Black Sundays, Michael Jackson tributes, and other ways to spend Halloween in Milwaukee
Where to get scared and be scary this Oct. 31
With Halloween upon us, The A.V. Club is looking for a good, pants-crapping scare. But where should we look? Right now vampires are the pop culture monsters-du-jour, but the immortal bloodsuckers aren’t all the frightening anymore. In fact, they’re so cute and alluringly pouty on True Blood and in the Twilight movies that we sort of just want to have sex with them now. How fun is that? Zombies are as popular as ever, but after Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland, the undead inspire more chuckles than chills. Shit, zombies are almost as funny as freaking werewolves. Some day, they might even be as good at basketball.
You know what’s really scary? Not having anything to do on Halloween. Just imagine—everybody else is out having a good time, and you’re stuck at home with a bong and a Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory DVD. (Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad.) But if you’re looking to get social this Oct. 31, here are your best options in and around Milwaukee. (Look for a round-up of the best bar specials tomorrow.)
Bars all over town will be having costume parties, so if you want to dress up and (potentially) be paid for it, you can pretty much take your pick of watering holes. Or you can just head to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is inviting patrons to wear Andy Warhol-inspired costumes in connection with its Andy Warhol: The Last Decade exhibit. Participants will get into the exhibit for half-price between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll definitely want to head over to the big annual block parties on Water Street and on the East Side. Registration for the Water Street costume contest starts at 8 p.m., and winners can take home two tickets to Sunday’s big Packers-Vikings game and $500. If you strike out there, stop by Hooligan’s to enter the East Side costume contest, where $1,500 is up for grabs from anonymous judges stalking the area’s bars.
Do you want a regular ol’ haunted house, or do you want a TRULY haunted house? A “TRULY” haunted house is what’s promised on the website for Mars Haunted House on Historic Mitchell Street. Apparently the proprietors brought in paranormal investigators to prove that the house is a resting stop for ghosts and ghouls, so you’ve been warned—the guy with the chainsaw really is trying to saw you in half. The site also promises more than 30 rooms and free parking—though making people pay would be truly terrifying. For the state’s “largest and only heated” haunted house, hit up HauntFest over at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis. It’s also the only haunted house doing a Michael Jackson tribute—the “Neverland” show features zombies performing the King Of Pop’s greatest hits. Too soon?
Sitting through the latest shitty Saw movie has become something of an annual Halloween tradition, though only the biggest torture-porn fans will muster any enthusiasm for the newly released Saw IV. A much better option is Paranormal Activity, a mockumentary that has the same true-to-life creepiness of The Blair Witch Project. If you want to go the old school horror route, UWM Union Theatre is showing Mario Bava’s brilliant 1960 film Black Sunday Friday and Saturday. While the elements that made Black Sunday an international sensation and put Bava on the map haven't aged especially well—its then-shocking violence is downright tame by modern standards— time has been kinder to its formal qualities, particularly Bava's creepy atmospheric filmmaking and lurid Expressionism.
The 88Nine Halloween Bash at Turner Hall has the biggest music lineup of the night, with Great Lake Swimmers and Serena Ryder heading up a line-up of local bands that includes The Championship, Will Phalen And The Stereo Addicts, Chalice In The Palace, and Kid Millions. Another great local music line-up is at Linneman’s, which hosts The Chain, The Trusty Knife, and Jonathan Burks. Otherwise New Found Glory will make the ghost of pop-punk’s glorious past rise from the grave at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom, and Matisyahu will try to breathe some fresh life into his tired “I’m a Hasidic Jew who raps!” shtick at Pabst Theater.