Tag Archives: halloween

Top 5 Movies to Watch on Halloween

Over the course of the month, Central Florida Top 5 has shown you a lot of fun places and events to attend for the fall and to get into the Halloween spirit. But what about those of us looking to spend the holiday with a relaxing night on the couch?  So for such people (like myself), I’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of the top five movies to watch on Halloween.


1. Halloween (1978)

Probably the most obvious film on this list, John Carpenter‘s original Halloween still remains a staple of the holiday and the genre. Before the sequels and convoluted backstory, Michael Myers was a purely evil entity with zero motive.  He was pure evil, terrifying, and didn’t need the darkness to stalk you.  It’s such an iconic film that holds up to this day, making it essentially required viewing to properly celebrate the holiday.


2. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

This horror anthology from Michael Dougherty (from the upcoming Krampus) was originally dumped at its release but has since gained a large cult following.  We’re lead through five intertwining stories on Halloween night by Sam, the embodiment of the holiday and enforcer of its traditions. Part of what makes this film so great is how well it captures the spirit of Halloween and blends it’s horror roots with a dark sense of humor.  This is one of the few horror films in the last decade to root itself into my yearly viewing tradition.


3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

One of the great things about this one is that it serves at both a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie.  Well, until recently anyway when director Henry Selick confirmed that it’s specifically a Halloween movie great . When Jack Skellington stumbles on Christmas Town, he and the other residents of Halloween Town decide to take over Christmas and put their special Halloween twist on it.  This is not only one of my favorite Halloween movies but my favorite Disney movie.


4. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

It can’t exactly be considered a movie at only 25 minutes long, it’s absolutely required Halloween viewing.  This one is such a no brainer that there’s not a whole lot to say about it.  Every year I look forward hanging out in the pumpkin patch with Linus to wait for the Great Pumpkin.


5. The Evil Dead (1981)

This is my favorite horror film of all time.  While its sequels added quite a lot of humor to the mix, this one is a mean, nasty horror flick that never lets up.  Five friends go to a cabin in the woods and unleash evil spirits.  There’s plenty of gore throughout so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.  Not only is this a relentless and terrifying film for Halloween, but its sequel series Ash vs Evil Dead premieres on Starz Halloween night.


Honorable Mentions

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

4. Poltergeist (1982)

5. The Monster Squad (1987)

Top 5 Fall Family Friendly Fun

October is the month when, if you’re not a fan of blood, guts, and gore you might have a hard time finding ways to avoid them. It seems like every TV channel and event has some tie-in to the macabre (Phantasmagoria!) and, if you like that sort of thing, you’re in LUCK (check out Howl-O-Scream, The Shallow Grave or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal)!

Parents wanting a kinder, gentler fall season, however, might want a few suggestions for scare-free kid zones through October and (in some cases) beyond.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Disney Magic with a big dash of Hocus Pocus surrounds you at this separately-ticketed special event select dates through November 1. While officially from 7 to midnight, the party can be entered at 4 p.m., and affords families the opportunity to enjoy a few rides before the festivities begin. Enjoy Mickey’s Boo To You Parade (8:35 and 11:15 p.m.), Trick-or-Treating, meet-and-greets with Jack and Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas” and others, plus special shows including the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular.” Download the free My Disney Experience app to explore event-only entertainment using the “Here and Now” feature. Bring your treat bag and costumes (adults, too!, though no masks allowed). Happy Hallowishes fireworks will round out your #NotSoScary good time. Dates sell out, so purchase yours as soon possible.

SeaWorld Spooktacular




An ocean of fun awaits weekends through October 31. Trick or Treat along the pathway where under-sea creatures and sea-inspired “fantasia” characters can be found at every turn. Join Count von Count and his friends Elmo, Abby Cadaby and friends at Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween (reserved seating is available). Add on Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch while you’re there, and don’t forget to get your jam on with a live DJ at Penelope’s Party Zone in Bayside Stadium for stories, activities, bubbles galore, and a pumpkinfish or two! Stop when you see a special silly Spooktacular street performance pop up. You may find the Longshoremen yucking it up Three Stooges-style scooping out pumpkin guts! Wear a costume, or not. All are welcome (adults included!) to enjoy #SeaWorldSpooktacular!

