Art

Murder Mysteries, Movies, and Mayhem: What to Do on Halloween Weekend in NYC

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All dressed up and nowhere to go? Never fear, we’ve collected some scary-fun events to check out throughout Halloween weekend. 

The Phantom of the Opera

October 28

Before Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum rode a romantic sewer gondola, The Phantom of the Opera was a horrifying Grand Guignol masterpiece. In the 1925 version, Lon Chaney is so committed in the title role that, rumor has it, much of the crew was afraid of him during production. Rich chiaroscuro plays up the creepy catacombs and disfigurement, but it’s the allusions to Poe that truly unsettle — Chaney in a skeleton mask gliding through the ballroom, death ever-present at the party. See the gothic classic presented here on 16mm, with a live score by Underworld Oscillator Corporation. —Heather Baysa

At 7, Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424-A Third Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-799-1017, morbidanatomymuseum.org, $12

Halloween Murder Mystery

October 28

Sometime in the history of the Mount Vernon Hotel — built in 1799 and refurbished as a country retreat in 1826 — an unidentified skeleton was found during renovations. But who offed the poor sap, and why (and how?) did he get under the floorboards? Make like Miss Peacock and poke around at the museum’s “Halloween Murder Mystery” event, appropriate for ages eight and up. Sleuths can explore the candlelit museum, piece the clues together, and find the culprit — who might have gotten away with it, were it not for you curious meddlers. —Rob Staeger

At 6:15 and 7:30, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, 421 East 61st Street, 212-838-6878, mvhm.org, $15–$25

Media Kills

October 28 — November 13

Anthology and Screen Slate team up for a series in which technology breeds horror Channeling the pioneering philosophies of Canadian mass-media prodigy Marshall McLuhan, Anthology Film Archives and the invaluable New York City repertory resource Screen Slate are partnering for a series of movies concerned with media and its terrifying power. “The Medium Is the Massacre,” which involves exclusively 16mm and 35mm projections — and offers certain perks (free tickets! drinks!) for Screen Slate members — starts this week and, as is becoming commonplace for horror-film series, bleeds well into November. Of course there’s David Cronenberg’s body-horror opus from 1983, Videodrome (which features a McLuhan-inspired pedagogue), and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s internet ghost story Pulse (2001). But don’t sleep on the less-well-trodden selections: Ivan Zulueta’s self-vivisecting Arrebato (Rapture, 1979); Lamberto Bava’s batshit Demons 2 (1986); and Unfriended (2014), the newest entry in the series and one of the few American independent horror films of recent years to play with form in an innovative way. Long live the new flesh. —Greg Cwik

Various times, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 212-505-5181, anthologyfilmarchives.org, $7–$11

Danse Macabre

October 29

Shake your mortal remains all night long in Brooklyn

Hawthorne scholar Norris Yeats once described the writer’s use of dance as representing “pagan sensuality and a lack of restraint.” Sound like a good Saturday night? If you’ve never danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, now’s your chance. Dances of Vice presents its annual “Phantasmagorey: The Haunted Ballroom,” a dance-hall soirée featuring decadent entertainment inspired by the shades of all yesterday’s parties. Costumed phantoms hailing from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries will be on hand to mystify and entice. Funeral jazz is provided by the Ghost Train Orchestra, and an extra $35 gets you early entry and access to a hidden absinthe parlor. —Rob Staeger

At 10, Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn, dancesofvice.com, $59+

Stranger Things Dance & Costume Party

October 29

Halloween in the Upside Down? Stranger things have happened, so make your way through all the yellow-wigged Els to one very nostalgic gathering. Grab a Midwestern beer, Tab soda, or themed cocktail and settle in for an evening of dungeons, dragons, and Eighties cinema at this Stranger Things–flavored dance and costume party. After watching the classics that directly inspired the Netflix series, groove to the electronic soundtrack and win prizes all night. Tickets include a waffle from Wafels & Dinges and themed goodie bags for the first one hundred people. Costume options are plentiful — Joyce, Hopper, Barb (RIP), Dustin, the Demogorgon, and, of course, Eleven. Bonus points if you commit to the shaved head. —Heather Baysa

At 4, Videology, 308 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-782-3468, videologybarandcinema.com, $15

Spooky Bits

October 29

This year, try some laughs to break up the screams. Steven DeSiena and Nick Naney are hosting this Halloween-themed comedy showcase; self-proclaimed “Holiday Comedian” Jo Firestone headlines, and, if you haven’t seen one of her helpful advice videos or many, many shows around the city, now is the time to correct that. Joining her is Joel Kim Booster, following up his Conan set on growing up gay and Asian in the Midwest; SNL guest writer and “Space Prince” Julio Torres; the bizarre Three Busy Debras; and more. Arrive early in your most creative getup for the costume contest. You may or may not be heckled. —Heather Baysa

