Smile Politely

Get your scare on in Chambana this month

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re now well into Halloween season, or, to the darkly inclined like myself, regular-home-décor shopping season. As a fairly recent Chambana transplant by way of Indianapolis, I was curious to find what morbid delights await in C-U.

I’ve heard the praises sung to the Goth nights at C-street, but alas, it closed before I could enjoy it.

There are still plenty of opportunities for us weirdos and Halloween lovers, though. I dug deep to find the best. The Chambana area may appear humble, but it does not disappoint


An exciting new event is coming right up this weekend. On Saturday, October 13th, the doors open for Masquerade d’Vampire at the Blackbird in Urbana. I got to speak with its organizer, J.L. Benet, a local teacher and author.

“Anyone age 19 and up should have fun here,” Benet said. Attendees should dress to impress and come ready to dance.

The event’s most famous performer is D.J. Scary Lady Sarah, who performs all over the world and has hosted the world’s longest-running goth club night, Nocturna, for the past 30 years. Fans are anticipated to travel from at least as far as Chicago and Indianapolis.

Champaign-Urbana’s once-flourishing goth scene was in decline even before C-Street closed its doors. Local enthusiasts routinely have to travel to Chicago, St. Louis, or Indianapolis to get their fix. Benet hopes his promoting group, The Darkness Underground, can help make Chambana goth again.

Besides dancing their immortal behinds off, partygoers can enjoy a costume contest, metal-bellydance by Stygian Sisters, hoop and fire dancing, tarot and palm readings by Liz Rowland, special effects make-up demonstrations by local artist Breelyn Faye, and custom dental fang fittings by New Orleans special effects master Maven Lore. Faye will host a makeup tutorial at noon Saturday, August 13th at Dallas & Co., 101 E. University Ave. in Champaign.

Costumes are optional but highly encouraged. 

WHERE: Blackbird Urbana, 119 W. Main Street
WHEN: Saturday, October 13th from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
TICKETS: $10 in advance online or at Enchantment Alley. If tickets have not sold out, they will be sold at the door for a higher cost


Who doesn’t love a good haunted house? Midway of Madness was the one I was most hyped to see, but unfortunately they aren’t open for 2018. In their absence, some local haunts may pick up their slack.

The Trail of Terror at Kaufman Lake is open October 19th and 20th. From 4 to 6 p.m., it’s friendly to wimps or to families with children. From 8 to 11 p.m., only age 16 and up are admitted. This haunted hayride promises fun and scares with dark, narrow trails, over 40 local actors, and a bonfire afterward with food from local food trucks. 

WHERE: Kaufman Lake, 2702 W. Springfield Ave, Champaign
WHEN: October 19th and 20th. Kid-friendly “no-scare” 4 to 6 p.m. Age 16 and up only, 8 to 11 p.m.
TICKETS: $5 per individual, $3 per person for families on-site. Group discounts available for 10 or more. 

Baldwin Asylum in Rantoul is open during weekends throughout October. Boasting 10,000 feet of “absolute terror,” this haunted house has been rated in the top 10 attractions by

WHERE: 2040 Lon Drive , Rantoul, Illinois
WHEN: Weekends until the end of October
TICKETS: $12 per person group rate, $15 individual, $20 for a Fastpass. Can be purchased here.

Cemetery Walk 2018 takes place Sunday, October 14th at Mt. Hope & Roselawn Cemetery. Presented by the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance, this walking tour features costumed actors as they present the stories of seven innovators in Illinois history including the first woman to graduate from the U of I, a bestselling children’s author, and a Civil War veteran. Each 90-minute performance goes on rain-or-shine. 

WHERE: Mt. Hope Cemetery, 611 East Pennsylvania Ave, Champaign. Free University parking lots on Pennsylvania Ave. between Fourth St. and Maryland Dr., and free street parking on Pennsylvania Ave.
WHEN: Sunday, October 14th, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $10 cash, on-site.


The second annual ChamPain Indie Horror Fest showcases this year’s best submissions in independent gore, camp, cringe, and horror-humor. Seventeen short-horror films have made the cut for this year’s festival.

WHERE: Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana
WHEN: Friday, October 27th, 7 to 10 p.m.
TICKETS: $10 on-site at UCIMC or online here. 

Those seeking Halloween classics do not need to go far. At The Virginia Theatre, enjoy 5 Nights of Hitch, one classic Hitchcock film each night for a week: Suspicion, Notorious, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” Dial M for Murder, and Psycho

WHERE: The Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Street, Champaign
WHEN: October 22-26, 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $6 online or at the box office, $24 for the full series 

Also at the Virginia, Tim Burton’s eighties classic Beetlejuice shows at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16th and Thursday, October 18th. Tickets are $5 on-site or online.

The Art Theater will be showing the ultimate scary movie to watch on this particular holiday, Halloween. It came out 40 years ago, and has earned the distinction of the most successful independent horror film of all time.

WHERE: The Art Theater, 126 W. Church Street, Champaign
WHEN: October 31st, 10 p.m.
TICKETS: $8 here or at the box office

Throughout the month you can also catch showings of the iconic Rocky Horror Picture Show, Prom Night, Phantasm, The Howling, and The Blob, and for those with the stamina, their annual All-Nite Horror Marathon.

Last but not least, come, little children, I’ll take thee away to AMC Champaign. We nineties kids can see the immortal classic Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, on the big screen as it was intended. From Friday, October 26 through Wednesday, October 31, we can party like it’s 1993 at 2, 4:30, and 7 p.m. According to the AMC website, tickets are $5 per person on-site or online.

WHERE: AMC Champaign, 910 Meijer Drive, Champaign
WHEN: October 26th to 31st, 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $5 online or at the box office

There’s something for everyone in Chambana for this Halloween season — now go forth and get your scare on!

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