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Your Guide To All The Halloween Movie Screenings In Chicago This Year

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 4, 2016 2:20PM

Cubs playoff fever may be sweeping the city, but for horror fans, the preferred bats of October are of the vampire variety. Yep, Halloween is coming and that means scary cinema is in massive supply in the Chicago area, in venues ranging from movie theaters to taverns.

Hollywood is contributing a few releases, including new franchise entries (Rings and Ouija: Origin of Evil), Rob Zombie's latest exercise in retro excess (31), and perhaps most frightening of all, Tyler Perry's Boo!: A Madea Halloween. But the real treats are revivals of classics and rarities, as well as a couple of new features off the beaten path.

What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of all your scream cinema options. Check your local libraries, museums, park district facilities and other venues for more terrifying possibilities.

The Beyond with live score by Fabio Frizzi, Oct. 6, Music Box Theatre
Devotees of Italian horror hold Lucio Fulci's The Beyond in high regard and composer Fabio Frizzi's memorable score (a mix of unsettling orchestral music and synth-heavy progressive rock) is a key reason why. Frizzi has reworked his original score into a new "composer's cut" that he will perform live with his band as the 1981 movie about a gateway to hell plays. Tickets may already be in short supply, so grab them while you can.

Under the Shadow, Oct. 7-13, Facets Cinémathèque
A rare slice of genre cinema from Iran (set in Tehran, though shot mainly in Jordan), this haunted-apartment saga has earned stellar reviews and is said to blend ghost story thrills with a sociopolitical awareness.

All Day HorrorFest, Oct. 8, Muvico Rosemont 18
The newest local scare-a-thon is half the length of The Massacre and The Music Box of Horrors (see below), but its 12-hour schedule packs in plenty of big screen chiller fun. Presented by the folks behind the Flashback Weekend convention, this lineup is of special interest to fans of quirky, low-budget auteur Don Coscarelli. His 1979 fan favorite Phantasm will show in a new digital restoration, along with the latest sequel, Phantasm: Ravager, and his offbeat horror-comedy, Bubba Ho-Tep. Also showing are the original, classic versions of Night of the Living Dead, Fright Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Shin Godzilla, Oct. 11, Select city and suburban theaters
With this latest reboot, Toho Pictures is shooting to reclaim Japan's hold on the giant, fire-breathing monster they birthed back in 1954. Originally slated to be released as Godzilla Resurgence, this has garnered much buzz among lizard-king diehards. Japanese pop culture aficionados are also excited because the movie was written and co-directed by anime master Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion), although the film is live action.

Halloween at Comfort Film, Oct. 12, 19 and 28, Comfort Station
Fringe-cinema specialist Paul Freitag-Fey presents some relics from the VHS era at the Logan Square arts hub. If you have already seen TeenAlien (Oct. 12), The American Scream (Oct. 19) or The House of Yellow Carpet (Oct. 28), you can proudly claim your Master's degree in obscure horror. All screenings are free and two will be shown via cutting-edge VHS projection!

After Dark at the Chicago International Film Festival, Oct. 14 to 26, AMC River East 21
Chicago's oldest and biggest film festival offers another sidebar series of horror, action and cult fare from around the globe. On the horror side of that menu: The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Darkness, The Eyes of My Mother, Prevenge, Raw, We Are the Flesh, a program of short films, and a 30th anniversary revival of the disturbing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer from the south side's own John McNaughton. McNaughton and star Michael Rooker are scheduled to appear at that screening.

The Music Box of Horrors, Oct. 15 to 16, Music Box Theatre
As of this writing, the full schedule is still pending for one of the city's two 24-hour Halloween movie marathons, but what has been announced suggests it's going to be another winner. Highlights include a restoration of the rarely-screened silent "old dark house" comedy Seven Footprints to Satan; a director's cut of the '70s British subway shocker Raw Meat (with director and Chicago native Gary Sherman appearing); the satirical, gross-out cult favorite Street Trash; the franchise rule-breaker Halloween III: Season of the Witch (the one without Michael Meyers); the definitive horror-comedy, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; and rarely-screened offerings like Eyes of Fire, Torso, Eye of the Cat, Popcorn and Dr. Butcher, M.D. Horror merchandise vendors, artists and other side attractions will be part of the mix. The Music Box also offers several midnight movie horror offerings throughout the month.

