10 of the Best Horror Movies for Date Night

My girlfriend doesn’t really care for horror movies.

Well, hold on. I guess that’s not entirely accurate. A better way to phrase that would be: “My girlfriend doesn’t really like being frightened by horror movies.”

To most, these traits wouldn’t be deemed particularly important. But horror movies are my life. They’re one of those things people say when they’re describing me—I’m “that guy who knows a lot about horror movies,” except people are less likely to say “a lot” and more likely to substitute “everything,” or “a disturbing amount,” regardless of whether those are accurate or fair (half-truths!). Suffice it to say: The horror genre means a lot to me, to the point that I spearheaded Paste’s effort to compile the 100 greatest horror films of all time. As a result, I was mildly distraught to first learn that my significant other couldn’t enjoy them in quite the same way as I did.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. What I’ve come to discover over the last couple of years is that she by and large actually does like horror movies—provided they’re the right kind of horror movie.

What is the “right kind”? Horror-comedies are a natural fit, given that they temper their scares with humor, but you don’t want to limit yourself from ever being able to watch films that are legitimately “horror.” The rare crossover of “horror/romance” can also be effective … if you know which of those films are worth watching.

Here, then, are 10 suggestions for your next horror movie date night. I’ve focused on films that are accessible and exciting, without being the kind of thing that will give either partner nightmares. Some of them are even approved by my significant other…some maybe will be in the future. But they’re all great choices to use as a guide for many upcoming October evenings on the couch.


1. You’re Next (2011)

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Even if your significant other doesn’t watch horror movies, they’re probably familiar with the ideas and tropes of a so-called “home invasion” thriller, which is what makes Adam Wingard’s You’re Next so effective: It’s specifically designed to have audience members come to the conclusion that they know where it’s going, right before it pulls out the rug from underneath them. It focuses on a family dinner party attended by Erin (Sharni Vinson) and her fiancé (AJ Bowen), which is interrupted by the arrival of several animal-masked assailants who begin picking off members of the group—until it becomes clear our female protagonist is quite a bit more capable and resourceful than we’ve been led to assume.Australian actress Vinson is excellent as Erin, in a role that really should have catapulted her into the mainstream of American cinema. You’re Next is a taut thriller with interesting characters and plenty of bloodletting, but also a streak of grim, gallows humor, which defies tropes when it needs to and embraces them when desired. There’s a lot more going on under the hood than the viewer initially realizes, and it remains the reason, along with 2014’s The Guest, that Wingard once showed promise as one of the next great American genre movie directors.


2. Let the Right One In (2008)

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Vampire movies do tend to involve bleak romance and star-crossed lovers, but the most devastatingly sincere of those romances takes place in this Swedish film, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In, between two (apparent) children, one of whom is not what she seems. The friendship and blossoming, largely unspoken romance between 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and the strange vampire girl next door (Lina Leandersson) is equal parts touching and disturbing: Moments in the film feel painfully real, as the audience questions the nature of attachment and especially of codependence. Eli, our vampire, has been around for hundreds of years, and the film implies to some degree that she has long since evolved beyond true relationships or attachments. Rather, the men who attach themselves to her, servicing her every need as familiars, are themselves only tools for her survival, just means to an end. To be love, how reciprocal must love really be?

The performances in Let the Right One In are astounding, full of vulnerability and ugliness. Oskar is profoundly unusual for a protagonist, seeming at times to be a budding young sociopath who lacks only the courage to turn the tables and exact revenge on his equally disturbed schoolyard bullies. In that sense, perhaps he’s drawn as much to the power that Eli represents as she is. Regardless, the film is among the most thoughtful of modern vampire films, perfect for a shared bottle of wine with the significant other.

And while I’m on the subject: Although we’re recommending the original Let the Right One In, you could do much worse than Matt Reeves’ 2010 American remake, Let Me In. A very faithful adaptation that was unfairly judged next to the Swedish original, it actually addresses a few specific ideas better, and more than justifies its existence.


