The outdoors is a terrible place if you are in a horror movie being chased by a knife freak. Hell always know the woods better than you.
But for horror movie fans, the outdoors has been a haven last year. When theaters went dark, old-fashioned drive-ins were kept alive with the help of scary movies, some of which became box office hits, at least by pandemic standards.
This summer, outdoor venues in and around New York City continue the promise of dizzying nights under the stars. Most of their lineup is packed with blockbusters, classics, and kids’ movies, but a few evenings are devoted to some real screaming. From creepy and cuddly animated films for kids to terrifying shocking exploitation films, here’s a selection of horror movies (and a pinch of sci-fi) to accentuate your summer. Most films start at dusk, with theaters encouraging viewers to arrive an hour before to set up blankets or lawn chairs.
Not so scary fears
Various locations in New York; free.
Outdoor film screenings take place in the green spaces of the five boroughs in this summer series presented by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Parks. On July 22, the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, in Highbridge Park in the Bronx. Space is limited so get there early.
Manhattan; $ 30 minimum spending; reservations recommended.
The Standard, High Line, a chic Meatpacking District hotel, has transformed its open-air terrace into a summer cinema, free popcorn included. A night of nostalgia awaits Generation X on July 26, when the hotel airs “The Goonies” (1985). The anti-adventure film, starring Corey Feldman and Josh Brolin, isn’t quite in the horror category, but it will certainly keep kids – and parents – on the edge of their seats.
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn; free.
“Grit” is the theme for the 21st season of this popular Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy film series. A surprisingly tender zombie apocalypse comedy “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) kicks off on August 5. The film will be screened at Harbor View Lawn, located at the highest point in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and that means fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. Before the film begins at sunset, there will be music courtesy of Brooklyn Radio at 6 p.m. and a short film selected by BAMcinématek. There is also free valet parking and Smorgasburg vendors.
Flushing, Queens; $ 10 for members; $ 15 for non-members.
On August 20, the Garden’s movie night series – its premiere – will feature the animated film “Abominable” (2019), about a cuddly Yeti named Everest. In addition to access to the garden after hours, attendees can enjoy frozen treats and make snowpeople-themed crafts from botanical materials.
Greenville, NY; $ 8 per ticket.
This Catskills drive-through, established in 1959, has become a popular spot for visitors to Greene County, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of New York City. The summer film program includes a two-night (July 30-31) stint from the sci-fi meta-comedy “Galaxy Quest” (1999), starring Tim Allen, on a cast of a show “Star Trek” type. which are transported into space for a real mission. Pair the film with concessions that include a rotation of beers from local breweries.
Hillsdale, New Jersey; $ 25 per car.
Founded in 1886, this Bergen County farm is known for picking peaches, cake donuts, and an annual Halloween light show. But this summer, there are movies on the schedule as the venue brings back its popular drive-in movie theater space. The very family-friendly film lineup includes the animated comedy “Monsters Inc”. (2001), July 16; the Creepier Than You Remember creature feature “Gremlins” (1984), July 24; and the teenage comedy “Zombies 2” (2020) about the walking dead and the smile on August 14.
Oyster Bay, Long Island; free.
Here’s another chance to see “The Goonies,” this time at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach on July 28, as part of this summer series of pop-up movie nights. Vehicles will be allowed into the parking lot on a first come, first served basis from 7 p.m.
Be very scared
Greenpoint, Brooklyn; $ 55 per car; $ 22 per outdoor seat.
Located on the East River with stunning views of Manhattan, this popular open-air cinema features a dark slate of very scary horror movies at midnight all summer long. Highlights include “The Nun” (2018), July 16; “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (1986), July 17; “Grindhouse: Death Proof” (2007), July 24; “Army of Darkness” (1993), July 30; and “The Cabin in the Woods” (2012), July 31. Watch from your car, or go by bike or on foot and use a chair provided by the venue. Movies are shown rain or shine, and pets are welcome.
Various locations in New York; $ 16 per ticket.
An adventurous program is on the program of this outdoor cinema organization which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. On July 19, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn will air “October Country” (2010) with a live score by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, a struggling family member featured in the 2009 documentary. July 24, The Cemetery will also feature a program of weird short films about “the living, the dead and those caught in between,” as the list puts it. On July 28, the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn, will host a free screening of the dark and playful German psychological thriller “Sleep” (2020).
Bayshore, New York; $ 40 per car.
This pop-up Suffolk County spot, located in a parking lot at Westfield South Shore Shopping Center, is filled with horror all summer long. Late night screenings include “Us” (2019) on July 16 and “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) on July 17. There is also a Christmas lineup in July which includes dark and playful films: “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” (2010), July 30, about a monstrous Santa Claus; and “Krampus” (2015), July 31, about a demonic creature that terrorizes children at Christmas. Better yet: they’re shown on a 52-foot screen, Long Island’s largest.
Lehighton, Pennsylvania; $ 10 per ticket.
About a 90-minute drive from New York City, it’s a top destination for die-hard horror fans. Highlights include a deadly Christmas double (July 23-24) that includes the ’80s slasher films “Silent Night, Deadly Night” and “Christmas Evil”; a series of 10 35mm films “Schlock-o-Rama” (July 30-August 1) which includes “The Tingler” (1959) and other films by schlockmeister director William Castle; and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ exploitation shake “The Wizard of Gore” (1970), August 3. Parts of the land are available for people who wish to pitch a tent and camp for the night. In the dark. In the woods. (You have been warned.)