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Trails to Terror

2007 Halloween Guide

Don't look now, but sloppy Britney costumes might be all the rage this Halloween. Who doesn't like their festivities decked with little clothes (and shame), lots of drink and lots of candy? Whether you're tethered to kids or tired of wearing undies, we have an activity for everyone. There's no reason to stay in the dark tonight. Melissa Richter

ONGOING

Alamo Drafthouse
West Oaks Mall (Westheimer and Hwy. 6, 281-920-9211) and Mason Park (531 S. Mason Rd., 281-492-6900), www.drafthouse.com

The Alamo theaters will satisfy your lust for blood, guts and suspense all month long. Features include Rob Zombie's over-the-top gore-fests House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. The Mason Park location will cover the classics with two of Hitchcock's finer films, Rear Window and Dial M For Murder. Days and times vary. $6.

Ashton Villa
2328 Broadway, Galveston, 409-762-3933

Some believe Ashton Villa is haunted. "Miss Bettie," the daughter of the house's first owner, James Moreau Brown, is said to appear from time to time on the second floor landing in a long turquoise gown. Some have even heard the piano in the Gold Room played at night by unseen hands. Miss Bettie never learned to play the piano in life, but her sister played both piano and violin. Noon to 4 p.m. Special "Are We Haunted?" tours begin at the top of each hour, daily. Through October 31. $6 for adults; $5 for students (half price for students in Halloween costume).

Discover Houston Tours Ghost Walks
713-222-9255, www.discoverhoustontours.com

Listen to ten tales of murder, death, haunting, hanging and war on this leisurely stroll and MetroRail ride. All are original haunts of Houston. 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in October. $15 adult; $10 children. Advance reservations required.

Downtown Aquarium
410 Bagby, 713-223-FISH, www.downtownaquarium.com

Every weekend in October, there will be all kinds of Halloween activities at Boo on the Bayou. These G-rated activities include the haunted exhibit tour, monster magic shows and more. The event is free, but ticket prices vary for exhibits.

Houston Zoo
1513 N. MacGregor, 713-533-6500, www.houstonzoo.org

If you feel guilty about your kiddos associating Halloween with all the candy, then take them to Zoo Boo, where they can learn a few things about nature. The House of Slither has a 73-foot snake and spiders galore. Pick a pumpkin to decorate and enjoy the Monster Mashquerade, plus all the usual haunts. Get discount admission tickets at Fiesta. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 20, 21, 27 and 28.

Kemah Boardwalk Halloween Festival
Kemah, 281-334-9880, www.kemahboardwalk.com

Rest assured that Grandma and the kids will enjoy Boo on the Boardwalk this spooky season. There will be trick-or-treating and pumpkin decorating. Halloween costume contests take place on October 20 and 27, with prizes for the top ten best-dressed kids. Free; times vary. Brave souls can visit the Dungeon of Doom Haunted House, open daily. $10 per ticket.

Nightmare on the Bayou
1515 Studemont, 713-868-3344, www.nightmareonthebayou.com

2007 promises more scares, more screams and more fun. This haunt has been completely redesigned, but it's still located next to Houston's oldest cemetery. Employees swear some ghosts are real. Open rain or shine. $25 regular ticket; $35 VIP tickets. Look online for discounts. Open Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, and nightly from October 25 to 31.7:30 p.m. Nightmare on the Bayou stays open as long as the crowds keep coming!

Phobia Haunted Houses
18777 Hwy. 290, and 1-45 S. at Mall of the Mainland, Texas City. 713-526-DEAD, www.darke.com

With more than 20 years of experience, Phobia Haunted Houses has earned the reputation as the scariest, most high-tech thrill in Houston. Phobia operates seven separate haunted attractions at two locations. A parent should accompany children under 12. Phobia Haunted Houses will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, and nightly from October 25 to 31.

At the 290 location, expect thrillers like The Darke Institute, Mind Control Asylum, 3D Clown Phobia, Simon Fowler Woods Tour, the path of the 290 Killer and ClaustroPhobia. Don't expect to have dry pants after these tours.

There are also two new haunted attractions at I-45 Mall of the Mainland, DarkeWorld and Phylo Darke, as well as an old favorite, Mania.

ScreamWorld
2225 N. Sam Houston Pkwy., 713-914-1313, www.screamworld.com

More than 30,000 Houstonians have visited this haunt annually since these creaky doors opened in 1989. Originally located in downtown, in 2001 ScreamWorld moved to a 4.5-acre facility comprised of three haunted houses and an outdoor maze. This year they added an outdoor cemetery. Besides high-tech animatronic monsters, expect to dodge racing cars, ankle-biters and cobwebs. Watch where you step.

The temple of terror opens nightly at 7:30 p.m. October 4 to 7, October 11 to 14, October 18 to 21, October 25 to 31 and November 2 to 3. General admission tickets are $22 per person to visit the five haunted attractions, and $30 for a VIP Fast Pass, with no waiting in line. A downloadable $3 discount coupon and advance tickets sales are available at www.screamworld.com.

ScreamWorld is not recommended for children under the age of 12.

Texas Renaissance Festival
www.texrenfest.com, 800-458-3435

Any event where you dress up is part of the Halloween season. Despite what Miss Pop Rocks might think of these followers, all who attend have a good time. Not only do toddlers like it, but even Holly from The Girls Next Door gets into it. The festival runs Saturdays and Sundays from October 6 through November 25. Tickets $10-$21.

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