3. Evil Dead II (1987)

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If the first Evil Dead represents director Sam Raimi’s trademark style in its infancy, then Evil Dead II is the film when were first able to witness, no doubt, that style fully formed. Its premise is almost exactly the same as the first film’s—people head to a cabin in the woods before demonic possession runs amok—but the now self-aware Raimi simply tightens everything up in the second go-around, infusing his “sequel” with a relentless pace. Only five or ten minutes pass before the first decapitations, and from there we’re off to the races: With a pitch-perfect blend of over-the-top gore, absurdist comedy and an all-time charismatic performance by Bruce Campbell as Ash, Evil Dead II is the perfect midpoint between the (slightly) more serious tone of the original and the exaggerated, campy comedy of Army of Darkness, the final film in the series. Few flicks better convey both the darkly comedic sensibilities and joy of gory excess that were common to the horror genre in the late ’80s.

 

4. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

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Eli Craig’s Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a film to watch with your significant other after you’ve already watched something like Hatchet or the aforementioned Evil Dead II, because it’s about both the tropes of those “cabin in the woods” movies and the characters’ knowledge of those tropes. We’ve been conditioned through decades of films in the mold of The Hills Have Eyes and Deliverance to assume the worst about “backwoods country folk,” and that’s what Tucker & Daleuses to its advantage. Rather than making its group of young college kids our POV protagonists, we instead commiserate with a pair of good ole boys who are simply trying to enjoy a relaxing weekend of fishing at their “vacation home,” a run-down cabin in the woods that looks like your stereotypical Murder Shack. When the two groups cross paths, a series of steadily mounting misunderstandings and accidents result in an impressive mound of college kid bodies.

Tucker & Dale is a warm, likable horror comedy, easy on the “horror” and heavy on the comedy, that still pays homage to woodsy slasher films such as Sleepaway Camp or The Burning. Its lead characters, played by Tyler Labine and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk, are perfectly conceived and executed examples of genre tropes, while generating big laughs.


5. The Faculty (1998)

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The Faculty is one of those rare films that is much more fun to watch now than it was at the time of its release, almost 20 years ago, both as a sincere appreciation of its legitimate entertainment potential and because it stands as such a nostalgic time-capsule of late ’90s “teen horror.” Which is all to say: If you and your significant other are ’90s kids, then this is the perfect date night movie.

Just a quick perusal of the cast reveals a who’s who of stars both current and nostalgic. There are adults who survived the ’90s and early 2000s with their “movie star status” still intact: Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Elijah Wood, etc. But then there’s Josh Hartnett. Or Jordana Brewster. Or Danny Masterson. Underneath all that dying star power is a slimy “aliens masquerading as adults” sci-fi horror feature, with all the cartoonish verve you would expect from Robert Rodriguez. Although watching Scream would scratch the same sort of ’90s itch, what with its prominent dose of Matthew Lillard, you’re better off going with the less-heralded The Faculty for a source of nostalgia more genuinely surprising (and consequently enjoyable).


6. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

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What can I say: Sam Raimi movies just make for good date night material. This one is a colorful, stylish return to his roots after coming off the massive disappointment that was Spider-Man 3Drag Me to Hell is a tight, well-oiled thriller that plays like a Twilight Zone-esque moral play/parable. After Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) lets her ambition get the best of her, spiting an old woman looking for a loan extension at Brown’s bank job, the woman (actually a gypsy of some renown) lays a heavy curse on her. Within a few days, unless she can somehow reverse the process, a demon called the Lamia will appear in broad daylight and grab hold of her soul, literally dragging her to hell.

That’s all we need for this humorously mean-spirited supernatural thriller with a quirky but nuanced central performance by Lohman, but what really makes the film stand out almost a decade later is the depth of its subtext. Maybe Raimi has an all-engrossing oral fixation, but the specter of eating disorders haunts the film. Without research, it’s hard to say why the writer-director became so obsessed with the concept while plotting the story, but the themes of sustenance, and of things going in and coming out of people’s mouths throughout are too profound to ignore. Anyone who has ever dealt with an eating disorder, whether first-hand or not, in the past will likely feel a connection to these themes, even as they’re being willingly taken along on a classic shock-and-awe horror story—complete with an excellent ending.


