Culture Representation: Taking place in Los Angeles, the horror flick “Tar” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with one Native American and one Latina) representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: Some office workers are trapped in a building that’s being terrorized by a tar monster.
Culture Audience: “Tar” will appeal primarily to people looking for a very lowbrow movie that delivers gory thrills with plenty of laughs because it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.
When it comes down to it, there are two kinds of horror movies in this world: The ones that take themselves seriously and want to really scare people to the bone. And the ones that don’t take themselves seriously and have plenty of comedic moments so that people can laugh along with the scares. “Tar” definitely falls into the latter category. Just keep your expectations very low, because this movie is not aspiring to be a horror masterpiece.
“Tar” has a “trapped in a building” concept that can only work if the characters have enough appeal for viewers to be willing to tolerate their personalities for as long as the movie’s running time. Fortunately, the performances from the “Tar” cast members are good enough to keep viewers interested in what happens to the characters in the movie. Directed by Aaron Wolf (who co-wrote the “Tar” screenplay with Timothy Nutall), “Tar” features Wolf in the role of the lead character: Zach Greenwood, who’s in his 30s and who’s been working in his family’s Greenwood Repair business in Los Angeles for the past 10 years.
The business is in an office building that’s right next to the La Brea Tar Pits. On a sidewalk near the office building, a homeless man (played by Graham Greene) displays a sign saying that he will tell a story to anyone for spare change. The story he tells has to do with the history of the La Brea Tar Pits and the legend that 40,000 years ago, mysterious and deadly creatures lived underground and in the tar.
According to this folklore, people have been killed or have disappeared in the tar for thousands of years. And it usually happens when there is construction around the tar pits that disrupt the creatures down below. There’s one tar creature that’s been named as the most fearsome of all: Machi Manitu, also known as Man of the Tar. It’s a creature that stands about 8 or 9 feet tall and has lived for an untold number of years, according to the legend. You know where all this is going in the movie, of course.
One of Zach’s co-workers named Ben (played by Sandy Danto) is so fascinated by this story that he never gets tired of hearing it every time he pays the homeless man to retell the story. On one particular day, Ben wants to heard the story twice in a row, but Zach, who happens to be walking down the street, literally has to lead Ben away so Ben can get back to work.
And by the way, there’s been some construction going on in the area. One night, one of the construction workers gets killed early on in the movie. He’s at the construction area alone when a mysterious force attacks him. At the murder scene, some mysterious tar is left oozing around his body.
Zach’s father Barry Greenwood (played by Timothy Bottoms) is Zach’s boss. And the business was started by Barry’s late father Alfred (played by Max Perlich), who is shown in flashback scenes with a teenage Barry (played by Liam Grace). Zach is only in the family business because it was the wish of his late mother. (Her cause of death is not mentioned in the movie.)
Zach has been getting bored and restless in the job, and he’s starting to wonder if he could’ve done something better with his life. When he starts making these kinds of comments to Barry, his father reminds him that this was the best job that college-educated Zach could get, since he wasn’t getting better offers anywhere else.
Barry also likes to remind Zach how hard Barry’s father worked to start the business and how they are enjoying the privileges of all that hard work. Essentially, Zach and Barry have a tension-filled relationship because Zach thinks Barry doesn’t understand him and is too demanding, while Barry thinks Zach can be whiny and ungrateful. Zach has probably been thinking about quitting the job, but Barry likes to point out that Zach doesn’t have very many options.
Amid this family squabbling, Zach and Barry have a more pressing issue: The family business is being evicted from the office building because the building’s greedy and uncaring owner Sebastian Sterling (played by Stewart Stone) has sold the property to a company that wants to tear down the building in about a month. Sebastian gave the building tenants only two weeks’ notice to move out of the building. Greenwood Repair has to temporarily close until the company can find new office space.
Most of “Tar” takes place on the very last day that the tenants have to move out of the building. Sebastian stops by to talk to Barry and Zach and remind them that if their business hasn’t cleared out by 6 a.m. the next day, he has a right to sue them, according to the lease that they signed. The movie pokes fun at Sebastian, because he’s the type of corporate shark that people love to hate.
Zach, Barry and their remaining two employees aren’t even close to finishing, so they expect to keep packing for the rest of the night. In addition to goofball Ben (who brings most of the comic relief in the movie), the Greenwood company’s other remaining employee is Marigold (played by Tiffany Shepis), who’s into tarot card readings and astrology. Marigold tells Ben that now that she’s out of a job, she’s thinking of starting her own tarot business.
