scene that not only features a major callback to the early films, it literally sets up the next movie in the series. But that version isn’t in the DVD boxed set and it’s not the one streaming on Peacock, so missing that short scene feels like you’ve missed a chapter. It’s a cool bit (which I’m gonna spoil in the next review). Grade: A-

Cult of Chucky (2017) Oof! This franchise is a roller coaster. After the tight creep-fest of Curse, the final entry in the series is a dreary pile of poo. Four years after the last movie, adult Andy Barclay passes the time by torturing Chucky’s severed head. Meanwhile, Nica Pierce is in a mental hospital, having been blamed for her family’s murders. Nica is so screwed up that she even blames herself. Then a Chucky doll arrives at the hospital, courtesy of Jennifer Tilly (still possessed by Tiffany), and a second doll soon follows, along with death and mayhem — all while Andy still seems to have custody of Chucky himself. What’s real? Who’s crazy? Who cares?

This muddled, lethargic mess is a frustrating watch. It’s hard to tell what’s real, and it’s even more difficult to get invested. They seem to be going for a Dream Warriors vibe in featuring a handful of mental patients, but they’re all unpleasant and annoying. Nica is a morose lump. The promise of Andy, which came with the previous film’s post-credits scene (and the opening of this one) feels unfulfilled, as he’s reduced to a subplot until the final act. Answers do come, and the multiple Chuckys (the titular “cult”) are explained (in an offhand way), but by that point, things are completely off the rails and still confusing. The ending sets up another chapter, and is legitimately intriguing…but this one could have been a thousand times better. Hopefully, the TV series will get things back on course. When this franchise is good, it’s great, but when it’s bad, it’s a disaster. This one is bad.

BTW, this sequel also features a post-credits scene which also only exists in the unrated cut — which also features another returning character. The bottom line is: Always go with the unrated cut. With everything. Grade: D-

Make sure you read Part 1 if you missed it!

Please follow Frank Pittarese on Twitter and Instagram.

Special Guest Review of the CHILD’S PLAY Series, Part 1

By Frank Pittarese

Child’s Play (1988) Serial killer Charles Lee Ray (a.k.a. the Lakeshore Strangler) is shot in a toy store by a detective — but before dying, he transfers his soul into a Good Guys doll using a voodoo spell. The doll makes its way to the home of little Andy Barclay and within 15 minutes, Chucky begins a spree of murder and terror. And of course, nobody believes Andy when he blames his doll. This is the best of the series. The cast is great. The endearing Catherine Hicks plays Andy’s frantic mom, Chris Sarandon is a disbelieving detective (until he learns otherwise), and Alex Vincent plays six-year-old Andy. As far as child actors go, Vincent isn’t show-bizzy at all. Some of his line deliveries are rough, but he feels like a real kid (and sort of a dumb one at that). It becomes very easy to worry about the squirt as danger unfolds.

This movie was made long before CGI was a thing, and a team of nine puppeteers, child actors, and little people bring Chucky to glorious life. Brad Dourif provides Chucky’s voice (and still does) but here’s a bit of trivia: Chucky was originally voiced by Jessica Walter(!), who was replaced after the movie bombed in a test screening (30 minutes of footage was also cut). This series has its ups and downs (more of the latter, I guess), and it perpetually goes off the rails as the series becomes more “comedic,” but Chucky is such a little asshole that I can’t help but love him, so I’m a fan. Grade: A-

Child’s Play 2 (1990) In the aftermath of the first movie, Andy’s mom is under psychiatric observation (we never see her again) and Andy is in foster care. Meanwhile, the Play Pals Corporation rebuilds Chucky, and he promptly runs amok, going on a murder spree as he tries to get hold of Andy. This is a decent sequel, but they’re already slipping into repetition. Expect another round of “Chucky did it!” as Andy gets blamed (again) for Chucky’s crimes. Christine Elise (Emily Valentine on Beverly Hills 90210) adds some flavor as Kyle, a teenage foster kid and ally to Andy, but it’s mostly a by-the-numbers slasher movie. The real highlight here is the showdown in a toy factory, as Andy and Kyle not only try to survive Chucky, but avoid the deadly doll-making machinery. It’s a strong set piece/climax that really saves an average movie. Grade: B

Child’s Play 3 (1991) Eight years after the last movie, the Play Pals Corporation is back in business — and thanks to blood dripping into a vat of plastic, Chucky is reborn. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Andy Barclay has been shipped off to a military academy after flunking out of foster care. Once again, Chucky pursues Andy, desperate for a human body. But there’s a new kid on the scene, played by THE MOST ANNOYING CHILD ACTOR EVER, and Chucky decides he wants an upgrade.

Three movies in and this franchise is on shaky ground. This is the third time we’re seeing the same basic story — and while that worked for almost a dozen Friday the 13th and a whole bunch of Elm Streets, this premise doesn’t have as much…range? By tying Chucky so tightly to Andy, the story has nowhere to go. So again, Chucky commits acts of mayhem and ruins Andy’s life. Again, Chucky chants his little body-swapping spell. And it’s all a drag this time because the setting is so awful. Asshole characters abound (including a ridiculously cartoonish barber played by Hellraiser’s Andrew Robinson), and the sympathetic ones are dull at best, but really sort of annoying. It’s not unwatchable, it’s just mediocre. Except for THE MOST ANNOYING CHILD ACTOR EVER. He is unwatchable. The franchise needs a hard kick in the ass, and for better or worse, that kick is coming… Grade: C+

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Child’s Play reviews!

Please follow Frank Pittarese on Instagram and Twitter.

Mini-Reviews: COUNT YORGA, THE SIGNAL, THIRTEEN WOMEN, and WHITE NOISE

Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) This slick production is one of the more satisfying vampire films of the ’70s. Robert Quarry is first-rate as the Hungarian Count Yorga who, shortly after immigrating to Los Angeles, starts mingling and then preying on a group of college hippies. Fast-paced and surprisingly scary at times, this is worth seeing just for Quarry’s seductive performance. B+

Thirteen Women (1932) A pre-code supernatural slasher that predicted future films like Final Destination about a group of school friends whom all receive ominous horoscopes from a mysterious psychic that foresee their untimely demises. Based on a novel, this is a surprisingly gruesome movie for its time and doesn’t shy away from the violence, including an intense opening in which a circus trapeze act goes horrible wrong. Apparently several scenes were cut before the film was released, which would explain why we only meet a handful of women and not the thirteen as promised; this is still worth checking out and at just 60 minutes, it’s a quick little gem. B

The Signal (2008) A variation on the zombie movie about an unknown radio signal that turns most of the population of a city into maniacal/delusional murderers. Segmented into three parts directed by different filmmakers (David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, Dan Bush), the film achieves a moderate level of suspense in the first story but is hindered by a dull middle half filled with uninteresting characters and annoying plot devices. C

White Noise (2005) After the accidental death of his wife, Anna (Chandra West), an architect (Michael Keaton) is confronted by a stranger (Ian McNiece) who claims Anna has been sending him messages via EVP. Desperate to communicate with her, Keaton starts experimenting with radio waves and unleashing malignant entities that start wrecking havoc in his life. Shades of J-horror can be seen in this supernatural tale that was most likely inspired by the then-recent popularity of Japanese films Ring and Ju-on. It might not be original but this is decent stuff with a likable character in Keaton and some creepy moments. B