With hairy hands, a werewolf grabs for the throat of an unsuspecting woman in the woods. Then he spots bigger prey - the audience - and lunges toward them. They scurry out of reach and on to the next vignette in Beltsville Community Center's haunted house.
Two local acting groups will give good-natured scares there, at 3900 Sellman Road, this Saturday through October 29 - providing once again that it's never too early to start celebrating anything, including Halloween.
The gym will become a maze of 13 frightgags, starring the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, a creature from Star Wars, a spider and other delightful ghouls.
Keeping scariness fresh is a problem for a fun house that's running nine consecutive nights. To keep the gooseflesh coming, the werewolf scene uses a new lady-in-distress every hour. (The house is open weekdays 6:30 to 9:30, weekends 6 to 9; adults $1, children 75 cents. Call 937-6613.)
Beltsville's not the only place for premature chills. In a vacant 19th-century mansion, Laurel Jaycees have created a showcase of haunted-house design. It opens this Friday, at 126 Lafayette Avenue, and stays open 'til All Hallows' Eve. The bedroom has been converted into a rodent-and-insect room, and a torture chamber leads to the spirit room, but the rest will have to be a surprise. Hint: It is not for the squeamish. (Weekdays 6 to 10, weekends 5 to 11; adults $2, children $1. Call 725-6152 or 953-7766.)
To move on from getting the creeps to giving them, on Monday, two workshops will teach costume-making at Annandale's Wakefield Recreation Center, 8100 Braddock Road. Ages 10 to 14 learn to be ghouls, from 4 to 5:30; ages 15 and up meet from 7 to 9, to learn they're never to old to dress like Dracula.
If they still don't look worth answering the door for, they can return on Wednesday for makeup tips. The 10-to-14 set meets at 4, older celebrants cabal at 7.
Wakefield also will be holding a pumpkin-carving contest Thursday at 7. Contestants should bring their own pumpkins and knives, and dress in old clothes. (Call 321-7080 or 941-5008.)
Nothing tingles the spine more than a good horror movie, and Thursday night is ghouls' night out in the Hirshhorn auditorium. At 8, they'll be showing clips from vintage monster films - Wolf Man, Dracula and Frankenstein. The show will be repeated October 27, and a shorter version for children on the 28th at 11.
Better not go alone.