Spook City

Where to find the haunted havens around town

So you haven't seen any ghouls, goblins or the walking dead around campus yet. It's Halloween. You don't have a costume. You don't know what to do. You're afraid that you won't be, well, afraid.

Don't panic. All the chills, thrills and good clean pagan fun await you yet. But despite what you may have thought 10 years ago (wearing your Star Wars Storm Trooper costume and eager for candy) the monsters won't come get you tonight.

You're all grown up now, and if you want to be scared, then you've got to go out and get scared yourself.

Well, the mad scientists at The Crimson have done some detective work and come up with more than a few "spooktacular" suggestions (since every other publication or advertisement is using this word, it would only be fit for us to as well).

The following is a list of the scariest and most bizarre activities on and off campus rated on a one to five (five being the scariest) "Fried Nose Ring" scale (in honor of the dish served at Harvard Dining Service's "spooktacular" Halloween meal--no doubt, the scariest way you'll be spending your evening).

In and Around the Square

Harvard might not be the scariest place around, but Halloween spirit surrounds the campus, from tutor trick or treating to prefect pumpkin carving to Quincy costume contests.

And if you look carefully today, you might see the Dalai Lama, members of the Spice Girls or even Austin Powers parading around the Square.

But where do you go for the real scares?

* Adams House Masquerade (Adams House Dining Hall, Saturday Nov 1, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., Free)

Traditionally, students say, the masquerade involves themes that range from S&M to S&M.

"Two years ago, we had whipping and all sorts of fun things like that," says resident Patricia Boylance '98.

"Whatever the theme is, it's sure to be provocative and entertaining and slightly risque," she adds.

House committee chair Sean R. Peirce '98 hinted that this year, however, the theme will be a "'60s Andy Warhol kind of thing."

Three Fried Nose Rings (for the S&M).

* The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sony Harvard Square Cinema, 12 a.m. $7.75).

"It looks like Halloween all the time" at Sony Harvard Square's weekly midnight showing of the cult horror flick, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," says Seth P. Nickinson '00.

But for an intrepid trick-or-treater not content watching the usual strange people floating around the Square, Rocky Horror is certainly the place to watch people doing really strange things.

"On Halloween they really go all out," says employee Jay Morong, describing the people who come to the theater dressed as characters in the movie.

Manager Lisa Richter notes that since there is generally a bigger crowd on Halloween, the show will feature a longer pre-act show (in which a volunteer theater troupe acts out parts of the movie) as well as a live band.

Four Fried Nose Rings (Cambridge locals top Harvard students in the weirdness department.)

Also around campus:

* "Funereal & Spooky Music." (Sanders Theatre, Tonight, 7:30 p.m. $8 students)

Yes, even the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum is getting spooky.

Three Fried Nose Rings (Classical music can be scary.)

* "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (Tonight and Tomorrow, 8 and 10 p.m., Science Center C. $3).

Five Fried Nose Rings (This is a really scary movie.)

In Boston

What Harvard lacks in spookiness, Boston lacks in creativity. Sure, there are a few happenings throughout the week, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any truly hair-raising experiences (besides the standard ones) in Beantown tonight.

* Boston Clubs. Clubs may pretend to have spooky Halloween specials, but don't be fooled. For instance, one club definitely loses scary potential when its corny advertising ploy is to name its D.J.s "the two biggest ghouls in Boston."

But if the standard fare of dancing, drinking and partying is your less-than-spooktacular goal tonight, most of the clubs in and around Boston and Cambridge are holding Halloween contests, and some offer special rates for those in costume.

One Fried Nose Ring.

One possible exception:

"A Royal Halloween: The King's Costume Ball." (Tonight, 8 p.m., Medieval Manor Theatre Restaurant $32 per person, reservations required.)

A parody of the "Medieval Times" show and dinner, the Medieval Manor Theatre Restaurant offers a "bawdy musical comedy" full of singing, dancing and jokes that, while all in good fun, are definitely "not G-rated," according to employee Jennifer Goodfellow.

