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Seven of the Spookiest Events Happening in Wellington This Halloween

From German expressionist horror in a gothic cathedral to a one-day street fiesta, here's where to get your scares (and candy) this Halloween.
By Stephen Heard
October 28, 2020
By Stephen Heard
October 28, 2020


From German expressionist horror in a gothic cathedral to a one-day street fiesta, here's where to get your scares (and candy) this Halloween.

There's something for everyone to get around when it comes to Halloween, whether it's eating nauseating amounts of lollies, flexing your arts and crafts skills and fashioning yourself a costume, or pulling that five-piece (mask included) Batman get-up out of storage and donning it to feel like the superhero you really are.

Trick or treating never really caught on here, but we'll be damned if we won't use the occasion as an excuse for a spooky time. There are plenty of eerie events and halloween themed nights happening around town for you to get amongst. Here's a list of some of the best things going on in Wellington for Halloween, ranging from the not-so scary (a Dia de los Muertos street fiesta) to the truly unsettling (a creepy at-home audio experience).

  • 7

    The capital’s goriest film festival returns this Halloween celebrating the best horror, thriller, crime, action and sci-fi films from around the world. Prompting bloodcurdling screams from 28 October to 2 November at The Roxy, this year’s Terror-Fi Film Festival includes 11 New Zealand premieres hot from the oven.

    Headline films include Cold War horror Sputnik in its Wellington premiere. The sci-fi thriller is set in a secluded research facility where a Russian psychologist examines a cosmonaut who returned to Earth with an alien parasite inside of him. Also on the bill is 2020 horror Antebellum which stars Janelle Monae as a modern-day African American woman who must escape from a 19th-century slave plantation.

    Elsewhere, Spree is a gonzo-style black comedy following a rideshare driver who wants to go viral; Alone is director John Hyams’ remake of the Swedish stalker thriller; Psycho Gorman is a sci-fi comedy which follows two siblings as they resurrect an ancient alien overlord; and Rent-a-Pal is a low-budget thriller in which a lonely bachelor finds an unlikely friendship with a strange VHS tape.

    Those who pick up a Terror-Fi 2020 Fan Badge can enjoy every premiere at a fraction of the price and a filmmaking masterclass. Further special events include a Q&A with filmmaker Jake Mahaffy following the screening of the his latest Wellington-shot thriller, Reunion.

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  • 6

    In need of some ritual adornment? Maybe some magickal oils, herbs or totems? Or just some art or zines celebrating the magickal and unseen world? Then this is the market for you.

    Held on the auspicious date of 31 October — in line with both Halloween and Beltane — Wellington’s The Witches Market has been organised with the intention to create a space for practitioners to bring and display their work, art and wares for trade and sale with other practitioners and non-practitioners alike.

    The market will feature local practitioners and artists sharing elements of the craft and work with themes or magick, witchcraft or the occult. Stallholder announcements will be made closer to the date. There will also be a dedicated altar that will have interactive elements.

    The Witches Market will be located in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre from 1–5pm.

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  • 5

    They’re the masters of immersive thrills, such as smash-hit shipping container installations SeanceComa and Flightalso known as the Darkfield series. But not even the folks at Realscape Productions are immune to the realities of pandemic life. They’re currently locked down with the rest of Melbourne, putting their nerve-jangling real-life projects on hiatus until later in the year.

    Luckily, in the meantime, Realscape and Darkfield (UK creators) have teamed up for a brand-new audio experience fans can enjoy from the comfort of home. They did just that a couple of months back with Double, and now they’re doing so again with Visitors — which, although delivered remotely once again, is still geared to be every bit as creepy and unsettling as its IRL predecessors.

    Launching on Thursday, October 29, Visitors will be presented via the producers’ new digital project Darkfield Radio. Like its siblings, it plunges participants deep into an immersive experience by perplexing the senses — this time, with the use of a 360-degree binaural sound, played through your own headphones.

    Visitors is aimed at groups of two, and starts with another two folks as well — a dead couple who invite themselves into the your home. They’re eager to escape their current state, even if only temporarily. “We didn’t know where else to go,” they’ll tell you — and then you’ll each hear two different sides of the story.

    To listen along, you’ll need a $20 two-person ticket, and to book a spot at 8pm and 10pm on a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. While this is clearly a great thing to add to your October must-do list — ’tis the spookiest time of year, after all — Visitors will run until the end of December.

    Visitors runs at 8pm and 10pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 29 October until the end of December.

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  • 4

    This Halloween, throw on your most terrifying outfit and head to Pipitea’s Gothic Revival building for a spooky masterpiece of cinema. After a 15-month seismic strengthening project, Old St Paul’s is back open for business.

    Showing on the big screen at the heritage venue on Saturday, October 31 will be F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens). This German expressionist horror film stars Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a vampire with an interest in both a new residence and the wife (Greta Schröder) of his estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim). Nosferatu is an unauthorised and unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.

    Before the masterpiece transports you to the creepiest castle in all of the Carpathian Mountains, visitors can explore the Gothic Revival building, browse novels in the Unity Books pop-up shop, and sip on a cocktail from the bar. There will prizes for the best dressed. Doors open at 6.30pm and the film starts at 8pm.

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  • 3

    Newtown’s Dark Eighties Dance Party is adding a spooky twist for Halloween. After a jam-packed debut earlier in the year, the evening dedicated to only the moodiest anthems of the 80s will crank things up a notch, playing genres from death rock to goth and cult.

    The themed party originated on the West Coast of North America, with the touring version kicking off in Canada and Britain. On Saturday, 31 October, it’s Wellington’s turn to hit the dance floor to cult hits and more obscure tunes spanning genres like post punk, industrial disco and minimal wave.

    Attendees are encouraged to dress to theme — over-the-top makeup, leather, masks, wigs and gigantic 80s hairdos are all welcome. The shindig will run from 8pm until 2am.

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  • 2

    In celebration of Mexico’s vibrant Dia de los Muertos tradition, a time when families come together to celebrate love and life, Golding’s Free Dive, Garage Project and the rest of Hannah’s Laneway crew are back with their much-loved shindig in Leeds Street.

    The seventh outing of the Day of the Dead Street Fiesta will come alive on Saturday, 31 October. There’ll be live music from the capital’s answer to Santana, Carlos Navae, a themed beer from Garage Project, and a brand new Wellington Chocolate Factory x Duck Island ice cream release.

    Rounding off the celebrations will be food from Hannah’s Laneway operators — like Lashings, LaBocaLoca, Shepherd and Fix & Fogg — as well as ice-cool margaritas and traditional face painting courtesy of Body FX.

    Image: Jeff Capture Studios, Garage Project.

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  • 1

    A monstrous drag spectacular will land at The Fringe Bar this spooky season. Abominations unto gender, creatures of illusion and monsters of mayhem are set to take the stage in Hugo’s House of Horrors, a show promising horror, glamour and gore.

    Led by House of Drag star Hugo Grrrl, the show will run for two nights only. A kid-friendly, non-scary version at the show will be held at 3pm Saturday for little monsters. There will, of course, be prizes for the best dressed.

    Pre-sale tickets are available from just $20.

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Top image: Realscape Productions.


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