With the "Scream" movies making horror hip again, the studios are dusting off their old hockey masks and chainsaws

and bringing back ghosts of slasher-movies past in “Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode” (September), “Carrie 2” (October) and “Child’s Play 4: Bride of Chucky” (October).

Teenagers, of course, are the target audience. Though today’s teens weren’t born when Michael Myers logged his first kill in 1978, they’re very familiar with the killer hall-of-fame. “They’ve grown up watching these movies on home video,” says Don Mancini, who has written all four “Child’s Play” films. “Now that there are new ones coming out, these kids are tantalized.”

Young horror fans already have plenty of maniacs to call their own. “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” each have launched sequels (“I Still Know,” the sequel, will be out in November). And next year the blood will fly in “Urban Legends,” with Jared Leto, and “Disturbing Behavior,” with Katie Holmes (from “Dawson’s Creek”). But for studio executives, a box-office killer with a track record is much more reassuring. “They’re going with the old franchise titles now because they have recognizable names and theatrical value,” says Michael Gingold, managing editor of the horror fan magazine, Fangoria.

Horror fans generally hold no grudge against a series, even after it degenerates into cheesy sequels that don’t live up to the original. For example, “Halloween” seemed to burn out around episode 3, but its fans have been holding out for a rebirth. “More than any other franchise,” says Gingold. “That’s the one our readers are interested in.”

Though many horror remakes have starred an anonymous firing line of neophyte teens, the new editions will feature bigger-name actors, which can only increase the ticket sales. Former scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is not only returning to her lead role in “Halloween,” but she reportedly initiated the sequel herself. “Bride of Chucky” features Jennifer Tilly and John Ritter, and “Carrie 2” will star Amy Irving, who hopefully learned her lesson about mixing pig blood and telekinetic outsiders when she starred as Carrie’s nemesis 22 years ago. “In the late ’80s and early ’90s, for actors higher on the Hollywood totem pole, there was a stigma attached to this stuff. Now it’s completely the opposite,” says Mancini.

Studios are proudly brandishing their gore instead of hiding it in their straight-to-video collection. Chucky is getting a public thank-you from its distributor, Universal, which is planning a massive “wedding” for him and his evil doll bride at its theme parks. Now that these killers are getting respect, all we need is a smarter class of victims: ones who won’t be so tempted to see what’s in … that … closet ….

Urban Legends: Final Cut
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