7. Trick ’r Treat (2007)

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If you’re spending Halloween night at home with your significant other (like this year, when it falls on a Tuesday), know this: Mike Dougherty’s Trick ’r Treat is basically the ultimate Halloween night movie. So many horror films venerate particular slashers, or monsters, or characters, or settings, but Trick ’r Treat is all about respect for the holiday itself, and that gives the film a wondrously nostalgic quality. As a kid who grew up considering Halloween to be his favorite holiday, for me the film taps into a sentiment that has always been a big part of my childhood. Dougherty’s film feels like an aside from a good friend, assuring you, “I know exactly how you feel.”

Trick ’r Treat is essentially an anthology, although its stories aren’t unrelated or sequential. Rather, they the stories occur simultaneously in the same small town on Halloween night, weaving in and out of each other in unexpected ways. As one story finishes, it tends to enrich the presumed endings of previous installments, giving the audience a new perspective on events they’ve witnessed 20 or 30 minutes beforehand. Our one constant presence is Sam, the pint-sized “spirit of Halloween” whose function is to carry out messy vengeance upon those who trample over Halloween’s sacred traditions. It’s a charming, occasionally spooky film with a great ensemble cast, from Brian Cox to a pre-True Blood Anna Paquin. There’s a little something in Trick ’r Treat for everyone.


8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

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Do you love the original Scream? Then Behind the Mask might well be your new favorite horror film. Ignore the silly title, if you can—the documentary-like inclusion of the “Leslie Vernon” portion feels like it might have cost the movie wider exposure—because it’s one of the smartest meta-horror-movies of the last 20 years. If Scream dabbled in its deconstruction of slasher movie tropes, Behind the Mask attempts to literalize them: We follow a film crew tailing and interviewing a fledgling killer as he trains, preparing himself for the challenge of becoming a legendary slasher.

What follows is a meditation on the roots of slasher convention, while engaging in some of the classic questions that audiences would ask about any slasher: Why do they do what they do? How can they seemingly be in two places at once? How does a single man manage to take down a dozen teens? Behind the Mask delivers answers and splendid performances from relative unknowns, although horror fans will appreciate Robert Englund as Doc Halloran and a cameo from a pre-Walking Dead Scott Wilson.


9. American Mary (2012)

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If you know the name Katharine Isabelle, it’s probably in reference to the actress’s classic portrayal of a high school werewolf in 2000’s Ginger Snaps, which would also make an excellent addition to this list. But Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary was the star vehicle the actress must have been waiting for in the years after Ginger Snaps, a bloody, sexy dive into the rarely witnessed (in cinema, anyway) “Canadian underworld.”

The film follows an American surgical student in Canada who drops out of school and begins working degrading jobs relying upon her physical beauty rather than her medical talent. However, she soon finds her way into the illicit world of body modification, taking on clients with fantasies and desires to change themselves in ways “frowned upon” by the legitimate medical establishment. What follows is a unique thriller that revolves around questions of identity and physical representation of one’s inner self. It’s certainly the best feature film to date by indie directorial duo The Soska Sisters, who appear as a pair of vampiric, codependent clients who wish to have some of their body parts swapped and grafted onto each other’s bodies. All in all, American Mary is an icky but surprisingly heartfelt body horror thriller with a uniquely empowered female protagonist.


10. Warm Bodies (2013)

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It would be easy to cast this Nicholas Hoult “rom-zom” film aside as simple teen fluff, but Warm Bodies is more entertaining than the serious horror geek might expect, and if your significant other isn’t so fond of exploding heads or people being torn apart in typical Romero-esque fashion, this film might be exactly what you’re looking for. Hoult plays “R,” a rather morose zombie whose days are spent endlessly wandering a defunct airport with hundreds of his brethren as the last vestiges of his humanity slip further and further from memory. That is, until he sees Julie (Teresa Parker) for the first time, and his cold, dead heart inexplicably begins to beat once again. What follows is something of a “Romero and Julie” situation, as we’re combining star-crossed zombies with the threat of Julie’s dictatorial father (a “I heard there was a paycheck here to be collected” John Malkovich).

Still, the best things in Warm Bodies aren’t necessarily the romantic aspects, but the amusing camaraderie between its characters. “R” has what amounts to a zombie bro, played by Rob Corddry, and their minimalistic, coworker-esque small talk is a highlight that is nicely integrated into the plot as the other zombies begin experiencing some of the same awakenings as “R.” Likewise, Julie’s own teenage existence in a heavily gated, walled survivalist community is the sort of thing you don’t often get a chance to see in more serious, horror-centric zombie fiction. All in all, Warm Bodies is a pleasant surprise that will appeal to the romantic comedy enthusiast and the zombie buff in equal measure.

