In a city riddled with shady characters and unlit back alleys, not to mention a history soaked in bloodshed and paranormal activity, it’s little wonder London is a Halloween hotbed this October. From frightful films and underground festivals to real life witches and preparatory lectures for zombie invasion, London takes its inspiration from its grisly past – and dystopian future? – to make sure there’s no reason to stay home this Halloween.
Consider this your guiding light through all things dark and decapitated in the capital this week.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUMS
Stay out late and wander the exhibits of some of your favourite museums and galleries as doors are kept open. Celebrating their new Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men exhibition, Museum of London host a special late night event on Wednesday 31 October (7 – 9.45pm), letting you immerse yourself in macabre activities and performances inspired by 19th century bodysnatchers. Close by, in the shadows of Barbican Towers, the Barbican Centre stays open until 1am for the After Dark Halloween Special, an evening of film, performance, art and music. Expect eerie animations from the London International Festival of Animation archive, spooky photobooths, video installations, sinister séances and even talks uncovering the science behind the supernatural with the Wellcome Trust and The Skeptic magazine.
Artist Joe Hesketh opens her new exhibition, A Pendle Investigation, at The Newman Street Gallery, aptly on Halloween (until Saturday 24 November), inspired by the infamous 1612 Pendle Witch Trials and all the more resonant as she is a real witch from Pendle. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the trials, the exhibition offers a contemporary outlook on the violent story of the women who suffered in Pendle.
Head underground to our favourite subterranean venue, The Old Vic Tunnels, as they welcome the dead into their cobbled passages for a huge celebration of the Day of the Dead, in partnership with Mexican restaurant, Wahaca, until Saturday 3 November. With a live soundtrack from Rodrigo y Gabriela and their unique instrumental blend of metal, jazz and blues, see the tunnels transformed into a seedy Latino haven complete with street kitchen, Mezcalaria bar and gallery space with an exhibition from Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide alongside installations by London based Le Gun collective, Hew Locke and Nancy Fouts.
Keeping Halloween sexy without the need for a bumblebee costume, Rich Mix host a Morricone Giallo! Halloween Night Special immersing you in the psychedelic, bossa beats of Ennio Morricone’s Italian cult film scores of 1968 – 72 with live music against movie backdrops. Think technicolor erotica, naked women in fridges and giant eels.
Ever wondered how you’d fare in a zombie outbreak? Fear not, London Horror Festival resurrects fringe favourite Zombie Science at the Etcetera Theatre as Theoretical Zombiologist Doctor Austin presents his invaluable tutorial ‘Worst Case Scenario’ (until Wednesday 31 October), preparing you for every necrotic eventuality with multi-media presentations and hands on demonstrations. Other highlights of the Festival, running until Wednesday 7 November at Etectera Theatre and Wilton’s Music Hall, include a promenade backstage tour of Wilton’s in The Horror! The Horror!, the world premiere of Dave Florez’s psychodrama Hero/Heroine and the return of acclaimed Hammer Horror spoofers, The Monster Hunters.
For those of you at ease in the dark but needing something scarier than that suspicious sticky patch beneath your seat, London’s cinema are offering a host of terrifying cult films this Halloween. Brave the extended run of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining at BFI (Wednesday 31 October – Thursday 22 November), feel the chill with outdoor screenings of Nightmare on Elm Street (Tuesday 30 October) and The Exorcist (Wednesday 31 October) from Pop Up Screens in Morden Hall Park or head for the hills – or rather rooftop – for Experience Cinema’s Halloween Screamings with Shaun of the Dead (Tuesday 30 October, 8.30pm) and a Halloween double bill with Ghostbusters (5pm) and Lost Boys (8.30pm).
For something a bit different this Halloween, you can now explore the horrors of London from above in Climb of the Cursed (until Sunday 4 November). From the eerie basecamp, your infected guides will lead you through London’s gruesome past as you climb to the top of The O2 arena before being tricked or treated on return to camp.
So you really don’t have any reason to stay home alone this Halloween.
Photo: ‘The Horror! The Horror!’ Wilton’s Music Hall