The 6th Annual

Guide to Halloween 2017

for the Greater Washington DC / Baltimore Area


Thomas Huff (2017)



Time again for that strange amalgamation of All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, Lemuria, Guy Fawkes Day, and Día de Los Muertos that’s come to be known as Halloween.  This is the final edition for 2017.



Halloween Forecast


This year Halloween is on a Tuesday.  We’ll have a nearly-full moon (at 88% illumination) in the sky from 4:26pm to 4:24am.  Werewolves will be out in full force on both October 5 and November 4.  This year we also have a rare-ish Friday the 13th in October.  And lastly, SiriusXM Scream Halloween Radio launches Friday, October 27th on channel 145.  And The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror XXVIII is slated for the 22nd.



Best Haunted Houses / Haunted Attractions


For many, the quintessential thing to do over the Halloween season (besides carving your jack-o-lantern, of course) is to make an annual pilgrimage to your local haunted house.  It can be a tricky thing though because these places only pop up for a month before they vanish, and the quality, quantity, and general experience can vary greatly, and does not necessarily correlate to the price tag.  Here’s some general rules-of-thumb: 1) It’s probably best to avoid haunted attractions that say “new this year,” as the ones that have been around for a while have had time to build up their collections and refine themselves with each passing season.  2) Ignore any claims that an attraction is “the biggest in Maryland” or such, as these claims are usually based on square footage or some other metric that has nothing to do with how good they actually are.  3) VIP/Fast Passes are almost always a rip-off; besides, standing in line helps build the anticipation.  4) Always do an Internet search for discounted tickets and check sites like groupon, livingsocial, goldstar, etc.  An attraction’s website might also offer coupons or advanced sale discounts.  Also keep in mind that many attractions will have cheaper pricing early in the season and/or on off-peak nights.


Without further ado, here are some quick thoughts on attractions in the area.


Cox Farm Fields of Fear, Centreville VA [outdoors] ( – An entire village of Halloween haunts, incredibly well done and well run, and one low admission price of $25-$30 covers everything (sans games and food), including the hayride (and the hayride here is by far the best one in the area).  Downside: it suffers from middle-of-nowhere syndrome, but you could always combine it with a trip to the Air and Space Museum near Dulles for a nice day trip.  [Top Pick]


The Cox’s Point Haunted Mansion, Essex MD [outdoors] ( – Cox Point is not a mega-attraction like the first two, but they’ve been doing this since 1968 and what Cox’s Point lacks in size, it makes up for in quality and ambience.  Some of their room set-ups offer an almost-theatrical-like experience that you won’t get at your average walk-through, and with admission set at only $10, you can’t go wrong.  This one’s definitely one of my favorites.  [Top Pick]


Halloween Happening, Crownsville MD [outdoors] ( – These guys started doing this at the Arundel County Fairgrounds in 1989 and currently the price is only $15 to go through.  First you’ll get a guided tour through the Haunted Barn followed by a Haunted Hayride.  This definitely feels like a through back to old time Halloween.  Wait times to get in may exceed an hour, but after you’re in everything moves right along.  They are only open the two weekends before Halloween.


Bennett’s Curse, Essex MD [indoors] ( – After taking a year off they are back this year in a new location at Eastpoint Mall.  This was really the daddy of all the area’s haunts in their old location.  I have not had a chance to get out to the new setup yet.


Markoff’s Haunted Forest, Dickerson MD [outdoors] ( – One of the biggest and best haunted attraction in the area.  They’ve been doing this since 1992.  But this one’s pricy, really pricy, the general admission only covers one of their two trails, and then they charge even more for their hayride.  Also, it’s even more in the middle-of-nowhere then Fields of Fear, as Dickerson MD is conveniently located near absolutely nothing.


Six Flags Fright Fest, Largo MD [outdoors] ( – On the up side, you get to go ride rollercoasters like Superman and ROAR all day before settling in for some spooky nighttime fun, but on the down side, this one’s pretty pricy; however there are pretty substantial advance ticket discounts on their website.  Busch Gardens, King’s Dominion, and Hershey Park also make the Halloween transformation in you’re up for putting a few miles on the odometer.