 

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and horror guru.

Can “Useless” Things Be Valuable?

Call us sentimental, but there’s something about holding onto so-called “useless” things that brings us a surprising amount of joy. Some things, like your high school playbills or a flower from your first date, have no purpose but you simply can’t bear to part with them. There’s nothing wrong with keeping small, treasured items; that’s why they’re called keepsakes, after all. But what are we supposed to do with them all? We tapped our organization expert – Marie Kondo – to help us find the value of having a little bit of (well-organized) clutter…

From Marie Kondo

“I’m not sure this will be of any use. But just looking at it makes me happy. It’s enough just to have it!” Usually a client will say this while holding up some random item that seems to have no conceivable purpose, such as a scrap of cloth or a broken brooch.

If it makes you happy, then the right choice is to keep it confidently, regardless of what anyone else says. Even if you keep it in a box, you’ll still enjoy taking it out to look at it. But if you’re going to keep it anyway, then why not get the most out of it? Things that seem senseless to others, things that only you could ever love – these are precisely the things you should display.

In general, there are four ways to use such items for decorating your home: place them on something (miniatures, stuffed animals, etc.); hang them (keychains, hair ties, etc.); pin or paste them up (postcards, wrapping paper, etc.); or use them as wraps or covers (anything pliable like scraps of cloth, towels, etc.).

Let’s start with the first category – items to place on something. While this is pretty straightforward, it can be applied not only to things like ornaments and figurines, which were meant to be displayed in this way, but also to other items. A heap of them placed directly on top of a shelf can look rather messy, so I suggest “framing” them by placing them together on a plate, a tray, a pretty cloth, or in a basket. This not only looks neater but is also easier to clean. Of course, if you actually prefer the more casual look of piling them directly on a shelf, please go ahead. Or use a display case if you have one.

One of my clients took a large corsage and stuck a rhinestone frog brooch in the center so that the frog’s face poked out. She then put this in a space between her brassieres inside a drawer. I’ll never forget the smile on her face when she told me, “It makes me happy just to see his face peeping out whenever I open this drawer.”

For the second category, items that hang, you can use keychains or hair ties as accents in your clothes closet by slipping them over the crooks of your hangers. You can also wrap the necks of hangers with longer things, such as gift-box ribbons or a necklace that you’re tired of wearing. Or you can hang things from wall hooks, the ends of curtain rails, and anywhere else that looks feasible. If the item is too long and awkward-looking, you can cut it or tie it to adjust the length.
If you have so many things to hang that you run out of places, try stringing them together to make a single ornament. One of my clients made a curtain by stringing together cell phone straps of a local mascot she loved, and hung it across the entranceway. While the sight of the mascots’ faces waving in the air looked rather bizarre, the owner declared that it transformed her doorway into
“the entrance to paradise.”

This brings us to the third category, items for pasting and pinning up. Decorating the inside of your closet with posters you have no other place for is standard practice in the KonMari Method. This can inject a thrill into any kind of storage space, including your cupboard walls and closet doors, the back boards of your shelves, and the bottoms of your drawers. You can use cloth, paper, or anything else, as long as it brings you joy.

The final category for decorating your interior with favorite items is things that can be used for wrapping. This includes anything supple, such as leftover scraps of cloth, hand towels, tote bags, and clothes made with beautiful patterns and fabrics that you love but that don’t fit you anymore. Such items can be used to bundle up low-voltage cables that are long and unsightly or as dust covers for household appliances when they’re not in use, such as electric fans in winter. Down quilts that are stored away for the off-season can be rolled up to expel the air inside and kept in a cloth carrying bag. This works just as well as vacuum-sealed storage bags.

By the time you finish, you’ll see something you love everywhere you look.

Congratulations to Brew Hub!

Congratulations to our friends at “Brew Hub” for their Two Gold Medal Finish at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. There “Three Tun” entry took the Gold in the “Ordinary or Special Bitter” Category and the “Rome City IPA” took the Gold in the “Session India Pale Ale” category. This is definitely a prestigious award and I am sure they are proud of this finish and all the hard work that went into the entry.