Barry and Zach try to remain positive about their eviction from the building, but the stress of moving frays their nerves, and they start bickering again. Zach gets some relief from the stress when his understanding and supportive girlfriend Rose (played by Emily Peachey) surprises him with a visit. She brings him some food and offers to help pack boxes. Rose and Max also have some lovers’ time alone in a locked office, but they’re interrupted by Barry before they can finish what they started.
A company on the same floor is also one of the last to move out of the office building. The other company is a small financial firm called Diana Dunder Accounting, whose namesake does not look or dress like a typical accountant. Diana Dunder (played Nicole Alexandra Shipley) looks like a model, and her tight blouse is cut so low that her ample cleavage is practically bursting out. Her company’s packing boxes are labeled “DD Accounting,” and it’s the movie’s cheeky way of saying that “DD” could describe her bra size. Diana has a loyal assistant named Carmenia (played by Dani Fernandez), whom Diana promises she will reward with a promotion when they move to a new office space.
Ben has a crush on Diana (who is single), but he’s somewhat reluctant to ask her out on a date because he thinks that she’s way out of his league. When Diana comes over to the Greenwood Repair office to borrow some bubble wrap, all Ben can do is awkwardly ogle at Diana. As day turns into night, there seems to be only seven people left in the building: Zach, Barry, Ben, Marigold, Rose, Diana and Carmenia.
Suddenly, all the electricity in the building goes out. It’s happened before on other days, and the electricity eventually returned, so the people who are left packing up boxes in the building don’t really panic. They just use flashlights. But then, Ben, Marigold and Diana see some creepy shadows in their offices.
Diana is a little freaked out, so Marigold invites her to hang out for a while in the Greenwood Repair reception area. Carmenia is nowhere in sight at that moment. Ben takes the opportunity to flirt with the slightly frightened Diana. Ben tells Diana that if he ends up saving her life, she has to make out with him. Diana laughs and agrees to this deal because she doesn’t think there’s any chance that she’s in danger or any chance that Ben would be capable of saving her anyway.
One of the worst things about low-budget horror flicks is that the acting is often terrible. Fortunately, the cast members of “Tar” get the job done in a way that it looks like they’re having fun and they have genuine chemistry together, even in scenes where some of the characters end up having conflicts. And they handle the comedic scenes well-enough that it isn’t cringeworthy. This movie’s sense of humor makes it enjoyable because a lowbrow movie such as “Tar” should not try to put on fake airs that it’s trying to appeal to film snobs.
As for the Machi Manitu creature, director Wolf made the wise decision not to show the creature in full view until the second half of the movie. It helps build viewer suspense to see what the creature looks like. The monster is grotesque and fairly unique-looking, so the movie gets some points for at least trying to have some originality in how this monster is portrayed. Machi Manitu is played by two people: pro wrestler Othello (whose real name Donald Edwards) and Simon Carmody, who’s also the film editor for “Tar.”
The visual effects are adequate for this low-budget movie, and the scenes where someone gets killed are what viewers might expect. It’s already revealed from the beginning of the film that at least one of the characters has survived, because the movie cuts back and forth to this character (who has a bloody neck injury and whose forehead has tar stains) telling what happened on that deadly night. Fortunately, “Tar” moves along at a good pace, and it’s more entertaining to watch than a pretentious horror movie that tries to be “deep” but is actually very dull.
The biggest flaws in “Tar” are in some of the continuity shots and editing, which could have been smoother. One action scene in particular, when the one of the characters kicks down a door on the monster, looks very unrealistic and could have been filmed a lot better. Machi Manitu can shape shift into tar, which is one of the reasons why it’s hard to kill it.
As for why these trapped people in the building don’t call 911, that’s explained in the movie. Rose tries to call 911, but her phone suddenly dies. It’s implied that there’s a power outage in the area, so cell phone towers aren’t working. And viewers can assume that the offices’ land line phones might already be disconnected because of the evictions and planned demolition of the building.
If people are willing to overlook a plot hole at the end of the film (when it’s not made clear what happened to the dead bodies), “Tar” delivers exactly what it appears to be: It’s a low-budget horror flick that mostly succeeds in blending deliberately tacky horror with an impish sense of humor. It’s the equivalent of a someone telling a silly “knock knock” joke that you’ve heard many times before, but the way that they tell the joke is so unapologetically cheesy, you can’t help but laugh.
