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Attack of the scary movies

Local theaters are screening lots of Halloween horror

You're in the dark, your nerves are frayed, you're on the edge of your seat and you're about ready to jump out of your skin. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone . . . or something . . . grabs you by the arm, causing you to spill your drink on the person in front of you.

There's really nothing like seeing a scary movie during the Halloween season in a theater with 400 strangers.

Most of us will never forget the first time we saw "Psycho," "The Exorcist," "Jaws," "Alien," "Halloween" — or for younger moviegoers, perhaps it's "Psycho IV: The Beginning" or "Exorcist: The Beginning" or "Jaws The Revenge" or "Alien vs. Predator" or "Halloween: Resurrection."

There's just something about the crisp chill of fall that makes a scary movie even scarier.

And there are plenty of horror films (most of them rated R) playing all around the valley this Halloween weekend, many of them quite scary . . . and we're not even counting "Surviving Christmas."

CLASSICS

"The Phantom of the Opera," Peery's Egyptian Theater, Ogden. This is, of course, the 1925 original, starring Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. (Tonight and Saturday with live musical accompaniment.)

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," Tower Theatre. A two-decades-plus tradition continues as the Tower presents this 1975 horror-musical-comedy, undeniably the most popular cult movie of all time and the ultimate audience-participation event. (Screening Friday-Sunday; don't forget to bring a raincoat.)

"The Exorcist," Brewvies. This 1973 mega-hit is considered by many to be the scariest movie of all time. (A one-week run; Brewvies is open to patrons 21 years or older.)

"28 days later . . . ," Brewvies. The "cinema pub" is also bringing back this creepy 2003 zombie flick. (A one-week run.)

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," Salt Lake City Library. The library's free series of horror movies wraps up with this 1980 cult favorite. (Tonight.)

WANNABE CLASSICS

"Shaun of the Dead," easily the best of the current crop of horror films still in theaters, a zombie film that is as funny as it is gory, and already gaining cult status.

"Saw" is for those who enjoy the serial-killer genre, a 2004 Sundance Film Festival hit that is opening today (reviewed on Page W5).

"The Grudge," last week's biggest box-office hit, is a remake of a Japanese ghost thriller.

"Ju-On," the original film on which "The Grudge" is based, opens today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas downtown (reviewed on Page W5).

"Alien vs. Predator," "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid," "Exorcist: The Beginning," "Resident Evil: Apocalypse,""Suspect Zero"and "The Village" are all playing in local sub-run theaters, or "dollar houses."

THOSE WHO DON'T want to brave theaters this weekend can also check out the many new DVD releases in rental stores, including the director's cut of "Hellboy," the "Dawn of the Dead" remake and multi-film collections of "The Invisible Man," "The Mummy" and "The Creature From the Black Lagoon."

Of special note is the new release of "Ed Wood," director Tim Burton's film biography of the schlocky 1950s filmmaker of the title (played to the hilt by Johnny Depp), which is especially worth seeing for Martin Landau's Oscar-winning supporting performance as Bela Lugosi, the legendary who created "Dracula" for the big screen.

Landau is so good he's scary.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com