Philadelphia Story and a who’s who of horror: Philly movie screenings in October

5 minute read
Apocalypse Now screens in Philly this October. (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)
Apocalypse Now screens in Philly this October. (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

The turn of the calendar to October means orange, black, and lots of anticipation of Halloween. Theaters in Philadelphia that show old movies are undoubtedly getting into the spirit of All Hallows' Eve, with a long list of horror classics on local screens. But there's much more to see, including two Francis Ford Coppola restorations, and the film that gave "gaslighting" its name.

Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

The recent Brad Pitt space drama Ad Astra may have borrowed its entire structure from Apocalypse Now, so here's your chance to see the real thing. Francis Ford Coppola has again tinkered with his 1979 Vietnam classic for a new 40th anniversary cut that's allegedly the last; you can see that October 2 at 7pm at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

The Philadelphia Story

The quintessential movie about the Main Line comes to the Main Line on October 4, with a showing of the classic 1940 film, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, at Bryn Mawr Film Institute (824 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr). The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Janny Scott, author of the new book The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune, and the Story of My Father, and the granddaughter of the woman who was the inspiration for Hepburn's Tracy Lord.


There's a lot in the news today about gaslighting, and this week you'll have a chance to see the movie that gave that practice its name. Gaslight, the 1944 film directed by George Cukor about a man seeking to falsely convince a woman that she's crazy, will show October 2 at 7:30 at the Ambler Theater (108 East Butler Avenue, Ambler). The film stars Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten.

Hocus Pocus

As Halloween approaches, the 1993 witchcraft classic, which stars Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, will show at the Philadelphia Film Center (1412 Chestnut Street) on October 3 at 7:30pm. The movie will be accompanied by Hocus Pocus Quizzo.

Arsenic and Old Lace

It's not too cold for an outdoor screening, and one is set on October 4 at 7pm for Frank Capra's 1944 classic, starring Cary Grant. The screening will take place at The Woodlands (4000 Woodland Avenue).

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

On October 8, the 1962 camp classic starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford will show at the Ritz Five (214 Walnut Street) at 7:30pm Robert Aldrich's film is part of the Classic Movie Essentials series. Heidi Salman of WHYY will introduce the film.

The Cotton Club Encore

Coppola has revisited The Godfather and Apocalypse Now (see above) multiple times each over the years for new edits. Now, Coppola has done the same for his 1984 film The Cotton Club, which will begin a one-week engagement at Ritz at the Bourse starting October 11. The film stars Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Gregory Hines, and the 35th anniversary reissue restores 30 minutes of footage.

The Room

If you're checking out the first night of The Cotton Club and want to see something that was an even bigger box office flop, stay late at the Bourse for the monthly midnight showing of Tommy Wiseau's The Room (2003), which is also October 11, at 11:59pm.

The Masque of the Red Death

Roger Corman's 1964 take on Edgar Allen Poe will be shown on October 13 at 1:30pm, at the Colonial Theatre (227 Bridge St, Phoenixville.) The film stars Vincent Price.

Rosemary's Baby

Continuing the October horror theme, Roman Polanski's 1968 classic, starring Mia Farrow, will screen at Ritz Five on October 15, also as part of the Classic Movie Essentials series.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The original midnight movie, the 1975 anti-classic will again show at Ritz at the Bourse just before midnight on October 18. As usual, the troupe known as Transylvanian Nipple Productions will perform in front of the screen as a "shadow cast."

Mary Poppins

It's not all horror this month, as The Lightbox Film Center (3701 Chestnut Street) will host a free screening of the original 1964 Mary Poppins at 2pm. on October 19. It's part of the Lightbox's Family Matinee series.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

On October 22, Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street, from 1984, will show at Ritz Five at 7:30, along with an introduction by critic Garrett Smith.

Paris is Burning

Jennie Livingston's groundbreaking 1990 documentary about the drag ball scene in New York City helped inspire the hit TV series Pose, and now it's screening at Bryn Mawr Film Institute on October 24 at 7pm, as part of BMFI's The Glamorous Life series. Bridget Gurtler, Ph.D., an historian of sexuality, will introduce the film and host a post-screening discussion.


'Tis the season, as Ritz at the Bourse will host a screening of John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween at 11:59pm on October 25. The film has been remade, rebooted and sequeled to death in the 41 years since, but this is the original.


One of the oldest and greatest horror films, F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent classic Nosferatu, will be shown along with live organ accompaniment at The Colonial Theatre on October 27 at 2pm. The program will benefit the Theatre Organ Society of the Delaware Valley.

Prince of Darkness

Two days before Halloween, on October 29, Ritz Five will be showing John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness from 1987, starring Donald Pleasence, Lisa Bount, Jameson Parker and Victor Wong.

The Exorcist

And finally, on Halloween night itself, The Colonial will show William Friedkin's 1973 horror touchstone, starring Linda Blair as a young girl possessed by the devil. The screening, which comes from Warner Brothers' digital restoration, is at 7:30pm on October 31.

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