The recent power outage had many of us fumbling in the dark. But things have been going bump in the night around San Diego in a big way since 2009, when the locally produced, no-budget, shot-on-video horror feature Paranormal Activity scared up tens of millions in ticket sales following two years on the film festival circuit.

After conjuring a similar box-office boo!-nanza a year ago with the pricier, Carlsbad-set prequel Paranormal Activity 2, Paramount Pictures-the major Hollywood studio that has built a franchise on this pissed tract-house poltergeist saga-is set to unleash the third film in the series October 21.

So what’s new this ghost-round? Good luck squeezing more than a hint from anyone associated with the secretive project. Based on the trailer that debuted here at Comic-Con in July, it appears that Paranormal Activity 3 will serve up more back-story on its possessed female lead, Katie. Meanwhile, the childhood legend of Bloody Mary-a gory female apparition said to be summoned by repeating her name in front of a mirror-crashes the suburban spook party and presumably will help explain the tale’s evil origins.

With Paramount’s creep-out cash cow entrusted to directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the duo behind last year’s controversial “reality thriller” Catfish), the filmmakers have worked like demons to ensure that Paranormal Activity 3 won’t be a yawn of the dead.

“The challenge we are dealing with is to create the same kind of dreaded feeling of terror and horror, while at the same time also [delivering] something fresh, different and unique,” said the first movie’s director and series producer, Oren Peli, to Bloody-Disgusting com. “[I am] hoping fans will be pleasantly pleased.”

If Paranormal falls short, movie-goers may have to channel Bloody Mary in a bar glass.
-Henry Chang

Private Screamings

Check out these spooky movie and stage offerings

By Amanda Daniels

Thrill-O-Rama: Birch North Park Theatre will screen a marathon of ghastly retro horror flicks, including: The Fog, Burnt Offerings, Eyes of Laura Mars, Dressed to Kill, Black Christmas and the Italian masterpiece, Suspiria, from noon to midnight, Saturday, October 8. Admission is $5 per film or $20 for all six.
2891 University Ave., North Park,

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Before Drew Barrymore made her blood-curdling comeback in Scream, granddad John Barrymore made the ladies scream as the lascivious monster, Mr. Hyde. His 1920 silent classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, will be brought to life with spooky sound effects by the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra during a free screening/performance at 7 p.m. on October 31 at UCSD’s Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) Library.
9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla (search: Jekyll)

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Experience the “Time Warp,” live at the Old Globe Theatre, in Balboa Park. Strange things happen when clean-cut suburbanites Brad and Janet get caught with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and are forced to seek help from a devilishly charming, sexually adventurous transvestite, Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter. Tickets: $29-$70; show runs through November 6.