The Great American Beer festival is not only about sampling quality beer but is also a beer competition. Breweries enter their beers to be judged by the festival’s Professional Judge Panel. Festival attendees can also sip the beer entered in the competition during the tasting sessions.

The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. The ultimate goal of the Great American Beer Festival Judge Panel is to identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the Great American Beer Festival.

The Professional Judge Panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival. Judges are assigned beers to evaluate in their specific area of expertise and never judge their own product or any product in which they have a concern.

See Beer Styles for the Competition Style Descriptions and Specifications.

Great American Beer Festival Awards Philosophy

The Great American Beer Festival awards gold, silver and bronze medals for excellence in 96 beer-style categories but does not necessarily award medals to the top three finishers in a particular category.

When judges decide a category contains three excellent examples of the style, they award gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third place beers, respectively.

Award Criteria
If judges believe that no beer in the category meets the quality and style-accuracy criteria, they may elect not to award a medal. Judges may award a beer with a silver or bronze medal and yet not award a gold medal.
Gold A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
Silver An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
Bronze A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

 

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Netflix Price Increase On The Way

Ah, fall: the days grow colder, the nights grow longer, and it’s the perfect season to hunker down, grab a blanket and a beverage, and binge-watch your way through the winter. Unfortunately for Netflix’s millions of fans, the price of spending quality time on the sofa with your favorite Netflix shows is going up this year.

For subscribers on the “standard” tier, prices are going up by $1 per month, from $9.99 to $10.99.

Customers on the “premium” tier will see a slightly larger bump, going from $11.99 to $13.99. Subscribers to the “basic” $7.99 tier will, however, see their pricing left alone… for now, anyway.

The higher prices will begin to kick in for existing subscribers during November. Basically, starting next week, on your next billing date you’ll be told that the price for you will be higher on the bill after that.

If you go to sign up for a new Netflix account today, your pricing options look like this:

Price increases at first were comparatively uncommon for Netflix — but then again, the entire idea of a streaming TV content service is, itself, barely ten years old.

Customers faced their first $1 increase in 2014, first only for new subscribers. Then Netflix last raised prices over a year ago, when it bumped the Standard plan from $7.99 to $9.99.

Now, the company seems to be joining the likes of many other industries — wireless, cable, even Starbucks — in making price bumps a more-or-less annual thing.

In 2016, the company did indeed lose a few subscribers after a price hike — but considering that it’s crossed 50 million subscribers in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide, the last price hike doesn’t appear to have slowed Netflix down for long.

In a statement, Netflix said, “From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster.”

Is a Cruise Drink Package Right for You?

Whether or not to buy a cruise drink package when you sail is one of the most common questions that appears on the Cruise Critic forums.

Sometimes passengers balk at the price tag, which can seem steep when you are making a bulk payment as opposed to paying for each drink individually. Others worry that they won’t get good service from bartenders if they have a package (or conversely, be considered “partiers” by other people).

Here are some reasons you might want to consider buying a cruise drink package, as well as times when buying a package isn’t a smart idea.

A Cruise Drink Package Is a Good Deal If…

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You like knowing your bill ahead of time.

Sure, it can be painful when you pay a few hundred dollars for drinks before your cruise even starts. But once you’ve gone ahead and paid, you have the luxury of being able to order drinks at most bars and restaurants without having to worry about your final bill.

If you’re still undecided before you board, keep in mind that you can usually buy a package during the first couple of days — but it won’t apply retroactively to those first few margaritas you downed during sailaway.

You like sodas, specialty coffee drinks and bottled water.

People who are new to cruising often don’t understand that almost all drinks besides basic tea, coffee and tap water carry a charge. That means that if your daughter has a Diet Coke habit or you enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice in the mornings or a latte in the afternoons, you’ll have to pay up. Cruise drink packages can cover all of the above, as well as nonalcoholic mocktails, if you don’t go for booze.

Also, don’t forget the bottled water. If you have a lot of shore excursions in a hot climate, such as the Caribbean or Eastern Mediterranean, you will want to bring some water with you on shore — and when you’re on a set tour, you might not have time to stop at a local convenience store to get your own. A package makes it easy to grab a bottle on your way off the ship, without worry.

