It is a fine line between horror and comedy, a concept local theaters take to heart this season as Halloween nears. This year, more than ever, there is a focus on the creepy and the shrieky. Some of these shows are safe for your kids; others are definitely adult-only fare.
"The Halloween Show"
Oct. 26 to Nov. 5 (with a performance on Oct. 31) at The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $25 at 773-283-7071.
"What is fear?" is the question and inspiration for this collection of short scenes created by the ensemble. Creepy classic selections from Samuel Beckett, Edgar Allan Poe and William Blake also will be adapted and performed..
WHO'S IT FOR: According to cast member Mike Thornton, "People interested in doing something a little different for Halloween, who can appreciate highbrow and lowbrow. Screamers. Jumpers." Not for kids.
FUNNY OR SCARY: Thornton says both. "Often at the same time."
GORE FACTOR: "We're still creating that," says Thornton, "but I think I can promise you a bathtub full."
Through Nov. 4 (with performances Oct. 30 and Oct. 31) at Annoyance Theatre, 4840 N. Broadway; $13 at 773-561-4665.
A remount of the company's 1987 spoof of bloody slasher flicks, featuring cliched horror movie characters--the high school jock, the virgin, the class jerk, the bimbo--killed in various creatively disgusting ways.
WHO'S IT FOR: "I would say anybody who has enjoyed a slasher film," says Annoyance owner Jennifer Estlin. Age 16 and over.
FUNNY OR SCARY: "It's mostly funny, and scary along the lines of shocking scary. You'll see about 12 deaths occur on stage, and some of them get pretty gory. It's not that you'll be scared, but you won't believe it gets that gory."
GORE FACTOR: "The stage blood is a special recipe that [director] Mick Napier developed through trial and error. We probably use around 3 gallons a show." It's a nightmare to clean up, she says, although this year the cast is excited because the theater has a shower, versus a small sink used in previous years.
Through Oct. 31 at Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway; $6-$8 at 773-244-2980.
A 15-minute, multimedia installation that is similar to a haunted house. Audience members are herded into a pitch-black room that seemingly has no exits. The multisensory experience is meant to "scare the life back into people." Vignettes depict stalking and serial murder.
WHO'S IT FOR: Adults "who want a different haunted house, to see a blurred line between horror flicks and the real-life situations they depict," says show creator Brad Jayhan-Little.
FUNNY OR SCARY: Scary. "Very not funny," says Jayhan-Little. "Really it's quite disturbing."
GORE FACTOR: Knives, guns, crowbars, rope and more than a gallon of blood.
FRONT ROW: AN UP-CLOSE VIEW OF CHICAGOLAND'S ENTERTAINMENT SCENE