Halloween is still seven weeks away, but this week's best events are all about the scarily cool: a screening of creepy vintage morality films (for just $5!), a free author talk with mortician Caitlin Doughty, and Son of Monsterpalooza, a three-day horror make-up and prop extravaganza for those serious about the genre.
Scary not your thing? This Saturday night, almost every art gallery in Culver City is opening a new exhibit – from transgender love stories at Luis De Jesus to an Americanized painting of the Koran at Koplin Del Rio – and you can check them all out in one gallery-hopping night. And on Wednesday, opera comes to the masses with a live stream of La Traviata at the Santa Monica Pier – so you can watch under the stars, with a picnic, for free. Now what's so scary about that?
5. Creep Around
Horror fans should head to Burbank for genre extravaganza Son of Monsterpalooza, featuring appearances from a host of actors, directors, creature designers and makeup artists, including cast members from the Phantasm films and FX makeup master Tom Savini. Meet your cult heroes during signing sessions or get tips for making big-screen chills during panel discussions. The convention kicks off Friday evening with a few movie events, including a new HD version of documentary Vampira and Me with filmmaker R.H. Greene, featuring recently unearthed footage of the legendary horror show host. Before the screening, be sure to check out Monsterpalooza and Century Guild Gallery’s special exhibition of the works of Clive Barker, and stop by the It’s Alive Project, with its 80 busts and 10 statues of the Bride of Frankenstein, made by artists who specialize in creating creatures. Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, 2500 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank; Fri., Sept. 12, 6-11 p.m., Sat.-Sun., Sept. 13-14, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $25 day pass, $60 full weekend. (818) 843-6000, monsterpalooza.com. —Liz Ohanesian
4. Get Arty – Real Arty
It’s just math. With ever more overflowing arts districts and only so many Saturday nights a month, a bumper crop of shows opens tonight in Culver City — and several galleries are ringing in the new season by showing off their marquee rosters. Hours and show durations vary, so you’ll want to check gallery sites for complete details. Promising and must-see highlights include Brooklyn-based artist KAWS at Honor Fraser (6-8 p.m.), offering new work extrapolating from the Peanuts comics. The artist styles these images to the point of abstraction with his trademark bold color schemes, along with more gestural, black-and-white works (through Nov. 1). Also 6-8 p.m., Kehinde Wiley’s World Stage series at Roberts & Tilton (through Oct. 25) continues with an iteration based on Haiti’s pageant culture, using the artist’s iconic portraits of everyday folks rendered in his lavishly regal style. Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst’s Post / Relationship / X at Luis De Jesus (6-9 p.m., through Nov. 1) surveys their years-long transgender love affair and artistic collaboration with recent photos that debuted at Paris Photo L.A., as well as a brand-new video piece. Sandow Birk at Koplin Del Rio (4-6 p.m., through Oct. 17) presents the third in his aesthetically and emotionally intense series transcribing the entire Koran and illuminating it with images of contemporary secular life in America. Rebecca Farr offers haunting mixed media paintings on canvas and the release of her new book at Klowden Mann (6-8 p.m., through Oct. 18). The Miaz Brothers take on “The Masters” in a new series of ghostly, witty paintings at Fabien Castanier (6-9 p.m., through Oct. 11), in the Italian sibling-collaborators’ first U.S. show. Tm Gratkowski at Walter Maciel (6-8 p.m., through Nov. 1) shows new two- and three-dimensional, retro-slick and expressively abstract mixed-media collages. Patricia Chidlaw at George Billis Gallery (5-8 p.m., through Nov. 1) installs a diverse suite of urban landscape paintings, which go beyond photorealism to show us our common world in an uncommon light. Honor Fraser Gallery, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; Sat., Sept. 13, 6-8 p.m.; free. (310) 837-0191, honor?fraser.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
See Also: 30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time.
3. Play Dead
Most people talk about death as if it’s a friend they kind of know but have heard some bad things about — in hushed tones, as though giving voice to those transgressions means that death would rub off on them in some weird way. And it does! To wit: Local doyenne of the dead and “Ask a Mortician” web series host Caitlin Doughty presents her mellifluously morbid memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. Taking a job in a crematory on a whim, Doughty found herself immersed in a world about which few know or care — despite the fact that death is that singular stoplight toward which everyone ultimately hurtles. One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in the Weekly’s 2014 People issue, Doughty details everything from stray human ashes on her clothes to the shaving of the dead to the accidental death of a toddler she witnessed as a child. Good times. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $24.95. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner
Keep reading for two more great events, including free outdoor opera viewing and a wacky $5 movie screening.
2. See Opera Under the Stars
L.A. Opera launches a biannual series of free, live simulcasts direct from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Verdi’s La Traviata beamed in high-def straight to a large LED screen on the Santa Monica Pier. Verdi’s great romantic opus is updated in this art deco–inspired production set in the Roaring Twenties. It’s free to attend, but seek out reserve advance tickets (laopera.org/operaatthebeach) to avoid long entrance lines. You can avoid the handling fee of $1 per order by picking up your free tix in person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office at 135 N. Grand Ave.; any leftover tickets will be available to walk-ups at no charge at the Pier on the evening of the broadcast. You can bring your own picnic, but alcohol must come from the beer garden on-site. Santa Monica Pier, Colorado Avenue and Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica; Wed., Sept. 17; pier opens at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking, video stream begins 6:30 p.m. Bring folding chairs or blankets for seating. laopera.org/operaatthebeach. —John Payne
1. Watch the Archives
From the radioactive disinformation of Duck and Cover to the gruesome California Highway Patrol–sponsored Grand Guignol of Red Asphalt, the industrial film has always been one of American cinema’s most bizarre and endearing genres. With Gems From the Archive, celluloid swami Russell Harnden III fires up the clattering 16mm projector for a full evening of great 1950s-era public health, moral, education and safety shorts. The program promises a trove of offbeat treasures, including the compelling elementary-school etiquette melodrama Are Manners Important? and the epic disaster masterpiece An Outbreak of Salmonella Infection, in which an infected chicken carcass brings an entire Air Force base to its knees. (“Vomiting, abdominal pains and diarrhea,” an off-screen voice intones over a John Waters–worthy puke montage. “It was hard to tell which caused the most trouble.”) Each title centers on some terrible disruption from the sacred American norm, and each guarantees a mesmerizing, full-strength dose of weird. The confluence of stagey exposition, vintage period atmosphere, primitive animated sequences, dismal musical scores, lamentably poor acting and all those great, crisp-yet-folksy, know-it-all narrators instill a freakish type of cinematic rapture you just can’t find anywhere else. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thu., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (213) 484-8846, echopark?filmcenter.org. —Jonny Whiteside
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