Laurel’s House of Horror, Laurel MD [indoors] ( – This old multiplex should make a great haunted house but it’s really short.  It’s way too pricy for what’s there.


Field of Screams, Olney MD [outdoors] ( – These guys put on a decent event but if you’re looking to do the entire thing you’ll spend a small fortune.  The setup comprises four attractions spurring off a field of bon-fires, and you only buy tickets to the attractions that strike your fancy.  I’d say just stick to the Haunted Trail, or if you’re looking for something a little bit different, they offer an innovative human shooting-gallery called the Zombie Paintball Apocalypse where you are driven on a two-story wagon (I person preferred the bottom level) through a field armed with paintball guns and shoot at glow-in-the-dark zombies, which is not quite as cool as it sounds, but still fun and unique.  The other two attractions there are on the weakish side.


Shocktober at Paxton Manor, Leesburg VA [outdoors] ( – Decent set up in a historic mansion consisting of three attractions.  At $30, it’s a little on the pricy side for what you get.  One unique thing they have there is (for an extra $5) a “ride” where they stuffed you in a coffin and simulated your burial.


Scream City at RFK Stadium, Washington DC [indoors] ( – This one’s been put together by the same folks that do Olney’s Field of Screams.  It’s a medium sized attraction that with large sized prices.  They also charge $15 for parking on top of the already pricy ticket, but you can avoid the parking fee by parking up on 19th or East Capital St and walking.  Scream City is in a large tent, and thus open when raining.



Other Halloween Attractions


The Glow: A Jack O’ Lantern Experience, Reston VA ( [outdoors] – 5,000 masterfully carved pumpkins set along a half mile trail, many combine dozens of pumpkins to create a single picture.  The trail is divided into themed sections that create elaborate dioramas.  Think ICE! with pumpkins.  Note that different timeslots, even on the same day, have different prices.  Wear good walking shoes.  [Top Pick]


Lawyer’s Moonlight Maze, Thurmont MD [outdoors] ( – The maize maze at Lawyer’s Farm is one of the biggest and the best.  Each year they have a different theme.  This year it features 6.3 miles of maze that pays tribute to their 95th anniversary.  You can do by day or (if you dare) by night with a flashlight (b-y-o-flashlight and warm clothes recommended).  But as if the maze weren’t enough, Lawyer’s also has their famed pumpkin cannon.  This thing launches pumpkins at speeds of 75 MHP to the massive targets positioned about the distance of a football field away.  Downside: The maze itself tends to get quite muddy at times, so you’ll probably want to wait for a couple of dry days in a row before you hit it.


The Spooky Movie Film Festival, Silver Spring MD [indoors] ( – This festival runs October 5 thru 8 at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring and showcases new independent horror films from around the globe.  A few of the filmmakers are on hand to present their films in person, and you might even get to see a world premiere or two.


The AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring MD [indoors] ( – In addition to Spooky Movie, in late October the Silver Theater also presents the silent horror classic Nosferatu (1922) accompanied by live musical score, local horror-host legend Count Gore de Vol host a Werewolf Double Feature: I was a teenage werewolf with An American Werewolf in London, the Zombie Walk movies (see below), and a few other classic horror films.  This year they will also be presenting a free screening of the animated movie Edgar Allan Poe’s Extraordinary Tales (2015) on the 27th (advanced tickets required).


Old Greenbelt Theatre, Greenbelt MD [indoors] ( – The Old Greenbelt Theatre also usually gets in on the action with some choice films.


The Washington Psychotronic Film Society, Washington DC [indoors] ( – The WPFS does a good job of keeping the Halloween spirit alive throughout the year every Monday.  “Movies of peculiar interest” club president Dr. Schlock likes to call them, this includes films ranging from movies that are just a little bit much for general public consumption to movies so unimaginably bad that they somehow become good again.  They currently meet at Smoke & Barrel (where beer can be purchase to aid your viewing experience), and they ask for a small $2 or $3 dollar donation, which in turn gets you a raffle ticket for god-awful prizes.  It’s a good time.  And this year they have a special treat lined up for Monday the 16th as they present the DC premiere of 3 Dead Trick or Treaters.