You like convenience.

Sure, some cruise lines allow you to bring on your own soda or bottled water (although Carnival has banned bottled beverages — any drinks carried on must be in cans). And almost every cruise line allows you to bring at least a bottle or two of wine onboard. But sometimes, it’s just not logistically easy to do, especially if you’re flying into a foreign country or don’t have a rental car to get to a store. Having a drink package means you can skip the annoying runaround.


A Cruise Drink Package Might Not Be a Good Deal If…

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You prefer a specific brand or type of drink.

If you’re someone who must have Patron in your margarita or won’t drink house wines, then you might want to examine drink packages to see if they are a better deal. Many drink packages will cover cocktails or wine up a certain amount; if your drink is more expensive, you either have to pay full price or simply make up the difference.

Note: The cruise lines don’t always make it easy to find out exactly what drinks onboard cost. Your best bet to see if your favorite cocktail makes the list is to check the cruise line’s website or ask the question on the Cruise Critic forums for the line you’re sailing.


A Cruise Drink Package Isn’t As Good a Deal if…

bar drinks

You prefer a bottle of wine at dinner.

Most cruise line drink packages apply to wines by the glass. That’s great if you’re someone who likes to match wines with your appetizers and entrees, or like a different type of wine than your dining companions. But if you prefer to order a bottle of wine or want a larger selection, keep in mind that while some drink packages offer discounts on bottles, many do not. (Some cruise lines have drink packages that ONLY cover wine at dinner. This might be your best bet.)

Your cabin mate has different drinking patterns than you.

Some — but not all — lines require both adults in the cabin to purchase the same package. If you like to drink Scotch, but your wife is a teetotaler, you’re better off buying drinks separately. Keep in mind that most bartenders and waiters will only serve you one drink at a time — and will refuse to serve you if you are caught sneaking a glass to a companion.

Some alcohol is already included.

River cruises usually include beer and wine at meals in the fare, as do premium cruise lines such as Azamara; the latter also includes some types of cocktails. Unless you’re someone who really needs brand-name alcohol, what you already have might likely suffice.

You just don’t drink much.

There’s no way to get around it. The absolute best way to determine if a drink package is best for you is to get out that calculator and tally up how much you would spend without the package. In general, if you think you’re going to order five or so alcoholic drinks a day during your trip, a package is worth considering.

By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor

Haunted House and Halloween Industry Now a $10 Billion Industry

(StatePoint) Halloween is big business. The commerce of Halloween in the U.S. should exceed $10 billion during the 2017 season, according to Hauntworld.com, the industry’s leading website. That’s a lot of candy, costumes, decorations and tickets to haunted attractions.

One of the largest growth areas in the Halloween trade is the explosion in number and quality of commercial haunted house attractions, haunted farms, corn mazes, hayrides and other spooky venues. More than $1 billion of the $10 billion spending on Halloween is attributed to ticket purchases at themed haunted sites.

“Visiting a haunted attraction is now the single most popular way to celebrate the holiday,” says Larry Kirchner, founder of Hauntworld.com, which directs consumers to find and review Halloween attractions around the globe. The site provides locations and information about all major haunts, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hayrides.

Haunted attractions strive to make guests feel like they’re experiencing a real-life horror movie, some going so far as to use computer animation, giant monsters and even virtual reality to provide scares guests enjoy. Many haunts now feature new attractions, such as zombie paintball, zombie laser tag, corn mazes, haunted hayrides and escape rooms.

This season, families have many options. Haunted houses have become more realistic, but at the same time, more family-friendly to appeal to larger crowds. So, what is the best way for your family to experience the Halloween haunt craze? Those with teenagers should seek out the scariest haunted house near them. Families with younger children should head to local farms.

Professional Halloween attractions are now often based at family farms, which typically offer traditional pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hayrides to appeal to younger guests. However, many of these farms transform into spooky attractions by night, featuring actors portraying frightening characters, creepy lighting and elaborate décor to provide fear-based fun. You can find the best haunted attraction for your family by visiting Hauntworld.com.

According to Hauntworld.com, these attractions are rated as 2017’s scariest in the U.S.

