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See ghost tours and scary movies at Tampa Theatre leading up to Halloween

By Steve Persall
Published: September 18, 2017 Updated: September 19, 2017 at 03:06 PM
While Tampa Theatre was sure to include some classics, the lineup also features some exciting detours from nostalgia. Universal Pictures and Times files

Neat trick, Tampa Theatre, packing so many Halloween treats into the fifth annual Nightmare on Franklin Street.

This year's lineup, announced Monday, covers 12 days of scary movies and paranormal tours at the historic venue, from Oct. 20 through Halloween.

One highlight stars Tampa Theatre itself, the Oct. 21 world premiere of Ghosts Behind the Screen, a documentary exploring the movie palace's own haunted history. Admission is free. Producer Gina Watson and director Brett Gerking will conduct a Q&A session after the 2 p.m. screening.

Tickets and the complete Nightmare on Franklin Street lineup are available at Tickets are $10 per movie screening with discounts for Tampa Theatre members.

Here's a rundown of the stuff of this year's Nightmare.


The usual ghost-pects are lined up: Scream, William Castle's The Tingler, The Evil Dead, The Shining, Interview With the Vampire, Halloween and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with audience partici … pation. More enticing are the modern offerings, offbeat and indie bold.

Bong Joon-Ho's The Host (Oct. 22), Jordan's Peele's 2017 conversation-starter Get Out (Oct. 23) and 2014's Iranian vampire indie A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Oct. 24) are exciting detours from nostalgia. In only three years The Babadook (Oct. 27) is a bona fide classic; maybe Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill! (Oct. 31) will be someday.

One more indie to check out: Demons (Oct. 21), produced by Italian giallo horror maestro Dario Argento and directed by Lamberto Bava, son of Argento's contemporary Mario Bava.

Tampa Theatre makes some scary choices in remakes: Viewers get John Carpenter's 1982 version of The Thing, which is cool. But they don't get David Cronenberg's updated take on The Fly, opting for the 1958 version instead. The late George Romero gets a smart tribute with Dawn of the Dead (not Night …, thank you).

The lineup also includes family-friendly selections, matinee screenings of Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (Oct. 28), Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus (Oct. 29) and the Oscar winning Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit (Oct. 31, ages 2-12 admitted free).

Special events

Late Night Lights-Off Paranormal Experience, Oct. 21, 10 p.m. Tampa Theatre's haunted history again comes to the fore with a catered affair and paranormal investigators. Participants spend four hours exploring the venue with experts from Genesis Paranormal Services and GhostStop. $60, $50 for Tampa Theatre members.

Spirits of the Bay, Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m. Live storytelling by author Deborah Frethem, whose books include Ghost Stories of St. Petersburg, Haunted Ybor City and Haunted Tampa: Spirits of the Bay. Frethem will sign copies with proceeds benefiting Tampa Theatre's restoration fund. $10.

Ghosts of Tampa Theatre tours: Nine of the venue's popular tours will be conducted on varying days in October. The 75-minute excursion focuses on Tampa Theatre's haunted past. $10, $8 for children ages 2-12, free for Tampa Theatre members.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.