1091 Pictures released “Tar” in select U.S. cinemas on October 2, 2020. The movie’s release on digital and VOD is on October 20, 2020.
There are numerous horror movies available to watch on TV, computers or mobile devices, but for Halloween 2020, there are some horror flicks and supernatural thrillers that will be released in theaters in October. Horror and supernatural movies released before October 2020 that should still be in theaters during the Halloween season include “Rent-A-Pal” (not rated); “Ten Minutes to Midnight” (not rated); and “Shortcut” (not rated).
Here are the movies that have an October 2020 release in theaters:
Information in this article is about U.S. releases.
Hospital nurse Mandy (played by Angela Bettis) is having a very bad day at work, where’s she’s doing a 12-hour shift. She’s been illegally selling organs of dead people, and now one of those sales has gone horribly wrong because she’s been paid for a stolen kidney that is now missing. Mandy has to find another kidney before some thugs come after her and her ditzy cousin Regina (played by Chloe Farnworth), Mandy’s partner in crime who lost the kidney. “12 Hour Shift,” written and directed by Brea Grant, has a dark comedic tone and cast that includes David Arquette, Mick Foley, Nikea Gamby-Turner and Kit Williamson. The movie, which is rated R, opens in select theaters and on VOD on October 2, 2020.
Taking place in 1987, some teenage friends play a prank that goes too far at the home of sinister married couple Edith Cranston (played by Lin Shaye) and Edward Cranston (played by Tobin Bell). The teens then find themselves back at the home, where Edward tells them that they can inherit $100,000 if they make a phone call and can stay on the line for 60 seconds. Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr., “The Call” has a cast that includes Chester Rushing, Erin Sanders and Judd Lormand. The movie, which is rated R, will be released in select theaters on October 2, 2020.
Oliver (played by Azhy Robertson) is a lonely young boy who is overly attached to his cell phone and computer tablet. These devices become portals for a mysterious creature to enter the world, and Oliver’s parents (played Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from this monster. Written and directed by Jacob Chase, “Come Play” (which is rated PG-13) is due out in theaters on October 30, 2020.
Set in 1973 on the outskirts of a remote Protestant village, a young woman named Audrey Earnshaw (played by Jessica Reynolds) and her mother Agatha (played by Catherine Walker) are accused of witchcraft. Mysterious deaths and plagues have been happening in the area, but Audrey and Agatha’s farm remains mysteriously unaffected. Written and directed by Thomas Robert Lee, “The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw” has a cast that also includes Jared Abrahamson, Hannah Emily Anderson, Geraldine O’Rawe, Don McKellar and Sean McGinley. The movie, which is unrated, arrives in select theaters on October 2, 2020, and on digital and VOD on October 6, 2020.
A young woman named Chelsea (played by Amanda Arcuri) connects with a man named Brad (played by Jackson Rathbone) over social media. When they meet in person at a Halloween party, he kidnaps her and brings her to his home, where he’s been keeping other abducted women. Written and directed by Walt Woltosz and his son Daniel Woltosz, “Do Not Reply” has a cast that includes Kerri Medders, Elise Luthman, Ashlee Füss, Ivon Millan and Thom Gossom Jr. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in select theaters and on VOD on October 2, 2020.
After a young woman named Caitlin Kramer (played by Courtney Bell) and several other people witness a man being murdered and don’t step in soon enough to help him, the bystander witnesses are mysteriously killed, one by one. Is it a coincidence or something else? And will Caitlin survive what might be revenge serial killings? “Don’t Look Back,” directed by “Final Destination” writer Jeffrey Reddick, has a cast that also includes Bryan Batt, Will Stout, Skyler Hart, Jeremy Holm, Jaqueline Fleming, Amanda Grace Benitez, Damon Lipari, Han Soto, Dean J. West and Stephen Twardokus. The movie, which is unrated, is set for release in select theaters and on VOD on October 16, 2020.
When a girl goes missing, a former cop encounters a secretive group that’s trying to conjure up an evil spirit called the Empty Man. This movie is based on “The Empty Man” graphic novel series. “The Empty Man” written and directed by David Prior, has a cast that also includes James Badge Dale, Stephen Root, Joel Courtney and Marin Ireland. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in theaters on October 23, 2020.
