What’s scarier than Halloween?
Actually, the macabre cluster of events taking place the weekend before All Hallows’ Eve might put more hair on your chest – which is great, especially if you’re the ghost of Lon Chaney, Jr. (And if you are the ghost of Lon Chaney Jr., please keep it to yourself, because that’s too scary.)
The spooky bottom line: Why put all of your Halloween frights into Oct. 31, when you can frontload a quality howl at the moon this weekend? Sound good? Hey, just going my job. You don’t have to fang me for it.
1. The Beast and the Edge of Hell
Ghouls, zombies and other lost souls in distinctly grumpy moods will greet visitors at Kansas City’s most famous pair of haunted houses, located under the forbidding 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms. You may not be taking your life into your hands, but be prepared to fling them in front of your face when grotesque things leap out at you with grim gusto. A special attraction at the Edge of Hell: The reticulated python dubbed Medusa, which, at 25 feet long and 350 pounds, makes it (her?) the largest snake ever in captivity. Open nightly; 1401 W. 13th St. (Beast) and 1300 W. 12th St. (Edge of Hell), Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $27, $37 (combo tickets available).
2. Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun
The chance of becoming so scared that you feel sick increases exponentially when an insanely gravity defying thrill ride is involved. In that bloodcurdling vein, Worlds of Fun’s annual Halloween Haunt strives to leave no stomach unturned. The amusement park’s annual horror-fest includes mazes, scare zones and live shows featuring the undead. Not to be overprotective, but fans of the park’s Planet Snoopy may want to take a pass. Friday through Sunday, 4 p.m.; Worlds of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $32.99 and up.
3. Edgar Allan Poe in Music
The Midwest Chamber Ensemble will be joined by the William Jewell Concert Choir and conductor Anthony Maglione in creating unsettling sounds inspired by the chilling literature of Edgar Allan Poe. The 19th-century American writer specialized in raising hair with such fear-mounting works as The Raven and The Tell Tale Heart. The evening will include texts by Poe, as well as the Halloween organ fave, Toccata and Fugue in D minor attributed to J.S. Bach. Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; Gano Chapel, William Jewell College, 500 College Hill, Liberty, Mo.; admission: donations appreciated.
4. Spirits from the Past at Missouri Town 1855
Families will be gathering around pioneer campfires – and coffins with things crawling out of them – when Missouri Town 1855 is transformed into a supernatural situation. Terrifying tales will be told amid the sights of witches’ cauldrons and traditional children’s games. Keep in mind that if the witches have their way, the kids might wind up in the cauldrons. Be wary, wee ones. Friday and Saturday, 6-9 p.m.; Missouri Town 1855, 8010 Park Road, Fleming Park, Blue Springs, Mo.; admission: $10 (reservations required at 816-503-4890).
5. Monster Dash 5K & Lil Monsters Fun Run
What’s more awful than monsters running after you? Why, catching you, of course. To avoid a bad end, you can become one of the participants in the Monster Dash 5K or Lil Monsters Fun Run. Prizes will be awarded for top finishers and best costumes. Halloween treats will be provided, but the tricks are up to you. Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (kid run) and 7 p.m. (adult run); City Market, Third Street and Grand Boulevard, registration: $15-$40.
6. Rob Schneider
Comedian Rob Schneider’s “makin’ copies” office-worker character on Saturday Night Live was always more than a little creepy. The more I think about it, the more Schneider’s way with a laugh seems to come from some bizarre inner sanctum, where many might fear to go. Obviously, that’s why Schneider goes there for us. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. and Saturday, 7 p.m.; Kansas City Improv, 7260 N.W. 87th St. at Zona Rosa, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $27.
7. An Evening with Leo Kotke
Ace guitarist Leo Kotke is so good he’s – that’s right – scary. Whether playing blues, folk, rock, jazz, bluegrass or classical tunes, Kotke’s uncanny mastery of both the six-string and 12-string guitar has sent shivers down spines since he emerged as a finger-picking force of nature in the early 1970s. In other words, every day is Halloween when this guy’s entertaining an audience. Saturday, 7:30; Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence, Kan.; tickets: $20-$30 (adults), $11-$16 (students/youth).