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Halloween Head-Start: September Horror Movies

September starts the countdown to Halloween in my world.

I mean, why wait until October 1st to start stocking up on monster cereals and candy corn?  Although every day is Halloween, I get particularly sentimental by overloading on Horror films classic and new until the 31st of October.

Hollywood’s been on to September as good box-office for early-bird Horror releases, especially more so in the past decade. This year’s releases include the good-buzz indie Honeymoon on September 12th and the much anticipated Kevin Smith shocker Tusk on September 19th.

While it’s not unusual for the studios to fight it out over supreme release dates for horror franchises in October, it is unusual when a genre film better suited around Halloween becomes a hit.

According to Box Office Mojo, here are the top US September releases since 1982:

 Crocodile Dundee
 Fatal Attraction
 Hotel Transylvania
 Rush Hour
 American Beauty 

Yes, that Hotel Transylvania.  Believe it or not, this animated creeper took in $42 Million in its opening weekend the last week of September 2012.  It could go on to gross over $350 Worldwide in total.

Other animated films with similar head starts like Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (released September 16, 2005) or Igor (released September 19, 2008) didn’t fair as well at the box office, and are arguably superior films.
Last year’s Insidious Chapter 2 (released September 13th) proved you could open an anticipated Horror sequel over a month in advance of Halloween.

It also proved good for James Wan, whose The Conjuring broke records as the highest grossing non-sequel horror hit only two months prior.

But here are some other films you may not have realized had September release dates.

All are appropriate for pre-Halloween viewing…

Paranormal Activity 

Prior to its mid-October wide-release hysteria, audiences in select cities began the buzz on September 25, 2009.

With the Saw franchise out of the way by the third film in the series, nobody wanted to go near the franchise’s hold on Halloween week.

Oddly enough, the most recent sequel released on January 3rd of this year.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween 

Though it was well out of theaters by the time the actual holiday rolled around, the Rob Zombie take on the classic film opened on August 31, 2007.

Just in time for Saw IV to outgross it.

By the way, October’s other major horror release 30 Days of Night, wasn’t helped by its more appropriate release date.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Saw II set that franchise in motion and was the top grossing film of October 2005.

Smart for Sony to set September 9th for this interesting modern take on demonic possession.  Worldwide, it pulled in nearly $150 Million (it was made for only $11 Million).   

The Last Exorcism from Lionsgate would also release in early September for an equally impressive return on investment ($67 Million Worldwide gross from a $1.8 Million budget).

The Exorcist: Director’s Cut

Every respectable Horror fan remembers the disappointing Blair Witch Project 2 ruining their Halloween of 2000, but it was more than made up for with the September 22nd release of the restored vision of one of the genre’s best.

The theatrical return of everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed, pea-soup spewing girl was September’s second biggest hit that year, and, in-fact, outgrossed the Blair Witch sequel.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – September 29, 1995
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – September 13, 1991

Both of these were the sixth entry in popular horror franchises, and both had fairly disappointing returns at the box office that would cool their respective studio’s jets for at least a little while. Freddy a little less so. This “final” Nightmare on Elm Street story outgrossed every film in October of its release year.


As you’ll recall from earlier, the biggest grossing September release since 1982 was 1987’s Fatal Attraction.

Released in theaters the same day (September 18, 1987) was the modern classic from Clive Barker, Hellraiser.  The film did outgross the October genre release that year (John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness), but its sequel had the strange unfortunate release date of Christmas the following year.  Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth would go back to the September model, and gross more at the box-office than its predecessor.

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