As Halloween rolls around, horror movies roll out.
On the big screen, the newest are a remake of "Night of the Living Dead," which opened last week, and "Stephen King's Graveyard Shift," which opened Friday.And hanging around at various theaters are "Darkman," "Flatliners," "Tales from the Darkside," "Frankenhooker" and such sort-of-horror yarns as "Ghost" and "Pacific Heights."
If you stretch it, you might even include "Fantasia" for a couple of spooky segments, "Night on Bald Mountain" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
On television next week local channels will indulge in such perennial Oct. 31 favorites as John Carpenter's original "Halloween" (edited for commercial TV, of course); a week of Hitchcock films, including "The Birds"; two silent Lon Chaney classics, "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"; the first two "Friday the 13th" epics (edited); the popular horror comedy "Beetlejuice"; and over on basic cable channels you can see "The Innocents," "Carrie" (edited), "Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte" and many more.
But if you don't want to see movie gore on a huge theater screen and get frustrated when television commercials break up the tension, you may be looking to rent something. If so, you'll find tons of scary movies to choose from at your local video store - including everything from unrated oldies to R-rated gorefests.
The question that comes up every year at this time, however, is what movies in those blood-stained boxes in the horror section will share a scare with families or dates or party groups and still be relatively free of blood 'n' guts, sex and nudity or constant profanity?
The following list is by no means definitive, but offers some suggestions for Halloween viewing. All of these films are available on video, though you may have to call around to find certain titles.
And please keep in mind that they are not necessarily for young children. These films are, for the most part, "clean," but they are still adult in nature and could give nightmares to little ones:
The Night Stalker - Made-for-TV horror, with liberal doses of comedy, as Las Vegas reporter Darren McGavin encounters a vampire.
Dracula - The original 1931 Bela Lugosi version is slow and a bit hokey but still fun; the 1973 Jack Palance made-for-TV version is surprisingly good; and the popular 1979 version with Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier isn't bad.
Horror of Dracula - This British production from Hammer Films was Christopher Lee's bow as the count, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; broadly played but well made.
Nosferatu - The first "Dracula" film (1922), mainly for fans of silents; the 1979 Werner Herzog version is not on video.
Salem's Lot - One of the better Stephen King films (made for TV), about a writer who discovers vampires in a small Maine community.
Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein/Son of Frankenstein - All three in the original '30s trilogy with Boris Karloff are excellent; Lugosi and Basil Rathbone are in "Son." ("Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" is also on video.)
The Curse of Frankenstein - The first (1957) of Hammer's string of color horror, pumping up the blood and sex; Cushing is the good doctor, Lee the monster. ("Evil of Frankenstein" is also on video.)
The Wolf Man - Lon Chaney Jr. in the unbeatable 1941 classic.
Curse of the Werewolf - Oliver Reed in this 1961 Hammer film.
The Mummy - The 1932 version with Karloff is the definitive choice, but the 1959 Hammer version with Cushing and Lee is pretty.
The Haunting - One of the best ever, with Julie Harris.
Poltergeist - Steven Spielberg's original, of course.
The Changeling - Surprisingly superior ghost stuff with George C. Scott. (Rated a soft R.)
13 Ghosts - Goofy story of family inheriting a haunted house.
Psycho - The perfect horror film.
The Birds - What did we do to turn them against us? Slow-building and gradually terrifying.
The Fly - The tense original.
House of Usher - The best of Roger Corman's Poe pictures.
The Pit and the Pendulum - Very good Poe adaptation by Corman.
House of Wax - Originally in 3-D, with Charles Bronson as Igor.
Tales of Terror - Price, Lorre and Rathbone in three Poe yarns.
Twice-Told Tales - A Nathaniel Hawthorne trilogy.
The Masque of the Red Death - More Coreman-Poe, with Death making an appearance at a ball.
Tomb of Ligeia - Widowed Price remarries but can't forget his first wife - she won't let him.
The Conqueror Worm - True story of a witch-hunter.
The House on Haunted Hill - All the stops are out for this spend-the-night-in-a-haunted-house flick.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? - Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are fabulous as aging, battling sisters in their first horror film.
Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte - Davis and Olivia de Havilland; young Bruce Dern loses his head.
Strait-Jacket - Reformed ax-murderess Crawford lives peacefully until more ax-murders begin.
Dead of Night - Michael Redgrave's ventriloquist segment is the best of this anthology.
Magic - Ventriloquist Anthony Hopkins is terrorized by his own dummy. (Rated a soft R.)
The Devil-Doll - Crazed Lionel Barrymore shrinks people and makes them kill in this 1936 classic.
The Black Cat (1934)/The Raven (1935) - These are actually two separate movies on one tape. Karloff and Lugosi star in both; the first is especially good.
Trilogy of Terror - Karen Black in three made-for-TV horror yarns.
Asylum - Four puzzling tales; Peter Cushing.
From Beyond the Grave - Cushing tells four more scary stories.
Tales from the Crypt - The 1972 film, not the '80s shows; Cushing.
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors - Cushing, Christopher Lee.
The House That Dripped Blood - Cushing and Lee in a four-parter.
Cat's Eye - A trio of amusing Stephen King yarns, rated PG-13.
Jaws - Steven Spielberg's original is the best sea beast movie ever.
The Invisible Man - The original 1933 classic, of course, with a brilliant performance by Claude Rains.
Village of the Damned - Mysterious children born in an English village are really alien progeny.
Them! - Giant ants in the sewers of Los Angeles, with James Whitmore, James Arness, Fess Parker and - very briefly - Leonard Nimoy. Better than it sounds.
Carnival of Souls - Filmed in Salt Lake City and at Saltair, a predecessor to "Night of the Living Dead."
