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Halloween movie recommendations: Horror films perfect for a broader audience

By Jeffrey Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 6:54 p.m. MDT

“The Monster Squad” (PG-13) — In the tradition of Universal’s monster mash-ups like “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman,” “The House of Dracula” and “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein,” this 1987 cult favorite brings together all the classic monsters in a plot to take over the world. In typical ’80s movie fashion, the only thing stopping them is a group of kids. As a bit of film trivia, “The Monster Squad” was co-written by “Iron Man 3” director Shane Black.

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (PG) — One of several adaptations of Jack Finney’s 1955 sci-fi novel about the invasion of Earth by interstellar seedpods, this 1978 version stars a young Donald Sutherland (best known to some audiences for his role as President Snow in “The Hunger Games”) and Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”). The original 1956 film is also worth checking out.

“Carriers” (PG-13) — Following a viral pandemic, a group of survivors (led by Chris Pine) make their way across the country in an attempt to find sanctuary. Even though the premise is far from original, the human drama and agonizing moral dilemmas the group finds themselves in are what really make “Carriers” work as a horror movie. Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” will appreciate this one.

“Signs” (PG-13) — M. Night Shyamalan’s take on alien invasion movies is also possibly his most frightening. After crop circles begin appearing on people’s farms in rural Pennsylvania and elsewhere, a disillusioned reverend (Mel Gibson) and his family prepare for first contact. Along with Gibson, “Signs” features an excellent supporting cast, including Joaquin Phoenix and Abigail Breslin.

“Ghostbusters” (PG) — It’s more funny than scary, but Ivan Reitman’s 1984 horror comedy about three unemployed parapsychology professors who start up a ghost-hunting business is a genre classic. Along with Bill Murray (in one of his most memorable roles), it co-stars Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver and the criminally underappreciated Rick Moranis. While nowhere near as great as the first one, 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” is also worth seeing — especially if the long-rumored “Ghostbusters III” ever happens.

For detailed content information on these and other films, check out kids-in-mind.com.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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