ZooBoo Kids

Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Fear not! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is focusing on the FUN with ZooBoo Kids. Fear-free activities include a crazy corn maze, Scaredy Cat’s Fun House, Pumpkin Toss Animal Enrichments, Trick-or-treat stations and more. Little boys and “ghouls” (age 11 & under) will enjoy fright-free festivities (no haunted houses) starting at 1 p.m. with extended Zoo hours until 7 p.m. This daytime Halloween celebration features candy, bats and scaredy cats! Happier Halloween ZooBoo activities are included with paid Zoo admission or Zoo membership. ZooBoo KIDS dates are October 10-11, 17-18, 23-26, 30-31 and Nov. 1.

Scott’s Maze Adventures

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Get lost in Scott’s Maze Adventures at Long & Scott Farms, a fall tradition with 7-acres of good, clean fun. Bring your friends and family to test their navigational skills as they wind through the maze with game stops along the way. Bring your sense of adventure (and comfortable shoes!) for an old-fashioned fall phenomenon. J General Public Days are Saturdays and Sundays October 3 through December 13. Check their website for details, prices, and map to the farm.


Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND is for kids of all ages (just like LEGOs!, though only kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat along the Pirates’ Cove Trail). There’s a Spider Scavenger Hunt in Miniland, Special appearances by Frankenstein & Mad Scientist, and if your kids love a little friendly competition, enter the “Everything is Awesome” Costume Contest at FunTown Theater. Enjoy LEGO Halloween Character Meet-and-Greets and special builds including an 8’ ghost and take part in building the world’s largest LEGO Vampyre! Take photos with the 13 foot-long LEGO Hearse built brick by brick and LEGO Pumpkins and stay for the all-new nightly Brick-tastic Fireworks show. Want more? VIP Upgrade Packages are available. Brick or Treat runs October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23-25, 30, 31. Find out more online.

Go here at http://discreetinvestigations.ca if you need family protection, they’ve been in the industry for almost 27 years, they also offer tactical training. For more details kindly visit their website.

Phantasmagoria Orlando: A Mesmeric Revelation

Last night Phantasmagoria Orlando debuted its sixth annual show titled, “The Darkness Returns,” at Mandell Theater inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center or as the cool kids know them, Orlando Shakes, in Winter Park. It was the first in a total of thirteen performances throughout October. The last being on, when else? Halloween!

Earlier this week we were invited to a rehearsal, where we got a sneak peek of what’s to come and what goes into each show, from sound and multimedia to stage combat and… monster blocking? Our lips are sealed, as are those of the cast, crew and last night’s audience. However…

We had the grand opportunity to chat with a few of the key players; Phantasmagoria Orlando Creator (and Central Florida Top 5 theatre contributor!) John DiDonna and co-director/producers Seth Kubersky and Kevin Becker. Check out our interview #throughglass below! (Special thanks to the Phantasmagoria lighting crew for the assist!)

What is Phantasmagoria?

DiDonna explains, “(Phantasmagoria) is a Victorian, horror circus that has Steampunk overtones – that’s for sure. It is a storytelling troupe that has traveled through the ages for 2,000 plus years, telling stories and bringing them to life. So as we tell them, they are actually given life and become real.

Don’t let the words ‘horror circus‘ scare you too much, scaredy cats. The stories performed may be macabre in nature and at times, intense in presentation for some, but think of it in more of a Hitchcockian way, only a bit more visual, louder and older. MUCH older. With fire and aerial acrobatics. (YES!)

We like to think of it as a Halloween treat for people who aren’t into the guts and the gore of the haunted houses but still want something that’s spooky in a kind of classical way,” says Kubersky, who knows a thing or two about the other side of this spectrum.

