Want a good scare on Halloween night? Rent a spine-tingling movie. Here are some suggestions, accompanied by a Scaremeter Rating--10 being the scariest:
"Night of the Living Dead" (1968, Silver Screen and United Home Entertainment) may be the most horrifying film ever made. It's about flesh-eating corpses rising from the dead to attack a small group of people holed up in a farmhouse. Watching this alone is inadvisable. Scaremeter: 10.
CBS-Fox's "Alien" (1979) is considered one of the two or three most terrifying monster movies ever. You'll be properly horrified as the slimy alien slowly wipes out the crew of the spaceship. The sequel, "Aliens," by the way, is more of an action-adventure movie. Scaremeter for "Alien": 9.
OK, so it's the wrong season for Warner Video's "Black Christmas" (1975). But that doesn't take an edge off the chills generated by this story of a deranged killer hiding in the attic of a sorority house, knocking off the unfortunates who decided not to go home for the holiday. A knockout horror movie. Scaremeter: 10.
In "The Omen" (1976, CBS-Fox), a kindly couple (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick) has a baby and has a devil of time with him. It turns out that he's the anti-Christ. This one is packed with suspenseful sequences. Scaremeter: 9.
CBS-Fox's "The Fly" (1986) is noted for the gruesome, stomach-churning scenes chronicling a scientist's slow transformation into a fly. Jeff Goldblum is great as the man-fly. Scaremeter: 8.
"The Fog" (1980, Nelson Entertainment) and "The Thing" (1982, MCA), both by director John Carpenter, are first-rate horror movies. "The Fog," concerning ghosts of an ancient shipwreck who roll in with the fog, is more of a suspense tale than "The Thing," which showcases a ghastly looking creature who terrorizes a group of scientists in an isolated Arctic station. "The Thing" requires nearly as strong a stomach as "The Fly." Scaremeter for "The Fog": 10; for "The Thing": 9.
"The Howling" (1981, Nelson Entertainment) is now considered by many knowledgeable horror fans to be the best of all the werewolf movies. Dee Wallace stars as the TV reporter who stumbles into a community full of werewolves. The on-screen werewolf metamorphoses are particularly outstanding. Scaremeter: 9.
"Re-Animator" (1985, Vestron), about a scientist who can bring the dead back to life, is one of the best horror films made in the past few years. Loaded with exceptionally grisly scenes. Scaremeter: 9.
New horror releases:
New World's "Creepshow 2" (1987), which features three short "Twilight Zone"-style horror tales, has some scary moments. The first one, concerning the revenge of a wooden Indian, is relatively tame but the second, about an eerie oil slick that attacks two young couples stranded on a raft, is fairly chilling. But parts of the finale, in which a woman is terrorized by the body of a hitchhiker she's just run over, are positively hair-raising. Scaremeter: 8.
MCA's "The Wolf Man" (1941) is a bit dated but it's still a fairly frightening werewolf movie. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as the tortured guy who keeps turning into a wolf. Scaremeter: 8. MGM/UA's "Mark of the Vampire" (1935), directed by Tod Browning and starring Lionel Barrymore, is a great, atmospheric old horror movie about vampires running rampant in a small village. It co-stars Bela Legosi. The closing scene is a classic. Scaremeter: 8.
"Doctor X" (1932) and "Donovan's Brain" (1953), co-starring Nancy Reagan (then Nancy Davis), are also among the group of old horror movies just released by MGM/UA. Both are worth a look.
NEW MOVIES: Warner Video's "Lethal Weapon," directed by Richard Donner, is one of the best movies ever made in the police-thriller genre. It's also a likable buddy movie, pairing two L.A. cops--one a suicidal loner (Mel Gibson) and the other a 50-year-old black (Danny Glover) whose family life is straight out of "The Cosby Show." The ripening friendship between these two opposites is the core of the first half of this high-grossing ($65 million) film. The second half, with the cops battling drug dealers, is nearly all action, featuring several sensational set pieces. The cleverly lighted, climactic battle between the Gibson character and the icy Mr. Joshua, a brilliantly conceived villain played by Gary Busey, is a classic.