SN&R’s guide to a hauntingly good time
Get spooked in Sacramento with these Halloween weekend activities
A drive down Garden Highway is a beautiful jaunt during the daytime. But at night, those serpentine backroads that hug the Sacramento River channel a more ominous feel.
But you’re there anyway. Willow tree branches creak, and crickets chirp softly in the distance. You proceed each curvy turn cautiously, an old soul song buzzing in and out of the car radio, just like tired, sleepy you. Until you look to the road ahead, and someone’s out for a walk. You lock your doors. But that doesn’t matter. Not to her.
She’s glides down the pavement, weeping. She’s drenched, and with her shade of purple lips, she cries for her children and points to the river. You can’t move. Or speak. Or pry your white-knuckle grip off the steering wheel. Eyes tightly closed, you mutter: This isn’t happening, This isn’t happening. Until click. The car door opens, and so do your eyes, and …
Boo! Scared ya, didn’t I? No? Didn’t like my story about the Weeping Woman, huh? It’s just a first draft!
But you don’t seem to scare so easily, anyway. Let’s see if that’s really true. Halloween weekend is upon us, scaredy cat. If true terror is your bag, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ruin your favorite pair of shorts in the capital city this year, as this trusty guide shows.
Just don’t go driving near Garden Highway at night. Unless you want some company on the way back:
Catch a murderino
My Favorite Murder Live Show: They’ve staked a career in blending comedy with some of the country’s most gruesome true crime tales on their hit podcast My Favorite Murder. Now, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark visit Sacramento on Friday, October 26, where fans of the comediennes, known as “murderinos,” will watch as the macabre duo share their favorite stories of murders, crimes, hauntings and even survival stories shared by their cult of followers. Kilgariff and Hardstark will also hear hometown crime stories from the capital city’s own murderinos. Dig into some Sacramento history and come prepared to share a chilling tale from our city’s past scary enough for even the most daring true crime podcast hosts.
Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street; 8 p.m.; Tickets $39.50-$59.50; Myfavoritemurder.com.
Shannon McCabe’s Vampire Ball: mingle with vampires of centuries’ past like Dracula and his dearest Mina from the Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, along with dedicated humans who enjoy to act the part of the undead. This otherworldly gathering on Saturday, October 27, celebrates its 10th anniversary and honors the original vampyre, Nosferatu. For one night, the California Automobile Museum transforms into a 19th century medieval castle adorned with live theatrical sets and actors; a silent film drive-in showing none other than the movie Nosferatu; a burlesque stage; live music from the industrial trio A Death in Bloom; full bars to keep elixirs flowing and the thirsts quenched, and more entertaining features that require a mere set of fangs and an affinity for nightfall.
California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street; 8 p.m.; Tickets $30-$65; Vampireball.net.
Summon Old Sacto spirits
Ghost tours: Every Friday and Saturday evening, Sacramento’s Living History Museum hosts annual ghost tours during this eerie time of year, where knowledgeable docents recite the chilling demises of those who are … well, no longer among us. Venture through the darkened halls inside the close quarters of the museum to hear true stories of disease, mayhem, fraud and other creepy tales from our first days as a bustling city. The tour enlists help from miners, murder victims and other characters from the gold rush era to illustrate just how some of the earliest settlers lived and ultimately died. Tours run every half-hour through October 27.
Old Sacramento’s Living History Museum, 101 I Street, 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; Tickets $15; Sachistorymuseum.org/tours/ghost-tours.
Jig to the dead
Old Ironsides’ Annual Dead Rock Stars Show: The loudest Halloween party that celebrates the music of late rock gods and goddesses is the annual Dead Rock Stars Halloween Show. On Saturday, October 27, Old Ironsides hosts 19 bands throughout the day and night. Local talent will summon the spirits who continue to rock our eardrums from beyond the grave. Expect appearances by the Phantom Jets, Drop Dead Red, Whoville, King Petty Party and more. A costume contest with first, second and third place prizes begins at 9:40 p.m., so get creative this year with your best Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain or Janis Joplin-inspired attire.
Old Ironsides, 1901 10th Street, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Tickets $5-$7; Theoldironsides.com.
SpaceWalker’s Funky Spooktacular: On Halloween night, stop by SpaceWalker’s Funky Spooktacular at Harlow’s. The star-travelling beat-maker invites fans to the mystical land of Funktronica, where “fun is immortal and the freak flags always fly.” This transcendental experience promises a patio pre-show carnival billed as the Cosmic Cantina Carnival, and during the show: tarot card readings, a costume contest and live performances by electronic musical anomalies Gnarboots, burlesque performer Mone’t Ha-Sidi and an all-night dance party led by the funktastic DJ Larry.
Harlow’s, 2708 J Street, 8:30 p.m.; Tickets $11-$22; Harlow’s.com.
VGDB’s Halloween Cover Show: Remember Halloween as Danzig would prefer it by joining Vinnie Guidera & the Dead Birds as they cover all the classic songs by the Misfits. This eclectic night of live music also includes performances by doom metal band Chrome Ghost as Nirvana, and Shotgun Sawyer as The Doors.
Press Club, 2030 P Street; 8 p.m.; Tickets $10; facebook.com/thepressclub.
