Themed parties take commitment. Thankfully, at Friday night’s Red Party the guests were dedicated to The Great Gatsby theme — well, except for the music. Feathered headpieces and pearls bobbed on the dance floor as the DJ played anachronistic jams. It was like Baz Luhrmann himself had selected the music for the evening.

The chilly night didn’t discourage the guests from taking full advantage of the swanky gathering. The Old City Jail was bathed in red light and illuminated cityscapes. Chandeliers hung from trees and partygoers took breaks from dancing to sit on couches and chaise lounges under the trees. Some costumes didn’t make that much sense, like the Confederate soldiers that roamed the jail or the girl in the Canadian tuxedo breaking it down to DJ C. Nile.  

We went from a costume party to Boone Hall’s Fright Nights extravaganza, each with their own fearful elements. We were chased by neon clowns in Little Amy’s Nightmare in 3D, scared by zombies in Zombie Town, circled like prey in Castle Mid-Evil, and taken through the woods on a haunted hayride. Luckily there weren’t long lines on Sunday, and we zipped from one scary experience to the next.
The 3D nightmare didn’t make that much sense since we already live in a 3D world, but it really just meant trippy paint that made it harder to run from the freaky clowns that stalked you throughout the maze.

Castle Mid-Evil had the most surprise elements, with mechanical machines springing to life as lights flashed, effectively blinding you. It definitely made us jumpy, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.

Zombie Town, on the other hand, was not cool. And by not cool, we mean close-to-peeing-ourselves, not cool. We were worried about the over-exposure of zombies, but Boone Hall managed to create an eerie ghost town where the only sounds were those of our screams. And these zombies didn’t mind getting up close and personal either. We’re pretty sure more than a couple touched us, one almost combing through our hair — or we hope it was the zombies. The quietness was disorienting. But not as disorienting as the pitch black maze at the end. We may have cheated and used our cell phones to escape.

If we’re being frank, haunted hayrides are nothing more than a novelty. That being said, we now have a new fear: chainsaws. To the power-tooled monster who took pleasure standing over us and mocking us for screaming and cowering, you are not our friend. Bringing the saw close to our faces and ears did its job. You win. But, the worst chainsaw incident occurred after the ride when we were cornered by a maniac. While we begged to be freed, he just revved the saw and laughed. After two minutes he took mercy and let us go, but let’s just say fear sweat is a real thing.

On Monday, first ever Karaoke Smackdown took over Threshold Repertory Theatre. The collaborative effort with What If? Productions featured 10 contestants in a singing showdown. Host Brian Porter opened the show with pelvic thrusts and a little ditty. The competitors were encouraged to dress in costume, and the winner of the most bizarre one went to Patrick Arnheim as baby Jesus in an adult diaper and an aluminum foil halo. Unfortunately, he caught us trying to sneak a photo and requested we not, in mid-song.

All 10 contestants sang a prepared song, then the top four moved on to a second round singing a random song with one being declared the winner.

All the contestants could sing, but the four finalists were the most deserving. Jacob Dickey had to sing Cher’s “Dark Lady.” He tried his best, performing in skintight pants (so tight that Porter jokingly — or not so jokingly — said he could see Dickey’s heartbeat through them), but knowing the song would have helped him out. Rachel Hunsinger fully committed, singing the Cranberries “Zombie” with heavy breathing and choral screams. Then she nailed “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Allison Arvay in zombie costume sang the ’80s classic “Somebody’s Watching Me” and made plenty of NSA jokes. The final contestant, and favorite of the evening, was Karen Reid. She won over the judges in the first round, and we’re pretty sure won the contest with her first “aye” in Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” She took home the grand prize of an Elaine Stitch look-alike blow-up doll. A nice trophy indeed.