When the last little gaggle of ghosts and goblins has grabbed its share of goodies and gone home to bed, and that lone latecomer in the Michael Myers hockey mask shows up at 9:30 or 10 looking disturbingly big for a trick-or-treater, its time to lock the door, douse the porch light and find some Halloween happiness of your own with a good scary movie. A recent survey finds that costume parties and haunted house tours lose out to watching a fright flick in the comfort of one’s own darkened living room as the favored All Hallows’ Eve pastime among 64 percent of Americans. Of course, the poll was conducted by Redbox, whose business is renting DVDs, but who’s arguing? Here are some of my best reasons for spending Great Pumpkin night in front of the tube. "Drag Me to Hell” (2009) — Beware of little old ladies in ramshackle ’73 Oldsmobiles, especially when they’re being evicted because you wouldn’t give them an extension on their overdue mortgage payments. Supernatural curses can be a hell of a payback. That’s what ambitious young loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) learns the hard way in director Sam Raimi’s triumphant return to the horror genre after a decade of hanging out with Spider-Man. The man who gave us the basement-budget "Evil Dead” classics is back with the smartest, scariest black-humored chiller anyone’s made in years. "Orphan” (2009) — Still stricken over the loss of their unborn child, Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard), adopt Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a 9-year-old Russian girl with a tragic past who is exceedingly smart, seemingly sweet but oddly secretive, even though she at first charms her new parents and their deaf-mute daughter Max (Aryana Engineer). Her new brother, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett), is less welcoming, and soon other family members begin to sense the little girl is not as angelic as she first appeared, especially after a near-fatal playground accident and a couple of bloody murders. Director Jaume Collet-Serra ("House of Wax”) turns in a well-crafted shocker with a jolting twist. "Fear Itself: The Complete First Season” (2008) — Anthology series are rare creatures on big network TV these days, especially the creepy kind, and "Fear Itself” held up the best traditions set by "The Twilight Zone” and "Tales from the Crypt” before dying a premature death in summer 2008 after only 13 hourlong episodes. (Maybe that really is an unlucky number.) NBC never officially explained the show’s demise, but one suspects this stuff was too strong for prime time. For example, "Eater,” directed by Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator,” "Masters of Horror”), has Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men”) as a rookie cop spending her first night in the precinct watching over a cannibalistic serial killer who speaks in tongues. When two other nightshift cops start acting strangely, she quickly learns that no one is who they seem. The entire series is available in a four-disc box, with episodes from such big-gun directors as John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London”), Darren Lynn Bousman ("Saw II,” "Saw III,” "Saw IV”) and Ronny Yu ("Bride of Chucky”). Stars include Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns”) Shiri Appleby ("Charlie Wilson’s War”), Cynthia Watros ("Lost”) and Eric Roberts ("Heroes”). "The William Castle Collection” (2009) — Producer/director William Castle might be considered an extremely poor man’s Alfred Hitchcock since he specialized in cut-rate suspense and horror, but he was more like a barker outside an amusement park spook house, luring audiences with the promise of participatory thrills and gimmicks. For 1959’s "The Tingler,” starring horror ham Vincent Price, theater seats were wired to give occupants a mild electric jolt whenever the title creature appeared onscreen, and screaming was the only means of relieving the sensation. Special glasses were required to see the poltergeist in 1960’s haunted house yarn "13 Ghosts,” and in 1961’s blatant "Psycho” rip-off "Homicidal,” a clock appeared on the screen near the end, providing a 45-second "fright break” for weak-hearted audience members to exit the auditorium before the heroine (Patricia Breslin) entered a dark house and discovered its horrible secrets. These three features plus "Strait Jacket” (1964, with Joan Crawford) and "Mr. Sardonicus” (1961) all still provide their shares of shudders and shocks, but "13 Frightened Girls,” "Zotz!” and "The Old Dark House” are wasted space in this five-disc set. Too bad Castle’s best, the 1959 version of "House on Haunted Hill,” again with Price, was omitted. "The Thaw” (2009) — In the ’50s, atomic bomb testing provided many a sci-fi menace, and now global warming gets into the act in this squirm-inducing fright fest from fledgling director Mark A. Lewis about a renowned environmental advocate (Val Kilmer) who leads a team of ecology students into the Arctic wilderness where they discover the perfectly-preserved carcass of a woolly mammoth in a melting polar ice cap. As the big beast thaws, crawling prehistoric parasites are revived and start multiplying, seeking new warm-blooded hosts and infecting members of the research party one by one, with horrifying results. This one really gets under your skin. "True Blood: The Complete First Season” (2008) — The best thing to come out of the current vampire vogue is this HBO series created by Alan Ball ("Six Feet Under”) and based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, starring Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress in a small Louisiana town, which, like