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Week of the Living Dead

A Skeletal rundown of Halloween in Eugene
Kris Schaefer’s laser-carved pumpkin: ‘Fauning Over It’
Kris Schaefer’s laser-carved pumpkin: ‘Fauning Over It’

Rain fell in sheets that night, pelting my bedroom window so hard it shook the panes. Late October, years ago, in a rundown North Portland house, I squinted against dim light to read ghost stories from a fat anthology I’d found at a secondhand bookstore.

Come autumn, I tend to overdo it with horror films and ghost stories. By the time Halloween rolls around, I’m pretty messed up; my bearings are shot such that every shadow becomes a demon and every black cat a witch in disguise. 

Though I can’t remember who wrote it or what it’s called, the tale I read that night stuck with me over the years because it opens by explaining that dislocated spirits cling most tightly to dank places.

I stared out my window a short while and thought: Dank enough?

Paranormal investigators I spoke with this week say Oregon has lots of ghosts.

The people who live here — many of them lost souls in their own right — seem to like it that way. Being new to the city, it seems to me Eugeneans go a little overboard celebrating Halloween, in a good way.

Oregon’s haunted corn mazes have been open for weeks now. Junction City’s 10-acre Lone Pine Corn Maze is probably the most popular. By day, it’s just a plain old corn maze. After sundown, the fields fill with blood-soaked nightmare creatures. The very brave, however, venture a little further north along lonely Pacific Highway West, in order to tour Monroe’s Chamber of Darkness. While not a corn maze, per se, sources assure me it’s the scariest Halloween attraction around. In town, you’ve got The Frightuary at the Lane Events Center. The guy who runs it is obsessed with scary things. He says the Halloween spirit has taken control of his life.

If you like scary stuff, too, but don’t enjoy being chased around muddy cornfields by chainsaw-wielding circus clowns, there’s plenty of Halloween happening safely on stages across the city. The Actors Cabaret of Eugene opens The Rocky Horror Picture Show Thursday, Oct. 22. Dancers from the ZAPP Academy perform Scary Tales at the Hult Center on Saturday, Oct. 24. Students from Sheldon High School are working on Zombie Prom — a musical love letter to campy ’50s-era horror flicks, which opens Thursday, Oct. 29. The following night, Eugene Opera does Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at the Hult Center.

Judging by The Majestic Theatre’s lineup, Corvallis shares Eugene’s Halloween-ophilia. The Majestic screens Jim Sharman’s interactive Halloween rock opera The Rocky Horror Picture Show Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23-24. Corvallis writer-director Max Mania’s zombie apocalypse drama Wait for the Blackout runs Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-31. The Majestic also offers free family-friendly ghost tours of their 102-year-old digs on Halloween day. 

Amidst all the blood and guts, it’s easy to forget that Halloween is primarily a chance for kids to dress up like dumb Star Wars things and grub free candy. For Eugene’s little ones, Nearby Nature puts on a Haunted Hike in Alton Baker Park on Saturday, Oct. 24. The next day, the University of Oregon hosts Spooky Sounds for Kids. Springfield’s got the Trick or Treat and Magic Show at Springfield City Hall on Oct. 30.

Good thing Halloween falls on a Saturday this year because it all comes swirling together with the citywide celebration All Hallows’ Eugene. The Hult Center hosts family-friendly Halloween activities throughout the day and screens the animated feature ParaNorman with LAIKA studios’ head of puppetry Georgina Hayns, who will deliver a presentation after the film. 

All Hallows’ Eugene is also your chance to view locally made horror movies from the Eugene Film Society’s 72 Hour Horror Film Competition. Bijou Art Cinemas screen the 1922 silent horror classic, Nosferatu, with Mood Area 52 performing the live score. The Wayward Lamb hosts a costume party they’re calling Killer Prom

There’s way too much All Hallows’ Eugene to fit here. Check out our innaugural Halloween issue. See eugenefilmsociety.com/all-hallows-eugene.

Have fun. Be safe. Get scared.