Halloween is nearly upon us, promising jack-o'-lanterns, heaps of candy and, for some, a psychopath in a hockey mask wielding a chainsaw. If you're into that sort of thing and October means breaking out slasher flicks, maybe it's time to branch out. Local movie screens and stages promise plenty of fresh ways to scare yourself silly. Read on for a selection of frightening films, bloody Shakespeare, Victorian nightmares and a dose of Edgar Allan Poe.
The Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival: The eighth annual event is currently underway at AFI Silver Theatre featuring zombie galore through Saturday.
"We Are What We Are": The remake of the Mexican film follows a creepy family whose members partake in a grotesque ritual.
"Insidious: Chapter 2": The supernatural thriller continues the story of the Lambert family, who can't seem to escape the spell of evil spirits.
"Nosferatu" with live accompaniment: Artisphere is hosting a screening of one of the original horror films, the silent vampire movie, set to the songs of the Not So Silent Cinema’s klezmer quintet. The screening is scheduled for Oct. 26.
Hitchcocktober: Another example of tried-and-true horror is happening at the Angelika theater at Mosaic this month with screenings of "Rope" Thursday, "The Birds" on Oct. 24 and "Psycho" on Halloween night.
"Tales of Mystery and the Imagination" and "Halloween in Georgetown": Guillotine Theatre, formerly Georgetown Theatre Company, has an annual tradition of staging readings of Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems. This October, the group will perform in Georgetown and at Alexandria's Athenaeum, as it has in the past, but also inside of an empty burial vault in the Ivy Hill Cemetery. (Thursday-Saturday)
"Titus Andronicus" The Riot Grrrls present a fierce, all-female rendition of the Bard's most grisly tragedy, chock-full of Halloween delights, including death and dismemberment, not to mention a little cannibalism for good measure. (Through Oct. 26)
"Extremities": Molotov Theatre Group is known for its blood-splattering special effects, but the company returns after a long hiatus with a more sobering and thoughtful play. The psychological thriller follows a woman who turns the tables on an attacker and holds him hostage as she decides what to do with him. (Through Nov. 3)
"In the Forest, She Grew Fangs": For the first full Washington Rogues production outside of the Fringe Festival, the group is staging Stephen Spotswood's updated take on "Little Red Riding Hood" with a girl protagonist tormented by high school bullies. (Through Nov. 3)
"The Pictures of Dorian Gray": Post theater critic Peter Marks called Synetic Theater's creepy take on Oscar Wilde's story "a splatter play." But the company is offering more than a troubling tale of narcissism. On Nov. 1, it's also hosting the Vampire's Ball -- a post-show dance party with a costume contest and open bar. (Through Nov. 3)
"Cabaret Macabre": Happenstance Theater keeps its tradition going with a fourth installment of their part-horrific, part-humorous cabaret inspired by nightmarish Victorian tales. (Oct. 25-Nov. 10)
"A Killing Game": It's more amusing than horrifying, but dog & pony dc's improvised show turns audience members into actors trying to survive a deadly play. (Through Saturday)