A college student named Grace (played by Amy Groening) investigates the mysterious murder of her best friend after they set off a sinister Halloween-themed computer meme. Grace gets assistance from a fellow student/computer whiz named Spencer (played by Jason Daley), and they find out that their college has a terrible secret. Written and directed by Jay Dahl, “Halloween Party” also stars Bradley Bailey, Scott Bailey, Zach Faye and Lisa Hackett. The movie, which is unrated, arrives in select theaters and on VOD on October 2, 2020.
In this movie, a Monsterpocalypse has devastated the world and forced humans to live underground to hide from the giant monsters that have taken over the world. Seven years after this invasion, Joel Dawson (played by Dylan O’Brien) reconnects over the radio with Aimee (Jessica Henwick), his girlfriend from high school, who is 80 miles away. When Joel falls in love with Aimee again, he decides to risk it all to go above-ground to reunite with her. Directed by Michael Matthews, “Love and Monsters” has a cast that includes Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt. The movie, which is rated PG-13, arrives in theaters, on digital and on VOD on October 16, 2020.
In “Possessor Uncut,” an elite, corporate assassin named Tasya Vos (played by Andrea Riseborough) uses brain-implant technology to take over other people’s bodies and murder her intended targets. But then she becomes trapped inside a mind that can destroy her. Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, “Possessor Uncut” has a cast that includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Abbott, Sean Bean, Rossif Sutherland and Tuppence Middleton. The movie, which is unrated, is due in theaters on October 2, 2020.
The horror/sci-fi comedy “Save Yourselves!” centers on a New York City hipster couple in their 30s named Su (played by Sunita Mani) and Jack (played by John Reynolds), who decide to go on a weeklong getaway at a remote cabin and “unplug” from all technology. During their retreat, they find out that the world is being invaded by deadly fuzzy creatures that Su and Jack call “poofs,” which have reached their remote area of the woods. Written and directed by Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson, “Save Yourselves!” has a cast that includes Ben Sinclair, John Early and the voice of Amy Sedaris. The movie, which is rated R, is due out in theaters on October 2, 2020, and on digital and VOD on October 6, 2020.
Marquis T. Woods (played by Omari Hardwick) is a successful corporate attorney who travels by private plane with his wife and two teenage children to his West Virginia hometown in the Appalachian area to attend the funeral of his late father. But when the plane crashes, Marquis wakes up to find that he is being held captive by a crazy voodoo priestess named Eloise (played by Loretta Devine), who uses body parts for her rituals. Directed by Mark Tonderai, “Spell” has a cast that also includes Lorraine Burroughs, Hannah Gonera, Kalifa Burton, John Beasley, Steve Mululu and Tumisho Masha. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in select theaters and on digital and VOD on October 30, 2020.
In this horror/sci-fi comedy, Mara (played by Katherine Langford) and Dylan (played by Charlie Plummer) are two students in high school who fall in love with each other, even though their world is experiencing a mysterious plague where people are spontaneously exploding. Written and directed by Brian Duffield, “Spontaneous” has a cast that includes Piper Perabo, Ron Huebel, Hayley Law and Yvonne Orji. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in theaters on October 2, 2020, and on VOD on October 6, 2020.
New Orleans paramedics and best friends Steve (played by Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (played by Jamie Dornan) are on the scene of some gruesome accidents that are being blamed on a mysterious new party drug. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter disappears, Steve finds out the horrifying truth. Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead and written by Benson, “Synchronic” has a cast that includes Katie Asleton and Ally Ioannides. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in theaters on October 23, 2020.
For 40,000 years, creatures have been living under the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Barry Greenwood (played by Timothy Bottoms) and his son Zach (played by Aaron Wolff) have had to shut down their office business because of city construction on the land. But the construction triggers a nightmarish reaction from a creature down below, and the humans above have to fight for survival. Directed by Wolff, who co-wrote the movie with Timothy Nutall, “Tar” has a cast that includes Graham Greene, Tiffany Shepis and Max Perlich. The movie, which is rated PG-13, is set for release in select theaters on October 2, 2020, and on digital and VOD on October 20, 2020.
A small-town sheriff has to solve a series of murders that happen only when there’s a fool moon. He doesn’t believe in werewolves, and he’s also having problems at home with his wife and rebellious teen daughter. Jim Cummings is the writer and star of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow,” whose cast also includes Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster, Jimmy Tatro and Chloe East. The movie, which is rated R, is set for release in select theaters and on digital and VOD on October 9, 2020.
