Halloween haunts Oh, which to choose? Dr. Darke asks, "What's more frightening than reality?" but no, he's not going to make you balance your checkbook. Phobia -- the Darke Institute (2720 Southwest Freeway, 526-DEAD, $7-$10) instead preys on your fears and fascinations with things hairy, slimy and odd, and techno-phobes get a bonus trick, as all this frightening fun comes courtesy of high-tech wizardry and laser effects. Located in the heart of the Richmond Strip, Terror on Richmond '96 (6366 Richmond, 326-3067, $8$15) feeds not on your fear of being a loser magnet, but instead on those true dates from hell: Dracula, Freddy, Jason and the like. In yet a third option, you may wish you'd tipped better for your room service if you check into the Haunted Hotel I and II (2803 and 2813 Fannin, 759-9866, $8$10). Take your pick; all open just after dark.
Willie Nelson Still high on the success of his recent Farm Aid bash in South Carolina, Nelson comes to Houston to perform tunes from his new CD, Spirit. Sweaty hunk and local favorite Jesse Dayton opens. 9 p.m. Wild West, 10086 Long Point, 465-7121. $20.
Transylvania Plaza Though adults often lament that children can really no longer go trick-or-treating the old-fashioned way, many are just as sad that they can't dress all funny, bang on their neighbors' doors and get free stuff. The clubs of Shepherd Plaza are uniting to right that injustice. After sundown tonight, revelers can hop from club to club collecting goodies as part of a scavenger hunt, with an even bigger chance later in the night to win cash and prizes. Shepherd Plaza, Shepherd at Richmond. A nominal fee for trick-or-treat bags benefits the Houston Area Women's Center.
Rocky Horror Picture Show Any night you see this movie, it's like you're celebrating Halloween, so what's the big deal about tonight? Well, Rocky's turning 21, which makes Susan Sarandon .... Anyway, this is a special screening to note the season and Rocky's coming of age. 12:30 a.m. Landmark's River Oaks 3 Theatre, 524-2175. $6.75.
Trick-or-Treat Dress your young'uns up (we recommend Tick costumes all around) and haul them down to your local community center for a neighborhood party -- the new, safe tradition for Halloween trick-or-treating. Free goodies for kids 12 and under. Call the Parks and Recreation Department, 522-9286, for the location nearest you.
Dia de los Muertos Lawndale is hosting three exhibitions featuring more than 200 artists and their works interpreting a Day of the Dead theme. In addition to viewing Robert Ziebell's installation inspired by the final meals of death-row inmates and the opportunity to bid on various retablos, gallery-goers are encouraged to bring mementos of their dearly departed to contribute to a community altar. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lawndale Art and Performance Center, 4912 Main Street, 528-5858, lawndale
Overeaters Anonymous Convention OA holds 70 meetings weekly in and around Houston, but this weekend offers OA members a chance to exchange support and inspiration on a grander scale. "Remarkable Things Happen" is the theme, and information will be available on all kinds of eating disorders. The 20th annual convention kicks off at 4 p.m. today and continues through noon Sunday. Holiday Inn, 7611 Katy Freeway (at Silber), 688-2221. For more information, call 973-6633. $10, Friday or Sunday; $20, Saturday only; $30, all weekend.
Kenny Rogers He's calling his Houston gig here with the Houston Symphony his "Coming Home" concert, but Kenny Rogers has come a long way since he and his seven siblings were growing up in a Houston public housing project. Perhaps he should be calling it "Coming Home in Style." The Grammy Award-winning Rogers will perform "Lucille," "Lady," "The Gambler" and new stuff, too. Before he performs, Stephen Stein will lead the orchestra in a selection of light classics.8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $21-$71.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension Peter Weller stars as the titular figure, and in this flick, he'll make you forget he ever went on to play that awful Robocop. Banzai is a master at all he endeavors (sort of a forerunner to all those overachieving sitcom characters like the doctor on Dream On) -- though he's not so good with names. Watch as he takes on Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) and a host of Johns on a 35mm print. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Rice Media Center (entrance no. 8 of University Boulevard), 527-4853. $4.50.
DiverseNet Visual artist Victoria Vesna will do her part to unclog traffic on the Information Superhighway and point you to a few good detours as part of "DiverseNet: Building a Scenic Route on the Information Superhighway." Vesna, associate professor of electronic intermedia at the University of California-San Diego, will discuss the nature of on-line collaboration, artist-audience interaction, community building and the future of public art. (See Thrills, Art, Opening for more "DiverseNet" projects). 7:30 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 228-0914. $7; $5, students and seniors.
Third Coast Movie/Multimedia Collector's Showcase Movie and TV goodies are the bread and butter of this event, but because of the post-Halloween timing, ghoulish stuff should be especially plentiful. In collaboration with the collectors' showcase, Tinseltown Theater is screening Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a midnight movie Friday and tonight, and cast members (three of them!) are expected to make appearances from 78 p.m. Friday. Showcase open Saturday evening and all day Sunday. Tinseltown Theater, 1400 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 364-0600. For info, call 447-3701. Showcase, free; $4.25, movie.