Phantasmagoria 2

Photo Credit: Barry Kirsch (Murder City Media)

It’s a family affair… kind of.

The cast and crew of Phantasmagoria are a whimsical family on and offstage. Their family of course being extraordinarily talented and fantastically entertaining, but not theirs may not necessarily be a family show. “There’s nothing explicit but it’s probably PG-13 in terms of the tone,” says Kubersky.

Don’t let this deter you at all, horror and steampunk fans! DiDonna fleshes it out a little more, “There are certainly frights in the show. It wouldn’t be a horror show if there weren’t. They’re more Edgar Allen Poe type frights or H.P. Lovecraft type frights, rather than being Jason or Freddy. Which are great, those are amazing frightening things for a different kind of audience.

A sneak peek at @PhantasOrlando’s #TheDarknessReturns @OrlandoShakes!

A video posted by Central Florida Top 5 (@centralfltop5) on

While Phantasmagoria was created and regularly perform right here in Central Florida, they also tour across the country with, as Kevin Becker explained, a few expansion plans on the front burner. A theatrical start-up, if you will.

KB: “Just this summer we went up to Atlanta and had a weeklong workshop with children, ages 10-18 and basically (showed them how) to do Phantasmagoria. Starting with stories that are classic literature; Edgar Allen Poe was one of the stories. We got to run them through how we do what we do and then kids got to do our pre-show. We had a little mini-show before we actually went on. We’re actually building on that tour because we sold out three or four out of five performances–

JD: “Which was incredible! In a town where nobody knows us, so it was amazing!”

KB: “We’re expanding (Phantasmagoria) to Baltimore in the Spring, in March, as well as looking to take it to New York City.

SK: “In addition to touring outside of the state, we also tour around the Florida area. If you don’t come to Shakes, you can see us – we were at the (Orange County) Library just recently, Renningers…”

JD: “Special events, Creative City Project upcoming, Zombie Ball… We’re supposed to be a one month a year show and we’re working twelve months of the year at this point!”

SK: “If you have a bar mitzvah or a bris…”

JD: “We have an AMAZING bris horror story!”

I’m fairly sure if this layered labour of love wasn’t truly that, the Phantasmagoria team would still be a one-month-out-of-the-year troupe.

JD: “It’s weird. In the second year, we did our first special event, someone wanted us to do something and we were like, ‘Oh that’s interesting, let’s try that,’ and we haven’t stopped since. We’ll hang up our boots December 6th, that’s our last event for this year, and then we start January 4th with an event next year! So we get Christmas off… maybe.

For this troupe, that’s a LOT of free time. Anyone in need of a Krampus show?

Phantasmagoria's "Alice" graces the cover of this month's OCLS Books & Beyond!

Phantasmagoria’s “Alice” graces the cover of this month’s OCLS Books & Beyond!

Get thee to a show!

The producers of Phantasmagoria have extended special ticket pricing for you, Central Florida Top 5 readers! Use promo code CentFlTop5 to order tickets online for a performance between now and 5pm on October 12 via www.orlandoatplay.com and receive an EXCLUSIVE Central Florida Top 5 20% DISCOUNT, so act fast!

Fine print: This code is good for any show(s) between October 9th and 31st, Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights and Monday the 19th and 26th, all at 8:00pm start (Box office opens at 7:15 – be there no later than 7:45). Tickets are limited to 4 per order, per event, and service fees will be applied. A limit to 15 CFLT5 discounts per performance night during run. (If tickets are sold out for one show, try another night)
Phantasmagoria 1

Photo Credit: Murder City Media (Barry Kirsch)

ProTip: VIP Tickets include a glass of wine, a treat, a souvenir, a download on Halloween night and a special VIP show with fire and even more surprises for only $10 more!

What may one expect from this year’s show?

