We all love Halloween, but sometimes it can be tiresome thinking of new ways to celebrate the night of ghosts, ghouls and goblins. Never fear, we’re here to offer some suggestions and hopefully make sure your night is one to remember.
While some people get their Halloween kicks out of trick-or-treating, going to costume parties, or raising the dead (er…), there’s surely no better way to celebrate the scariest day of the year than by watching a whole lot of scary movies. And the good thing is if you choose new movies each year you will have something new to look forward to rather than the tired same ol’ same ol’. If you attend Anthology Film Archive’s Day of the Dead 12-Hour movie marathon, then you may need a break, but such is the fun of a seven-film marathon: if you don’t like one, just get up and leave. Grab a bite to eat or even take a nap (if you can over the sounds of screaming), and return refreshed for the next of their rare classic screenings.
Luckily, that New York institution’s day of fright festivities is the day after Halloween on Saturday the 1st. If you want to celebrate the night of the 31st in the same way then start at Williamsburg’s Videology for an all-day Halloween marathon starting at 4pm when doors open to the DVD rental store/bar/screening room, including Nosferatu (1922) for free and Witchboard (1986), with games and scary festivities. Around the corner, beginning at 10pm, is the Nitehawk’s 600-minute Nite to Dismember beginning with An American Werewolf in London (1981) and concluding with Dawn of the Dead (1978).
Other cities without quite the same cinephile backdrop as New York usually have a cinema or two playing horror films both new and old. Or if your hometown doesn’t, there’s always Netflix from the comfort of your own home.
Set inside the (so-called) haunted Eastern State Penitentiary, Terror Behind the Walls is a Halloween attraction built to send you home shaking in your boots and questioning every doubt you had about the existence of ghosts. Charles Dickens even described the place as “worse than any torture of the body.” If you’re going to walk around any abandoned government building on Halloween, make it this one. If you’re unable to get to Pennsylvania, then there are plenty of other fun haunted locations to visit.
Visit Twin Peaks
Given the news that the 25-year-old series will return in 2016 (fulfilling the 1991 series finale’s own prophecy), why not celebrate All Hallows’ Eve in Lynchian fashion? In New York City, you have a Twin Peaks-themed late-night dance party starting at 11.30pm. A week earlier on the 24th there is a night of Twin Peaks-inspired burlesque by The Pink Room in the Lower East Side. While over in Williamsburg at every film and TV lover’s favourite bar, Videology, every Wednesday night is Twin Peaks Bingo night. A new season only just started on the 15th so play catch-up and try to win beer at the same time. Other David Lynch celebrations have been popping up regularly over Halloween so keep a look out!
Lights Out, Folks
The benefits of hosting a Halloween party in which nobody’s allowed to turn the lights on are twofold. Firstly, it’s creepy as hell and can make for some interesting costumes and shenanigans. Secondly, you don’t need to clean your house beforehand because nobody will be able to see the mess of dishes you didn’t get around to washing. Seriously, all you have to do to add an element of darkness (both literally and figuratively) to your Halloween party is turn the lights off. Just make sure people are careful with any candles you may have set up (it’d particularly be beneficial to have a couple in the bathroom lest accidents go unchecked) and you’ll be alright. Last year I went as Jack the Ripper with my own lantern to guide my way and it was a deliciously evil good time.
Visit the Headless Horseman
Not far north of Manhattan is Tarrytown, location of the famed Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The place is a fascinating one to visit any time of the year, but as one would expect from such a locale, they really out-do themselves through Halloween season. Cemetery tours, Horseman’s Hollow theme nights at Philipsburgh Manor, the annual Haunted Hayride, the Festival of Witches, and The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze are just some of the region’s festivities, not all of which are for the faint of heart. Similar places include Salem, Massachusetts, which is always bound to have some festive goodies.
Visit a Ghost Town
If you do your research just right – and there’s plenty of info out there about these places – you and your buddies may just find a ghost town that isn’t protected by the parks department, but rather has just been wiped off the map. What better setting for a night of debauchery and ghost stories?
Vincent Price Dinner Party
Did you know Vincent Price wrote a cookbook? In 1965 the star of House of Wax (1953), House on Haunted Hill (1959) and Edward Scissorhands (1990), with his wife, Mary, released A Treasury of Great Recipes. Saveur Magazine even labelled it, “one of the most important culinary events of the 20th century.” A quick Google will find you plenty of placed to buy the book, and many of the recipes are available online in written form as well as on YouTube so invite some of your most ghoulish friends over and serve them a seven-course meal made entirely to the horror master’s blessings. And you absolutely must twirl your moustache as you prepare a truly horrifying centerpiece.
Join a Zombie Apocalypse
It’s paintball meets The Night of the Living Dead (1968). Shoot at zombies at this event based in Atlanta, Georgia with your paintball gun as you go on the run through the woods trying to protect yourself from a horde of marching corpses. Sounds like fun! Elsewhere around the country are various zombie marches where people can dress up as the undead and walk through the streets en masse to the gawking wonder of tourists and locals alike.
The Great Horror Campout
Sadly, this event doesn’t take place on Halloween due to various factors. However, if you want to be into the Halloween spirit for as long as humanly possible then try The Great Horror Campout that is held throughout summer. Described as a “12-hour, overnight, interactive horror-camping adventure,” guests can choose the level of horror they will experience from mere campfire tales to high-octane that can involve being kidnapped, tied up and threatened with your life in the Californian woods. Only the dawning sun will save you.