Rodgers’ Farm Corn Maze, Stevenson, MD [outdoors] ( – If you want a corn maze closer to Baltimore, Rodgers’ Farm, right outside the Baltimore Beltway, has a small but fun themed corn maze.  And while you’re there, grab a pumpkin right off the vine in their field.


Día de los Muertos Sugar Skull Workshops at Caravanserai on the Avenue, Baltimore MD (Hampden) [indoors] ( – Sugar skulls are an important part of the Mexican Day of the Dead festivities.  Make your own every Sunday in October.  If two classes are offered on the same date, I recommend the later slot so you can stay longer if you need more time.  Also, plan to leave at least an extra half hour for them to dry after you’ve finished.  $10-$20.


Little Shop of Horrors (Vagabond Players), Vagabonds Theater in Fell’s Point, Baltimore MD [indoors] ( – America’s Oldest Continuous Little Theatre presents from October 27 to November 25.


Pub Dread, Washington DC [indoors] ( – These guys have given the former Mockingbird Hill, at 7th and T, a total makeover and decked out the bar from head to toe in giant spiders, coffins, creepy dolls, and rattling windows, but be warned, the drinks on the menu will run you between $8 and $15.


Monster Mini-Golf, Gaithersburg / Columbia / Towson ( [indoors] – This is open year-round, but what better time to play some indoor monster-themed black-light mini-golf then now?



Ghost Tours


So I’m not really a “believer” but I do enjoy some creepy history of which there is plenty on a good ghost tour.  I’ve always kinda thought that ghost tours weren’t as much about ghosts as they were a way to try to make history seem cool.  Now, the thing about ghost tours is that the companies often rotate staff and call in reinforcements around this time of year which mean that experiences can potentially vary wildly, but here are my experiences with the major groups in the area.


Washington Walks’ Most Haunted Houses [downtown DC]

( – Not much to say here but it was a well laid out tour with well-constructed, well-told stories, a lot of history.


Alexandria’s Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour

( – I had a great tour guide for this one.  Again, well laid out tour with well-constructed, well-told stories.


Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry (formerly Shirley Dougherty’s Harpers Ferry Ghost Tour)

( – Shirley Dougherty was truly one of the most gifted stories tellers I’ve met.  She guided her groups through the dark streets of Harpers Ferry on October nights as guide to the specters for 23 years.  She joined the spirit world herself in late 2011 at the age of 83.  She will be missed.  I assume the tour has been left in good hands.


Candlelight Ghost Tour of Frederick ( – Again, pretty good tour guide, well-constructed tales.  If you’re familiar with the city, check it out; there’s creepy history to be had there.


Original Fells Point GhostWalk ( – I had the worst guide on this one, but Fells Point does have some of the most interesting stories.  I do recommend the book written by tour founders Melissa Roswell and Amy Lynwander, Baltimore’s Harbor Haunts: True Ghost Stories (2005).


Annapolis Ghost Tours ( – At $18, the price is a little steep on this one, but, if you live in or around Annapolis or are fairly familiar with the city, this tour is probably worth taking.  Like Fells Point, the company founders, Mike Carter and Julia Dray, have put together a book titled Haunted Annapolis (2012).  The book is actually cheaper than the tour and it’s pretty decent; if you’re taking the tour, splurge for the book.


“Ye Haunted History of Olde Ellicott City” ( – I felt this tour was disorganized and focused a little too much on resent hauntings, which seemed odd for such an old city, but the tour was decent enough.



One Night Only


Silver Spring Zombie Walk ( – Every year, hundreds of zombies meet up at Denizens Brewing Co. and shamble down the streets of Silver Spring the Saturday before Halloween, and then top the night off with a zombie movie at the AFI Silver.  Downside: the actual walk only lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.  Notes: If you wanna see the movie, grab tickets in advance, ’cause they’ve been known to sell out.  This year’s movie: Night of the Living Dead (1968).


The Great Halloween Lantern Parade & Festival, Patterson Park, Baltimore

( – Watching the long line of lanterns snaking through Patterson Park is quite beautiful.  Groups march sporting themes, and individuals, young and old alike, take part.  A festival precedes the parade where you can watch street performers and listen to live music.  There is also a lantern-making area so you can be part of the procession if you so choose.  This is held on the Saturday preceding Halloween.


Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk (and carving festival) (at Roosevelt Center / Northway Field – Pumpkin carving festival on October 27th (they provide the pumpkins), and on the night of the 28th, hike the dark Jack-o-lantern infested path of Northway Forest, enjoy hot cider and stories.  You don’t have to carve a pumpkin to walk the walk.  Free.  (


Richard Chizmar – Author, editor and founder of Cemetery Dance is doing a book signing and Q&A Barnes & Noble, Bel Air on October 7th.


Edgar Allan Poe – Kicking off the month on October 1st is the annual Poe Society Lecture ( at the University of Maryland BioPark right near Westminster Hall.  Then on October 7th, long time Poe House curator, Jeff Jerome, presides over a wreath laying at Mr. Poe’s grave along with performances and readings (  You can always combine either of those with a visit to the Poe House for a self-guided tour and make it a whole Poe day (  On Halloween night Westminster Hall (where Poe is buried) opens up for a party with impersonators, storytellers, authors, and tours of the Westminster Catacombs among other things.  This has not been confirmed yet for 2017, but I expect it to happen.


The David Keltz Poe Bus Tour ( leaving from the Annabel Lee Tavern, Baltimore MD on October 8 at 2pm.  David Keltz is the premier Edgar Allan Poe impersonator, having committed to memory enough of Poe’s stories and poems to fill three separate one man shows.  Needless to say he is also an authority in the subject matter and his bus tour of Poe sites in Baltimore should be both entertaining and educational.  $25.

            In addition, Mr. Keltz is performing a one man show as Poe at the Lyceum Museum in Alexandria on October 30th and 31st.  $15.


War of the Worlds Radio Show (plus E. A. Poe) at Yellow Sign Theatre, Baltimore MD – ( On October 28, YST presents a recreation of the broadcast of Orson Well’s great Halloween hoax from 1938.  Afterwards David Keltz will before performing a half-hour show as Edgar Allan Poe.  The entire evening is free.


Halloween ComicFest, pretty much every comic shop ( – Free Comic Book Day now has an October sibling as comic shops across the country have an assortment of free Halloween themed comics the Saturday before Halloween.  Third Eye Comics in Annapolis ( tends to go particularly overboard with the festivities.


National Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Spooktacular’s at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC ( [indoors].  The NSO plays a selection of macabre classics on Oct 29th.  Tickets: $15 to $18.


Scerry Avenue in Kensington – Every October 31, for over twenty years now, Perry Ave in Kensington MD transforms into Scerry Ave, and nearly every house on the block goes Halloween crazy with haunted houses, smoke machines, spooky music, live autopsies, science experiments, chainsaws, giant jack-o’-lanterns, and even clowns hiding in the sewers, not to mention the wheelbarrows of candy.


Los Días de los Muertos Festival at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC [indoors] ( – Day of the Dead celebration with demonstrations, performances, and activities throughout the day on Oct 29th and 30th.  Free.


DC Drag Queen High Heel Race, Dupont Circle neighborhood in DC – A riotous good time can be had watching dozens of drag queens race down 17th Street on the Tuesday before Halloween.  You’ll wanna get there early to get a good spot and to watch all the racers strut their stuff.


If burlesque is your thing, check out the schedule for Bier Baron Tavern in Washington DC for a couple of different Halloween themed burlesque and variety shows during October.  (



Some Locally Produced Horror Movies worth Checking Out


The Exorcist (1973) – Written by Georgetown University and GW University graduate William Peter Blatty, first as a book and then as a movie, it was filmed in Georgetown, and based on a true story that took place in Cottage City MD in the late 1940s.  The film’s story also takes place in and around Georgetown.  (You can check out the “Exorcist Steps” and the “Exorcist House” at 3600 Prospect Street in Georgetown.)


