Arts & Events

Scary and Sweet Halloween Events

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 29, 2009 - 09:37:00 AM

Halloween has gone from Trick-or-Treat to Superstore, apple bobbing to Exotic Erotic.  

TV and Hallmark grabbed The Great Pumpkin from Peanuts’ tight fist, like a goody bag, in the ’60s, and a decade later, the blowout began with monster costume dance parties, parades and well-laid plans for mayhem. 

Halloween went from a neighborly gambit to another commercial holiday, when bank tellers and grocery checkers get to dress up. Following Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, the once affable holiday has become notable, along with a new, high-gloss Fourth of July, on the financial calendar for gross sales. 

There are, however, amid the overblown commercialism, any number of unique or just plain old-fashioned events in the pumpkin patch that restore the homely and imaginative virtues of what began as the Celtic New Year’s Eve, or Samhain in Gaelic.  

A select few such events, both for Halloween and for the Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, follow. At presstime, some remained unannounced for the weekend or difficult to ferret out—there’s no superlisting or clearinghouse. Parties, dances, haunted houses and other events, including altars for the Dia de los Muertos, may be found just about anywhere around the Bay Area. 

Special shows in theaters top the list.  

Perhaps the most imaginative is Larry Reed’s brilliant Shadowlight production of Octavio Solis’ Ghost of the River, which features shadowplay stories with puppets and live actors, at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco’s Mission District, 8 p.m., Wed.–Sun. Oct. 28 through Nov. 8.  

Closer to home, Virago Theatre presents The Afterlife of the Mind, at the Ashby Stage by Ashby BART, which could be described as an offhandedly philosophical macabre comedy about an ingenious brain hosted by another’s body (see the review in these pages).  

Tomorrow night, Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond opens The Rocky Horror Picture Show with all its ghoulish campiness and song for a six-week run, Fri.–Sat. nights at 8, Sun. afternoon at 2:30 p.m. (232-4031,  

In Martinez, there’s The Texas Chainsaw Musical at the Campbell Theatre, closing, appropriately enough, on Halloween—so get your tickets: call 925-798-1300.  

In San Francisco, Thick House on Potrero Hill stages The Creature, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (415-401-8081; www.  

Meet the Samsas brings Kafka up-to-date as a TV Reality Show,  

at Boxcar Theatre, South of Mar-ket (800-838-3006), and intimate Phoenix Theatre, off Union Square, presents The Woman in Black, a tale of a solicitor sent to a remote house on England’s East Coast (  

Top among the film house events is the Oakland Paramount’s feature of that near-classic of horror and comedy, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein on Friday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Box Office opens at 6 p.m. All Tickets: $5. 

More traditional and family-oriented fare, this Saturday, on Halloween proper: Halloween Pancake Breakfast Benefit, 8–11 a.m., First Methodist Church of Richmond, 101 Matina St. at the corner of W. Richmond Ave. Suggested donation $6 (236-0527).  

Spooky Tales in the Redwood Grove, 1–2:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden: $8-$10, adult and one child, $3 each additional child (RSVP: 643-2755 ext. 03).  

More scary poems and short stories at the Children’s Halloween Party, 3–5 p.m. at Rebecca’s Books, 3268 Adeline (852-4766).  

The Fall Storyline for preschoolers and families at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin St., 11 a.m. (526-3720).  

Halloween on Solano Trick or Treat at 3 p.m. with a costume contest and magician, Ty the Magic Guy, from 5–8 p.m. Solano at Masonic (  

Princesses, Pirates and Super Heroes Weekend at Playland-Not-at-The-Beach, is an old-fashioned autumn festival. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat– Sun, 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. $10–$15. (932-8966; 

The aircraft carrier USS Hornet presents a Monster Bash Aboard with haunted tours, costume contests, music, activities for kids, 7:30 p.m.–midnight. 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3, Alameda. $10–$25. (521-8448, ext. 282;  

Fourth Street in Berkeley features live music, games for kids and free face painting for all, 12–6 p.m. ( 

Among the get-down and rock-out bashes: Hippie Halloween Costume & Dance Party with Country Joe McDonald & ’60s tributes, 8 p.m. Art House gallery & Cultural Center, 2095 Shattuck. $15. (482-3336).  

Mike Meezy Halloween Bash, 9 p.m. Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck. $10 (548-1159; www. 

Guns for Sebastian Halloween Party at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck. (647-1790).  

The 12th Annual Murder Ballads Bash will be at the Starry Plough at 9:30. $10. (841-2082; 

On Friday, a candlelight procession and papier-mâché skeleton head contest is scheduled to be held for the Dia de los Muertos, 6 p.m. at Cedar and Walnut streets with a kids’ costume contest, 4 p.m. at Epicurious Gardens, 1511 Shattuck Ave. (www.anotherbullwinkleshow. com).