The horror! Halloween season delivers onscreen screams in Memphis. Here's what's playing.

For better or verse (if the verse is by Edgar Allan Poe), Halloween has evolved — like Christmas — from a specific date on the calendar to a weeks-long season.

That is not good news if you're not a fan of your neighbor's animatronic chattering skeleton display. But it is good news if you enjoy sharing the communal screams and laughs with an audience.

As usual, Memphis venues in October will offer what Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel called a "bountiful wine-press" of scary movies, with titles ranging from Karloff classics to new horror hopefuls ("Terrifier 2," anyone?). So get out a pencil and your appointment book, because here is a list of Halloween-inspired public screenings set for this month.

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"Smile" — at most theaters: With superheroes in hibernation until "Black Adam" arrives Oct. 21, horror remains the hope of the box office. This spooky story about a psychiatrist haunted by ghoulish grins scared up enough customers to open at No. 1 last week in theaters, where it joins "Barbarian," "The Invitation" and "Beast" (all still on Memphis screens).

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"Vesper" — at the Malco Studio on the Square: A 13-year-old girl (Raffiella Chapman) struggles to survive in a poisoned post-eco-disaster landscape in this science-fiction drama that is not exactly a horror movie but nonetheless envisions a nightmarish future for good ol' Planet Earth.

"The Inhabitant" — Opens Oct. 7 at the Hollywood 20 Cinema. Leslie Bibb and Dermot Mulroney star in this made-in-Tulsa indie shocker in which "a series of supernatural events reveal a dark truth behind a tormented teenager," according to the Internet Movie Database synopsis.

"Terrifier 2" 7 p.m. Oct. 6-9, Collierville, DeSoto and Paradiso: I haven't seen "Terrifier," but even without my patronage that 2016 gorefest apparently was successful enough as a streaming option and home-media release to justify a four-night run for this sequel from returning writer-director Damien Leone and his title menace, Art the Clown, a demonic killer (played by David Howard Thornton) with a ghastly greasepaint face.

"Halloween Ends" Oct. 14, local theaters: The Michael Myers sagas come to a conclusion (for now) as star Jamie Lee Curtis and director David Gordon Green wrap up their trilogy, which has enriched Blumhouse Productions even as it has depressed property values in Haddonfield, Illinois.

Will Michael Myers (seen here in "Halloween Kills") really meet his end in "Halloween Ends"?
Will Michael Myers (seen here in "Halloween Kills") really meet his end in "Halloween Ends"?

"Prey for the Devil" Oct. 28, local theaters: A young nun (Jacqueline Byers) becomes the first woman to be trained as a devil-evictor at a new chain of Catholic Church exorcism schools, founded "in response to a global rise in demonic possessions" (according to the Wikipedia synopsis).

Old Haunts: resurrecting a mummy and his friends, in cinemas

"The Mummy" (1932) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) 1 p.m. Oct. 1, Collierville and Paradiso: It's "Karloff the Uncanny" — as Boris was billed in the 1930s — times two in this double feature of remastered shockers from Universal, the studio that gave birth to the major mythic movie monsters of the 20th century. In the first film, Karloff rises from the tomb to wreak vengeance on the archeologists who disturbed his centuries-old slumber; in the second, Karloff's Frankenstein monster meets his potential mate and his definite match in the electrified undead person of Elsa Lanchester. Judging from the preview I saw at the Paradiso, both movies look great on the big screen; "Bride," in particular, is a must-see — the arguable apotheosis of the classic-era Hollywood horror movie from the master of the genre, director James Whale.

"Scream 2" (1997) 4 p.m. Oct. 9, 7 p.m. Oct. 10, Collierville and Paradiso: The "Ghostface" killer stabs again as Wes Craven's mystery-slasher sequel returns to theaters, in recognition of its 25th anniversary.

"Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) 3 p.m. Oct. 23, 7 p.m. Oct. 27, Collierville and Paradiso: Returning for inspiration to Stoker's 1897 novel, Francis Ford Coppola — whose "Godfather" saga chronicled a different form of Old World-birthed bloodletting — cast Gary Oldman as the infamous vampire count and Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves and Tom Waits as various opponents and victims.

"Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954) and "Phantom of the Opera" (1943) 1 p.m. Oct. 29, Collierville and Paradiso: Another double dose of Universal monsters, one who swims the depths of the murky Amazon, another who scales the heights of an elegant opera house. "Creature," in glorious black-and-white, was the last of the studio's iconic sequel-spawning monsters; "Phantom," meanwhile, showcases the mellifluous voice of Claude Rains and the splendid Technicolor process: The rare chiller honored by Oscar, it earned Academy Awards for Color Cinematography and Color Art Direction.

"Spirited Away" (2001), 3 p.m. Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Oct. 31, Collierville and Paradiso: Ghosts, witches, blobs and other supernatural presences haunt Hayao Miyazaki's family-friendly masterpiece, winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which returns to theaters as part of an ongoing monthly reissue series devoted to Japan's Studio Ghibli.

For tickets and more information, visit

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Crosstown Theater: Fright-tober and 'Beyond' (from a snake girl to a daffy duck)

October has been dubbed "Fright-tober" at Crosstown, with *free* kid-friendly matinees and *free* nighttime screenings of adult-oriented scare fare every Saturday. In addition, the Thursday night "Arthouse" movies (admission $5) will be spooky, too. Visit for tickets and more information. Here's the schedule:

"Hotel Transylvania" (2012) 2:30 p.m. Oct. 1: Adam Sandler is no Bela Lugosi but his animated monster comedy spawned three feature-film sequels.

"The People Under the Stairs" (1991) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1: Jordan Peele is producing a remake of this weird Wes Craven thriller that addresses gentrification and racism even as it doles out the shivers.

"Spider Baby" (1965) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6: Lon Chaney Jr. sings the unforgettable theme song to director Jack Hill's comedy-chiller, which suggests "The Addams Family" as reimagined by John Waters.

"Frankenstein" (1931) 2:30 p.m. Oct. 8: The Big Bang of the sound horror movie, with Boris Karloff as the Monster.

"The Birds" (1963) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8: Alfred Hitchcock's avian apocalypse demonstrates that a special-effects spectacle can be as emotionally devastating as it is viscerally thrilling.

"The Black Cat" (1934) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13: It's Boris Karloff vs. Bela Lugosi in director Edgar G. Ulmer's perverse Poe-pourri of satanism, necrophilia, chess and Bauhaus architecture.

"Daffy Duck's Quackbusters" (1985) 2:30 p.m. Oct. 15: When there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? How about the two Mels, Blanc and Tormé? (They both provide voices for this Looney Tunes compilation film.)

"The Shining" (1980), 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15: It also screens a week later, elsewhere (see below).

"The Beyond" (1981), The Composer's Cut 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20: The coup of the Crosstown spook season is this presentation of the new "composer's cut" of Italian director Lucio Fulci's magnum opus of spider invasion, eye trauma and infernal landscapes. Arriving just weeks after its American Cinematheque premiere in Los Angeles, this re-scoring features new and expanded music by original composer Fabio Frizzi.

"Coco" (2017) — 2:30 p.m. Oct. 22: Mexico's "Day of the Dead" tradition inspired this colorful Pixar feature about a boy who travels to the underworld to find his great-great-grandfather, a celebrated mariachi.

"Rosemary's Baby" (1968) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22: Pregnant Mia Farrow wonders "Could it be... Satan?" while director Roman Polanski ratchets the tension in what at the time was a rare big-budget studio horror movie.

"The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch" (1968) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27: A young girl is menaced by the title creeps in a surreal Japanese spine-tingler that was hard to see outside its home country until its recent "rediscovery" by American genre aficionados. Part Young Adult novel, part Gothic mystery.

"Hocus Pocus" (1993) 2:30 p.m. Oct. 29: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are comical sister witches in a Disney box-office money-loser that has become a beloved cult classic. Call it "Three Little Witches and How They Brew."

