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Halloween: Fright Nights

Something old, something new, something bloodied and something . . . undead. That’s the kind of cinema you’ll find this weekend for your evil Halloween pleasure. Sure, you can creep over to the multiplex to check out Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but there are some devilishly enticing alternatives around the Capital Region.

Hudson Valley Community College is hosting Shocktoberfest: A Hometown Halloween Special, featuring independently made horror films by such local filmmakers as Joe Bagnardi, Bruce G. Hallenbeck and Jeff Kirkendal. In addition to six short films, there will be five features: Shadow Tracker: Vampire Hunter (a Vietnam vet tracks down an old army buddy-turned-vampire); The Temptress; The Edge of Reality (a Creepshow-style trilogy of horror); Vampyre (a homage to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr); and Blood of the Werewolf (the title’s self-explanatory).

The films will be presented today (Thursday, Oct. 30) from 2 to 10:30 PM, and tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 31) from 11 AM to 1:25 PM, in the Maureen Stapleton Theatre (HVCC, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy). Admission is an uncanny $1 per day. For more information, call 629-4TIX.

The Devil Music Ensemble will take moviegoers back to the dawn of horror cinema when they accompany Robert Wiene’s atmospheric, supremely creepy expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in two locations, on two nights. The film is best known for its outrageous expressionist sets, costumes and acting, but the story is arguably weirder—a traveling doctor exhibits a somnambulist who may (or may not) be responsible for a series of grisly murders. Oh, and the whole story may or may not be the figment of an insane man’s fevered imagination. (Pictured, l-r, Werner Krause as Caligari, Conrad Veidt as the somnambulist, and Lil Dagover as victim-in-waiting.)

The Devil Music Ensemble will perform with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari today (Thursday, Oct. 30) at 3 and 7 PM at Proctor’s Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). All seats are $10. For more information, call 346-6204. They will perform with Caligari tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 31) at 7:30 and 10:30 PM at Saratoga Film Forum (320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs). Tickets are $10, $8 Saratoga Film Forum members. For more information, call 584-FILM.

Finally, for something on the (slightly) lighter side, there’s Roman Polanski’s bizarre vampire comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers—which opens with Leo, the M-G-M lion, sprouting fangs. It’s the story of an absent-minded vampire killer (Jack MacGowran) and his blundering assistant (Polanski) as they take on a castle full of decadent, aristocratic vampires. It’s full of weird humor—there’s a gay vampire who pursues the assistant, and a Jewish vampire impervious to the power of the crucifix—and the stunning camerawork evident in all of Polanski’s work. Plus, it’s funny.

The Fearless Vampire Killers will be shown Saturday (Nov. 1) at 7:30 PM at the Spencertown Academy (Route 203, Spencertown). Tickets are $5, $4. The film is not recommended for children under 13. For more information, call 392-3693.

Halloween Music

There are plenty of haunts for party-loving music fans to enjoy this Halloween, and even if you tend to be shy in the midst of festive crowds, this is your holiday: You get to be whomever you wish for the night. Don a new persona, or simply be your own shy self with a Snow White mask—anything goes on Halloween. Which is why any outings on this night are implicitly zany, especially a live club show—it’s a crowd of freaks (finally someone you can relate to, right?).

Tomorrow (Friday) night at the Larkin (199 Lark St., Albany, 463-5225), local performers get to be each other for Halloween. It’s the second Why Can’t I Be You show, where local musicians perform songs by their peers. The first took place at the old Lionheart in the summer of 2001 on another nutty date, April Fool’s Day, and it was a smash. So the Halloween version is sure to appeal. The show is hosted by MotherJudge and John Brodeur; other performers include Bryan Thomas, Rich Baldes, Michael Eck, Rosanne Raneri, Mitch Elrod, Brian Bassett (pictured) and more. It’s $5 at the door, and the lineup will be chosen from a hat—so there’s no telling who’s first and who’s last until you’re there. So arrive early (the show starts at 9 PM) and stay late.

Another purveyor of party, Matto Laque (he of Kitty Little, To Hell and Back and Peterwalkee Records), has arranged his second annual Halloween Spooky Fest—this year at two locations, and he’s made it very difficult to choose between the two shows. Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572) is the place to see some local bigwigs: For one, Magic Recording Eye, Jason Martin’s “post-apocalyptic folk” ensemble. Martin incites various phenomena with guitar and a reel-to-reel tape deck, and he’s enlisted one of the best rhythm sections this side of the Pacific—Al Kash on drums and Seth Cluett on bass (and a horn section isn’t out of the question). Also on the bill: Complicated Shirt (Metroland’s Best Band’s Band of 2002); everyone’s favorite sludge-rockers, Small Axe; dark-pop trio Jump Cannon; guitar-accordion-tuba-drum combo SNMNMNM; and our pick for best post-hardcore band, To Hell and Back, playing a complete set of Black Sabbath tunes.

The second in Matto’s series takes place at the College of Saint Rose (St. Joseph Hall, 985 Madison Ave., Albany, 454-5195), with another rocking lineup: power-pop sweet freaks Kitty Little, hardcore-pop stalwarts the Switched On, all-out kickass rockers the Highsocks, emocore heavies End of a Year, sludge-metal doomsayers Evixxion, noise-rocking the Amazing Plaid and the portentously monikered 1991.

Each show of the Halloween Spooky Fest starts at 8 PM sharp, and $5 gets you an evening of music, fun and games, candy and costume contests.

More Halloween choices abound, with the upstairs stage at Valentine’s featuring our very own Erotics, with the visiting bands the Charms, Biopop and Pretty Suicide. It starts at 8:30 PM and $8 gets you in the door. Evil Ruckus II will descend on Albany’s Lark Tavern (453 Madison Ave., 463-9779), a multimedia event turning the Lark Tavern into “a house of hell,” with Jerkwater Ruckus performing their jam-rock favorites while dressed in “costumes designed to explore the natures of evil, and how that manifests itself through both audio and visual mediums.” The night also features costume contests, prizes and drink specials. It starts at 10 PM.

Running With Scissors (they must love this holiday) will perform terrifying music at the Commercial Motel in Mechanicville (116 Railroad St., 664-9050), and if your costume meets the gatekeeper’s criteria you’ll get in free. Beware: “Lame attempts at free entry will be subject to intense ridicule.” That may be worth the trip alone. The show starts at 10 PM and is $2. Of course The Rocky Horror Picture Show has to show up on Halloween, and All Sports Pub in Troy (194 River St., 687-0064) will feature the film at midnight, with the ghoulish sounds provided by Blackcat Elliot, Dolan Dolan and Folding Sky. It starts at 9 PM. Finally, if you’d like to visit with ghosts from days gone by, head to the Fuze Box (12 Central Ave., Albany, 432-4472) for QE2 Ressurrection night. Dance Halloween night away amid all the old décor from the days of the Q.

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