If you'd like to avoid the bedlam and accompanying throng of drunken, mask-wearing gropers of Guavaween, we suggest these worthy holiday alternatives.
The Barkoween Pet Costume Party — a fundraiser for Stop Pet Overpopulation Together (SPOT) — is a social gathering for doggies and their upright companions. The focus of the festivities is a costume contest with categories like "Scariest," "Funniest" and "Most Original." (Dressing up as a bun, carrying your dachshund around, and exclaiming, "I'm a hot dog!" does not count as original nor is it even really funny.) Thurs., Oct. 25 5:30-8 p.m., Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa, 25 Belleview Blvd., Clearwater, $10 (includes a trick-or-treat doggie bag), 727-545-3463, SPOTusa.org.
The white collar nonprofit fundraising corporation otherwise known as the 13 Ugly Men Foundation throws its 10th Annual Halloween Freakshow, a wild event with a parade of beautiful people who participate in all manner of costume contests, sip dirty martinis and cosmopolitans in the Ketel One V.I.P. Lounge and sway indifferently to live spins. Proceeds benefit A Gift for Adoption. Costumes are mandatory. Fri., Oct. 26, 8 p.m.-3 a.m., Club Underground, 802 E. Whiting St., downtown Tampa, $35 general/$50 V.I.P. 866-8459, 13uglymen.com.
SONG AND DANCE
Swing down to Monster Bash, a costume-optional Halloween swing-dance party with a lesson from 7 to 8 p.m., and dancing to live swing music from 8 p.m. to midnight. Guests enjoy treats, a dancing costume parade and a "monster" shim sham amidst a festive Halloween atmosphere. Thurs., Oct. 25, Centro Asturiano, 1913 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, $7 general (two-for-one admission for students with valid I.D.), 813-274-4950, SwingTime.info.
Shake your stuff to some bluesy grooves and countrified R&B by Milwaukee's Paul Cebar, an 'MNF favorite who performs at the 28th annual Freaker's Ball. The Skipper's Smokehouse Halloween party features a $1,000 prize and a night's stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the "Best Original Costume" winner as well as plenty of prizes for the runners up. The public is invited to dress up and attend. Fri., Oct. 26, 8 p.m.-midnight, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa, $10, 813-971-0666, skipperssmokehouse.com.
AT THE MOVIES
Beach Theatre's Terrorthon movie series continues its generous assemblage of Halloween-inspired offerings. Highlights include the local premiere of a new horror comedy, The Signal, followed by screenings of Night of the Living Dead and Army of Darkness (Fri., Oct. 26); two classic horror matinees with costume contests — Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein — and Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings at night (Sat., Oct. 27); a free morning-time screening of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankeinstein with trick-or-treat bags for kids, Ghostbusters in the afternoon and two Richard Matheson films at night, Burn Witch Burn and The Last Man on Earth (Sun., Oct. 28); another local premiere, The Entrance (Tues., Oct. 30); and a Halloween-night presentation of Rocky Horror featuring RHPS live cast Interchangable Parts (Wed., Oct. 31). Beach Theatre, 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-6697; admission prices vary.
Tampa Theatre also jumps on the holiday bandwagon with two terror-iffic screenings. The first is the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, which is presented with live accompaniment on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ by Rosa Rio (3 p.m. Sun., Oct. 28). And the theater's Halloween presentation is Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (7:30 p.m. Wed., Oct. 31). 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa, $8-$11.50, 813-274-8981, tampatheatre.org.
A Halloween soiree, Rock Candy, is the next multimedia art event offered by local creatives. The event features live music by Auto! Automatic!!, Word Wide Zoo and Gwan of the Dead, live spins by DJ Blenda and Becca and an exhibit of macabre works by Jay Giroux, Chris Parks, Sean Gardener, Kyler Bannels, Josh Taylor, Smilemaker, Brandon Dunlap, Pyramid Photography, 1603 Tattoos, and The Original Art-casts. Wed., Oct. 31, 10 p.m., Czar, 1430 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City, $7 general/$5 with costume, 813-731-6762.
Ten strong pioneer women who made their marks on Tarpon Springs are brought to life at Cycadia and Rose cemeteries this Saturday during Tarpon Springs Historical Society's annual cemetery tour. Society volunteers portray each woman and share facts about these influential women. Sat., Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-noon, 1005 E. Tarpon Ave., Tarpon Springs, free admission (donations gratefully accepted), 727-943-4624.
The Tampa Historical Society presents its annual Gothic Graveyard Walk, a walking tour of the Victorian-era Oak Lawn Cemetery. Historian/actor Maureen Patrick portrays a 19th-century mourner, offering history about the final resting place for early area notables. Sun., Oct. 28, 3-4 p.m., Oaklawn Cemetery, Morgan and Harrison streets, downtown Tampa, $5 suggested donation.
Finally, locals are invited to bring mementos of loved ones — pets included — to place on an altar at a special Day of the Dead service. Traditional Mexican treats will be served. Sun., Oct. 28, 11 a.m., Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, 11400 Morris Bridge Road, Tampa, 813-988-8188.