These films will haunt you all the way through Halloween

COURTESY PHOTO
COURTESY PHOTO

From zombie stalkers and demented scientists to fanged mermaids and possessed dolls: there are plenty of scary figures ready, willing and able to shred your nerves and haunt your dreams.

In the run-up to Halloween, it’s easy to find terrifying treats to stream or buy. Below are some newly released – or re-released – stunners guaranteed to creep you out .

Cue ‘em up.

The Devil’s Candy (2017, Shout Factory, unrated, $23) For his belated follow-up to the horror hit “The Loved Ones,” director Sean Byrne has come up with the spooky saga of a metal-loving artist (Ethan Embry) who, along with his wife (Shiri Appleby) and teenage daughter (Kiara Glasco), moves into a home in the country that once belonged to a serial killer (Pruitt Taylor Vince.) At first it seems as if the story will concern Embry’s possession by Satan but Byrne keeps springing surprises. “The Devil’s Candy” will make you jump out of your seat as you root for this good, if unconventional, family to find a way to turn the tables on evil.

It Stains The Sands Red (2017, Dark Sky, unrated, $25) A zombie film like no other, this gore-drenched entry doubles as a surprisingly moving character study of a Vegas dancer named Molly (Brittany Allen) who finds herself stranded in the middle of the desert with a very persistent zombie (Juan Riedinger) on her tail. Struggling to survive on a limited water supply, Molly must hike 30 miles to an airfield in hopes of escaping into Mexico. “It Stains The Sands Red” is deceptively simple but it keeps you on the edge of your seat thanks to writer/director Colin Minihan’s ability to put you in Molly’s shoes as she battles zombies, rapists and her own inner demons.

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The Island of Doctor Moreau (1977, Olive, PG, $25) The second adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel isn’t as good as the original “Island of Lost Souls” (1933) but it’s a whole lot better than the Marlon Brando edition from 1996. Michael York stars as a sailor who washes up on an isolated island in the Pacific where he’s rescued by a demented scientist (Burt Lancaster.) There’s a few wobbly plot twists but director Don Taylor draws expert performances from his cast, particularly Lancaster, York and Richard Basehart who brings real pathos to one of Moreau’s hybrid animal/human creations.

The Lure (2017, Criterion, unrated, $30) From Poland’s Agnieszka Smoczynska comes a wiggy feminist spin on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” The movie centers on two flesh-eating mermaid sisters (Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska) who are drawn ashore and offered stardom in a sleazy nightclub in 1980s Poland. But trouble brews after one of them falls for a human guitar player. Part horror movie, part coming-of-age fairy tale and part synth-fueled musical, “The Lure” couldn’t be any more bonkers if it tried. But give it a chance because it ranks among the year’s most deliciously intoxicating – and spooky - treats.

Cult Of Chucky (2017, Universal, R, $25) Even when it goes off the rails with the appearance of one too many Chuckys, the seventh installment in the “Child’s Play” series remains a bloody good time. Primarily set in a snowbound asylum for the criminally insane, “Cult” begins with Nica (Fiona Dourif) wigging out at the appearance of a Good Guy doll provided by her shady therapist. In no time, Chucky begins slaughtering everyone in the facility. Written and directed by Don Mancini, the movie looks good, moves well and does a superb job balancing laughs and fears.

Night of the Living Dead: 50th Anniversary (1967, Mill Creek, unrated, $15 ) Directed by George A. Romero, this black-and-white masterpiece is a precursor to nearly every zombie movie that’s come in its blood-drenched, gore-oozing wake. Now on Blu-ray, the movie pivots on a woman named Barbara (Judith O’Dea) who, after watching her brother be eaten by the undead takes refuge at what seems to be an abandoned farm house. After being joined by a stranger (Duane Jones), Barbara barricades herself inside the house, only to discover there’s five more people hiding out in the basement. Get ready for a movie full of terrifying twists.

Sleepy Hollow: The Complete Fourth Season (2017, Fox, unrated, $30) Even though this series was cancelled, the final batch of episodes is still full of eerie delights, particularly an unkillable villain named Dreyfuss (Jeremy Davies). Surprisingly smart and funny, the show inspired by Washington Irving’s supernatural classic finds the Revolutionary War-era Icabod Crane (Tom Mison) and the Headless Horseman revived in Upstate New York. After many showdowns, it takes a deal with the devil for good to triumph over evil. Now, that’s scary.

Demonic (2017, Lionsgate, R, $20) A twist ending helps turn this thriller from producer James Wan (“The Conjuring”) into something worthy of a watch. Frank Grillo and Norristown native Maria Bello star as a police detective and psychologist, respectively, who are called in to help solve the grisly slayings of three amateur ghost hunters at an abandoned house. Thanks to a unique structure, nifty performances and that shockeroo ending, “Demonic” possesses the power to get under your skin.