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October 06, 2023

There are plenty of scary movies to watch at Halloween; here are 4 set in Philly

If you're looking for a classic, try Alfred Hitchcock's 'Marnie' or George A. Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead.' If you want something more recent, put on 'Split,' one of several horror flicks from M. Night Shyamalan

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Scary movies in Philly Screenshot/Universal Pictures/United Film Distribution

Looking for a scary movie to watch near Halloween? There are several set in Philly, including 'Marnie,' above left, and 'Dawn of the Dead,' above right.

Horror fans have long known to avoid the woods of rural Maryland, the home of the Blair Witch, and entire state of Texas, the site of an infamous chainsaw massacre. But if the scary movies set in Philadelphia are any indication, they should also steer clear of Broad Street.

Philadelphia has gotten plenty of play in horror thanks to M. Night Shyamalan, the Penn Valley native who consistently films in the area. The tradition of grounding scary movies in the city goes beyond him, however, stretching back to so-called master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. As Halloween approaches, here are four horror flicks that unfold in Philly — with one creepy episode of TV thrown in for good measure.  


Like Hitchcock's signature screamer "Psycho," this 1964 movie begins with a mysterious blonde stealing a ton of money from her boss. But instead of winding up at Bates Motel, Marnie (Tippi Hedren) ends up in a manipulative marriage with a Philadelphia publisher played by Sean Connery, right at the start of his run as 007. Marnie has strange anxieties around thunderstorms, sex and the color red, leading to fits of panic throughout the movie. The source of her distress isn't explained until the end, when her traumatic past is finally revealed.

Available on: Peacock

'Dawn of the Dead'

Director George A. Romero is most associated with Pittsburgh, where he attended college and shot his classic zombie flick "Night of the Living Dead." Its 1978 sequel, however, begins in a news station in Philly, where a panicked crew is broadcasting through an undead apocalypse. WGON-TV producer Fran (Gaylen Ross) and her traffic reporter boyfriend Stephen (David Emgee) flee the city via the station's helicopter, bringing two cops (Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger) along with them. When the group takes refuge in an abandoned mall, the movie turns into a satire on consumerism, punctured by plenty of zombie attacks.

Available on: Roku with ReDiscover add-on

'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me'

The majority of the TV series "Twin Peaks" and its 1992 movie prequel "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" take place in a fictional Washington town, where homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is murdered. But the latter film features a strange sequence set at the FBI office in Philadelphia, where a long-lost agent — played by none other than David Bowie — mysteriously reappears and then vanishes again. The rest of the movie concerns Laura's disturbing final days in Twin Peaks, where she is followed by a malevolent spirit who possesses human beings.

Available on: Max, Prime


Something is wrong in Philadelphia or its surrounding suburbs in just about every one of M. Night Shyamalan's movies. But you can truly be a tourist with "Split," which features well-known landmarks including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 30th Street Station and the Philadelphia Zoo. The 2016 movie begins outside the King of Prussia Mall, where a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder (James McAvoy) kidnaps three teenage girls. Imprisoned in a dingy underground lair, they must attempt to escape from him and all of his personalities. Though it stands alone on its own, "Split" is the second movie in a trilogy — so it's not a bad idea to marathon "Unbreakable" and "Glass" while you're at it.

Available on: Prime, Apple, YouTube and Google Play for $3.99 rental 

Home Again' ('The X-Files')

The long-running sci-fi series has at least four episodes set in Philadelphia, but its most recent is easily the best. "Home Again" is part of the show's recent revival, which sees agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) back at work solving bizarre cases for the FBI. In this Season 10 episode, the pair heads to Rittenhouse Square, where a city official has just been killed. The culprit, as the audience sees from the start, is a shadowy figure called the Band-Aid Nose Man, who serves as a bit of a folk hero for unhoused people. (He also rips victims limb from limb.) "Home Again" delves into Scully and Mulder's personal histories, which might make it confusing for a first-time "X-Files" viewer, but it's easy enough to follow the monster at the center of the story.

Available on: Hulu, Prime

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