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Feeling the need to embrace the spooky spirit this month? Nothing sets the scene and gets the adrenaline pumping quite like a horror film—especially when watching with a group. So if you’re in the mood for thrills or chills, look no further than the many scary movie screenings taking place in and outside the District now through Halloween.
Here’s a sprinkling of our favorites:
Nosferatu: Do you know what’s lurking in the dark (of the 1920s)? A silent film retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula released in 1922, Nosferatu is one of the first horror movies ever made. As part of the film’s 100th anniversary, Strange Woman Records is hosting a screening of Nosferatu at the Eaton Cinema with a live electro-acoustic score. Enjoy the thrills of interwar German surrealist filmmaking with six musicians providing live background music, just like the film would’ve been screened a century ago. The movie starts at 8 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Eaton Cinema, 1201 K St. NW. Tickets $20.
Dawn of the Dead: George Romero is largely responsible for all modern-day zombie stories—without him, there would be no Walking Dead. But his Dead movies are more than simply terrifying, they’re also filled with political commentary. Sure, these zombies are slow and the graphics are less graphic than today’s, but there’s something so sinister about Dawn of the Dead. The movie starts at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at Suns Cinema, 3107 Mount Pleasant St. NW. Tickets $12.
Videodrome: Part of E Street Cinema’s Retro Replay weekly showings, this 1983 throwback stars James Woods as a desperate president of a television station who green-lights a show filled with gratuitous violence to draw viewers (the resemblance to HBO is likely unintentional). Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, also stars. The movie starts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Tickets $7.
Dial M for Murder: In honor of Halloween month, Angelika Pop-Up hosts Hitchcocktober (spotlighted in our Fall Arts Guide). This week’s screening is the 1954 crime thriller starring Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, Anthony Dawson, and John Williams. The movie starts at 7 and 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 19 at Angelika Pop-Up, 550 Penn St. NE. Tickets $11.
Jennifer’s Body: Every week, Legacy DC in Shaw is screening a different scary movie. This week, it’s the 2009 dark comedy/horror movie Jennifer’s Body, starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Whether you interpret the movie as a typical horror thriller or a feminist coming-of-age tale, it’s certain to be entertaining. I know because my parents refused to let me watch it when I was young. Note that Legacy DC is a smoke shop when not showing films, so you must be over 21 to enter and you may want to bring some herbal remedies to go along with the popcorn and candy. Seating starts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Legacy DC, 1937 14th St. NW. Tickets $5.
Beetlejuice: The classic, Tim Burton-directed, horror-adjacent flick from 1988 is an October classic. Featuring a ghostly couple that tries to rid their home of its new occupants, a star-studded cast, and a memorable Danny Elfman score, the film is appointment viewing. Beetlejuice will be screened outdoors at River Mill Park (bring your blankets) and snacks will be available for purchase. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at River Mill Park, 458 Mill St., Occoquan. Tickets $10.
Us: You simply can’t offer a scary movie roundup in 2022 without highlighting a selection from today’s modern master of horror, Jordan Peele. Adelaide, played by the always amazing Lupita Nyong’o, and her family are followed and attacked by relentless, and murderous, doppelgängers. Scissors have never been so chilling. Seating starts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Legacy DC, 1937 14th St. NW. Tickets $5.
Scooby-Doo: The Rosslyn Cinema continues to screen movies outdoors this fall, and their Halloween-themed choice is 2002’s Scooby-Doo, a film with a plot I can describe in eight words: They go to an island and solve mysteries. More interestingly, despite this being a PG-rated “kids movie,” there are plenty of not-so-subtle ribald jokes to go along with the endless fart jokes, so everyone can have a good time. But, ya know, it’s not exactly the scariest movie ever made, if that’s what you’re looking for. The movie starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington. Free.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is known and beloved for documentary screenings and playing an array of movies from the Criterion Collection, but for Halloween they’re bringing back the classics. Enter The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a B-rate cult film from the wildly popular musical directed by Jim Sharman. To keep it short, a young couple arrives at a castle, and many off-kilter and scary acts ensue. Widely acclaimed by generations of LGBTQ cultural critics, musical theater fans, and regular filmgoers, there’s not much else to add. It’s Rocky Horror. The movie starts at 10 p.m. on Oct. 29 at AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Tickets $15.
Halloween: John Carpenter’s classic already made it into our Fall Arts Guide picks, but if you need a reminder that you can watch the best horror movie ever made on Halloween night, here is that reminder. The movie starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets $10.
Psycho: The final Hitchcocktober screening is, perhaps, Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film, which made even showers unsafe and put the name Norman Bates into horror canon. The movie starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 at Angelika Pop-Up, 550 Penn St. NE. Tickets $11.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: Wes Craven’s third installment of Freddy Krueger films is one of the campiest in the series, but also one of the best. The movie starts at 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 31 at AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Tickets $8–$13.