Recently, a guy in front of me at the checkout had just two things in his shopping basket: giant bags of Twizzlers and a naughty nurse costume. My first thought was: I want to go to that party. My second was: I’m way behind on a Halloween game plan.
Not any more, now that I put together this guide to what to do in and around New York City during the year’s spookiest month.
First up, Halloween night traditions. Dress to impress when the perennially popular Village Halloween Parade turns 50 this year. The free event starts at 7 p.m., rain or shine, and runs on Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 15th Street. Across town in the East Village, Theater for the New City hosts its 47th annual Village Halloween Costume Ball. There will be a costume competition, dancing to swing and Latin bands, and the chance to show off your (required) costume or formal wear.
A Halloween without horror movies is like a Christmas without Hallmark movies about big-city women falling for small-town bookstore owners. New scary films in theaters now are the Agatha Christie-inspired “A Haunting in Venice”; the twisted sister tale “The Nun II”; and “Saw X,” the tenth film in the franchise.
Revival options include two films about the dark side of showbiz: Hitchcock’s Marlene Dietrich-led “Stage Fright” (1950), at the Metrograph Theater (Oct. 13); and “Bloodsucking Freaks” (1976), an exploitation film about a demented theater troupe, at Film Noir Cinema (Oct. 20). For a classic scary movie for kids, Film Forum presents a matinee of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954) in 3-D. (Oct. 29).
For a sneak peek at what horror fans will be drooling over next, check out the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (Oct. 12-19), at Nitehawk Cinema’s Williamsburg and Prospect Park locations. The roster includes “Where the Devil Roams,” a new film about killer sideshow performers from the Catskills-based horror moviemaking Adams Family; and “Satan Wants You,” a documentary on “Michelle Remembers,” a memoir about repressed memories that helped spark the Satanic Panic of the ’80s. The glorious California-chic zombie drama “Messiah of Evil” is showing in a newly restored version to celebrate its 50th birthday.
For bingeable scares at home, new horror series include “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story (Netflix, Oct. 12), and “Goosebumps,” an adaptation of R.L. Stine’s horror books for teenagers (Disney+, Oct. 13). Back to scare again are new seasons of the killer doll show “Chucky” (Peacock, Oct. 4) and the anthology series “Creepshow” (Shudder, Oct. 13).
For real-life horror stories, try “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams,” a new unscripted anthology about the evils that lurk behind closed doors, from the director of “Halloween” (Peacock, Oct. 13), or the docuseries “Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein,” which explores the life and crimes of the deranged serial killer who inspired “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and other horror films (now on MGM+).
“TerrorVision,” an immersive horror experience at “Horrorwood Studios” in Times Square (300 W. 43rd St.), promises 20,000 square feet of scary rooms and passageways. A cast of 140 actors will endeavor to scare your pants off with “seemingly impossible effects constantly happening all around,” according to the news release. A “chicken ticket” lets you wear an amulet so monsters won’t target you.
Yvie Oddly, Jaida, Plastique and other popular “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni are among the scary-good drag queens in the “Night of the Living Drag” tour. The show makes two stops in New Jersey, including Atlantic City (Oct. 6) and Newark on Halloween night.
Horror fans have twisted senses of humor, which is why it comes as no surprise that “Saw,” James Wan’s sinister 2004 movie, gets the song-and-dance treatment in “SAW The Musical: The Unauthorized Parody of Saw,” now at the AMT Theater (345 West 45th Street). The show’s website warns guests who sit in the front and second rows not to wear stainable clothing “unless a blood splatter splash or two or three would go with your outfit.”
On Oct. 13, the Highline String Quintet performs two horror-movie themed concerts as part of the Candlelight series at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. Among the musical selections are Bernard Herrmann’s sounds-like-stabbing prelude from “Psycho” and Goblin’s sounds-like-a-possessed-music-box score from “Suspiria.”
All during Halloween weekend, “Nosferatu, A 3D Symphony of Horror,” a digital reimagining of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 vampire classic, will be livestreamed in live 3D by the company Theater in Quarantine. (Ticket buyers will get 3D glasses in the mail.)
For Little Ones (and Big Scaredy Cats)
Halloween House takes over the Oculus at 185 Greenwich Street through Nov. 1. A series of immersive rooms that include a Vampires’ Lair and a Horror Movie Graveyard, it’s a not-too haunted house that is appropriate for all ages and temperaments. The website promises there will be no actors or jump scares.
If there’s one thing horror movies teach you, it’s how to run. On Oct. 28, the Queens NYC Halloween Half, 10K and 5K all take place at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The races start and finish at the Unisphere, near the Queens Museum of Art.
The New York Public Library offers free ways to keep kids happy before they get bitten by the trick-or-treating bug. In Manhattan, the Macomb’s Bridge Library hosts a pumpkin decorating class (Oct. 20). Children four and over are invited to a Creepy Crafternoon (Oct. 30) at the Sedgwick Library in the Bronx. On Staten Island, the Mariners Harbor Library offers a class on the science of candy corn (Oct. 12), and on Halloween, teens are invited to the West New Brighton branch to watch the campy killer-doll film “M3gan” and make M3gan-inspired masks.
Throughout October in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden’s annual Fall-O-Ween features several family-friendly events, including pumpkin decorating and a giant skeleton parade with works by the puppeteer Lucrecia Novoa. The master pumpkin carver Adam Bierton hosts workshops on select weekends.
Hungry for horror? The author Sarah Lohman is offering a series of spooky-themed online classes through the Brooklyn Brainery, including “A Culinary History of Funeral Food” (Oct. 10) and “Cult Food” (Oct. 12).
If scares aren’t your thing, October is prime time for picking. Admission is free at the Queens County Farm Museum’s pumpkin patch, open daily through Halloween. Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, N.J., is open for apple picking on select dates through Oct. 9; $8 gets you access to the orchard and a petting zoo. At Decker Farm on Staten Island, let off steam with the awesome-sounding bungee-assisted pumpkin chucking.
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