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Last updated: Fri. Oct. 19, 2012 - 07:56 am EDT

Fright Night in the Fort

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If you go

What: Fright Night

When: 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday

Where: Various locations in downtown Fort Wayne

Admission: Free, but there is a cost for some events.

Partial list of events:

•Pumpkin Zone – 10 a.m.; Foellinger Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St.; $3 to $5

•Halloween Haunt – 2 p.m.; Community Center, 233 W. Main St.; free

•“Make Your Own Zombie Snot” hosted by Science Central – 2 p.m.; downtown Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza; free

•Zombie Machine – 2 p.m.; downtown Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza; free

•Embassy Tunnel Tours – Every 10 minutes from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 to 10 p.m.; Embassy Theatre, 125. W. Jefferson Blvd.; $5

•Explore the Calaboose – 5 p.m.; History Center, 302 E. Berry St.; $2

•Kids Scavenger Hunt – 5 p.m.; Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St.; free

•Zombie Walk – 5:30 p.m.; starts from the downtown Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza; free

•Bonfire with Fright Dogs and Blood Soup – 6 p.m.; Courtyard by Marriott, 1150 S. Harrison St.; free

•Dead Artists Ball – 6 p.m.; Artlink, 300 E. Main St.; $2

•Braineaters’ Ball – 6 p.m.; Cinema Center, 437 E. Berry St.; free

•Ghostly Gala – 6 p.m.; Grand Wayne Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.; free

•ARCH Ghost Tours – 6 p.m.; Canton Laundry, 1014 and 1016 Broadway, and Alexander Rankin House, 818 Lafayette St.; $2

•Old Lantern Tours – 6:30 p.m.; Old Fort, 1201 Spy Run Ave.; $2

•Worlds Collide, The All Fandom Ball – 7 p.m.; downtown Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza; free

•“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” with Dennis James – 7 p.m.; Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.; $5 to $8

•“Fright Nightmares” by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective – 7 p.m.; University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St.; $15

•The Ikasucom Halloween Rave – 7:30 p.m.; Grand Wayne Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.; $5

•Zombie Prom by A Better Fort – 8 p.m.; Thirsty Camel, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.; $5

•“Rocky Horror Picture Show” – 9:15 p.m.; Foellinger Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St.; $1 to $2

•Indiana Paranormal Inquisitor’s Hunt for the Embassy Ghost – 11 p.m.; Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.; $60

Only the most high-minded journalist would lead off a preview of frivolous Halloween pastimes with an entreaty to donate blood.

I am precisely that journalist.

In this case, however, I may have an ulterior motive.

People who visit the Bloodmobile during Saturday’s downtown Fright Night festivities won’t just walk away with the satisfaction of knowing they have made a big difference in the lives of others. They will walk away with the satisfaction of knowing they have entered a drawing to win a walk-on part in an episode of AMC’s popular zombie-palooza, “The Walking Dead.”

With all the fake blood that will be ubiquitous throughout Fright Night, it only seems right that some real blood should be shed for causes both noble and hip.

Fright Night, belying its name, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and is only partly about frightful things.

Family activities happen almost all day at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, the Community Center and the downtown Allen County Public Library with more starting in the late afternoon and early evening at Parkview Field and the Indiana Hotel lobby.

Whether you think Zombie Machine and the Zombie Walk qualify as family-friendly activities depends on whether you agree with the assertion of Voodoo advice columnist Ann Lagniappe, who once said, “The family that plays undead together, stays together.”

Actually, she never said that. She very much wanted to say it but was prevented from doing so by having never existed.

Nevertheless, Zombie Walk – a parade during which participants impersonate movie zombies – counts many parents and their children among its thousands of partakers, according to the Downtown Improvement District’s marketing and events director, Tena Woenker.

“I had this friend yesterday tell me she wasn’t going to come because she has a second-grader who she thought would be scared,” Wonker said. “But we had little second-graders last year who were having a ball.”

Zombie Machine, a free zombification (face-painting) marathon that starts at 2 p.m., serves as a precursor to Zombie Walk.

Many of the usual teen- and adult-oriented activities return this year, Woenker said, including a rave at Grand Wayne Center with a Japanese pop cultural theme, a Fort Wayne Dance Collective performance called “Fright Nightmares” at the Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, a screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and an inaugural Zombie Prom at the Thirsty Camel.

Here’s a guide to a few new wrinkles and some old wrinkles that have been expertly rejuvenated by the area’s best morticians and marketing professionals.

Dennis James and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”

Around the world, rock and pop bands are providing live musical accompaniment for silent movies and Dennis James hates it.

He understands it, but he hates it.

Dennis James is one of the world’s foremost historians and practitioners of a not-quite-lost art: accompanying silent movies on theater organ.

James has unearthed silent movie scores, completed silent movie scores and championed silent movie scores.

He will accompany the 1919 film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” at Embassy Theatre as part of Saturday’s Fright Night activities.

