Mayor Marion Barry, describing the District's homicide rate as "out of hand," said last night he may invoke curfews in some neighborhoods and summon the D.C. National Guard if other plans to curb violence fail in the next few weeks.

Barry has previously scoffed at any suggestion of using the Guard in the city, but said last night that the "hideousness" of recent slayings and the continuing escalation of city violence have prompted him to reconsider.

"We have got to do something drastically different," Barry said after a forum for candidates competing for at-large seats on the D.C. Council. "The police chief is as frustrated about this as I am. We can't let this keep up."

On Monday, after a weekend that brought nine slayings and a homicide total that now stands at 373, Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. announced that he had created a unit of 100 officers to fight the problem. {See related stories, Page E1.}

But Barry said last night that if there is no sign that the unit has slowed the homicide rate after about a month, he would establish a nightly curfew in neighborhoods where crime and violence are high. And if that doesn't work, Barry said, he intends to summon the National Guard.

"It's all getting out of hand," Barry said. "Now there are people getting killed, and they're found with tape wrapped around their mouths. We've got to find new, creative ways to stop it."

Barry, one of seven candidates for two at-large seats on the Nov. 6 ballot, made his suggestions during a council forum at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library downtown. His statements come as his campaign is intensifying, and after a majority of council members signed a letter endorsing one of his opponents, council member Hilda H.M. Mason (Statehood), in what some of them said was a move to block Barry's election.

Barry told reporters last night that he has spoken to Fulwood about his anti-crime plans, and also has asked city attorneys to research the legality of imposing an emergency curfew in parts of the city.

The D.C. Council has twice attempted to create nightly curfews for anyone under 18, but each time the measure was declared unconstitutional in court.

Barry's curfew proposal is broader than previous council moves, for he did not limit it to juveniles. Rather, he suggested the possibility of creating curfews for all residents in neighborhoods "where people are killing each other."

Barry said he expects objections from the American Civil Liberties Union if he pursues the curfew, but nevertheless expressed confidence that he could find a legal route to do it.

The other option that Barry outlined, summoning National Guard troops, is one he has routinely decried as both unnecessary and hysterical. When D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) asked Barry to request the Guard's help in 1988, Barry refused, saying in a statement, "The city is not out of control."

But last night Barry said the Guard may be necessary "if all else fails."

Under those circumstances, he said, he would ask President Bush to activate the Guard for duty in the District. Barry said he envisions using the Guard in supportive roles that would allow more D.C. officers to patrol city streets.

He said several times that if Guard troops were summoned, he would like them to set up nightly roadblocks in high-crime areas around the city.

"That could aid us greatly at night. We could have 40 roadblocks," Barry said. "We could check for illegal licenses, for guns, drugs, any other illegal contraband being brought in here from Maryland and Virginia."

The D.C. Army National Guard is composed of about 2,500 soldiers, more than 1,000 of them members of the 260th Military Police Brigade. Last month, President Bush called up 120 members of the D.C. Guard's 547th Truck Company in response to the Persian Gulf crisis.

Staff writer Ruben Castaneda contributed to this report.