Things to Do

9 Places to See Scary Movies in Washington This Halloween

Look beyond the multiplex for your horror fix.

A better way to get your scary-movie fix this year. Image via Shutterstock.

So you want to see a scary movie on the big screen this Halloween. Great! Only problem is, your big-budget horror options range from the mediocre (Before I Go to Sleep, a Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth thriller currently rated 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) to the laughably bad (Ouija, clocking in at 10 percent—proving once again that Clue is the best and only board-game movie you need) to the pretty much inexcusable (Nicholas Sparks’s The Best of Me*).

Instead of shelling out for yet another bland studio slasher flick, head to one of Washington’s independent cinemas to catch ’60s classics, foreign films, and a daylong marathon, all on Halloween itself.

Psycho and Spike at the Angelika Pop-Up

Friday, October 31, 7 and 9:30 PM

The Union Market theater screens the classic slasher film—the original, not the best-forgotten Vince Vaughan version—two times Halloween night. Everyone who buys a ticket will get a Spike Mendelsohn-curated goodie bag stuffed with exotic-sounding things like chocolate bacon and sushi popcorn. Definitely a step up from the usual nervous-eating movie snacks.

People’s Choice at Union Market

Friday, October 31, 8 PM

The popular drive-in movie series concludes its fall series with a Halloween screening—and wants you to pick the movie. Visit Union Market’s Facebook page by Friday to vote on your choice of Ghostbusters, The Addams Family, or Edward Scissorhands, then follow the usual drill on Halloween evening.

AFI Silver Theatre’s Horror Marathon

Friday, October 31, multiple times

Skip your office’s awkward costume contest and head to AFI for a day’s worth of scary flicks: At 3 PM is Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, followed by his animated short Frankenweenie at 5:10. The evening brings the ’80s cult hit Beetlejuice at 7, the “rom-zom-com” Shaun of the Dead at 9, and Roman Polanski’s iconic Rosemary’s Baby at 11.

Shaun of the Dead at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse

Friday, October 31, 9:30 PM

Virginians get a separate chance to catch the adventures of pasty Brits/unlikely heroes Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with this screening. Bonus for folks with kids: Between 5 and 8:30, check out a family-friendly haunted house hosted in the main theater, done up to look like it’s been through a zombie outbreak. Admission is $2 and includes a tour, a treat, and a free pass for a future movie.

Night of the Living Dead at Angelika Mosaic

Friday, October 31, midnight

Schlock-horror king George A. Romero cut his teeth on this 1968 zombie flick that spawned several gruesome sequels. This one’s in black and white, so you can tell your parents you did something arty for All Hallows’ Eve in addition to all those Jell-O shots.

The Monster Squad at E Street Cinema

Friday, October 31, 11:59 PM

Time to get meta: This 1987 horror comedy is about a group of adolescent scary-movie enthusiasts who find themselves battling Count Dracula, Wolfman, and other beasties for control over the balance of good and evil. I’m guessing the truly frightening part is leaving the fate of the world up to a group of teenagers (no disrespect to Buffy and the Scoobies).

Horns at West End Cinema and Angelika Pop-Up

Friday, October 31, multiple times

The supernatural thriller based on the book by Joe Hill (son of horror master Stephen King, responsible for the most terrifying clown of all time) stars Harry Potter as a guy who’s both suspected of killing his girlfriend and growing magical horns on his head. Reviews are a bit mixed, but Daniel Radcliffe’s performance has been getting good buzz.

Fear at the Freer

Friday, October 31, 5 PM

Maybe The Ring scared the pants off you when you first saw it, but it’s lost that initial punch. Frighten yourself anew at the Freer, which screens Ringu—the somehow-even-scarier Japanese film on which it was based. The movie starts at 7, but get there early to learn about spooky items from the museum’s collection, make your own Halloween mask, and try food from the Tokyo in the City truck.

Bonus: Saw 10th Anniversary Re-Release

Friday, October 31, multiple times

The film that begat an impressively long-running torture-porn franchise turns ten this year, and returns to select theaters—including AMC Loews Georgetown, Regal Gallery Place, and Regal Ballston Common—for a one-week run starting Friday. If you’re itching to relive Saw in all its dismembery glory, check theater websites or Fandango for showtimes.

*Yes, I realize it isn’t a horror movie—what’s scary is how Nicholas Sparks keeps making people shell out to see the same story over and over (and over) again.

Find more ways to celebrate in our Halloween Guide.