Most everyone has seen The Exorcist, but thanks to the ineptitude of the studio, its real sequel, The Exorcist III (1990), is far less know.  Both written and directed by Blatty, adapted from his novel Legion, it returns to Georgetown to continue the story of Lt. Kinderman and Father Dyer some fifteen years later.  Exorcist III ignores and basically erases the existence of the second film.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Filmed in Burkittsville MD, Germantown MD, and Granite MD.  The story takes place in and around Burkittsville.  The fictional documentary Curse of the Blair Witch (included as an extra on every DVD and BluRay release) is also a must see and is actually meant to be viewed before watching the movie.  Blair Witch has always seemed to me more of a phenomenon than just a movie as any summary of the impact of the film seem incomplete without inclusion of the transmedia marketing campaign, pre-release hoax, and popularization of the “found footage”/“POV” sub-genres.  As a side note, writer/director Eduardo Sánchez is a graduate of Wheaton High School and Montgomery College, Rockville.


Isle of the Damned (2008) – Written, produced and filmed in Baltimore MD.  Like the Blair Witch, this one also uses “hoax-marketing” as it is presented as a lost 1980 Italian exploitation film by the great (and fictional) genre director Antonello Giallo.  Over the top gore, comically disgusting violence, and extremely bad dubbing (after all, it “is” an Italian film, although admittedly no member of the cast or crew actually knew Italian) make this an absolutely ridiculous classic.


Lovely Molly (2011) – From local writer/director Eduardo Sánchez (of Blair Witch Project), filmed just outside of Hagerstown MD.  Lovely Molly is a pretty intense haunted house tale that also takes place in the location it was filmed.  But unlike the Blair Witch, this one uses the POV video footage only sparsely.  So if your complaint about the Blair Witch was that it was too shaky, you won’t have that problem here.


Call Girl of Cthulhu (2014) – Local director Chris LaMartina and his writing partner Jimmy George pay tribute to HP Lovecraft in this over the top comedy-horror.  The movie was filmed entirely in the Baltimore area with local talent.


The Watermen (2011) – From local writer/director/producer Matt Lockhart, The Watermen was filmed in and around New Port News VA, and on the Chesapeake Bay.  The story is also set in those locations.  This one’s not for everyone, but fans of slashers will dig it.  The watermen in the story were portrayed during the filming by the Guinea, a tribe of Hessians that settled in that area at the end of the Revolutionary War and have lived off the water in that area ever since and have maintain their distinct dialect to this day.  The film stars Jason Mewes (aka Jay from Clerks).


If you’re still desperate for more, and I mean desperate, there is always the entire catalog of Baltimore’s low-budget B-movie sci-fi scream-king, Don Dohler.  In his case the “B” in “B-movie” stands for both “Bad” and “Baltimore” since he filmed all his movies there using such exotic locations as his backyard, his front yard, and forest behind his backyard.  Check out such awful direct-to-video classics as The Alien Factor (1978), Fiend (1980), Nightbeast (1982), The Galaxy Invader (1985), and Blood Massacre (1988).


A few other movies of note pertaining to the area—


I highly recommend the 2002 movie Mothman Prophecies staring Richard Gere and Laura Linney.  The movie’s story starts out in Georgetown and in and around Washington DC before moving to Point Pleasant WV.  It was mostly filmed in and around Pittsburgh but a few scenes were shot in DC.  The movie is based on a true story and it’s one of my all-time favorites.


Also from 2002, is Red Dragon starring Anthony Hopkins as psychiatrist/serial killer Hannibal Lecter.  In the story Dr. Hannibal Lecter lives and practices in Baltimore MD, and much of the movie was made in Baltimore (with a few scenes also filmed in Westminster MD).  However, some “Baltimore” scenes in the movie actually used filming locations in Pasadena & Long Beach CA as a “stunt-double” for the city.  Baltimore, however, pulled this same trick as a stand-in for “Chicago.”  Movie magic at its finest.  [As a side note, although Dr. Lecter was held at the “Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane” in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), the filming of that actually took place in and around the Pittsburgh area.]  Anyway, you can check out the exterior of Hannibal Lecter’s Red Dragon townhouse at 5 W Mt Vernon Pl on the back side of the Walters Art Museum.


Some other hometown Halloween celluloid heroes include Johns Hopkins alum Wes Craven, best known for his movies Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and The Serpent and the Rainbow (sadly, he just passed away this past August); Baltimore’s John Astin (also a Johns Hopkins alum, and current instructor there) best known as Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, and if you prefer that other show Marilyn Munster’s Pat Priest grew up in Arlington.



