Scary as Hell: The best of the South Side’s Halloween haunts

In 2006, the Salem Baptist Church in Pullman hosted a “Night of Terror”–one of those Halloween events some religious groups have to scare the crap out of kids. Only the things they use to scare them aren’t skeletons or ghosts, but abortions and homosexuals–because getting the former or being the latter presumably means you’re going straight to hell. You don’t even have to attend to take part in the horror.

This year, I hoped the event would once again take place–so that I could write about it in disgust, not because I actually support it–but alas, apparently negative publicity and public outrage have convinced the church to pull the plug (I don’t know for sure those are the reasons behind the move, but I’d like to think so). This left me without an article to write, but in retrospect, it’s much better this way. Because, even if the event was still going on, it’s not like the organizers would be waiting eagerly by their telephones, anxious to discuss it with the press. And I’m not sure I’d be able to maintain my journalistic integrity and remain objective while reporting about it anyway. So hey, now the event is off, sparing the mindsets of countless children, and I still got to sound off on what a terrible idea it was. It’s the best of both worlds!

Anywho, since it seems there are no other “Nights of Terror” going on on the South Side (although I could be wrong–if anyone knows of one, be sure to send it a rotten pumpkin with a “Go to hell, bigoted fear-mongering assholes!” carved into it for me), we’ve decided to present you with a list of fun Halloween events taking place in the area instead. Granted, none of them will be as scary as Salem’s “Night of Terror” was, but that’s probably a good thing.

Anna, in the Darkness
According to Dream Theatre’s website, “the audience are never merely spectators, but instead are actively invited into the dream world of the play where possibilities are endless, nothing is out-of-bounds, and the fourth wall does not exist.” It’s an ethos that’s practically made for spooky Halloween performances, and “Anna, in the Darkness” takes full advantage of it. The play, by Jeremy Menekseoglu, focuses on a young teacher trapped in her living room while angry mobs gather outside to kill her–and the audience is right there, watching and waiting with her inside. The Chicago Tribune calls it “a chilling experience.” No doubt it should also be good fun.
Dream Theatre, 556 W. 18th St. Through November 2. Thursday-Saturday, 8pm and 9:30pm; Sunday 7pm and 8:30pm. (773)552-8616. $12 online, $15 at the door. dreamtheatrecompany.com

Coffin Bangers Monster Mash Party
Reggies celebrates Halloween with an extravaganza of the most twistedly appropriate variety. Dwarves (the band, not actual dwarves, although the latter would fit right in) headline the night, laying snarling punk vocals and lots of shredding over three-chord progressions of the punk and garage varieties, albeit with much more polish. But the real treat lies in some of the openers, which include the self-described “High Priestess of Pleasure and Pain,” Miss Maya Sinstress; the Nu Ethix Suspension group; the ambiguously-gendered Pain-Kurst Girls; and Tomas the Geek Magician, who’s opened for such acts as Insane Clown Posse and Cypress Hill. Now there’s one hell of a frightening Halloween line-up.
Reggies Rock Club, 2109 S. State St. October 31. Friday, 8pm. $20, 18+. reggieslive.com

I Know What You Did Last Summer: The 2008 Residency Show
Spend the night at your favorite Co-Prosperity Sphere, hanging out with the Lumpen gang and this year’s residents at the Harold Arts organization. The Harold Arts Residency features artists and musicians, and they’re celebrating the whole week with “Harvest,” a series of gallery openings and concerts to celebrate their collective efforts, including the release of their third compilation album, “Harold 2008,” and the unveiling of “HARQ,” their brand-spanking new quarterly. The special Halloween gathering includes the work of 31 artists, performances by Slow Horse, Arctic Circle, and Lesley Flanigan, a costume contest with “celebrity judges” (what that means, only Lumpen knows), and a haunted labyrinth–which, if it’s anything like their infamous cardboard-box rocketship ride, will surely be worth the trip in itself.
Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan St. October 31. Friday, 6pm-6am. $6