LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This summer, movie theaters will be haunted by creepy clowns, scary sharks and zany zombies.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Excuse me, we're closed.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, growling).
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, screaming) Get away from me. No. No.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Horror has long found a home during the summer months at the multiplex and here to tell us more is NPR's resident horror expert arts correspondent Neda Ulaby.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Hi.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, what are the big trends in horror this summer? And I should just say I hate horror films.
ULABY: I'm sorry that you hate horror, but we've got a lot of really fun things to talk about, including super-duper evil dolls, like the awful, awful moppet in the movie "Child's Play."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHILD'S PLAY")
MARK HAMILL: (As Chucky) Evader met its prey. They all go away.
ULABY: This is a new addition to a franchise that started about 30 years ago; the "Chucky" movies. We're talking about seven movies around $200 million. It's a massive franchise. And horror, as you know, is a way for artists to explore cultural nightmares in ways that can actually be interesting, I think. Like, so the first "Chucky" movie was about a doll possessed by a serial killer - super silly idea. This new Chucky movie is a reboot. And this new doll is no longer possessed by a serial killer (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, that's good.
ULABY: But what he is is he's a smart doll. He's an AI doll.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm not going to be able to look at my refrigerator the same way.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNABELLE COMES HOME")
VERA FARMIGA: (As Lorraine Warren) The doll, it's a beacon for other spirits.
ULABY: This is number two of our evil doll series of the summer. This is "Annabelle Comes Home" - another huge, horror franchise that started with "The Conjuring" back in 2013. It's expanded to three movies just about Annabelle alone. Lulu, there's something about red-headed dolls. Both Chucky and Annabelle are red heads.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) So what are horror fans excited about other than dolls?
ULABY: There's a movie called "Midsommer," and it's by the same guy who directed the movie "Hereditary," which was one of last year's top-grossing horror movies. This one - if we're going to be talking about how horror movies happen to cultural fears, we're living in this time of Instagrammable (ph) moments, where people are going to things like Coachella and other big festivals. This movie is set at a festival in rural Sweden. It only happens, you know, once every, like, 99 years or something like that. And it sounds really great except for all of the pagans who chop up all of the people who come to this particular festival.
ULABY: Also, you know, if you also just like Oscar-nominated movies and you like, perhaps, the movies made by Guillermo del Toro, who did the "Shape Of Water," "Pan's Labyrinth" - these are beautiful movies that people who aren't necessarily genre fans can get behind - he's producing a movie that comes out this summer called "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark." And that's based on a very popular series of books about kids making very bad decisions.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK")
ZOE COLLETTI: (As Stella) Do you want to see a haunted house?
ULABY: No, don't. They don't want to see a haunted house. You should stay away from the haunted house.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Always stay away from the haunted house. So you do like horror movies, and I wonder what you're excited about.
ULABY: There's a streaming site called Shudder that's really, really geared towards people like me, who like smart horror, who like movies that push on social issues, that are thoughtful, that are scary but are so fun. And there's one coming out this summer called "Tigers Are Not Afraid." And it's being described as a really dark fairytale about children that are caught up in the Mexican drug war.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character, speaking Spanish).
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character, speaking Spanish).
ULABY: So this is a movie directed by a woman. It's getting absolutely fabulous buzz. And then there's another movie coming out on Shudder called "One Cut Of The Dead." It's a Japanese zombie movie that broke box office records there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's arts correspondent and horror film fanatic Neda Ulaby, thank you so much.
ULABY: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF BERNARD HERRMANN'S "PRELUDE AND THE CITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.