The Massacre, Oct. 22 to 23, Patio Theatre
The city's original horror marathon (at least of contemporary vintage) returns to the questionable quarters of the charming but poorly maintained Patio Theater. To be fair, we haven't been to the Patio since dedicated Dennis Wolkowicz was brought in as manager, but the dubious ownership of Eddie Carranza keeps us gun-shy.

Still, Terror in the Aisles has put together an enticing program: Universal's monster mash The House of Frankenstein, a trio of beloved Italian fright films (Mario Bava's Black Sunday, Lucio Fulci's House by the Cemetery and Dario Argento's Inferno), some early David Cronenberg (They Came from Within, with star Lynn Lowry in person), plus The Lost Boys, the original version of The Omen and more. The Massacre is also $10 cheaper than its rival, The Music Box of Horrors, though if the weather is chilly and the theater's heat is not working again, you may want to spend that dough on a little nip to keep your fingers from freezing off.

Nosferatu with live score by the Invincible Czars, Oct. 24, Athenaeum Theatre
It was made more than 90 years ago, but F.W. Murnau's unauthorized adaptation of Dracula is a silent film that works surprisingly well with modern scoring. The Invincible Czars, a rock band from Austin, Texas, have scored a few silent movies and will lend their distinctive sound to the first—and some still say greatest—feature-length bloodsucker saga.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Oct. 27, Pickwick Theatre
The art deco design of the Pickwick in suburban Park Ridge is always a treat, especially when a classic movie plays in its spacious environment. Matthew Hoffman's Park Ridge Classic Film series has made a Halloween season show a tradition there and this year the Gill Man will emerge as the 1954 classic gets the spotlight. There will be a kids' costume contest and prize giveaways before the film.

The Velvet Vampire, Oct. 25, Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University

The city's most important film revival programmers, the Northwest Chicago Film Society, put their unique touch on Halloween with a showing of an arty and erotic horror film from 1971. Made for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, The Velvet Vampire has the distinction of being one of the few films made for the exploitation market that was directed by a woman, Stephanie Rothman.

Bootleg Grumlins, Logan Arcade, Every Monday night in October
The perfect trash movie programming for a noisy arcade and bar, this series features double features of low-budget Gremlins knock-offs or movies with similarly wee li'l creatures, including Critters 2 and Munchies (Oct. 10), The Gate and Hobgoblins (Oct. 17), Uninvited and Ghoulies 2 (Oct. 24) and Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go to College and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Oct. 31). But whoa...hey, hold on a minute! Gremlins 2 is a brilliant Looney Tunes-inspired comedy—a rare sequel that outshines the original and does not deserve to be lumped in with these copycats. That complaint aside, though, this sounds like a fun way to kill a semi-sober Monday night.

Altered States: Body Horror in Cinema, Through December, Doc Films
We love Doc Films and we love this series focusing on physiological fears. Screenings are Thursday nights at 9:30 and October presentations include David Lynch's experimental breakthrough Eraserhead (Oct. 6), the grisly 1988 remake of The Blob (Oct. 13), John Carpenter's always astounding The Thing (Oct. 20), and the original and untouchable Alien (Oct. 27). Distinct from this series, Doc Films will also treat horror buffs to The Purge: Election Year (Oct. 29 and 30), the silent classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame (hosted by Doc at nearby Rockefeller Chapel on Oct. 30) and a free mystery screening on Halloween night.

Horror Movie Madness, Every night in October, Logan Theatre
The Logan has an entire month of late-night frights, spanning from the silent era to the 2000s. The remaining schedule includes the seminal vampire masterpiece Nosferatu (showing with and without live organ accompaniment), The Wolf Man, Night of the Living Dead, Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Omen, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, Beetlejuice, Misery and Let the Right One In.

Is there a macabre must-see playing this month we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.