Free for All: The Halloween Edition

The Bad Seed

stars Patty McCormack, Nancy Kelly, Henry Jones and Eileen Keckart; Mervyn LeRoy directs.

There will be lots of scary things out there this weekend, but the price of admission won't have to be one of them. You can get all of your Halloween thrills for free.

On Thursday, there's the UHD Halloween Film Festival with a screening of the classic horror film The Bad Seed. The 1956 thriller is a study in creepiness, centering on tiny terror Rhoda (played with icy control by Patty McCormack). Rhoda's mother (an appropriately helpless Nancy Kelly) begins to suspect that her daughter isn't the perfect little girl she seems to be, especially after one of Rhoda's schoolmates mysteriously dies. Eileen Heckart plays the child's mother with all the drunken abandon and sloppy emotion the role requires while Henry Jones is the slimy grounds keeper who's on to Rhoda's secrets. As the mother's slowly discovers more and more evidence against her own child, she falls deeper into despair while Rhoda heartlessly keeps sharpening her skills. (You can come back on Friday and see an outdoor screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.) For information on the UHD Halloween Film Festival, visit www.calendar.uhd.edu or call 713-221-8615.

Spend some time socializing at the Bayou City Outdoors 3rd Annual Meet & Greet Halloween Party on Friday. Costumes are optional, but a party attitude is absolutely required. BCO folks are the outdoorsy type, with group events planned year-round. You can find out about their upcoming outings or just hang out. (There's a free buffet and an open bar, but if you tell the folks at the door you're there for party, your first two drink are just $1.) 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Howl At The Moon, 612 Hadley. For information visit www.BayouCityOutdoors.com or call 713 524 3567.

The Orange Show has a treat for DIYers on Saturday with the annual Pumpkin Carving Workshop. You bring the pumpkin and the Orange Show will provide everything else - the tools and several artists to lead you through the process as you create not just a Halloween decoration, but a work of art. The Pumpkin Carving Workshop runs 1 to 4 p.m. at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, 2402 Munger. For information, visit www.orangeshow.org or call 713-926-6368.

On Sunday, families can head to 13th Annual Halloween Boo Bash over at Traders Village. Organizers bill this as "the biggest free spooktacular for kids in Houston," and we don't doubt it. Live music and street magicians will provide continuous entertainment. And there's lots more to do with a giant maze, scarecrow contest, and a Haunted Hallway for trick-or-treaters. There'll even be a dance performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Kids are encouraged to come in costume (participating shops will be handing out candy). 1 to 4 p.m. at Traders Village, 7979 North Eldridge Road. For information, visit www.tradersvillage.com or call 281-890-5500.

And one more ...

The Wolf Man

stars Lon Chaney, Jr, Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles and Béla Lugosi; George Waggner directs.

There are three reasons you should see The Wolf Man: Lon. Chaney. Junior. Yes, the special effects and make-up are kinda hokey in comparison to today's CGI magic. That's not the point. The film is a benchmark for horror movies, thanks in large part to Chaney's acting ability and commitment to the role of the Wolf Man. Chaney owns this role. Cheney's Wolf Man scares the snot out of his girlfriend Gwen (Evelyn Ankers) and father (Claude Rains), especially since most scenes of the Wolf Man seem to take place at night, in isolated areas with a ghostly mist coming in. (By the way, the werewolf that bites Chaney's character and starts this whole mess is none other than Béla Lugosi.) Think of it, during Monday's Movies at Miller screening, you'll be sitting in the dark ... outside ... easy prey for any creature that's lurking in the woods. See The Wolf Man at 7:30 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.com or call 281-373-3386.

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