You’ll get no spoilers here! Director John DiDonna will only give a few clues. The rest you’ll have to see for yourself…

We have monsters. Lots of monsters. Tales going back to 700 A.D., all the way to the 1800s. Definitely an Edgar Allen Poe, we’re committed to doing a Poe every year that we do the show. You can certainly expect our brand of stage combat. You can expect large scale puppets. Dances! We have about five, six amazing dances in this one. Multimedia… and a few surprises. We’re not going to let the audience know what we’re doing this year. Normally it’s in the program – not this year, folks! We’re going to let you follow the journey with the characters this time.”

More Show information:

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/461837514019494/

Official Websitehttp://www.phantasmagoriaorlando.com

Twitter | Instagram

Ticketing info & purchaseswww.orlandoatplay.com

**20% off Promo code CentFlTop5 good until 5pm on 10/12!**

Performance Dates:
Oct 9 (Fri), Oct 10 (Sat), Oct 11 (Sun)
Oct 16 (Fri), Oct 17 (Sat), Oct 18 (Sun) Oct 19 (Mon)
Oct 23 (Fri), Oct 24 (Sat), Oct 25 (Sun), Oct 26 (Mon)
Oct 30 (Fri), Oct 31 (Sat) (All Performances begin at 8pm, with VIP show immediately following main stage show)

AGE RESTRICTIONS: Due to nature of classic and literary horror such as Poe, the show is not recommended for children under 8. Infants or toddlers will not be allowed in.

DRIP Goes Vampire for October

There are plenty of Halloween events going on around town, but this new event from DRIP sounds like a bloody good time.

Performance art group, DRIP, is creating a safe haven for the Vampires and their human friends. Finally there will be a place in Orlando for Vampires to be themselves, sip “Blood” from the Blood Bar, watch dancers enjoy “Blood” baths, take a “Blood” shower, witness human sacrifices, enjoy live music, and full theatrical show featuring performances in paint, sand, “blood”, flying water and more.  The Underground Vampire Bar will be at DRIP for a limited time in October on International Drive just down the street from the New Orlando Eye and on the backside of the Señor Frog’s building.

The Underground Vampire Bar Grand Opening Party takes place Friday, October 9, 2015, kicking off a four-week run. Check all the updates about it at h-t.

DRIP founder Jessica Mariko explains: “We’ve been wanting to convert DRIP into a dark and sexy Vampire environment in October for a couple of years and the timing is finally right to make it a reality. I love to create new forms of stimulation and challenge our team to create new twists in our storyline to feature a vampire falling in love with a human, eternal love, heartbreak and the color red!”

Photo credit: Carl Jordan

Photo credit: Carl Jordan

Guests heading to DRIP’s Underground Vampire Bar will start by changing into a limited edition white vampire t-shirt and make their way over to the killer paint station to paint their shirts and paint their friends. Performance artists will be enjoying a bath in the liquid blood hammock while guests grab a drink of choice from the Blood Bar. T-shirt artists will custom design and cut guest’s shirts for $5 and turn them into corsets, dresses, tank tops and more.

There will be a custom vampire DRIP show featuring a live band and dancers telling a story of eternal love and heartbreak.

Post show, guests will join an after party until midnight with DJ Marone, dance floor, interactive blood shower, human sacrifices and one lucky winner will receive a complimentary bottle of DRIP “Bloodeaux” wine nightly at 11:00 PM!

DRIP’s Underground Vampire Bar will be open every Friday and Saturday in October as well as for special events including the Florida Premiere of “Clockwork Orange” on Oct. 15-19, Local Art Night on Oct. 22, and Zombie College Paint Party on Oct. 29.

The Underground Vampire Bar will finish with a closing night party on Halloween, October 31, featuring an after party with “The Bloody Jug Band.”

The Underground Vampire Bar tickets range from $35-$79. Doors and activities open at 8:00PM. Guests will want to dress to get and colorful and wet, shorts and flip-flops are perfect. Age restrictions vary per event.

For a full listing of events and tickets, visit DRIP’s website at  www.ILoveDRIP.com. DRIP is located at 8747 International Dr. Ste. 102, Orlando, Fl 32819 on the backside of the building with Senor Frogs and Denny’s.


Featured image credit: Brooke Pifer