the rest of the world, is getting used to living side-by-side with vampires who have integrated into the mainstream population. This has been made possible by the invention of synthetic blood, which replaces the undead’s need for human blood. But the co-existence between the two cultures is an uneasy one, especially in this small Southern town, and in the midst of these tensions, Sookie meets and falls for handsome vampire loner Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Loaded with wonderfully quirky characters, plots, subplots and telling social observations, "True Blood” is sexier, bloodier and wiser than "Twilight” could ever hope to be. These 12 episodes on five discs will make you thirsty for more, and Season 2 is rising soon on DVD. "Deadgirl” (2008) — From newcomer directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel and screenwriter Trent Haaga comes the most original and disturbing take on alienated youth and teenage peer pressure the horror genre has ever produced. When high school misfits Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez, "Cadillac Records”) and JT (Noah Segan, "Brick”) cut class and go exploring in a crumbling abandoned mental hospital, they find the body of a woman, stripped naked, chained to a table, covered in plastic and seemingly dead. But they’re shocked to find she’s still alive, sort of. The thing to do next is get help, but boys will be boys, and their find becomes a dark secret that tests their friendship and their sense of right and wrong. The film’s brooding, stylized physical and psychological atmospherics are reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s most nightmarish work, yet it yields some hauntingly poignant moments. "Night of the Living Dead” (1968) — Like the "animated” characters of the title, this one has unstoppable legs 41 years after its initial drive-in release. Don’t accidentally pick up the 1990 remake, sequels or others with "Living Dead” in the title. This masterpiece of horror, shot in Pittsburgh on a minuscule budget, still holds up as one of the most frightening films ever made. In fact, the low-rent production and dim, grainy, black-and-white photography enhance the realistic feel of director George Romero’s yarn about an army of re-animated, flesh-eating corpses who trap seven people in a remote farmhouse. An unknown cast gives sharp performances, and the dialogue snaps and stings. The gore is tame by today’s standards, yet this cult favorite is far more effective than any of its high-tech, high-dollar imitators. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) — Again, avoid remakes; go for the original Don Siegel-directed black-and-white beauty starring Keven McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Alien pods fall from the sky and begin duplicating the citizens of a small California town. When a skeptical doctor (McCarthy) starts noticing his friends acting like emotionless automatons, he starts believing what patients have been telling him about relatives who aren’t really their relatives. Made in the midst of Joseph McCarthy-era Red-scare paranoia, it remains as tense and chilling now as it was then. "Halloween” (1978) — Its formula of an extraordinary menace stalking ordinary people in a sleepy Anytown, U.S.A., neighborhood setting made this an instant classic. That, and director John Carpenter’s ability to instill fear in his audience and then play off of it like a virtuoso musician. A 6-year-old boy commits murder, spends 15 years in an asylum, then escapes on Halloween night and returns, all grown up, to take up where he left off. The killer seems to favor teenage babysitters and their boyfriends, especially the ones who’ve just had sex. This film has become to Halloween what "It’s a Wonderful Life” is to Christmas. "The Vanishing” (1988) — Here’s another original that’s superior to its remake. No supernatural element or stalking slasher here, which makes this French-Dutch production all the more effective. Director/co-screenwriter George Sluizer borrows from real-life headlines to tell a gripping story of a young Dutch woman’s mysterious disappearance during a vacation trip, and her husband’s three-year search for the truth about her fate. This low-key psychological thriller has a way of slowly but steadily building suspense and dread, as the searching husband inevitably confronts the deceptively sympathetic individual who has all the answers. Sluizer also directed an inferior American version with Jeff Bridges in 1993, but the subtitled original is the one that gets the blood pumping. "Not of This Earth” (1956) — Another original that has spawned inferior remakes, this hard-to-find Roger Corman cheapie is one of his best, with Paul Birch as an alien vampire who hides his white eyes behind big sunglasses as he hunts for blood to save his devastated planet. This truly creepy sci-fi/horror piece, featuring Corman regulars Beverly Garland and Dick Miller, is not readily available from mainstream retailers, but affordable copies can be found on the Internet. "Psycho” (1960) — Last but far from least: Janet Leigh in a bra and half slip, packing to run away with stolen money; Anthony Perkins as lanky, lonely, haunted Norman Bates, keeper of a forgotten motel, caregiver to a domineering invalid mother hidden away in a spooky old house; the shower scene; Martin Balsam stumbling backward down a staircase; mother revealed in a blood-curdling climax ... indelible images from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror masterpiece, the one that broke all the storytelling rules, often imitated but never duplicated. The greatest shocker of all time bears repeated viewings.