1. Netherworld – Atlanta – fearworld.com

2. The 13th Gate – Baton Rouge, La. – 13thgate.com

3. The Dent Schoolhouse – Cincinnati – frightsite.com

4. Erebus – Pontiac, Mich. – hauntedpontiac.com

5. Headless Horseman’s Hayrides and Haunted Houses – Ulster Park, N.Y. – headlesshorseman.com

6. Haunted Overload – Lee, N.H. – hauntedoverload.com

7. Nashville Nightmare – Nashville, Tenn. – nashvillenightmare.com

8. Bennett’s Curse – Baltimore – bennettscurse.com

9. The Darkness – St. Louis – scarefest.com

10. Field of Screams – Mountville, Pa. – fieldofscreams.com

11. Factory of Terror – Canton, Ohio – FOTOhio.com

12. Nightmare on 13th – Salt Lake City – nightmareon13th.com

13. USS Nightmare – Newport, Ky. – ussnightmare.com

The complete list of the “Best of” scary to not-so-scary attractions is available at: hauntworld.com.

There are many ways to give your family an age-appropriate scare this season, no matter where you live.

*****

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says We Can Use Hurricanes to Power the Cities of Tomorrow

It’s an undeniable fact that people all over the world have had to deal with a concerning number of powerful hurricanes this year. In the U.S. alone, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have done irreparable damage to parts of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Ahead of each storm, people were notified and encouraged to evacuate or seek suitable shelter. While everyone’s safety is the primary concern during such events, there are those who see hurricanes as a valuable learning opportunity. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson wants scientists to confront hurricanes head on and use the insights they gather to develop a way to turn their cyclonic energy into electricity.

In an interview with The Today Show, Tyson expressed a degree of frustration with how we react to hurricanes, saying, “I’m tired of looking at photos of countless thousands of cars exiting a city, because a hurricane is coming.”

He continued, “Where are the engineers and scientists saying, you know, instead of running away from the city that’s about to be destroyed by this hurricane, let me figure out a way to tap the cyclonic energy of this hurricane to drive the power needs of the city that it’s otherwise going to destroy?”

It’s an ambitious idea, and one that would certainly help in our efforts to shift to clean energy. We already use solar panels and wind turbines to gather energy from sunlight and wind, and are looking into floors that harvest kinetic energy. Harnessing hurricanes, however, would be another matter entirely. Not only because they tend to move around (and aren’t as frequent as, say, the wind blowing) but also because they’re uncontrollable and extremely powerful.

According to Business Insider, tropical storms and hurricanes are capable of outputting around 600 terawatts of power — far more than the 1,064 gigawatts of electricity we were capable of generating as of 2015. That isn’t to say engineers and researchers aren’t developing equipment to capture a hurricane’s energy — there’s the Challenergy wind turbine capable of doing that — but it’ll take some time to truly offset the damage caused by such storms.

In order to truly take advantage of a hurricane, first we would need to slow it down. As Gizmodo points out, however, current science has yet to provide a way to do so — save for reducing the C02 emissions that are probably strengthening them.

It’s safe to say that what Tyson wants (at least in such an efficient form) is currently unobtainable — though not impossible.

Legoland Looks To Make Bid For SeaWorld

Merlin Entertainments Plc has approached SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. about a potential deal, according to people familiar with the matter, as the U.K. theme-park operator seeks to expand in Central Florida.

Merlin, which runs the Thorpe Park Resort in southern England and Legoland parks across the world, has made a bid for part of the company, which could be a hurdle as SeaWorld prefers an outright sale, the people said. SeaWorld, which has been working with advisers to explore options including a sale, also received interest from other possible suitors, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public.

The offer comes as SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby struggles to stem declines in sales and the stock price of the Orlando-based park owner once famous for its killer whales. For Merlin, a deal by the operator of the London Eye and Madame Tussauds waxworks would mark a continuation of its strategy to expand internationally to cope with a drop in day-trippers to the British capital following terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

SeaWorld could raise as much as $1 billion from selling regional parks like Busch Gardens, getting funding to invest in its core aquatic-themed locations, Suntrust analyst Michael Swartz said in August. Busch Gardens has locations in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia.

More than two years into an attempted turnaround of the company, the shares of the theme park operator have fallen 25 percent this year, amid shrinking attendance and missed earnings forecasts.

