11 Bone-Chilling And Fun Halloween Events In Chicago
By Lauren Whalen in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 19, 2015 5:00PM
Chicago loves Halloween, so it’s no surprise that the city is bursting with entertainment come October. However, this Halloween is particularly rife with quality local entertainment. We've got you covered this year, whether your thing is haunted houses, horror films, pumpkin patches or the city's first major Halloween parade. And if your thing also happens to be theater, burlesque and a little Rocky Horror, there's even more events coming up. From the sublime to the ridiculous, the classic to the contemporary, the family-friendly to the nearly-naked, these 11 shows will thrill, shock and bewitch—whatever your scary pleasure.
Scream, Queen, Scream! (Photo courtesy of Hell in a Handbag Productions)
Scream, Queen, Scream!
Whether they’re lampooning Helen Keller or paying homage to Bette Midler, Hell in a Handbag Productions gleefully throw caution and class to the wind with a hearty dose of camp. Their latest, Scream, Queen, Scream!, is a trio of vignettes revolving around the terrors of office temp life, hungry monsters in little boxes and identical twin hags reminiscent of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Join the screaming queens now through Halloween night at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville, where the sequins are always sparkling and the cocktails flowing. As an added bonus, the venue is located right above Hamburger Mary’s, ideal for a double feature of fried goodies and deadly hilarious entertainment.
Scream, Queen, Scream! runs through Oct. 31 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. (above Hamburger Mary’s)
Spooky Boobs: A Gorilla Tango Burlesque Cabaret
Gorilla Tango Burlesque is known for its sizzling and provocative parodies of pop-culture staples such as Game of Thrones, Ghostbusters and all three original Star Wars movies. This Halloween at midnight, experience a cabaret of solo acts created, choreographed and costumed by GTB’s Geek Girls and Boys. From Frankenstein to Freddy Krueger, Spooky Boobs will have a little something (and a lot of skin) for everyone. Don’t forget your dollar bills for a mid-show tip break and prepare to have the pants scared off of you.
Spooky Boobs runs Oct. 31 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
John Carpenter's Halloween in theaters
Cinephiles and philistines alike will agree: the Halloween season isn’t complete without at least one viewing of the iconic inaugural tale of Michael Myers and his babysitter sister. This year, Fathom Events will screen the original Halloween nationwide in theaters on Thursday, Oct. 29. As The AV Club observes, the date is a bit unusual, but as Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, it’s a good chance to view the blood, gore and white mask before the inevitable onslaught of costume parties and midnight shows. Don your finest '70s JCPenney togs, grab the popcorn and head to one of two Chicago movie theaters offering this spooky classic—featuring a special new introduction from the horror-master himself, director John Carpenter.
Halloween screens Oct. 29 at ShowPlace ICON (150 W. Roosevelt Rd.) and AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.).
Sarah Koerner as Dracula (Photo courtesy of All Girl Dracula)
Since their 2012 debut, the Chicago Mammals have specialized in all-female productions of classics like Moby Dick, Frankenstein and selected works of Edgar Allan Poe. Join this dynamic ensemble for All-Girl Dracula, their first production at the Chicago Mammals’ new space in Ravenswood. The timeless horror story of vampires and their hunters and lovers takes on a new twist with an exclusively female cast, and the intimacy of the venue will give you an up-close and creepily personal view of the action.
All-Girl Dracula runs through November 21 at Zoo Studios, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Club Krave Presents A Sideshow Spooktacular: Misfit Carnivale
Club Krave is a hidden gem on Chicago’s far Southwest Side. Nestled between two storefronts, the LGBT-friendly venue offers cheap drinks, fun music and a year-round assortment of the best sideshow, vocal and drag performances the Chicagoland area has to offer. Take a trip on October 23 for Club Krave’s Misfit Carnivale, a glorious tribute to the modern-day freak. Belly dancing, fire eating, and performers rolling in glass and stapling their own skin (yes, you read that right) will be on display, with all-night drink specials and music courtesy of DJ Catalyst. The show starts at midnight, but get there early for happy hour from 7-10 p.m., featuring $2 well drinks and draft beers.
