’Tis the season to be scared out of your witch’s hat (or Dick Cheney mask). But if haunted trails and the Six Flags Fright Fest are too much for your blood pressure, consider a tried-and-true alternative: Go see a scary movie at the cinema. While theaters nationwide will be showing lackluster flicks like The Haunting of Molly Hartley and yet another incarnation of Saw, some local venues are getting into the Halloween spirit with classic slashers and quirky independent films.
So what if it’s your 68th time watching Psycho? Some movies are just holiday staples, and here’s where to find them:
AFI Silver Theatre
Halloween isn’t a one-day gig for the AFI Silver Theatre—Saturday, October 25, through Wednesday, October 29, AFI will show at least one film noir every night, including classics like Sunset Boulevard and Strangers on a Train. The selection of films airing Thursday, October 30, through Sunday, November 2, are as varied as a trick-or-treat bag: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Rosemary’s Baby, and Night of the Living Dead. But if you have time for only one movie at AFI, don’t miss the Halloween-night-only presentation of the very old and very creepy Nosferatu, which will feature live musical accompaniment. For prices and showtimes, visit www.afi.com/silver.
American City Diner
Take a trip back a few decades at this 1950s-style diner, which shows a different movie every night at 8:30. The week leading up to October 31 will include psychological thrillers like Anatomy of a Murder and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? The cream of the crop, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, is saved for Halloween night. You can watch the flick while eating your meal—just don’t spill that milkshake when Norman Bates jumps out. Admission is free. To see the full schedule and the diner’s menu, visit www.americancitydiner.com
Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse
Put on your best fangs and do the monster mash with Count Gore (no relation to Al), who hosts the Spooky Movie Film Festival: All Hallows Scream on Friday, October 31. The party, which kicks off at 10 PM, includes a costume contest, four short films, and music by Karlos Borloff and the Monsterminators. The feature film, Brain Dead, begins at 12:30 AM. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit www.arlingtondrafthouse.com.
E Street Cinema
This art-house and indie-film theater doesn’t break from its offbeat roots for Halloween, but that doesn’t mean that its featured films are any less terrifying. Opening Friday, October 24, and playing for one week only is Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s award-winning thriller, La Sconoscuita (The Unknown Woman). Premiering on Halloween is Peur(s) du Noir, or Fear(s) of the Dark, an 85-minute montage of black-and-white animated shorts, with each story spotlighting a different facet of fear. For prices and show times, visit www.landmarktheatres.com/market/WashingtonDC/EStreetCinema.htm.