Christmas might get most of the holiday-spectacle hype, but Halloween inspires far more creative performances. Looking to face your fears? Here’s a roundup of some of the Bay Area’s spookiest shows and activities outside of the usual haunted-house-pumpkin-patch-costume-contest circuit, ranging from campy to creepy to downright bloodcurdling.
The Old Mint, 88 Fifth St., San Francisco)
Oct. 10–Nov. 3
Leave it to legendary horror enthusiast and producer Joshua Grannell, a.k.a. Peaches Christ, to team with truly twisted talent for a haunted attraction that could literally only happen in San Francisco. Located in the historic Old San Francisco Mint, Terror Vault is an immersive theatrical experience lasting around 45 minutes long, featuring some of SF’s fiercest underground performers—and a narrative based partly in fact. Meanwhile, Dead Zone is a lighter and kid-friendly (ages 10+) game of zombie tag with a scavenger-hunt component. With production design by David Mazochi (David Flower Productions), scripting by Christ, and operations support by Non Plus Ultra, this collaborative spectacle will be a Halloween highlight.
Terror-rama III: Dead the Whole Time
Awesome Theatre, Pianofight, 144 Taylor St., San Francisco
Sit in a dark room with a duet of diabolical new works: “My Cannibal Summer,” featuring a star-crossed Cannibal romance, and “The Suffered,” a ghost story, written by Awesome Theatre members Claire Rice and Colin Johnson, and hosted by Master of Terrormonies, Sindie Chopper. TERROR-RAMA is a biennial event, with the in-between year used for raw readings and focused play development, making Awesome Theatre’s contribution to the late-night, double feature undoubtedly worth the wait.
Journey to the End of the Night
UN Plaza, 355 McAllister St., San Francisco
Oct. 13, 2018, 5pm–10 pm
For over a decade, the ever-evolving Journey to the End of the Night has taken over the streets of San Francisco to reveal its hidden corners for legions of casual LARPers. This year’s fantastical journey takes the night sky as its muse, as participants assume the identities of the Nox Aeterna, “a secretive sect of night worshippers.” Attendees roam from checkpoint to checkpoint, collecting stamps and avoiding capture by the nemesis “Sol Keepers,” while reveling in the imaginative mini-performances and game stations set up by volunteer creators along the way. It’s free to play, but pre-registration is required.
Mr. Nobody’s Mystic Midway
Winchester Mystery House, 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose
Select dates through Oct. 31
If you’ve been waiting for the right time to avail yourself of the curiosities of the Winchester Mystery House, this guest attraction offers a perfect excuse. In addition to the regular offerings of the Mystery House, including the Hallowe’en Candlelight tour, October brings Mr. Nobody’s Mystic Midway, the latest “pop-up” performance by immersive theater company The Mystic Midway. Located in the gardens, this “twilight carnival” includes a variety show, midway games, an interactive quest component, and a chance to get your (mis)fortune told, with tokens purchased on etsy or on site.
Oakland Metro Operahouse, 22 Second St., Oakland
Perhaps the bloodiest and bawdiest ticket in town, theatrical wrestling sensation Hoodslam brings back Bloodslam—a horror homage—to the ring at the Oakland Metro. Join Hoodslam favorites (not confirmed but likely: Nurse Ratchet, Drugs Bunny, Brittany Wonder, and El Chupacabra) plus Broseph Joe Brody as ring announcer for a three-act blood brawl of monstrous proportions. Who will crawl out of the ring, or for that matter, the venue, alive? Pro tip: don’t wear your newest threads, and, as always, "don’t bring your f’n kids."
'Evil Dead the Musical'
San Jose Stage Company, 490 S First St., San Jose
Oct. 25-Nov. 4
Who could have guessed the 1981 low-budget cult classic The Evil Dead would have such staying power? For Matty Gregg of Roshi Entertainment, the movie has long been a favorite, making ushering in a tech-savvy stage production of tongue-in-cheek musical homage, Evil Dead the Musical, something of a mission. Combining cinematic visuals and a “virtual” set displayed on a giant 28’ x 8’ backdrop screen and 16’ x 16’ video floor, plus a requisite “splash zone” for the truly intrepid, this combination of movie magic and musical theater could be a Silicon Valley tradition in the making.
A Very Scary Misfit Cabaret
Z Space, 450 Florida St., San Francisco
Oct. 25-Nov. 3
Kat Robichaud is practically synonymous with spooky, sexy entertainment, as her latest Misfit Cabaret will prove. A variety showcase of music, circus, burlesque and blood held on the spacious mainstage of Z Space, Misfit Cabaret provides a Halloween refuge of camp and creepshow, featuring house band the Darling Misfits, musician Brenden Getzell, Marilyn Manson drag with Johnny Rockitt, machete burlesque with Mojo De Ville, aerials with Maia Adams and more.
SOMO Village, 500 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park
We couldn’t resist including one “traditional” haunted house here, and Blind Scream, celebrating its ten-year anniversary, seems like the perfect choice. A joint venture between Drew Dominguez and Judy Groverman Walker, Blind Scream makes notable use of Dominguez’ long career (over 40 years) of building haunted houses all over California, including at Knotts Scary Farm. In addition to two original haunted spaces, Doc’s Horrortorium and Lil Horrus’s Fun House, Blind Scream also offers the ultimate in fear, called the Last Ride. For a mere five dollars, you can climb inside a coffin, shut the lid, and get a joyride to the cemetery where dirt is shoveled atop the coffin and you're left (temporarily) for the worms. Now that’s embracing your fears!