“The Addams Family” (2019)
Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, “The Addams Family” is the animated version of Charles Addams’ comic-strip that ran in the New Yorker from 1938 to 1988. The comic strip , which is about a spooky clan that has a hard time fitting into a “normal” world, would go on to spawn a live-action TV series in the 1960s, an animated TV series in the 1970s and live-action films in the 1990s. The all-star voice cast of “The Addams Family” animated film includes Oscar Isaac as patriarch Gomez Addams; Charlize Theron as matriarch Morticia Addams; Chloë Grace Moretz as daughter Wednesday Addams; Finn Wolfhard as son Pugsley Addams; Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, Gomez’s brother; Snoop Dogg as Cousin Itt, Gomez’s cousin; Bette Midler as Grandmama, Gomez and Fester’s mother; and Allison Janney as reality TV host Margaux Needler, the story’s villain. “The Addams Family” is rated PG-13. Cinépolis will show the movie on October 23, 2020. The screenings for Alamo Drafthouse locations will vary by location, and audience members are encouraged to wear costumes.
The 2014 film “Annabelle” is an origin story of the evil doll Annabelle from “The Conjuring” movies. In the movie, a loving husband has given Annabelle as a gift to his pregnant wife. And all hell breaks loose. Directed by John Leonetti, “Annabelle” has a cast that includes Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Eric Ladin and Brian Howe. “Annabelle,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 9, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
In this 2017 prequel to “Annabelle,” a dollmaker and his wife, who are grieving over the death of their young daughter, welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. Little does this couple know that a doll named Annabelle will unleash some deadly terror on the people in the home. Directed by David F. Sandberg, “Annabelle: Creation” has a cast that includes Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman and Talitha Bateman. “Annabelle: Creation,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 2, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
Tim Burton’s classic 1988 horror comedy tells the story of deceased young couple Adam and Barbara Maitland (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who haunt their former home and try unsuccessfully to scare away the house’s new residents: Charles and Delia Deetz (played by Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara) and their moody teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). In desperation, the Maitlands conjur up the obnoxious ghost Betelgeuse (played by Michael Keaton) to enlist his help in terrifying the Deetz family into moving out of the house. “Beetlejuice” (which is rated PG) will have screenings at several movie-theater chains. Cinemark will show “Beetlejuice” on October 2, 2020, while Cinépolis will show the movie on October 9, 2020. The screenings for Alamo Drafthouse locations will vary by location.
Based on the beloved ghost character from Harvey Comics, this 1995 live-action/animated movie tells the story how a greedy heiress, an after-life therapist and the therapist’s daughter find some ghosts in an old mansion. Casper is a friendly ghost, but the same can’t be said for Casper’s ghost uncles Stretch, Fatso and Stinkie. Directed by Brad Silberling, the movie’s cast includes Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle and Amy Brenneman, as well as the voices of Malachi Pearson, Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey and Brad Garrett. Alamo Drafthouse locations will show “Casper,” which is rated PG, with screening information varying by location. Audience members are encouraged to wear costumes.
In the Oscar-winning animated 2017 film “Coco,” a Mexican boy named Miguel, who is an aspiring musician, travels to the Land of the Dead to learn more about being like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. “Coco” (directed by Lee Unkrich) has a voice cast that includes Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía and Edward James Olmos. “Coco,” which is rated PG, will have screenings at multiple movie-theater chains. AMC Theatersand Cinépolis will show “Coco” on October 9, 2020.