The Phantom of the Opera - The original 1925 Lon Chaney version is the best, but the 1947 Claude Rains film is also good (if overly musical). (The 1962 version and the 1983 and 1989 TV versions are not on video.)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - The best is the 1932 version, which won Fredric March an Oscar; the 1941 version with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman is more low-key, but still quite interesting; and the 1920 version with John Barrymore is a bit hokey by today's standards, but fun for silent movie fans.
The Picture of Dorian Gray - The 1945 version with George Sanders.
Creature from the Black Lagoon - Tepid in spots but still fun.
Kingdom of the Spiders - It's no "Arachnophobia," but not a bad killer-tarantulas yarn; William Shatner.
The Blob - The campy 1956 version with Steve McQueen, of course.
Dr. Cyclops - The nasty title character shrinks people in the jungle.
Willard/Ben - Rats! Trained to kill, no less.
Night of the Hunter - Preacher Robert Mitchum is pure evil, stalking his two young stepchildren, taken in by Lillian Gish. A knockout.
Freaks - Tod Browning's notorious 1932 film is still shocking, with deformed carnival "freaks" starring in a story of deceit and revenge where the "monsters" are the "normal" people.
Wait Until Dark - Blind Audrey Hepburn is terrorized by drug-dealers, primarily nasty Alan Arkin.
The Spiral Staircase - Dorothy McGuire is a mute servant in a house full of weirdos in this 1946 classic. (Forget Jacqueline Bisset's remake.)
Sorry, Wrong Number - Barbara Stanwyck got an Oscar nomination as a woman who overhears on the phone that she's about to be murdered; Burt Lancaster.
The Bad Seed - Can sweet innocent Patty McCormick really be a murderess? Parents should not watch this 1956 classic alone.
Midnight Lace - Doris Day is taunted by a killer; Rex Harrison.
The Thing (from Another World) - The 1951 version, of course, about an evil alien thawed out at a remote Arctic outpost.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers - The classic 1956 version is preferred, though the 1978 version is also good.
Forbidden Planet - The monster is invisible, stalking Leslie Nielsen and Robby the Robot.
War of the Worlds - Vivid Martian invasion tale.
Westworld/Futureworld - Both are solid satires of modern theme parks and chilling sci-fi/horror.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space - Good, despite the silly title.
Arsenic and Old Lace - One of Frank Capra's funniest films, with Cary Grant discovering his kindly old aunts are killers; Lorre.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein - Bud & Lou's best, with Frankenstein's monster, Dracula (Lugosi) and the Wolf Man (Chaney Jr.).
Young Frankenstein - Mel Brooks' hilarious spoof of the old "Frankenstein" films, with Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle.
Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II - Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and friends, of course.
Wonder Man - Danny Kaye as both a bookworm and his show biz twin, the latter a ghost.
The Canterville Ghost - Charles Laughton stars in this 1944 classic.
The Time of Their Lives - Unusual Abbott & Costello comedy, with Lou and Marjorie Reynolds as Revolutionary War ghosts.
Phantom of the Paradise - Brian DePalma's rock 'n' roll spoof of "Phantom of the Opera."
The Raven - The 1963 Corman film, with dueling sorcerers Karloff and Price; Lorre, Jack Nicholson.
Hold That Ghost - Abbott & Costello in a haunted house.
Little Shop of Horrors - Both the 1960 version, with a young Jack Nicholson in support, and the 1986 musical remake are delightful.
Beetlejuice - The popular ghost comedy, with Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder and Harry Belafonte songs.
The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck - Roman Polanski directed and stars in this vampire spoof.
Comedy of Terrors - Price and Lorre are morticians in this Corman spoof, with Karloff, Rathbone.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes/Dr. Phibes Rises Again - Two campy outings with Vincent Price as the title character, seeking revenge.
Twilight Zone - Several episodes of Rod Serling's classic twist-ending series are available on video.
Outer Limits - Good, hourlong darker "Zone"-like programs.
The Invaders - "Invaders of the Body Snatchers" crossed with "The Fugitive"; corny, but fun.
Tales from the Darkside - Episodes of the syndicated series.
Dark Shadows - Barnabas Collins' daytime soap opera.
The Monster Squad - Every old-time monster you can think of comes after kids in a small town.
Blackbeard's Ghost - Disney fantasy-comedy.
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury/Disney.
Escape to Witch Mountain/Escape from Witch Mountain - Disney's kiddie thriller and sequel.
Watcher in the Woods - Disney; teens in a haunted mansion.
- AND FOR THOSE WHO don't mind something harder, here are a few superior R-rated horror films for adult audiences - but they are all rated R for good reason:
Alien/Aliens - Terrific tension-builders, the first a haunted-house-in-outer-space epic and the second more of an action-thriller.
The Tenant - Roman Polanski directed and stars, renting an apartment where a suicide occurred.
The Silent Partner - Bank teller Elliott Gould steals from robber Christopher Plummer, who then terrorizes him.
Don't Look Now - Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie haunted by their dead daughter in Venice.
The Dead Zone - Arguably the best Stephen King movie, about reluctant psychic Christopher Walken.
The Hidden - "Alien" meets "Body Snatchers," with pre-"Twin Peaks" Kyle MacLachlan as a spacey FBI agent.
Night of the Living Dead - The original 1968 black-and-white version.
Halloween - The first and best of the so-called "slasher" flicks, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence. (Accept no substitutes.)
Fright Night - Funny, scary modern-day vampire yarn.
The Stepfather - Based on the true story of a man who murders his entire family and then marries into another, looking for perfection.
The Howling - The original satirical Joe Dante film about werewolves in modern-day Southern California.
Creepshow - Creepy anthology from Stephen King.
Jack's Back - Modern-day Jack the Ripper, with fine dual performances by James Spader.