The park owner came under fire in the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which accused the company of mistreating its killer whales. Under Manby, SeaWorld stopped breeding orcas, created a new show in its San Diego park with animals performing more natural behaviors, and invested in non-animal attractions, such as roller coasters and ocean-themed rides.

Blackstone, the world’s largest buyout firm, took SeaWorld public in 2013 after acquiring it four years earlier for $2.3 billion. Blackstone sold its final block of shares this year, cementing a return of about 2.7 times its original investment. Blackstone also owned Merlin in the past. The private equity firm acquired the entertainment company in 2005, bolstered it with acquisitions, sold a stake to CVC Capital Partners in 2010 and exited its final position in 2015.

Harvest Moon To Fill Night Sky In Spooktacular Fashion

It’s officially the spooky season, and what better way to enjoy it than watching this month’s most spellbinding moon? On Thursday, stargazers — or really, anyone who happens to look up — will be treated to a bewitching “Harvest Moon.” Sure, it happens every year, but this one’s legitimately a little unusual.

The Harvest Moon gets its name from old American folklore. Before people had electricity, farmers relied on the bright light of this moon to harvest their crops. In the states, many fruits and vegetables ripen in the early fall, so the Harvest Moon signified that these plants were probably ready for picking.

Usually, the Harvest Moon falls in September. But the “Harvest Moon” title is specifically given to the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and this year, that event took place on September 22nd. The full moon on October 5th is closest to the equinox, hence why it’s the Harvest Moon for 2017. An October Harvest Moon is a phenomenon that happens once every three years, so it’s special but not exactly rare.

Truthfully, every full moon has a quirky name from the Old Farmer’s Almanac: there’s the Strawberry Moon, the Beaver Moon, and many others. But the Harvest Moon is actually a smidge more special.

“Usually, throughout the year, the Moon rises an average of about 50 minutes later each day,” The Farmer’s Almanac reports. “But near the autumnal equinox, the difference is only 30 minutes. Additionally, the Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset and then will rise very near sunset for several nights in a row because the difference is at a yearly minimum.”

Tomorrow, the sun will set at 6:31pm EDT in New York City. No sweat if you’re not looking up at the millisecond the Sun sets as you’ll be able to see this beautiful moon all night long, barring some cataclysmic horror. Apocalypse or not, Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” or Van Morrison’s “Moondance” will make the perfect soundtrack for the big event.

Where To Get Your Crunch On For National Taco Day

Taco Tuesday isn’t the only day for taco deals this week.

Wednesday is National Taco Day and it’s a fiesta for taco lovers with many national taco chains marking the day with free tacos and specials.

According to the made-up food holiday’s website, NationalTacoDay.com, last year Americans ate more than 4.5 billion tacos.

Taco Bell

At participating locations on Wednesday, the chain has a special “National Taco Day gift set.” For $5, get four classic Taco Bell tacos — Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos and the Crunchy Taco — “gift wrapped” in a limited edition wrapper and specially boxed. Learn more about the deal hereTaco Bell also has teamed up with teen retailer Forever 21 to create a collection of bodysuits, sweatshirts and hoodies, which will go on sale Oct. 11 at select Forever 21 stores.

Tijuana Flats

Get $2 tacos and $2 Mexican drafts Wednesday at participating locations. Many locations of the fast-casual Tex-Mex chain have a Tuesday taco deal called Tijuana Tuesdaze where two tacos, chips and a medium drink are $5.99. Also, all locations have a take-home “Hardly Homemade” taco meal kit for $31.99. Find locations here.

On the Border 

Mini tacos are 50 cents each when you dine-in Wednesday at participating locations. The chain also has a 20% off taco catering items through Oct. 8 with promo code Taco17. Learn more here.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill 

The chain is celebrating Applebee’s Neighborhood Appreciation Month all October long with $1 margaritas, also known as the Dollarita, at participating locations. Learn more here and find locations here.

El Pollo Loco

Buy one taco platter, get one free Wednesday at participating locations with a coupon posted on the company’s website. Taco platter options are Chicken Avocado, Chicken Bacon Cheddar, Avocado Tacos al Carbon and Shrimp Mango.

More deals: Check locally owned restaurants’ Facebook and Twitter accounts for additional deal announcements.