‘Saw VI’ And ‘Cirque Du Freak’ Call For An Early Halloween In This Week’s Box Office Poll

It’s a strange week for new releases, primarily because the latest, sixth entry in the “Saw” franchise is hitting theaters a full week before Halloween. Traditionally, each new “Saw” hits on the Friday before the year’s trick or treaters emerge. Following a trend set with last year’s “Saw V,” the new entry will have a week to breathe before the Halloween festivities begin. Expect lots more Jigsaw puzzling and gore-nography in “Saw VI,” which joins newcomer director Kevin Greutert with writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who penned “Saw IV” onwards.

Also somewhat in the horror vein — though more in the “hey, vampires are popular vein” — this week is “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” which I caught a few weeks ago and am sort of regarding as a male-oriented attempt to latch onto the “Twilight” phenomenon. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, but it is adapted from the first book in a 12 volume series… so I guess we’ll just have to see.

Those who would prefer something with a little more flash ought to check out “Astro Boy,” a computer-animated 3-D adaptation of the classic Japanese manga series. I haven’t seen it myself, but MTV Splash Page editor Rick Marshall thought it was “a lot of fun.” Either way, it’s a good, high-energy alternative to the dreary torture porn and vampire wars headlining the week’s releases.

Rounding out the week’s major wide releases is “Amelia,” a biopic on the life of famed pilot Amelia Earhart. Hilary Swank leads a cast that also includes Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor and Virginia Madsen. This is another one I haven’t seen, but it’s yet another alternative for those who would rather avoid the blood, guts and vampires which have so captured our nation’s movie-goers.

In terms of smaller-scale openings, the big one for the week is probably Disney’s annual Halloween-timed return to Henry Selick’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas,” which is now in digital 3-D thanks to the magic of future technology. There’s also Lars Von Trier’s much-talked-about art-horror flick “Antichrist” for those who have been feeling the need to bring more genital mutilation into their lives. And of course, what would the week be without a few quirky comedies: the Uma Thurman-starring “Motherhood” and the Adam Goldberg-starring “(Untitled)” fill out that particular niche.