Here's how to get your fill of gore, guts, and ghouls this October.
For some of us, Halloween is not one day, but a month-long festivity. Since we’d hate for you to miss a moment of the action, we’ve compiled some of the best film screenings, ghost walks, parties, and general hallowed awesomeness that’s going on in our city.
Whether gore and guts are part of your daily life or you save the scares for October, ’tis the season for watching horror movies on the big screen. TIFF is commemorating Wes Craven’s decades-long career with its Dreams, Screams, and Nightmares series from October 3 to 21. Catch some of his most cherished and feared masterpieces—each running for one night only—including The Hills Have Eyes, Swamp Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The People Under the Stairs, and Scream. The Lightbox fun doesn’t end there—it’ll be screening both The Craft and The Shining on Halloween night.
The Royal Cinema is getting into the spirit as well, filling its program with classic and obscure films such as Beetlejuice, Monster Squad, Rosemary’s Baby, Neon Maniacs, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Poltergeist, and Night of the Creeps. Similarily, the Carlton Cinema is giving a nod to ’80s slasher cinema with limited showings of Friday the 13th (Oct 11), A Nightmare on Elm Street (Oct 18), and Child’s Play (Oct 25th).
From October 16 to 24, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival will look to the future of horror with screenings of new fright flicks from across the world, such as The Babadook, The ABCs of Death 2, Zombeavers, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, and the Canadian documentary Why Horror? Want to dive a little deeper into the scares we know and love? On October 8, The Black Museum will be hosting a lecture on the use of dolls in horror.
When it comes to Halloween night—which falls on a Friday this year—it’s imperative that you pick the right spot to party. Of course, every bar and club will have half-assed, over-priced events for the cat-ears-and-cleavage crowd. But if you want to celebrate with people who live and breathe Halloween, the only choice is Rue Morgue‘s Night of a Thousand Faces party. Failing that, Palais Royale’s Zombie Prom should be a great evening of slow dancing, punch-drinking, and flesh-munching. Dressing up for one night isn’t enough? Join legions of the undead on October 25 as the Toronto Zombie Walk shuffles through town.
Who can resist a good ghost story? Especially when it’s true, and involves the seemingly innocent buildings we pass on our daily commutes. Some of the most interesting and informative tours in the city come courtesy of Toronto’s Haunted Walk, Muddy York Tours, and the Tour Guys’ I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost walk. Of course, if you’re in the mood for some not-so-real but truly terrifying haunted house action, Screemers will be open every Friday to Sunday from October 10 to November 1.
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that more than a few seminal horror flicks have been filmed in Toronto. Celebrate the morbidness of the season by putting yourself in the shoes of Final Girls and first victims by taking your own little tour of these landmarks. A good place to start would be U of T’s St. George campus, as it has been visited by countless film crews and features prominently in both 1998’s Urban Legend and 1974’s Black Christmas. The latter also takes place largely at a “sorority house” on Clarendon Crescent, near Avenue Road and St. Clair. As fascinating as it may be, remember that this is now someone’s home—respect their property and privacy.
Prom Night (1980) was also filmed entirely in the Toronto area, most notably at Don Mills Collegiate and the Scarborough Bluffs. Fun fact: the school is not built precariously close to the cliffs, as the movie would lead us to believe. Unsurprisingly, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is also Toronto-centric, with the historic Flatiron Building making an appearance in a few scenes. From 1987 to 1990, the Distillery District played host to the Friday the 13th television series, and rumour has it that scenes from one of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films were shot in the defunct Lower Queen streetcar station.
If you’re into arts and crafts—especially of the macabre variety—you can stock up on strangeness at the Bazaar of the Bizarre on October 12, and then get acquainted with some of the best Canadian horror artists at the Nightmare on Queen Street Art Show and Masquerade Party on October 23. Even the burlesque community is getting into the mood, with its Halloween edition of Naked Girls Reading: Demons, Devils, and the Damned! on October 26.
Still need a little something to quench that bloodthirstiness? Fangoria and Suspect Video will wrap up the season with Horror-Rama, a two-day convention running November 1 and 2. Dedicated solely to horror, this con will feature screenings, parties, markets, and special appearances from Barbara Magnolfi (of Suspiria fame), SFX expert Tom Savini, Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre, and many others.