Fright or slight? We rate the new Halloween flicks. We tell you whether ''Ghost Ship,'' ''The Ring,'' and ''Below'' are worth your horror-holiday dollars
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Naomi Watts, The Ring
Credit: The Ring: Merrick Morton

Fright or slight? We rate the new Halloween flicks

Not counting the Hannibalistic ”Red Dragon,” movie studios are offering three new horror choices in honor of Halloween: ”Ghost Ship,” ”Below,” and ”The Ring.” We shivered through all three to find the scariest choice for your holiday movie dollars. Read on to see what we think, but beware — SPOILERS lie ahead.

Image credit: The Ring: Merrick Morton

The Ring

We rate the new Halloween flick ”The Ring”

Stars a haunted… videotape.

Scariest moment There are a lot of them. Our two picks are a startling flash cut to the caved-in face of a dead victim, and the scene where the ghostly villain steps out of a television screen and into reality.

Grossest moment Star Naomi Watts’ coughing fit brings up a thick, nearly foot-long chunk of hair — she drags it out of her throat, inch by inch.

Sample dialogue ”You weren’t supposed to HELP her, mommy!”

Creepy children? Two. One is Watts’ ‘”Sixth Sense”-style psychic son; the other is the film’s villain, the single most evil little girl since ”The Exorcist” (not counting the Olsen twins’ early work).

Overall spook rating Nine out of 10 skulls. Unlike the movie’s evil videocassette (ghosts apparently haven’t mastered DVDs yet), watching ”The Ring” won’t kill you — but it might keep you awake for awhile.

Ghost Ship

We rate the new Halloween flick ”Ghost Ship”

Stars a haunted… long-lost Italian cruise ship.

Scariest moment Star Julianna Margulies opens a closet door — and discovers the nasty, rotting skeleton of a little girl hanging in a noose.

Grossest moment This may be the most gleefully repugnant scene of the whole year: A sharp, tightly wound steel cable snaps, and rips across the ship’s packed ballroom — neatly slicing 50 or so people in half. We see intestines, and a guy’s head split in half. Sweet!

Sample dialogue ”I think I saw something I couldn’t possibly have seen — I think I saw a little girl.”

Creepy children? Yup — see above. (But she turns out be the movie’s only friendly ghost) .

Overall spook rating Six out 10 skulls. Though it gets points for its cheerful gore, ”Ghost Ship” is ultimately more ridiculous than terrifying.

Image credit: Below: Richard Blanshard

Below

We rate the new Halloween flick ”Below”

Stars a haunted… World War II submarine.

Scariest moment Two: A corpse suddenly begins to talk; any scene in which Zach Galifianakis — former host of VH1’s ill-fated ”Late World” — appears.

Grossest moment After a devastating explosion racks the sub, the survivors have to walk over the bodies of their shipmates. But like the rest of ”Below,” it’s not truly graphic.

Sample dialogue ”The malediction needs satisfaction to escape the netherworld.”

Creepy children? None (remember, it’s set in a submarine) .

Overall spook rating Four out 10 skulls. For all its strong performances and visual elegance, ”Below” is too mannered and restrained to be truly scary. It’s like PBS’ version of a horror movie.

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