It's only mid-October and already you're stuck in a Halloween DVD rut, resigned to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and movies that star silent serial killer Michael Myers.
Sure, the works of John Carpenter and the Peanuts gang are staples of this time of year. But adding a few more trick-or-treaty movies to the home-viewing docket can't hurt. Here's a handful of Halloween-inspired double features — some of which include recent DVD or Blu-ray releases, some of which were inspired by scary movies currently in theaters — designed to broaden your horizons (a little) during this season of the witch.
Admittedly, the zombie comedy is somewhat of a niche genre. But if "Zombieland" has inspired an insatiable desire for even more hilarious, walking-dead high jinks, look no further than " Shaun of the Dead," the Simon Pegg movie about two lazy British bums forced to battle the forces of evil with everything they've got, even their beloved Prince albums. Already on DVD ($13), "Shaun" made its Blu-ray debut ($30) last month. And it might pair nicely with the campy cult favorite " Night of the Creeps," which releases on DVD ($20) and Blu-ray ($25) Oct. 27 and offers space slugs, zombies and college kids dressed up in '80s formal wear. How can you go wrong there?
Speaking of horror comedies, few directors blend those genres more effectively than Sam Raimi. So surely the man merits his own Halloween double feature. Start with Raimi's latest, " Drag Me to Hell," which arrived Tuesday on DVD ($30) and Blu-ray ($40) in an unrated director's cut that promises more heapings of goofy gore in what already stood as one of 2009's most deliciously over-the-top shockers. ("Hell" also features the greatest elderly-gypsy-vs.-young-bank-teller girlfight in cinema history.)
Once you've gone to hell, jump backward in Raimi's filmography and watch his first attempt at horror hilarity, the cabin-in-the-woods classic " The Evil Dead." While you're at it, add the other flicks in that franchise — " Evil Dead II" and " Army of Darkness," both on DVD and recently issued on Blu-ray ($30) —to the gleefully goopy mix and make it a Sam Raimi marathon.
Halloween isn't just about frights. It's also a prime time to celebrate with kids, who clearly aren't exactly the target audience for "Drag Me to Hell." So what can they watch, other than that aforementioned tale about a kid with a security blanket who spends way too much time in pumpkin patches?
For starters, there's " Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie," Disney's new straight-to-DVD release ($20) featuring Tigger, Roo and the rest of the gang. Like most recent Disney-issued Pooh fare, it shares little in common with A.A. Milne's stories. And at 67 minutes, the film feels a bit long. But it's non-threatening enough to enjoy with young children without fear of inducing nightmares.
Once the tinier tots have gone to bed, feel free to dig up " Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" ($13 on DVD, $29 on Blu-ray) for the older kids. The delightfully macabre animated treat makes a nice alternative to that other perennial Burton-produced holiday favorite, "The Nightmare Before Christmas."