Misfit Carnivale runs October 23 at Club Krave, 13126 S. Western Ave. in Blue Island
Nightmare in Paradise 4
Nothing Special Productions returns to Rogers Park with a prequel installment to its wildly bawdy musical-horror series. Nightmare in Paradise 4 incorporates puppetry, gender fluidity and low-budget finery to tell the story of a young group of friends who find their dream vacation quickly turning dark thanks to a mysterious bellhop and his twisted Nightmare Kingdom. There’s a Maze of Death, a game show host with nasty motives and a host of monsters in this warped live version of a Saturday morning cartoon. A perfect warm-up for Halloween festivities, Nightmare in Paradise 4 is goofy, bloody fun in a short but addictively sweet package.
Nightmare in Paradise 4 runs through October 31 at BoHo Theatre’s Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Most everyone on the North Side has yelled "Why is your phone bill so high?" at the Music Box Theatre’s annual presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This year, mix it up on the South Side at the Beverly Arts Center, where the perverse shlockfest that redefined cult film will screen with a live shadow cast. Standard Rocky Horror rules apply: it’s a jump to the left, and then a step to the right if you don’t know the rest, there’s likely a hardcore fan who will show you the way of Dr. Frank-n-Furter and his bizarre posse. Fishnets, umbrellas and newspapers are welcome, and a cash bar will provide all the liquid libations your liver can handle.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show runs October 30 at the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, 2407 W. 111th St.
No One Here But Us Witches
Uptown Underground has become a ubiquitous venue for “top-shelf retrotainment” since its opening earlier this year, and the encore presentation of last year’s hit No One Here But Us Witches is an ideal fit. Now with more witches and more songs, this original cabaret explores the unlikely meeting of several nefarious ladies, from 101 Dalmations’ Cruella de Vil to Wicked’s Elphaba, and explores what happens when these women “stop being polite and start being witches.” Witches’ stellar ensemble boasts the cream of the crop of Chicago musical theater, including Harmony France, multiple-Jeff Award nominee and the show’s creator. France told BroadwayWorld.com: "I wrote this cabaret to celebrate those often misunderstood characters. It will be an outrageous, exciting, fun evening with a cast that is not only a power-house collection of high-caliber actresses, but are also powerful, beautiful, and truly individual women. It is about time for this coven to hit audiences in Chicago!"
No One Here But Us Witches runs Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 at the Uptown Underground, 4707 N. Broadway.
via Goblin Market
If your Halloween tastes run to the female-driven and literary, check out Black Button Eyes Productions’ stirring musical based on the Christina Rossetti poem of the same name. Now through Halloween night, Goblin Market follows Lizzie and Laura, two sisters who return to their childhood home, where as adolescents they harbored dark fantasies of goblin men and forbidden fruit. When Laura succumbs to temptation, it is up to Lizzie to save her sister’s life. A unique blend of song and storytelling, Goblin Market is unusual and powerful, a perfect alternative (or companion) to graphic gorefests.
Goblin Market runs through Oct. 31 at Pentagon Theater at Collaboraction, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Otherworld Theatre’s Gone Dark is unique in that the production opens on Halloween, allowing the scariness of the holiday to carry well into November. This gothic romance-thriller follows Ned Dalton, a tormented vampire hunter, and his fellow slayers summoned from around the world after the death of their leader. As his foggy memories clear, Ned realizes his duties are not yet done and the dead may rise again. Set in the historic Epworth United Methodist Church in Edgewater, Gone Dark is an immersive production: audience members will be led through the narrative by a guide and encouraged to explore and experience the world of the play firsthand.
Note: according to Gone Dark’s website, the play contains strong violence and sexual themes. Patrons must be over 18 or accompanied by an adult, and viewer discretion is advised.
Gone Dark runs Oct. 31-Nov. 22 at Epworth United Methodist Church, 5253 N. Kenmore Ave.
Chicago Horror Theatre Festival
According to its website, this two-week festival is “the nation’s only celebration of the murderous and macabre performed live onstage.” The Chicago Horror Theater Festival will feature sketch comedy, cabaret, dance, one-act and full-length plays, including a one-night-only remount of the award-winning Musical of the Living Dead and two world premieres from the show’s creators: Musical Horror Story: Exorcism and The Haunted Life. Participating ensembles include the Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company (who is also co-producing), Matter Dance and pH Comedy Theater.
If you’re looking for a little family-friendly action, the Festival will offer special children’s programming on Sunday, November 1. Kids can dress in their Halloween costumes and enjoy treats and new shows from Story Town Improv.
The Chicago Horror Theatre Festival runs Oct. 29-Nov. 7 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.