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In the dark


As the leaves change in Rochester, so do movie offerings. The summer months brought their share of forgettable bombast—and one unforgettable double-header in "Barbenheimer"—now, it's time to move into spooky season, which offers horror movies and creepy thrillers, new and old. Our city is fortunate to have several different locations that offer repertory screenings throughout the year, and October's schedules are catering to the ghoulish.

There are plenty of new offerings at the multiplexes throughout October, from the sequel "The Exorcist: Believer" to "Five Nights at Freddy's," but The Little Theatre,  Dryden Theatre and Roc Cinema allow the movie-going community a chance to see older films for the first time (or again!) on the big screen. And it's always exciting to see a movie from the 1970s projected for the first time, especially horror films, which are best served in a communal environment with other gasps following the jump scares.

Here’s a quick roundup of classic spooky season films to see:

Dryden Round Table: Trends in Horror Films Over the Last 50 Years | Dryden Theatre | Saturday, October 21 at 2 p.m.
The Dryden Theatre has been offering roundtable discussions, which is a great way to interact with fellow movie lovers. Their discussion on horror films will feature Dryden’s Curator of Film Exhibitions Jared Case, Kendall Phillips and Will Scheibel from Syracuse University, and Ben Scrivens, Founder and President of Fright Rags. Free for members, $10 non-members, $5 students with ID or 17 and under.


"Scream" | Roc Cinema | October 24 | 6 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.

See Wes Craven's seminal slasher, which has a devoted fan base, in Rochester this October. Ghostface has been haunting movie-loving teens and 20-somethings since 1996, and the iconic mask has solidified its place in popular culture. There's no better time than Halloween to catch this movie on the big screen.


"The Addams Family" | Roc Cinema | October 25 | 6 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.
The creepy, kooky family makes an appearance during the spookiest month of the year. Barry Sonnenfeld's 1991 film starring Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston is a staple of weird cinema and a great choice for a more lighthearted option amongst the slashers and gore other seasonal films provide.


"Halloween" and "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers" Double Feature | The Little Theatre | October 28 | 6:30 p.m.
It’s not Halloween season without John Carpenter's excellent and influential 1978 classic "Halloween." The Little Theatre will pair Carpenter's film with "Halloween 4" (directed by Dwight H. Little) on 35mm film, for a fun double bill of Michael Meyers's unrelenting terror.

"Casper" | The Little Theatre | October 29 | 7:30 p.m.

Nineties kids and families have a chance to see everyone's favorite friendly ghost, larger than life on the big screen. "Casper" is a definitive movie of many childhoods and getting to share that with others IRL is a real treat—how many hearts will be once more won over by the words "Can I keep you?"


"Nosferatu" | The Little Theatre | October 30 | 7:30 p.m.
Not only is F.W. Murnau's 1922 "Nosferatu" an important piece of cinema history, but audience members will also be treated to a live score performed by Katie and Ben Morey, Karrah Henahan Teague, and Brandon Henahan. Bring your own garlic.

"The Exorcist" | The Little Theatre | October 31 | 8 p.m.
The Oscar-nominated classic's screening is sadly quite timely, as director William Friedkin passed away in August 2023. "The Exorcist" has haunted moviegoers for decades; a great opportunity to spend Halloween night getting spooked while honoring a great director's legacy.

"The Cat and the Canary" | Dryden Theatre | October 31 | 7:30 p.m.
Paul Leni's 1927 film will screen with live piano music by Philip Carli. The movie takes place at a mansion, where relatives gather for the reading of a millionaire's will long after he had passed, and Leni's film promises a chilling atmosphere for Halloween night.

Matt Passantino is a freelance contributor to CITY. Feedback about this article can be directed to [email protected].