A-Haunting We Will Go

That most wonderful time of the year is upon us. The holiday season everyone young and old and in between looks forward to in metro Detroit. No, no, it's not Christmas. Sure, the malls are already rolling out the red carpets for Santa and his wee helpers. But we have bigger, more pressing, much darker obsessions to tend to first.

Yep, it's Halloween. When locals dress up to get down at their favorite bar or club, shedding their usual drab, anti-fashionable party clothes to wear something even more hideous.

It's raw, weird fun we're talking about here, something that seems perfectly suited for Detroit's unpredictable and shambolic genetic code. It doesn't take much -- OK, maybe a Sarah Palin mask or a full-body rubber suit and a whip -- to put us in the right mood for a hauntingly good weekend of lovely mayhem.

A fine point should be put on all of the above: it doesn't happen elsewhere like it does here. The closest comparable might be Mexico's Day of the Dead, though our thing is so secular as to hardly include formal religious references to saints or souls anymore.

No, we go straight to the devils and witches, the demons and the undead. Suddenly vampires are sexy in suburbs from coast to coast: hell, they've always been sexy here. We like to bite and be bitten. We'll be rooting for Lord Voldemort to defeat Harry Potter. We appreciate good villainy. Being nice is boring. OK, we'll do it within the context of membership in a civil society -- as long you cut us some slack and let us explore our animal nature for a couple of days at the end of each October.

So then. Now you're all fired up and need somewhere to go. That's the kind of guidance we try to give in FilterD each week. But for special occasions, like this one, we'll give it a little bit extra.

First a piece of kindly advice: if the party calls for "costume optional" don't think that gives you an easy way out of wearing something either gorgeous or gruesome. Wear something, anything -- especially you guys. Women seem to have no problem with the dressing up part of going out in public. But men? C'mon, strap on a big nose at the very least, or put on a wig that gives you that Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan look you secretly crave and go have some fun. Go on, now. Do it. We mean it.
A safe place to dress to impress on Halloween weekend is the Detroit Film Theatre, where the Japanese psychedelic horror film, House, is screening. Satirical and disturbing, this crazed, demented cult classic made in 1977 reduces horror-comedy to a new low. Which is good. That's what you want, not a Merchant-Ivory experience. Catch a sample of the insanity here.

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, House (Hausu) is 88 minutes. It shows at the DFT Friday, Oct, 29 at 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. The DFT is at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Avenue, Midtown's Cultural Center. Access the theatre from the John R entrance.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, from 2 to 8 p.m., come down to Eastern Market's Omni Corp Detroit hacker space with the right "rattitude" for a bicycle event unlike any other.

Organizers describe it this way: "Rattitude is all of the following: race instruction, map distribution, finish line-crossing, riddles, problem solving, competitive creative trackstanding, cuddly costumes, runs to the store for refreshments, rat-related time wasting while results for this entire beautiful mess are calculated."

Donations are on a sliding scale from $1 to $5 and goes to support more bicycle-related events in Detroit. Meet outside the United Specialty Produce Door, 1501 Division, dressed to kill and ready to get your bike on.

Later on Saturday at Small's catch the 3-D Invisibles, a space-age surf band hatched out of a love of pop, garage, and punk rock of the 1960s and 1970s; and trash pop culture that includes monster and sci-fi movies, horror comics and weird TV of the same period. Perfect for a Devil's Night/Halloween weekend rock 'n' roll meltdown.
There will be a Halloween dress-up contest with great prizes. Grand prize gets free admission to Small's until next Halloween -- only 368 days, and counting, away. Casket Bastards and Choking Susan open. All ages. $6. Doors 8 p.m. Small's Bar is at 10339 Conant, Hamtramck.

The same night while you're in Hamtown, take a step off the conventional side of the curb and hit the arty Devil's Night Schmorguesborg (get it?) at Public Pool (3009 Caniff), where you'll be treated to a short opera by James Cornish and the New Purple Gang Chamber Choir, performance in motion by the Tzarinas of the Plane and readings by Maria McLeod and Steve Hughes. Perfect spot to go dressed as Al Capone, Samuel Beckett, or Charles Mingus, we reckon. Party rolls 9-11 p.m. It's free, with all donations going to the artists and for beer supplied by the Traffic Jam.   

And finally it seemed only yesterday we were dressing up like hangers-on at Andy Warhol's Factory (somebody had to be assassin wannabe Valerie Solanas, c'mon) for a party called "You're Gonna Die!" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). It was one of the parties of the year, hands down, featuring the soaring talents of Macho City and Disco/Secret DJs and that super furry noise-rock quartet, the Wolfman Band. Oh, how we howled!

This Saturday's Blood 'n' Kittens party could be just as good. It's the third annual Halloween dance party hosted by MOCAD's New Wave, the hipsterish fundraising arm of the museum. Disco/Secret DJs will spin trashy good times tunes once again.

Admission is $10 at the door, $20 without costume. But who would dare do that after reading this story? Cash bar. 8 p.m. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is at 4454 Woodward Avenue, Midtown Detroit.

More hot tips on where to do your cool Halloween thing inside this week's FilterD

Be safe out there, fiends.


Walter Wasacz is the new managing editor for Model D, a freelance writer, and editor for FilterD.