The show, which ordinarily features a mock joust involving "French bread with a creative twist," will add a costume contest on Halloween.

The winners of the best male and female costumes will compete in the joust, for prizes undisclosed.

"We're pretty much out of the ordinary," Goodfellow says.

The show will probably sell out quickly and is generally 21+. Those under 21 should let the ticket office know when you call to make a reservation.

Four Fried Nose Rings (Anyone who isn't scared by this description is brave indeed.)

Venturing Beyond

If Boston doesn't suit you, the area surrounding the city is filled with scary things to do on Halloween--from haunted houses and castles to horror amusement parks to graveyards and wax museums.

Below is a partial and incomplete listing for the die-hard thrill seekers willing to make the trek:

* Spookyworld (Tonight and tomorrow, 7 to 11 p.m. $18.50 per person. Berlin, MA: about a 45 minute drive.)

Spookyworld, the world's only horror theme park, has something for everyone--both random special appearances (Tabitha from "Bewitched" is their Halloween VIP guest, while Alice Cooper was seen there last week), amusement park-style games and genuinely scary haunted houses and museums.

You may not find everything to be as bone-chilling as you would hope, but you will probably leave with at least one shock to tell your friends about.

Tatiana G. Papanicolaou '98, who went last week with some friends, says you don't leave "shaking with fear," but there is definitely scariness to be found.

She recalls walking on a rail over hundreds of rats, and then seeing one of the actors sitting down with hundreds of mice crawling all over her.

There are also lots of haunted houses where people jump out at you, she adds.

And if Spookyworld can get caught up in the campiness of its very premise, it also has a convenient rating system, based on one to four skulls, through which you can organize your thrill-seeking schedule (any resemblance to Fried Nose Ring rating is purely coincidental).

Four Fried Nose Rings

* Haunted Happenings. (Various Locations in Salem, Mass.)

"It's one of the most bizarre things you can do," Craig A. DiGregorio '99 says about spending Halloween in Salem, MA. "It's a very odd experience, and people take it very seriously."

If any place has a right to take itself seriously, Salem does. Home to the witch craze of 1692 to 1695, it boasts a large number of historical attractions and sites, from the old courthouses of the witch trials to the graveyards where the executed witches were buried.

Today, it has become somewhat of a mecca for Halloween wanderers, creating a "Mardi Gras-type atmosphere," says Sean Coughlin, an employee of the Salem Wax Museum.

DiGregorio, on the other hand, compares the scene to the infamous "pit" in Harvard square, but notes that it is "more odd."

Still, Salem features activities for everyone. Today, all the major museums and various haunted houses will be open, live reenactments of the witch trials are held, and you might even find a few brave souls wandering the cemeteries looking for the gravestones of executed witches.

"The whole atmosphere was so ethereal and spookyish," says Manisha S. Shetty '00, who went last Halloween.

To make things even more exciting, last year rumors went around that a serial killer was looking for victims, say DiGregorio and Coughlin. In Salem, anything is possible.

Five Fried Nose Rings (Add another if serial killer's on the loose.)

And other possibilities:

* Night of the Dead, Hammond Castle, Gloucester. (Tonight and tomorrow, 6:30 to 10 p.m., $10.)

This is a castle built early in this century now used for a few weeks every year as a Halloween attraction. The staff, who will hide in corners and jump out at you, are all volunteers, according to (hiding, jumping volunteer) Al Fairbrother.

Three Fried Nose Rings for effort.

* Silo-X (Tonight and Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. $14. Milford.

"The government is hiding the truth," says Silo-X's advertisement. "A major missile warhead meltdown...radiation contamination imminent...murderous mutant crew members on the prowl."

Two Fried Nose Rings (More people hiding in corners and jumping out at you.)

Paul K. Nitze contributed to the reporting of this story.