"The Return of the Living Dead" (1985) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29: Pay your respects to the late great Clu Gulager (who died Aug. 5 at the age of 93) by watching him battle zombies in this vivid horror comedy that features naked grave dancing and a decomposing revenant so gooey he is dubbed "Tarman."

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Time Warp Drive-In: boos for kids

A series devoted to cult and classic film, the "Time Warp Drive-In" program often showcases cinema that is spectacularly not appropriate for the entire family. This year, however, its traditional "Shocktober" lineup has been adjusted to be child-friendly, and given the name "Kids Shocktober Spectacular!" The Oct. 22 show starts with the stop-motion "Coraline," from 2009, followed by 1987's "The Monster Squad," in which a group of "Sandlot"-style kids meet such famous monsters as Dracula and the Wolf Man. Ending the evening is the appropriately titled "The Midnight Hour," a 1985 ABC made-for-TV movie about high-school friend who resurrect a witch; LeVar Burton and Shari Belafonte head the cast. Movies begin at dusk at the Malco Quartet Summer Drive-In at 5310 Summer. Admission is $25 per car (so fit in as many kids and friends as you can).

They did the Monster MoSH

Jack Nicholson flashes his grin and slashes his ax in director Stanley Kubrick's famous 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's "The Shining," which will be presented Oct. 22 in the accurately titled Giant Screen Theater at the Museum of Science & History (MoSH), formerly known as the Pink Palace. This "Movies & Mixers" event starts with drinks and socializing in the museum lobby at 5:30 p.m.; the movie begins at 7:15 p.m. A "Shining" art print will be supplied to each patron, while supplies last. For tickets and more information, visit

Free family frights

At 7 p.m. Oct. 27, the weekly Overton Square screens Tim Burton's creepy/funny "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), which stars Johnny Deep as the blade-fingered scion of a deceased mad scientist (Vincent Price). The movie will be shown on an outdoor screen in the so-called "Chimes Square" courtyard (named for its signature bell tower), on the south side of Madison. Meanwhile, The Shops of Carriage Crossing in Collierville also will scare up a not-too-spooky film on its outdoor screen, as its ongoing "Friday Flicks" series offers — here's that title again — "Hocus Pocus," at 6 p.m. Oct. 28.

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Indie Memphis fear festival

Running Oct. 19-24, the 25th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival has selected several movies to make you quake.

Chief among these is a 100th anniversary revival of Benjamin Christensen's silent masterpiece "Häxan," at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 21 at Playhouse on the Square. The movie will be accompanied by Memphis musicians Alex Greene and the Rolling Head Orchestra, who will perform a new score composed by Greene. A compendium of dramatized bedevilments, "Witchcraft Through the Ages" (as "Häxan" was known during its original American release) imagines satanic manifestations, blasphemous rites and other witchy activities.

You'll learn about witchcraft through the ages in "Haxan," a silent film classic that will screen during the Indie Memphis festival with a new score by Alex Greene.
You'll learn about witchcraft through the ages in "Haxan," a silent film classic that will screen during the Indie Memphis festival with a new score by Alex Greene.

Also screening Oct. 21 will be "Ghostwatch" (10:45 p.m., Circuit Playhouse), a faux live-television documentary originally broadcast by the BBC in 1992 BBC. Like Orson Welles' infamous 1938 "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast, "Ghostwatch" convinced the home audience that it was experiencing real-time authentic horror.

Oct. 21 strikes again with two programs of "After Dark" shorts (short films devoted to the unsettling and uncanny). The "Hometowner After Dark Shorts" anthology at 8 p.m. at the Studio on the Square collects eight works by local filmmakers, while the "After Dark — National Shorts" compilation at 10:45 p.m. at the Studio offers seven shriekfests of work from across the nation.

In addition, "The Civil Dead," a Slamdance slacker ghost comedy, screens at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Studio on the Square.

For Indie Memphis passes, advance tickets and more information, visit

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Halloween things to do in Memphis: Scary movies playing in October