Based on a true story, the 2013 film “The Conjuring” shows how paranormal investigators/married couple Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) were called in 1971 to help a family who have moved to Harrisville, Rhode Island, in a farmhouse that is possessed by an evil spirit. Directed by James Wan, “The Conjuring” has a cast that includes Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston. “The Conjuring,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 23, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Conjuring 2”
In the 2016 film “The Conjuring 2” (the sequel to “The Conjuring”), it’s 1977, and paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) go to London to help a single mother who is raising four children in a haunted house. Directed by James Wan, the movie’s cast includes Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney and Franka Potente. “The Conjuring 2,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 30, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
In this 1996 film, four teenage girls in high school find out that they have the power to practice witchcraft. Directed by Andrew Fleming (who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Filardi), “The Craft” has a cast that includes Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor and Breckin Meyer. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is showing “The Craft” (which is rated R), with the dates varying by location. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Curse of La Llorona”
The 2019 film “The Curse of LaLorona” is based on the Mexican folklore of La Llorona, the ghostly weeping woman who drowned her children and then committed suicide. In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking a troubled widowed mother who is being investigated by social workers. Directed by Michael Chaves, the movie’s cast includes stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez and Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen and Roman Christou. “The Curse of La Llorona,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 23, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
The 1973 classic “The Exorcist,” directed by William Friedkin, is often ranked as the scariest horror movie of all time. In the story, Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn) is distraught when she sees her 12-year-old daughter Regan (played by Linda Blair) begin to act strangely, such as speaking in tongues. When Regan starts levitating, Chris is convinced that Regan might be possessed by the devil. Chris asks a local priest named Father Damien (played by Jason Miller) for help. He then requests to perform an exorcism, and the Catholic Church sends an exorcism expert Father Lankester Merrin (played by Max von Sydow) to assist in the exorcism. “The Exorcist,” which is rated R, received 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), and ended up winning two Oscars: Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing. The Cinépolis theater chain is showing “The Exorcist” (which is rated R) on October 23, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“Frankenstein” (2011 National Theatre stage production)
In 2011, Fathom Events released a screening of the U.K.’s “Frankenstein” National Theatre stage production, starring Jonny Lee Miller as Dr. Frankenstein and Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein’s Creature. Directed by Danny Boyle, this special screening (which is not rated) is getting a re-release in select U.S. cinemas on October 28, 2020. More information and ticket purchases are available here.
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
The horror legend of Jason Vorhees began with 1980’s original “Friday the 13th” film (directed by Sean S. Cunningham), a classic slasher flick where a serial killer is on the loose and murdering teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake. According to local folklore, Jason Vorhees was a boy who drowned in the lake due to bullying. Did he really die? And is he out for revenge? The movie’s cast includes Kevin Baker, Betsy Palmer, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Harry Crosby and Adrienne King. The 40th anniversary of the release of “Friday the 13th,” which is rated R, will be celebrated with a restored and remastered release in select theaters on October 4, October 6 and October 7, 2020. The screenings will include a featurettes called “Secrets Galore Behind the Gore,” with commentary by special-effects and makeup artist Tom Savini, who worked on the movie. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
The pottery-making scene in the blockbuster film “Ghost” has been widely parodied, but this 1990 film remains a fan favorite for romantic supernatural movies. “Ghost” tells the story of banker Sam Wheat (played by Patrick Swayze) and potter Molly Jensen (played by Demi Moore), a live-in couple who are deeply in love. Sam is tragically murdered, and Molly believes his spirit is contacting her, with the help of a sassy psychic named Oda Mae Brown (played by Whoopi Goldberg, in an Oscar-winning performance). The 30th anniversary of “Ghost” will be celebrated with Turner Classic Movies commentary in select theaters on October 24 and October 25, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
The original 1984 “Ghostbusters” movie is considered a horror-comedy classic. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the movie tells the story of three paranormal investigators (played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis), their first recruit (Ernie Hudson), their socialite client (played by Sigourney Weaver), her neighbor (played by Rick Moranis), and how they stumble upon ghosts and demons in New York City. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is showing “Ghostbusters” (which is rated PG), with the dates varying by location. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is considered one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and certainly one of the top films representing the “slasher” subgenre of horror flicks. The mask-wearing, knife-wielding, mute serial killer Michael Myers has become a much-parodied and imitated horror icon, but at the time that “Halloween” was released, many of the terror-inducing elements of this movie were considered groundbreaking. The slow-burn suspense of “Halloween,” which spawned numerous inferior sequels, can be fully appreciated on the big screen, considering that most modern “slasher” movies follow a formula of someone getting killed every 15 to 20 minutes. Jamie Lee Curtis, as teenage babysitter Laurie Strode, made her movie debut in “Halloween,” one of many horror films in which she’s had a starring role, including the 2018 movie sequel of the same name. Donald Pleasence also stars in the original “Halloween” as Myers’ psychiatric doctor, who doggedly tries to find his patient after Myers escapes from a psychiatric institution. The Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of the original 1978 “Halloween” (which is rated R) on October 30, 2020. More information and ticket purchases are available here.
