Welcome Halloween early with Fright Nights, X-Scream Haunted House and a re-imagined “Dracula.” Plus, Bob Woodward, Ween, Jim Jefferies and more in your week ahead.
What: Screening of “Arsenic and Old Lace”
Where: Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 786/385-9689, gablescinema.com
Always on the shortlist of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, Frank Capra’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” receives a rare 35mm screening this week at Coral Gables Art Cinema. As loopy as it is macabre, the screwball comedy stars Cary Grant as a writer who arrives in his old family home to prepare for his engagement to his fiancée (Priscilla Lane), only to find that his kindly old aunts are mass murderers with a preference for gullible bachelors. As more bodies are discovered, supporting characters add to the hilarious nonsense, including Grant’s deranged brother, who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another brother who bears a striking resemblance to Boris Karloff, and an alcoholic, psychopathic plastic surgeon. It’s all in good, wicked fun, a Halloween-set classic spiked with mirth instead of horror.
What: Opening night of Fright Nights
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: Opens at 6 p.m.
Cost: $30 for 30 event tickets
Fright Nights’ Creative Director Craig McInnis works year-round to develop terrifying haunts, and this season’s crop of four blood-soaked houses of horror are no exception. Just take a gander at the backstories: Visitors can use their fair tickets to test their wits at “Das Krankenhaus,” a former military hospital that become a torture chamber for sadistic medical experiments; “The Mansion on Meadow Lane,” an AirBnB property overrun with zombies; “Twisted Tales,” an elaborate nightmare vision of children’s fairy tales gone awry; and “The Cuckoo’s Nest 2,” a Christmas-themed sequel to a prior haunt, in which mental patients have busted from the sanatorium and are prepared to “wreck the halls.” Enter, if you dare, and remember that there’s plenty of pumpkin beer on tap to soothe your nerves. Fright Nights, which includes access to midway games and carnival rides as well, runs through Oct. 27.
What: Opening night of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”
Where: Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 305/949-6722, arshtcenter.org
Despite the title of Zoetic Stage’s first production of its 2018/2019 season, this isn’t exactly Bram Stoker’s Dracula—it’s Michael McKeever’s. The prolific local playwright’s feminist reimagining takes audiences back to Victorian England and the godfather of gothic horror—while still challenging today’s zeitgeist, in particular the #MeToo movement. Some events in McKeever’s version mirror Stoker’s original, with legal solicitor Jonathan Harker and his fiancée Mina visiting the title character in his Transylvanian castle. From there, it spirals in new and subversive directions. In the novel, and in screen versions of the story, the women of “Dracula” are chaste, victimized ciphers. In McKeever’s telling, they become the tale’s three-dimensional heroines. Even the vampire hunter Van Helsing will be played by an African-American woman, Karen Stephens. The production runs through Oct. 28, but don’t wait to order tickets: This is the fastest-selling show in Zoetic’s history.
What: Floyd, a Tribute
Where: Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 561/393-7700, mizneramp.com
This tribute act, boasting a show with more bells and whistles than Times Square on New Year’s Eve, claims to be the “Ultimate U.S. Pink Floyd Experience.” The dozens—nay, hundreds?—of bands playing the music of the legendary U.K. prog rockers may disagree, but judge for yourself at this touring performance. The 10-piece band includes perfect vocal mimics of David Gilmore and Roger Waters, along with backup singers, multiple guitars, two keyboardists, a percussion session and a saxophonist. But as with any immersive Floyd experience, the show is as much about the atmosphere as the music. And Floyd, a Tribute includes crisscrossing laser displays, synchronized lighting effects, and a state-of-the-art LED wall. It’s likely to be the weekend’s best trip—no provisions required.
What: Opening night of X-Scream Haunted House
Where: G-Star School, 2030 S. Congress Ave., West Palm Beach
When: Beginning at 8 p.m.
Cost: $13 adults, $10 children
This student-run haunted house has, in its 13 years of mayhem, played—and preyed—on the fears of every horror-fiction subset imaginable. Demonic possession? Check. A mental ward where the inmates run the asylum? Check. The inevitable zombie island? Of course. The enterprising film students of G-Star School have also framed narratives out of monster hurricanes, Old West ghost towns and the hunt for Jack the Ripper. They’ve been working for months to make this year’s 14th annual installment equally spine-tingling. Following in the footsteps “It,” “The Last Laugh” brings fear of clowns—aka coulrophobia, for you crossworders—to the fore, setting its spooky action in an abandoned Big Top, its fanfare in tatters, and the sound of a distant calliope wafting through the tents. This year’s second attraction is more Dan Brown than Stephen King; titled “Curse of the Cat Goddess,” it’s set in the lair of Mafdet, a goddess in early Egyptian mythology who, when confronting wrongdoers, “will personally deliver them to the pharaoh’s feet in the same manner that a cat delivers her catch to her owners.” Be careful out there.
What: Jim Jefferies
Where: Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 800/937-0010, myhrl.com
Like Bill Hicks and Bill Maher before him, Australia’s Jim Jefferies is fundamentally a provocateur first and a comedian second, and if you’re bothered by the provocation, chances are you won’t appreciate the joke. As a case in point, Jefferies was virtually unknown internationally until a 2007 gig at the Manchester Comedy Store, when an audience member, riled after Jefferies put down a heckler, leaped onstage and battered him, leaving him with a black eye and more than a million YouTube views. Jefferies still played a second set that night and become an overnight cult celebrity and a darling of atheists and the left. Though his current weekly talk show on Comedy Central, which features expert pundits riffing on current social and political news, falls within mainstream norms, his best jokes remain pungent jaw-droppers.
Where: Fillmore, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 305/673-7300, fillmoremb.com
Get ready, music heads: This weekend, Ween, the experimental alternative band fronted by Dean and Gene Ween, will be bringing its extensive and eclectic catalogue of songs—and likely its devoted cult following—to the Fillmore for the band’s first South Florida gig in more than 10 years, and its first headlining show in the Sunshine State since Gene Ween’s cataclysmic meltdown onstage at a 2011 show in Vancouver induced a four-year breakup. Ween is known for its irreverent lyrics and the diverse range of its music: The band has dabbled in genres ranging from funk to punk rock to neo-psychedelia, and in 1996 released 12 Golden Country Greats, a pure country record recorded with respected session musicians in Nashville. The band will likely fit songs from each of those genres and more into the evening’s unique setlist.
MONDAY, OCT. 15
What: An Evening With Bob Woodward
Where: Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 954/344-5990, thecentercs.com
As with many Americans, I’m currently embroiled in Fear: Trump in the White House, the latest, compulsively readable best-seller from Bob Woodward, whose word is virtually sacrosanct in Beltway circles—despite notions to the contrary offered by the White House press secretary. Woodward has won multiple Pulitzers, including for his reporting on President Nixon’s cataclysmic Watergate scandal, and he’s remained an impartial chronicler of the American presidency through eight of its occupants, Republican and Democrat alike. Fear, while critical of the current Commander in Chief, is not a hatchet job, and don’t expect his book-tour appearance, focusing on “The State of the American Presidency,” to be, either.