Uncover history at night
The Haunted Fort: Sutter’s Fort is visited daily by crowds of school children who travel near and far to hear about Sacramento’s original agricultural and trade colony (that was also the first non-Indigenous community in the Central Valley). But come dusk, the fort takes on a mysterious vibe with its annual Haunted Fort performances. On Saturday, October 27, this family-friendly event let’s history buffs explore the historic fort by moonlight and learn the tales of its storied halls and grounds. With infamous ties to the Donner Party, the gold rush era and the formation of Sacramento, the Haunted Fort hosts interactive stations with docents ready to spill all the spooky details of pioneer life that checker this monument’s past. What’s more, B Street Theatre will perform an original eight-minute play inspired by the fort’s history.
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L Street, performance times vary; Tickets $6-$10; Suttersfort.org/event/hauntedfort2018.
Scare houses and makeshift haunted mansions; scary clowns and chainsaw-wielding psychopaths popping out at every corner; those tropes truly stir up memories from my adolescence. But who says the kids should have all the fun, especially on Halloween? For curated frights conjured up by professional scream park and haunted house enthusiasts, visit one or more of these terrifying haunts:
Ultimate Terror Scream Park: Through November 3, follow the sounds of blood-curdling screams as you and your closest allies navigate through three haunted houses like Paranormal Playground, The Optic Surgeon and Cabin Sickness. This place was named the “Best in the West by Forbes.” You’re going to want to call your mom after this one.
4909 Auburn Boulevard; Times vary; Tickets $25.99-$30.99; screamparkcalifornia.com.
Cemetarium Haunted House: Scaring people for 15 years, choose between three haunts like the Cremetarium, Psycho Citrus and the Zombie Heights.
7983 Arcadia Drive in Citrus Heights; Times vary; Tickets $8-$22, ticket bundles available; cemetariumhauntedhouse.com.
Heartstoppers Haunted House: There are four creepy settings here that are sure to spook even the most machismo in your group. Choose between Deadlands, a desolate town infected by zombies; Steamghast Asylum, an empty estate turned government-run, haunted insane asylum; Underland, a hunt to find a twisted version of Alice from the classic children’s tale. (This room is also in 3D for three times the scariness.) And then there’s Murk, a mine shaft-themed room with a large collection of bones. But how did they get here?
2300 Mine Shaft Lane in Rancho Cordova; Times vary; Tickets $25-$40 and $80 annual passes; heartstoppershaunt.com.
Escape a serial killer
Escape rooms have surged in popularity over the last five years in the Sacramento area. The real life challenges put teams together in rooms of varying themes. The goal is usually is to solve puzzles and escape successfully in under an hour. Here’s a sampling of some of best ones in the area:
NorCal Escape Co.’s Condemned 2: Halloween Escape: This Halloween-themed take on the original Condemned 2 model runs through November 4. It’s a 90-minute escape experience where a twisted kidnapper splits the party into two groups. They’ll have to work together to advance through whispering halls, round eerie corners and solve mind-numbing puzzles before the clock runs out.
3076 Colusa Highway, Suite B in Yuba City; Times vary; Tickets are $35 per person; norcalescape.co.
Exit Strategy Games: Torture Chamber: It’s dark. It’s cold. Blood drips from the walls. A psychotic serial killer has trapped your party of friends in two separate jail cells. Will you escape before he returns? The Torture Chamber was recently remodeled, so even if you’ve successfully conquered this game once, it’s nothing like it used to be, according to Exit Strategy staff. This location is open on Halloween night.
9833 Kent Street in Elk Grove; Times vary; Tickets are $35 per person; exitstrategygames.com.
California Escape Room: Crematory: You and your friends have been lured into a serial killer’s vacation home. You have one hour to find the lost trinkets of the killer’s victims, which reveal the four digit code that will open the door to freedom. Otherwise, you’re dead!
5400 Power Inn Road, Suite B; Tickets $35 per person; californiaescaperoom.com.
Watch a classic
Frankenstein: Captured live in 2011 at the National Theatre Stage in London, Frankenstein stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock the TV series, Thor: Ragnarok) and Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Mindhunters) who alternate between two characters, the young mad scientist Victor Frankenstein, and his infamous monster creation. See the classic on Tuesday, October 30. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel, an early example of science fiction that serves as a commentary on scientific responsibility.
Tower Theatre, 2508 Land Park Drive; 7 p.m.; Tickets $20, readingcinemasus.com/tower.
Psycho: The film that drove paranoia into those who dare shower at a backwoods motel can rejoice on Halloween night. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho plays at Tower Theatre, where those either familiar and even unfamiliar with the tale of the Bates Motel and it’s troubled caretaker, Norman, are sure to be spooked.
Tower Theatre, 2508 Land Park Drive; 7 p.m.; Tickets $10.50; readingcinemasus.com/tower.
Beetlejuice: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Is he here? No. But, the cult classic film starring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious demon is showing at the Crest Theatre on Sunday, October 28. Grab a date, a friend or go it alone with other fans of one of Tim Burton’s best. Heck, dress up as your favorite character, whether it be the cryptic Lydia Deetz, Adam and Barbara Maitland, or the receptionist from the hellish afterlife waiting room between worlds.
Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street, doors open at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. showtime; Tickets $7.50-$9.50; crestsacramento.com.