The supernatural comedy film “Hocus Pocus,” directed by Kenny Ortega, tells the story of three ancient sister witches (played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) who are accidentally conjured up by a teenage boy (played by Omri Katz) after he and his family move from Los Angeles to Salem, Massachusetts. “Hocus Pocus,” which is rated PG, will have screenings at several movie-theater chains. AMC Theaters, Cinemark and Cinépolis will show “Hocus Pocus” on October 2, 2020. The screenings for Alamo Drafthouse locations will vary by location.
“The House With a Clock in Its Walls”
Based on the children’s novel written by John Bellairs, the 2018 movie “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” tells the story of an orphaned 10-year-old boy who goes to live with his uncle in a creepy hold house and finds out that the town in inhabited by witches and warlocks. Directed by Eli Roth, the movie’s cast includes Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic. The Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” (which is rated PG-13) on October 30, 2020. More information and ticket purchases are available here.
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the 2017 blockbuster “It” (also known as “It Chapter One”) is a story that features one of horror entertainment’s most terrifying clowns. When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of 13-year-old misfit kids who call themselves the Losers Club are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård), whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. The movie’s cast include Jaeden Martell as Bill Denbrough; Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom; Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh; Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier; Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris; Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon; Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak and Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers. “It” author King has a cameo in the movie. The Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of “It” (which is rated R) on October 2, 2020. More information and ticket purchases are available here.
“It Chapter Two”
In this sequel to the 2017 horror blockbuster “It,” the members of the Losers Club once again join forces in their quest to get the evil clown Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård) out of their lives. It’s now 27 years since the Losers Club last saw Pennywise as 13-year-olds in their hometown of Derry, Maine. Pennywise is back, and the adult members of the Losers Club reunite to do battle against him. The cast of “It Chapter Two” includes Jessica Chastain as the adult Beverly, James McAvoy as the adult Bill, Bill Hader as the adult Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as the adult Mike, Jay Ryan as the adult Ben, James Ransone as the adult Eddie, and Andy Bean as the adult Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the role of Pennywise. The Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of “It Chapter Two” (which is rated R) on October 2, 2020, with tickets available here.
“Jack-O” (RiffTrax version)
RiffTrax comedy stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett give their running commentary during the 1995 campy horror flick “Jack-O.” In this R-rated movie (directed by Steve Latshaw), Jack the Pumpkin man is an evil warlock who rises from the grave to seek revenge on the Kelly family, who are descendants of the man who buried Jack years ago. The movie’s cast includes Linnea Quigley, Maddisen K. Krown, Gary Doles and Ryan Latshaw. The RiffTrax version of “Jack-O” is set for select theaters on October 21, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
In the 2016 film “Lights Out,” a young woman named Rebecca and her kid brother Martin experience a terrifying evil spirit when the lights go out. They begin to suspect that it has something to do with their mother. Directed by David F. Sandberg (in his feature-film debut), the movie’s cast includes Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Alexander DiPersia and Maria Bello. “Lights Out,” which is rated PG-13, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 9, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Lost Boys”
This 1987 comedic horror film is about a group of teenagers who discover that a gang of teenage vampires has invaded the California beach city where they live. Directed by Joel Schumacher, “The Lost Boys” has a cast that includes Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Gertz, Dianne Wiest and Edward Hermann. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have various screenings of “The Lost Boys,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“Memories of Murder”
Originally released in 2003, Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho’s “Memories of Murder,” which is based on true events, follows the hunt for a serial rapist and murderer who has been targeting a small province in 1980s South Korea. Three detectives are at the center of trying to solve the case: Park Doo-man (played by Song Kang-ho), the leader of the trio; Cho Yong-koo (played by Park Kim Roi-ha), his aggressive cop partner; and Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung), the youngest of the trio. (In real life, the killer was caught in 2019.) The rerelease of “Memories of Murder,” which is rated R, arrives in select theaters on October 19 and October 20, 2020. These screenings will include an exclusive prerecorded conversation with filmmakers Bong Joo Ho and Edgar Wright, the director of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Baby Driver.” More information and ticket purchases can be found here. The VOD release of “Memories of Murder” is on October 27, 2020.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”
The 1993 animated musical “The Nightmare Before Christmas”—produced and conceived by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick—tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who accidentally goes through a portal to Christmas Town. When he returns to Halloween Town to celebrate Christmas and share his knowledge about Christmas, chaos ensues. Danny Elfman, who wrote the film’s songs and score, provided the singing voice of Jack. The voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which is rated PG, will have screenings at several movie-theater chains. AMC Theaters and Cinépolis will show “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on October 16, 2020. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have a costume element for their screenings of the movie, which vary by location.
