Mall-Walkers' Masquerade Halloween Costume Contest Kids get all the fun at Halloween: candy apples, decorating the house, costume contests. But this Thursday, some of the Sharpstown Mall walkers take to the runway and show the world that youngsters aren't the only ones who can dress up like the goblins they often are. Yes indeed, some of the seniors have been planning for months and are looking forward to making their costume fashion statements -- and to showing off on a runway and possibly winning prizes. Come, bring your little monsters and show them what they're up against. 10:30 a.m., Center Court, Sharpstown Center Mall, 7500 Bellaire Blvd., 777-1111. Free.
Words Alive A cup and a saucer, a hand and a glove, Bogart and Bacall -- all perfectly sensible matches. But a dancer and a book? Tonight the Chrysalis Dance Company and the Jewish Community Center's Bookfair will try to make this strange coupling work. Several artists will depict dramatic interpretations of stories by Jewish authors, and Chrysalis has been commissioned to present the story "A Ghetto Dog," about an old woman and her dog during the Holocaust. Sounds so strange that it's bound to be worth seeing. Opens tonight at 8 p.m.; other performances Nov. 1, Nov. 6 and Nov. 8. Jewish Community Center, 5601 S. Braeswood, 551-7255. $10-$14.
Sav-A-Pet Masquerade Ball Calling all animal lovers: Tonight's costume gala, complete with drinks, food and dancing, benefits one of the sweetest organizations in Houston. Sav-A-Pet takes wounded and sick homeless animals, makes them well again and then finds them a loving home. All this do-gooding costs lots of dough, so pony up if you love ponies, or any other animal for that matter, and have a good time while doing so. Food will be provided by Sharon Graham Catering; the dance music by Commercial Art. 7-11 p.m. Paraiso Maravilla, 5714 Fairdale, 622-5295. $125.
Third World Club Jamaica Jamaica has been around for ten -- count 'em, ten -- years. Anyone in the club business knows that kind of longevity is practically miraculous. So to celebrate its celestial status, Jamaica Jamaica will present Third World, a Grammy-nominated, internationally renowned reggae band, in hopes of bringing on the next fine decade. Club Jamaica Jamaica, 2631 Richmond, 529-8800.
M In this 1931 German film, you'll meet up with Hans Beckert, a child-killing madman who is hunted down by a group of vigilante criminals, anxious to get to the bottom of the case and thus keep the cops from disturbing their underworld peace. At a deserted factory, Beckert is thrown in front of a kangaroo court of gangsters, thieves and murderers. Claiming insanity, he pleads his case, but you'll have to see the movie to find out what happens next. Old as it is, the movie has chilling relevance. Leonard Maltin called it "riveting and frighteningly contemporary ... cinematically dazzling." 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5.
A Celtic New Year Instead of Halloween, why not celebrate New Year's? The Celts were a herding people, and their calendar grew up around their animals' annual cycle. On this day, the herds were thinned against the coming cold, bonfires were lit and great feasts were held. The veil between this world and the next was believed to be at its most delicate, and spirits at their most powerful. The Celts invited the dead back with fanfare. Their fun was, of course, the genesis for our modern-day Halloween, but it sounds like they had a much more uproarious time of it, what with the bonfires and all. Celebrate the old-fashioned way with harp music, food, drink and other arts of the ancient Celts. Doors open at 4 p.m. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065. $7; free, children under 12.
The Haunted Hotels I and II Seems like haunted houses spring up on every street corner in Houston during the Halloween season. For nine years, Jim Fetterly and Mike Darling have created some of the scariest, using all the pyrotechnics of the '90s. This year, the disclaimer reads, "The Haunted Hotels are not recommended for children under 12, persons with heart conditions, expectant mothers, or whining wimps." The rest of you are free to get the bejesus scared out of you. Doors open at 8 p.m. Haunted Hotels I and II, 2800 block of Fannin at Tuam, 759-9866. $8 for one attraction; $12 for both.