James said that when a “trendy all-girl group” in San Francisco provides musical accompaniment for Felix the Cat cartoons, it’s not about glorifying the Felix the Cat cartoons.

“By that description, you just know what they did,” he said. “It had nothing to do with film, nothing to do with history. It was just about having people look at them posing and being pretty.”

When rock and pop bands accompany silent films, “the focus is on the performer, not the film,” he said.

Still, no less a legend than silent film actress Lillian Gish foretold of such a development and, what’s more, she indicated to James that it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Gish said silent film would never die because succeeding generations would continue to discover it and find ways to make it relevant to them, James recalled.

James toured with Gish in the ’80s and restored a score for the silent film version of Gish’s “La Boheme” that had fallen victim to a copyright infringement claim many decades before.

“She walked out onstage with tears streaming down her face and said, ‘That is the score we intended,’ ” James said. “That’s my favorite score. I will play that one at the drop of a toothpick.”

October is traditionally a busy month for James and it is a time when he eschews his usual seriousness in favor of some banter with the audiences and other antics.

“I dress up in costumes, do theater, speak off-the-cuff, and do stand-up jokes,” he said. “It is totally for the audience.”

James said such blandishments are not only fun for all, they’re historically accurate as well.

Artlink’s Dead Artists Ball

Artlink Gallery will become part of Fright Night festivities for the first time this year with its Dead Artists Ball.

“The Dead Artists Ball came out (of a) marketing committee meeting last spring,” Artlink’s Executive Director Deb Washler said, “and we just couldn’t let go of the concept. It was too much fun.”

Attendees are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite dead artist, although there is nothing stopping anyone from showing up as his or her least favorite artist.

For example, you could dance the night away as the French, post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne who is said to have hated dancing.

“He possessed all the social graces of a cornered skunk,” Baltimore Sun reporter Mary Carole McCauley once wrote of him.

If you play your cards right, the “cornered skunk dance” could be all the rage by Monday.

It’s safe to say that Cezanne was not a guy who often heard people say “I want to party with you, cowboy,” and this was not because he habitually forgot to wear his Stetson.

Incidentally, there really isn’t a French word for cowboy.

Dead artists tend to run the gamut from instantly recognizable (Salvador Dali) to fairly nondescript (almost everybody else). So, part of the fun of a Dead Artists Ball is trying to figure out who is impersonating whom.

Washler said there will be a house costume for people who come unprepared – Dali mustaches will be handed out to anyone desiring one.

Three new exhibits will also open Saturday, Washler said, including a show of handmade books and book-related art.

Local band the Slow Pokes will perform, Washler said, and the Pembroke Bakery and Café will stay open late to accommodate carouser and succubi alike.

“I will even have the Notre Dame football game on if anyone cares,” Washler said.

Cinema Center’s Braineaters Ball

Braineaters Ball, a Fright Night event in its second year, will be commandeered this year by Jonah Crismore, an executive director in his first year.

In 2011, the Braineaters Ball was the event that inaugurated Cinema Center’s then-new space, the Spectator Lounge.

As a test of the supposition that people wanted more out of Cinema Center than mere movie exhibition, it was a rousing success.

“I wasn’t here to see how crazy it was,” Crismore said, “but people tell me it was crazy.”

Not much has changed with the event, Crismore said.

An art exhibit, music, dancing, free popcorn, and screenings of horror snippets are all in the offing, he said.

The event will culminate in a showing of the horror film “V/H/S,” an anthology commemorating the “found footage” horror genre, Crismore said.

And the JumBy’s JoiNt food truck will be on site serving Cerebellum Sliders.

Asked by email for a description of these brainy comestibles, JumBy’s owner Jim Garigen responded: “Not sure if you want the themed description or the true ingredients. So, here is a combination of both.

“They are specially seasoned with spices derived from parts unknown (my own blend). They are 3 oz patties (hand-formed the day of the event) quick seared and topped with steamed onions and gooey cheese. They are made from an 80/20 blend of local Zombies favorite meat (fresh ground from Didiers) and served on a soft slider bun. There will also be fried fingers (french fries or fried pickles) available.”

Sounds macabre-licious!

Real-life haunts

Fort Wayne is so rich in bonafide haunted structures, it is almost sad to think of the few it lacks.

Namely, haunted wineries and liquor distilleries.

Only the most experienced ghost hunter knows how haunted the tasting rooms of these establishments almost always are.

Spend enough time in a haunted tasting room and you are guaranteed to either see a ghost or stop caring whether you ever see one.

Even without wineries and distilleries, Fright Night has corralled plenty of locales where folks can find ghosts or die trying.

Figuratively, of course.

Embassy Theatre will host tours of its catacombs and cavernous spaces and ARCH will direct similar excursions inside at Canton Laundry and the Alexander T. Rankin House.

ARCH will also lead historical tours of downtown that start in the Indiana Hotel Lobby.

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