Entertainment

Halloween Flicks: Don’t You Love Good Fright?

Written by E. Denise Billups

Hallow’s Eve is near, and Hollywood has unleashed fright for their devoted fans. Every autumn, numerous horror movies hit the theater, a profitable practice for popular movie franchises—Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Halloween, Nightmare on Elms Street, and more. This year is no exception as we see with the return of Amityville: The Reawakening, Cult of Chucky, and Leatherface. The low cost of producing horror films is lucrative for Hollywood. On a small investment, horror films generate a return on investment (ROI) greater than 2,000 percent. For example:

  • Paranormal Activity (2009) cost $450,000 and grossed $89 million, a 19,756% ROI.
  • Insidious cost $1,500,000 and grossed $35 million, a ROI of 2,230%.
  • Friday the 13th cost $500,000 and grossed $60 million, a rate of return of 11,900%.
  • Halloween (1978) cost $325,000 and grossed a whopping $70 million, an ROI of 21,438%.

What does this say about horror fans? They love a good fright.

Thrill-Seekers

So why do some people, more than others, like a witless scare and seek out frightening experiences—goosebumps, hair-raising, heart-palpitating, jump-out-of-your-skin, fight-or-flight sensation? Simple, they crave the adrenaline rush. When fear stresses our body, the amygdala (part of the temporal lobe of our brain) overrides conscious thought, diverting energy to the immediate threat. This, in turn, floods neurochemicals and hormones into our body causing an increase in heart and breathing rates and produces a fight-or-flight response. More neurotransmitters release into the bloodstream as the fight-or-flight sensation dwindles. These feel-good hormones create an aroused state or euphoria—a resulting natural high. Some may argue, not!

According to Dr. Glenn Walters in the Journal of Media Psychology (2004) three factors make horror films alluring:

  • Tension (it causes shock, suspense, gore, and terror)
  • Relevance (personal and cultural relevance, the fear of death, etc.), and
  • Unrealism (what’s seen on the screen isn’t real)

Typically, the demographics for horror movie enthusiasts are:

  • Teenage boys and young men
  • Lower empathy people (Lovers of  gory movies)
  • Higher empathy people (Lovers of psychological thrillers)

Hollywood knows its horror fan’s demographics and crafts successful marketing campaigns to keep them coming back year-after-year.

Old and New Horror Flicks for Halloween 2017

For the adrenaline seeking types, a night with a scary movie is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween, preferably with a partner or group friends to enjoy the chills and thrills. A wide-array of streaming options in recent years—Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, and regular cable channels—offer a thirty-one-day blood-fest of nonstop horror. Whether you love a supernatural ghost, an evil witch, bloodthirsty vampire, werewolves or zombies, the selection is broad from classics to more recent releases found on several media platforms. Below are old and new flicks perfect for a spooky Hallow’s Eve.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Ira Levin

A young couple moves into an apartment, and immediately, they’re befriended by strange neighbors. When Rosemary becomes mysteriously pregnant, she becomes paranoid about her unborn child’s safety. Her painful pregnancy causes worries to escalate about mysterious neighbors with a history of Satanism.

The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Writer: William Peter Blatty

A woman seeks the help of a priest when her daughter, Regan is possessed by an entity claiming to be the devil himself.  This is perhaps one of the scariest movies. Caution watch with company.

The Shining (1980)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Steven King

Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King’s best-seller when a man takes a winter position as a caretaker of an isolated hotel where evil entities turn the father murderous. His psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

The Others (2001)

Director: Alejandro Amenabar

Writer: Alejandro Amenabar

A woman lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children. When the children reveal they’ve seen ghosts, she dismisses it but soon starts seeing things, things that aren’t as they appear. An unexpected twist will leave you stunned.

The Descent (2005)

Director: Neil Marshall

Writer: Neil Marshall

Six women explorers set off on an expedition in an unmapped cave in North Carolina when it goes terribly wrong. Trapped underground with no map to find their way out, they soon learn they are not along but stuck with a breed of flesh-eating predators. They fight to the death for survival.

The Babadook (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

An Australian gothic thriller about a young widow distressed by her husband’s violent death, her troubled son, and a weird children’s book presaging something sinister has escaped from the book into her home.