At 7:30, Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, littlefieldnyc.com, $5–$8

Humboldt & Jackson: Costumes

October 29–30

Get Halloween going with some free karaoke-in-costume at Williamsburg’s Humboldt & Jackson. Get all riled up in song, then roll back in the next morning for an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet that’s — you guessed it — also costume-friendly. It’ll be a Nineties-themed feast, featuring, for just $15.99, pumpkin waffles, apple and sweet-potato hash, doughnut monte cristos, and house beet-cured gravlax with horseradish dill yogurt and bagel chips. —Alicia Kennedy

Karaoke at 8:30 on Saturday, brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Humboldt & Jackson, 434 Humboldt Street, Brooklyn, 718-349-3355, humboldtandjackson.com

Calpulli Mexican Dance Company

October 29–30

Sharing the calendar with the excesses of Halloween is the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, so it’s time for the twenty-member Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, under the direction of Alberto Lopez Herrera, to bring in its retooled production of Dia de los Muertos, which blends classical and folkloric dance with live music. Based in East Elmhurst, this thirteen-year-old troupe, whose name means “large house” in Nahuatl, wowed critics at Lincoln Center Out of Doors last summer, and has enviable support from cultural organizations. Choreographer Roberto Lara and music director George Saenz lead viewers from a town in Mexico to the underworld of Aztec mythology, exploring a love story that spans the boundary between the living and the dead. —Elizabeth Zimmer

At 8 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, 718-760-0064, queenstheatre.org, $25

‘Trouble Every Day’

October 29–31

Metrograph’s first Halloween series, co-presented by the new streaming service Shudder, is a succinct three-day medley of surreal gems spanning seven decades. Roger Corman’s 1964 The Masque of Red Death (lensed by Nicolas Roeg) is catnip for Poe aficionados, while Victor Halperin’s Supernatural (1933) is one of the most fun nonsensical ghost stories of the Thirties. The series itself takes its name from Claire Denis’s 2001 oneiric opus, which remains one of the single greatest arguments against Rotten Tomatoes scores. It stars a never-more-modest Vincent Gallo as a doctor with an enigmatic past, a tortured soul, and torpid, somnambular eyes, wrought with lust and loathing. Denis, one of the most sensuous and singular artists in cinema, delves more deeply into the dark heart of love than other filmmakers dare. By turns serene and salacious, the film is assiduously structured, yet maddeningly elusive. —Greg Cwik

Various times, Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street, 212-660-0312, metrograph.com, $15

Scream: 20th Anniversary Halloween Party

October 31

Are you a fan of scary movies? Then you probably love Scream. Hyper genre-aware yet insanely effective, the horror blockbuster turns twenty this year, providing us all the perfect opportunity to party like it’s 1996. Rough Trade and Music Video Time Machine host this twentieth-anniversary bash for the clever classic, complete with Nineties dance-floor hits and themed prizes all night. Watch blast-from-the-past horror-movie trailers (because knowing your trivia can be a lifesaver) and come dressed as your best Sidney, Casey, Gale Weathers, or Deputy Dewey. And if you run out of ideas, that old Ghostface mask is always cutting-edge. —Heather Baysa

At 9:30, Rough Trade, 64 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-4111, roughtradenyc.com, $5

Shonen Knife

October 31

For this year’s Knitting Factory Halloween party, cult favorites Shonen Knife are headlining the bill, in celebration of the group’s thirty-five years together. Yes, that’s over three decades and more than twenty albums for the Osaka, Japan, trio, whose super-sweet brand of Ramones-style pop-punk has won them many fans. Notably, in the U.S., Shonen Knife made acolytes out of alt-rock greats like Sonic Youth, Redd Kross, and Kurt Cobain, who enlisted the girl group to tour in support of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Though Shonen Knife have seen a number of lineup changes over the years, their musical output has remained consistent; this year saw the release of Adventure, with original members Naoko Yamano and sister Atsuko as well as drummer Risa Kawano. Still intact are Shonen Knife’s bouncing sing-song vocals over razor-sharp guitar shreds, proving that, even after all these years, these girls haven’t lost their edge. Brooklyn rockers Narc Twain and Human People open the show. —Jill Menze

At 9, Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-529-6696, bk.knittingfactory.com, $13