Dance of the Dead, Nightmare Before Christmas, Body Snatchers

Haunted House lull offers chance to catch up on films fests

Most of the major Halloween attractions in Los Angeles have already opened, and the smaller ones will not open until next week. That means that, between now and October 24, you have a chance to catch some of the many horror films screening at festivals around Los Angeles. Our top pic is DANCE OF THE DEAD, screening tonight (Monday, October 13) at Screamfest in Hollywood. This is a comedy-horror film directed by Gregg Bishop (who impressed with his feature film debut THE OTHER SIDE). The premise: a bunch of nerds who couldn't get dates are the only ones left to rescue their high school class mates when the prom is invaded by zombies. It's very funny, but the film doesn't skimp on the zombie carnage, so it works as a horror film with humor, not necessarily a spoof of the genre. DANCE OF THE DEAD is the perfect crowd-pleaser for horror fans, so don't miss this rare chance to see it on the big screen. The film will not be released theatrically; its scheduled for DVD this month.

The Cinefamily's month-long horror fest at the Silent Movie Theatre continues with several cool titles, but chief among these is a double bill on Saturday, Octobe4 18 of THE BODY SNATCHERS and ISLE OF THE DEAD. Both are classy black-and-white pics from the 1940s, starring horror icon Boris Karloff and produced by Val Lewton. Lewton transformed the genre, moving away from the overt frights of Universal Studios (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLF MAN) toward a more subtle, psychological approach.  ISLE OF THE DEAD is a little uneven, but BODY SNATCHER is among Lewton's best - and among the best horror films ever made. Also worth catching: THE DEVIL RIDES OUT on Friday, October 17.

Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS starts its annual run at El Capitan Theatre on Friday, October 17. There will be an opening night filmmaker discussion panel at the 7:00pm screening. This is the third year that NIGHTMARE will be presented in 3D; although the effects are not startling (you won't see objects leaping out of the screen at you), they do an extra dimensional of realism to the startlingly beautiful stop-motion animation.