Get Out (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele

Writer: Jordon Peele

An interracial couple, a young black photographer and his white girlfriend, set out for a weekend trip to meet the girlfriend’s parents in their secluded estate in the woods. Before long, the boyfriend senses something is wrong with the family. Swiftly, the weekend turns nightmarish.

New Movie Releases 2017

The Lodgers (September 8, 2017)

Director: Brian O’Malley

Writer David Turpin

A Gothic ghost story about orphaned twins Edward and Rachel who share a crumbling evil manor in 1920’s rural Ireland. As the movie unfolds, the twins face a horrible truth about their family’s ghostly tormentors.

Flatliners (Released September 29, 2017)

Director: Niels Arden Opley

Writers: Peter Filardi and Ben Ripley

This is not a sequel to the 1990 movies but a remake of the previous version. Medical students explore near-death experiences by stopping their hearts and reviving it swiftly, hoping to find insights about the afterlife. But they trigger something unexpected. Tormenting childhood nightmares and past sins they must repent. To stop the torment, they must delve deeper into the death experience to find a cure.

Curse of the Witch’s Doll (October 2017)

Director: Lawrence Fowler

Writer: Lawrence Fowler

Adeline Gray’s attempt to escape bombing leads her to a derelict, creepy manor in the woods. When Adeline’s young daughter goes missing, a series of inexplicable events lead her to believe a haunted doll holds a vengeful soul; the soul of a murdered Witch. As Adeline’s desperate search continues, she soon realizes she too is at the mercy of The Witch’s Doll.

Dementia 13 (October 6, 2017)

Director: Richard LeMay

Writer: Dan DeFilippo, Justin Smith

This is a remake of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1963 movie. A vengeful ghost, a mysterious killer, and a family brimming with secrets, all converge in one night of terror.

The School (October 2017)

Director: Storm Ashwood

Writer: Storm Ashwood

A doctor, looking for her missing child, awakens in an abandoned school with supernatural horrors. To survive and find her missing son, she must face her own demons.

The Crucifixion (October 6, 2017)

Director: Xavier Gens

Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes

When Nicole meets Father Anton, inexplicable events occur. Soon the two believe the priest has lost the battle with a demon.

Better Watch Out (October 6, 2017)

Director: Chad Peckover

Writers: Zack Kahn, Chris Peckover

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion.

Amityville: The Reawakening (October 12, 2017)

Director: Frank Khalfoun

Writer: Frank Khalfoun

Unaware of the gruesome history of a haunted house, a single mom moves in with her three children to discover the evil that resides inside.

Happy Death Day (October 13, 2017)

Director: Christopher Lobdell

Writer: Scott  Lobdell

A college student relives the day of her murder with details of her terrifying death until she discovers her killer’s identity.

The Snowman (October 19, 2017)

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Writers: Jo Nesbo, Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan,

Detective Harry Hole investigates a victim who disappeared during the first snow of winter. Fearing an elusive serial killer is active again, he and a partner connect decades-old cold cases to the new one, hoping to outwit an unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

Leatherface (October 20, 2017)

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury

Writers: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Seth M. Sherwood

A lawman, out for revenge, pursues a teenage Leatherface who’s escaped a mental hospital with a kidnapped nurse, taking her on a road trip from hell.

Cult of Chucky (October 24, 2017)

Director: Don Mancini

Writer: Don Mancini

Chucky returns, and with the help of his former wife he settles old scores and terrorizes his human victims.

Jigsaw (October 27, 2017)

Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Writers: Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg

John Kramer, known as Jigsaw has been dead for ten years, but when bodies start turning up with unique gruesome markings, all evidence points to Jigsaw’s resurrection.

 

Happy Halloween!!

 

Tags: Horror Movie Genre, Hollywood Return on Investments, Halloween Flicks, Fight-or-Flight Response, Adrenaline Rush, Psychology of Fear

About the author

E. Denise Billups

An author with a rare mixture of Southern and Northern charm, E. Denise Billups was born in Monroeville Alabama and raised in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance. She has an MBA in Finance and she's a prospective Ph.D. candidate. A burgeoning author of fiction, she's published three suspense novels, Kalorama Road, Chasing Victory, By Chance, and two supernatural short stories, The Playground, and Rebound. An avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, she was greatly influenced by authors of that genre. When she's not writing or reading, you can generally find her training for road races and marathons. She's a fitness fanatic who loves physical challenges of all types (running, biking, yoga, dance, and more) a discipline she uses to facilitate the creative writing process.