In this 2018 prequel in “The Conjuring”/'”Annabelle” universe, “The Nun” tells the story of a Catholic priest sent by the Vatican to investigate a nun’s suicide in Romania. Directed by Corin Hardy, the movie’s cast includes Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Charlotte Hope, Ingrid Bisu and Bonnie Aarons. “The Nun,” which is rated R, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 2, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
In the original 1982 “Poltergeist” movie, the Freeling family, which has three underage kids, has moved into a new house, where strange things starts happening and the youngest child mysteriously disappears. Directed by Tobe Hooper, “Poltergeist” has a cast that includes Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Dominique Dunne, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins and Zelda Rubinstein. The 2015 “Poltergeist” remake flopped with critics and audiences, unlike the original “Poltergeist.” The 1982 “Poltergeist” film, which is rated PG, will have screenings at AMC Theaters on October 16, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
The most influential film ever directed by Alfred Hitchcock is 1960’s “Psycho,” a horror masterpiece that is considered the “grandfather” of slasher movies. In the beginning of the movie, embezzler Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) is on the run from the law with stolen cash, when she checks into the creepy and isolated Bates Motel, whose caretaker is Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins). What happened to Marion in her motel room’s shower became one of the most iconic horror scenes in movie history. It isn’t long before Marion’s sister Lila Crane (played by Vera Miles) goes looking for Marion, and she also ends up at the Bates Motel, where Lila discovers how dangerous the Bates Motel really is. “Psycho” spawned the 1983 sequel “Psycho II” (starring Perkins and Miles) and director Gus Van Sant’s 1998 “Psycho” remake, both of which got mixed-to-negative reviews. The “Bates Motel” TV series, which was on the air from 2013 to 2017, was the origin story of a teenage Norman Bates. The 60th anniversary of “Psycho” will be celebrated with an uncut version of the movie (and Turner Classic Movies commentary) in select theaters on October 11 and October 12, 2020. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
This 1996 classic film features a masked serial killer on the loose with an ultimate target: high schooler Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell). The psycho also likes to call his victims before he murders them. Directed by Wes Craven, “Scream” has a cast that includes, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich and Drew Barrymore. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have various screenings of “Scream,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“Shaun of the Dead”
The 2004 horror comedy “Shaun of the Dead” shows what happens when two best friends (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) try to survive during a zombie apocalypse in England. Directed by Edgar Wright (who co-wrote the screenplay with Pegg), the movie’s cast includes Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have various screenings of “Shaun of the Dead,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Shining” is director Stanley Kubrick’s version of the Stephen King novel, which tells the story of an aspiring writer named Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), who takes a job as a live-in caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain area during the hotel’s off-season. He moves there with his wife Wendy Torrance (played by Shelley Duvall) and kindergarten-aged son Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd), who shows signs of having psychic abilities. The hotel cook Dick Hallorann (played by Scatman Crothers) notices Danny’s unusual abilities, which Dick calls “the shining.” When Danny’s visions become more menacing and Jack starts descending into madness, it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. The 40th anniversary of the release of “The Shining,” which is rated R, will be celebrated with Turner Classic Movies commentary in select theaters on October 17, October 20 and October 22, 2020. More information and ticket purchases from can be found here. In addition, the Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of “The Shining” on October 16, 2020, with tickets available here.
“Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight”
The 1995 film “Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight” features a serial killed named The Collector who’s on a murderous rampage. Directed by Ernest Dickerson, the movie’s cast includes Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett, Brenda Bakke, C.C.H. Pounder, Dick Miller and Thomas Haden Church. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have screenings of “Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”(1974)
The original 1974 film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” introduced horror audiences to the chainsaw-wielding serial killer Leatherface. In the movie, a group of unlucky young people end up being targeted by cannibals. Directed by Tobe Hooper (who co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Henkel), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” cast includes Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have screenings of the 1974 version of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.
“The Thing” (1982)
In the original 1982 version of “The Thing,” which is rated R, 12 researchers at a remote Antarctic research station discover a deadly alien that had been buried in the snow for over 100,000 years. Directed by John Carpenter, the movie’s cast includes Kurt Russell R.J. MacReady, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis and Thomas G. Waites. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have screenings of the 1982 version of “The Thing,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.