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We can be scared — when we want to be

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Halloween might be a bit different this year, or maybe not. After all, unlike a certain blaspheming mega-terrorist (peace be upon him and his verminous henchmen), the fictitious frightfulness of Halloween is something even a child can control. We put up the witches and ghosts and skeletons and goblins and other totems of dread and evil, and we take them down at will. At the end of the night the ghoulish costumes are put away until next year, and we stuff our faces with candy and other good things that are bad for us.

With this in mind it is once again time to enjoy, more than ever, this weird little holiday.

If you’re not quite in the mood to run around on a cold night in an uncomfortable costume begging people for Smarties and mini Milky Way bars (which is really not such a good idea, anyway, amid all the anthrax scares), there are still lots of things to do for Halloween.

The American Museum of the Moving Image hosts a Frankenstein film festival on Oct. 27 and 28, with four feature films and a short. One is a restored print of “The Golem,” a German expressionist adaptation of the Jewish legend of a man made out of clay and magicked into life as a sort of superhero. (Where are the superheroes when you really need them, anyway?) The screening will be shown with live music by Gary Lucas. Afterwards the museum will screen the ultimate Frankenstein film with Boris Karloff, “The Bride of Frankenstein” with the wonderfully screechy and hissy Elsa Lanchester and her classic fright wig, and Tim Burton’s 1984 parody “Frankenwee­nie,” made while he was an intern at Disney. Also scheduled is “The Revenge of Frankenstein,” one of those giddily ghoulish Hammer productions with Peter Cushing as the mad doctor, Lionel Jeffries as Fritz the grave robber and Oscar Quitak as the Dwarf. Later, they’ll show Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive, about young girl who has a crush on Frankenstein. Oh, by the way, when they say “Frankenstein” in these films they’re speaking of the monster. In Mary Shelley’s book on which all of this is based, Frankenstein was the name of the medical student who cobbled the monster together and brought him to life — the monster never had a name. (Maybe that’s a bit of trivia you can use on “Jeopardy” or “Millionaire”). For the schedule call the AMMI at 718-784-0077 or visit the web site at www.ammi.org.

Other Halloween events are “Frightening Tales of Horror and Terror,” with the Dustman, 3:30 p.m. at the Poppenhusen Branch of the Queens library, 121-23 14th Avenue in College Point. It’s free.

“Dr. Frankenstein’s Lightning and Electricity,” a live theater show, will be presented at 2:30 p.m. at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and will set you back $2. Another event is “Creatures of the Night” explaining the ways and habits of bats and other nocturnal animals at the Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd. Call 229-4000 for schedule.

For more events and activities, see the rest of this Qguide.

A truly good and scary movie to see is “The Others,” starring Nicole Kidman as a nervous English mum whose kids can’t be out in the sunlight. According to critics it’s not all that gory and has a twist ending that you see coming a mile away, but it freaks you out anyway. See your local listings, and try to grab a matinee. It’s cheaper.

Halloween is also a good night to curl up with “The Portable Poe,” from Viking Books. It’s a collection of stories and poems by the master of the creepy, Edgar Allen Poe (Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”). By the time you finish even a couple of stories in this anthology, you’ll have to sleep with all the lights on. Also, if you can find it, check out Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” for its macabre sensuousness.

For all manner of Halloween tchotkes, Target and other variety stores have some interesting stuff on sale, including light sets, jack o’lanterns, scarecrows, glow-in-the-dark tombstones, crashing witches, a fog master for atmosphere and costumes, all reasonably priced. This year they’re featuring the inevitable Harry Potter with accessories, including the lightning strike mark for his forehead

Of course, enough bags of candy are on sale to make you thoroughly sick. Some go for $2 for three bags and up to $6.99 for the deluxe trick-or-treat value bags. Actually, I prefer gumballs. Department 56 (www.D56Halloween.com) also has cool stuff, including a haunted barn, flying witch heads and pumpkin-headed votive holders.

Now if you’re interested in making your own Halloween decor, here’s how to make a floating ghost:

Tear sheets of white tissue paper in half lengthwise, and paste them on a large balloon. Start at the top and stop pasting at the widest part of the balloon so you can have some nice, flowing ectoplasm. Cut a small circle in the paper at the top, poke a hole on either side with a needle, thread it with 30-gauge wire, twist the wire together and hang the ghost, preferably from a tree in your yard.

I know you’re going to overdo the candy anyway (I always do), but here’s a recipe that’s sweet and nutritious at the same time:

Pumpkin Rice Pudding

2 cups of rice

6 cups of milk

1 cup of sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 tsp. of grated orange zest

1/4 cup of orange juice

1/4 tsp. of kosher salt

1 little pumpkin, cut in half

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the pumpkin cut-side down on a baking pan and roast until tender, about an hour. Take it from the oven, let it cool, then scrape out the flesh and discard the seeds. Put the flesh in a food processor, puree it thoroughly, and set aside for a moment.

Now, combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest and orange juice and salt. Heat to boiling over medium high heat. Stir occasionally, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Get rid of the vanilla bean and stir in the pumpkin. Serve warm, sprinkled with brown sugar.

Reach Qguide writer Arlene McKanic by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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