Hey Ghoul, have you got plans for Halloween? Because I’d be terrified to spend it without you.
(Pause while I wait for the phone to ring, and the people in charge of the Ryan Gosling meme to tell me that I’m everything they’ve been searching for.)
No? OK then.
Want to spend Halloween night in the Paris Catacombs? This isn’t just a hot pickup line, but rather the question posed by Airbnb’s most recent contest/publicity stunt. I was all set to enter, because I AM HALLOWEEN. Truly, Samhain came to me in a dream and told me so, and verily I must carry out my responsibilities once more this October.
Among my clan, this most glorious of months goes by the name of Rocktober. Halloween, its focal point, eclipses Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and most importantly, Boxing Day, as my favorite of all holidays (sorry New Year’s Eve).
As I was saying, I was about to enter Airbnb’s contest to spend the night in the Paris Catacombs until I realized that you have to do it on Halloween proper. For me to not already have awesome plans for Halloween weekend would be tantamount to The Pope not having plans for Easter. This year, I once again make my semi-annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles to take in the sites, sounds, and smells of unemployed makeup and special effects artists putting together their sizzle reels for the following year’s job search.
Unfortunately, the greatest Halloween attraction L.A. has to offer, Delusion, is on temporary hiatus as it ramps up to run year-round beginning in early 2016. So, I’ll make do with a trip to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, where there will be a haunted house devoted to Guillermo Del Toro’s forthcoming “Crimson Peak.” As a bona fide Victorian haunted house film freak, not to mention a fan of just about everything Del Toro’s ever done, I’m practically vomiting stage blood with excitement. Other “mazes” featured this year include: “The Walking Dead,” “Halloween,” “Insidious,” “Alien Vs. Predator,” and “This Is The End.” I’m kind of afraid to see if they re-create Jonah Hill’s satanic sex scene from the latter.
Just in case you’re not planning on flying to the Sprawlingest City on Earth to celebrate the Feast of Samhain – and assuming that doesn’t result in your eternal soul being ripped from your body and reverse-raptured to the dankest gullies of the Inferno – there’s still a ton of fun to be had right here in Portland. Or, you know, whatever part of the world you’re currently living in while waiting to move to Portland. Regardless, assuming that every last person on Earth will eventually try to squeeze into Portland (I’ve seen the numbers people, and this is only a slight exaggeration), I decided to do the wrong thing and help you find a ghastly experience that’s right for you. This list shall be six, for six multiplied thriceishly is the number of the beast, and according to Samuel Johnson, as quoted by Hunter Thompson, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Even if only for one night.
- Fright Town – L.A. sets the bar high for haunted houses. There are just too many people, too much money, and too much talent for illusion. But Portland doesn’t do too shabbily. Fright Town, in the basement of Memorial Coliseum, offers three haunted houses for the price of one, plus the opportunity to watch folks foolish enough to seal themselves inside a bucking coffin freak out on a big screen. Last year’s H.P. Lovecraft-themed The Madness/The Cannery house was a blast of freaky, fishy dread straight outta Innsmouth, and Baron Von Goolo’s Museum of Horrors always gets the night started right with its surprisingly confusing maze and darkly comedic curiosities.
- The Doll Asylum – Yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds, but the fright of seeing dolls mutilated, placed into unnatural positions, and just generally made to live out the worst fears of Pediophobics everywhere is somewhat mitigated by the charming family who opens up their house to total strangers and treats them with the hospitality of long-lost friends. Admission to the Doll Asylum is free, unless you want to bring a doll to add to the collection, you twisted bastard.
- Ghost at the Roseland Theater – Ghost is a Swedish heavy-metal band that tweaks the formula of its evil sounds with surprisingly melodic vocal stylings. Dressing in matching outfits (usually of the robed and/or masked variety) with lead singer Papa Emeritus sporting a mitre and all-around anti-Pope getup, Ghost brings a theatrical bent and plenty of over-the-top devil worship to everything it does. If you like classic metal bands such as Mercyful Fate, Witchfinder General, or Pentagram, well, you’ve probably already heard of these guys. If not, get Halloween started early on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Roseland.
- Ooky Spooky 15th Annual BarFly Bus Halloween Tour – Don’t feel like driving? Awesome. Let the good folks at BarFly do it for you. Admittedly, the selection of bars visited by the bus isn’t super exciting; it’s basically dives like the Sandy Hut. On the other hand, there are no covers beyond the $30 bus ticket, and there are drink specials, free snacks, and plenty of other weirdos dressed up and getting loose. People-watching on this expedition is unparalleled, and if you can get a bunch of your friends together, you can take over an entire section of the bus and turn it into your own private party, just like you did in middle school.
- “Smiling Betty: An Original Portlandian Rock Opera” – You can read more about this in a future post, but on Sunday, Nov. 8, musician and teacher Marc Chervin brings his original “Musical Reading” to the Bossanova Ballroom for one night only. Telling the macabre tale of Betty, a lovely young woman with a horrifying secret, the production features the cream of the crop of Portland musicians and actors, including members of Trixy and The Nasties. In case you party hard on Friday night and somehow sleep through Halloween proper, you’ll still have a chance to celebrate the sordid side of life with Betty the following weekend.
- See a Scary Movie – October is the summer blockbuster season for horror fans. Besides “Crimson Peak,” Eli Roth has two movies still showing in Portland theaters (“The Green Inferno” and “Knock Knock”) and of course there’s a new “Insidious” movie. Even if all of these look like total crap to you, fear not. Portland’s Laurelhurst Theater is getting into the spirit by showing a ton of 1980s cult films, including the original “Friday the 13th,” “Demons,” “Prom Night,” and “Brain Damage.” Even if you’re low on dough and/or too lazy to think up a costume, you can still tap into your darkside and drink a pint while doing so. Extra points if you freak out your fellow movie goers by putting red food coloring in your beer and spilling it down the front of your shirt while moaning inhumanly and scratching at a prosthetic lesion on the side of your face.