Horror Flicks: Any Time?

Once a season known for its Oscar contenders, fall has become home to young genre fare as studios push horror and comedies.

“DOA: Dead or Alive” is part of a glut of male-oriented horror films competing in the fall. New Line’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” is part of the expansion of the horror film season leading up to Halloween.

In the past, pictures such as “Saw,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Grudge” close to October 31 to pique interest. Last year, “The Fog” and “Saw II,” scheduled a couple frames apart, were able to enjoy runs alongside such prestige fare as “Capote” and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” both of which were later Oscar-nominated.

But this year, late September and October have may see mostly teen-friendly franchise pictures. “Jackass: Number Two” and “Jet Li’s Fearless” last weekend ushered in what some studio execs see as a glut of male-oriented product, with Dimension/MGM’s “School for Scoundrels” and “DOA: Dead or Alive,” New Line’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” Fox’s comedy “Borat,” Sony’s “The Grudge 2” and Lionsgate’s “Saw III” ahead.

Three years ago, when New Line’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” bowed in mid-October to a surprise $28 million, the movie had the horror scene largely to itself. This time around, the “Massacre” follow-up will open Oct. 6, just a frame ahead of “Grudge 2.” Following “Grudge” in consecutive frames come “D.O.A.,” “Saw III” and “Borat,” the raunchy comedy which could appeal to the “Jackass” set.

The reason for the onslaught is largely the success of low-budget horror franchises that have spurred production in the sector. “Slasher, horror movies are working really well,” said Jack Foley, distrib head for Focus Features and its genre division Rogue, which opened “Jet Li’s Fearless” last weekend to a No. 2 finish behind “Jackass: Number Two.”

The release dates of genre pictures can be shifted around more easily: Marketing campaigns start closer to rollout dates, and there aren’t as many chat-show bookings for stars to worry about.