Need some bright ideas for a Halloween party? Look no further than the klieg lights of Hollywood.
The history of fun and frightening movies is long, from early horror films like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Bride of Frankenstein" to the current "Goosebumps." Television, too, is full of scary fare, from "The Walking Dead" to "American Horror Story." So why not use this trove of screen images and characters to create a monstrously fun Halloween party?
Decorate your party space with a mix of swank and scare. Drape your faux cobwebs and mossy swags with glitter and metallic stars. Better Homes & Gardens suggests spray-painting a few Ken dolls Oscar gold; they have a how-to guide at www.bhg.com . You could use the statuettes as holders for dramatic flower arrangements like black and red roses, or go a little darker by "burying" them in black loaf pans lined with dirt or satin to resemble graves or caskets.
Put silent horror flicks or YouTube clips on a big screen, set on a loop that runs throughout the party.
Check out www.shindigz.com for movie-premiere velvet ropes, gold-lame curtains, realistic-looking klieg lights and other Hollywood-themed props.
A red carpet kicks the Hollywood vibe into high gear as your guests arrive; look for an inexpensive remnant at hardware or flooring stores.
Give your pumpkins personality by primping them up as film characters. Swath one in cheesecloth to be The Mummy; paint one green and hot-glue a bolt to the neck to create Frankenstein. A hockey mask will evoke Jason from the "Halloween" franchise; a black felt hat and a striped scarf bring Freddy Krueger of "Nightmare on Elm Street" to mind.
For Hollywood glamour, you can spray craft pumpkins with gold, silver and black paint, and add some star-studded glitter. (www.michaels.com )
THE NOSH TABLE
Name your nibbles after horror-genre personalities — think Dracula; Norman Bates; Hitchcock; Stephen King; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Cujo or Wes Craven.
Make zombie chicken fingers to reference "The Walking Dead." S'mores or other marshmallow-based treats reference that creepy Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters."
Rent a popcorn machine, or set up a microwave or stovetop team to have fresh, hot kernels always at the ready.
Create a punch or a few mixed beverages named after scary movies or characters.
Better Homes & Gardens suggests serving canapés and other finger foods using faux-vintage film reels as serving trays; pop small dishes in the holes. (You can find the reels at www.gotparty.com .)
THE DRESS CODE
A costume contest can bring a little friendly competition to the party, whether you make it a general horror-film theme, or select one particular character, movie or TV show.
Have an all-vampire party (from "Nosferatu" to "Twilight"), or draw inspiration from varied characters in titles like "The Exorcist," ''Alien," ''The X-Files" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
That portentous drumbeat in "Jaws." The white-knuckle theme from "The Twilight Zone." That catchy, finger-snapping lead-in to "The Addams Family." Evocative background music really kicks up the spooky vibe.
Greg Cwik of Indiewire.com puts a few more obscure but scary scores on his list, including John Carpenter's "The Fog," Ennio Morricone's "The Thing" and Philip Glass' soundtrack for "Candyman."
Time Out New York suggests fan favorites like Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," which was used for the movie "American Psycho"; Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" theme song; and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," from "The Exorcist."