Local Area Non-Fiction Perfect for Halloween


The Real Story Behind the Exorcist: A Study of the Haunted Boy and Other True-Life Horror Legends from Around the Nation’s Capital by Mark Opsasnick (2007) – Amazing look into the origin and evolution of five local legends, including The Exorcist, Prince George’s infamous cryptozoid The Goatman, the Legend of the Ghost of Crybaby Bridge, the Luzo-Brazilian Black Magic Cult, and a local UFO contactee that made national headlines.  The book doubles as a magnificent example of research and journalism.  $10.


Weird Maryland: Your Travel Guide to Maryland’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Matt Lake (2006) – Phenomenal jaunt through the strange state of Maryland.  This full-color coffee table book is only $20.  There is also a Weird Virginia for those of you on that side of the Potomac, and for some reason the Virginia book also includes Washington DC.


Haunted Maryland: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Line State by Ed Okonowicz (2007) – Great little book of ghosts and creepy legends from all over Maryland.  $10.  [There is a revised and expanded hardcover with the title The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories (2010); it’s $25.]


“Ghosts: Washington Revisited” (Ghostlore of the Nation’s Capital) by John Alexander (1998) – Incredibly thorough and detailed book of local ghost stories from in and around the DC area.  $15.


Snallygaster: The Lost Legend of Frederick County by Patrick Bayton (2008) – An exposé on everyone’s favorite half-reptile, half-bird eater of children and chicken.  The book follows the evolution of the legend through old newspaper reports.  $13.


Witch Trials, Legends, and Lore of Maryland: Dark, Strange, and True Tales by William H. Cooke (2012) – An examination of the witch trails that took place in Maryland between 1654 and 1712, recounted through newspaper articles and other documents, along with other witch lore and legends.  Mr. Cooke, being a lawyer, offers a unique perspective on the trails.  $10.



Who’s Your Local Cryptid?


I thought it’d be fun to throw this in here this year.


If you live in PG County, you’ll need to watch out for the Goatman, a half-man, half-animal creature that was either a scientist who experimented on himself at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, or the offspring of an experiment that went horribly awry there.  It roams the area in and around the Patuxent Research Refuge and attacks people from time to time.


If you live in Fairfax County, you’ll need to avoid The Bunnyman, not exactly a cryptid but instead a deranged axe-wielding maniac dressed from head to toe in either a pink or white bunny costume, I guess it’s hard to tell when it’s dark out.  He’s mostly been spotted in the area just south of George Mason University.


Frederick County and west, keep your eyes on the skies, Snallygaster is a dragon-like beast that’s been known to swoop down and grab a child from time-to-time.


Washington DC, be on the lookout for the Demon Cat.  A giant black cat that is spotted from time to time in and around the federal government buildings and when spotted is a harbinger of tragedy on a grand-scale, like the night before JFK when down.


In and around the Chesapeake Bay area?  Be careful!  There’s a serpent-like sea monster named Chessie in the bay.  It’s reported to be from 25 to 40 feet long, and before you go thinkin’ it’s just an anaconda escaped from the Baltimore Zoo, this thing also has fairly large flippers.


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Please contact me if there’s something that you know about in the area you think might make a good addition here, or if you find any errors, or have any comments whatsoever: thuff3000 [at]


Special thanks to Northern Virginia’s Monster Madhouse TV ( and Baltimore based Socked & Amazed Magazine ( for help with distribution of this year’s guide.  Please check out their websites and facebook pages.                   


Guide to Halloween for the Greater Washington DC / Baltimore Area, Vol. 6.  Copyright © 2017, Thomas Huff.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be sold, distributed for profit, or used for profit in any form without prior written permission from the copyright holder.  This includes posting, publishing, reproducing, recording, or copying, in any form or by any means, in part or entirety, including electronic or mechanical.  Please credit me if you are using information in this document.  And contact me if you discover errors in either grammatical or factual form.  Otherwise, feel free to distribute to your friends.  Happy Halloween!

ver. 2017.3