So you've run through your Nightmare on Elm Street DVDs, exhausted every streaming platform's "Halloween Favorites" section, and made your annual pilgrimage to the Scream knife at Movie Madness, but still, your hunger for horror persists. Never fear (or do fear, but ... you get it). In our opinion, there's no better way to experience the season's spine-tingling entertainments than with a packed crowd, popcorn in hand, your own screams muffled by those of 20 strangers. With that in mind, here's a guide to Portland's most exciting big-screen horror offerings this month, broken down by theater.
Montavilla's art deco palace is keeping its Halloween programming classic this year, with a mix of titles old(er) and new(ish). From Oct 21 to 28, it'll be your spot to catch Freddy hack and slash at sleeping teens in the original Nightmare on Elm Street and see Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga go head-to-head with demons in The Conjuring. Before that, catch up with Christina Ricci and her friendly ghost in the first live-action Casper, and, after, take in Coraline, one of Portland's proudest additions to the Halloween canon.
This intimate, recently renovated single-screen spot on SE Hawthorne will supplement its regular first-run release (David O. Russell's Amsterdam at the moment) with a pair of spooky mini-festivals this month. First is a Dario Argento marathon, honoring the Italian giallo master with a screening of his new film, Dark Glasses, plus his ’70s classics Deep Red, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and Cat o' Nine Tails Oct 21–27. Then comes the Provoke Film Festival from Oct 28 to Nov 3, which will highlight women-directed horror titles including Raw, Saint Maud, Pet Semetary, Slumber Party Massacre, the Portland-made Baby Fever, and more.
Real Halloween-heads are likely to have the Clinton on their radar already, given the theater's 34-year-record of showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show every single Saturday (including through the early days of COVID, to an empty house). There are, indeed, special Halloween screenings of that camp classic on offer at the Clinton this month, plus a bounty of other chillers from the familiar to the far-flung: catch the extended director's cut of The Exorcist on Oct 13, watch Nic Cage give an unhinged-even-for-him go of it in Vampire's Kiss and Mandy on Oct 22, and experience David Lynch's timeless debut, Eraserhead, on Oct 27. Keep an eye out for lesser-known titles like the mid-’60s Soviet haunter VIY Spirit of Evil (part of the Clinton's Church of Film series) and 2012 British curiosity Berberian Sound Studio as well.
The crown jewel of Northeast Portland's Hollywood District is a certified haunted house this month, putting up a new Halloween offering almost every day. Upcoming highlights include the director's cut of Little Shop of Horrors on Oct 14, which retains Frank Oz's pitch-black original ending, Brian Yuzna's body horror cult favorite Society on Oct 19, the bonkers Belgian lesbian vampire flick Daughters of Darkness on Oct 28, and a Halloween-night edition of the theater's Queer Horror series that will culminate in a screening of Bram Stoker's ultra-horny Dracula. Families and younger viewers needn't worry: screenings of the 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo, stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Halloween favorite Hocus Pocus are sprinkled between the more adult fare, and the theater will start showing the brand-new Portland-produced Halloween flick Wendell and Wild on Oct 21.