Get ready to scream this Halloween

Cheryl McEvoy

Your textbooks may be cobweb-free thanks to midterms, but now the calendar is calling for some web décor. While the thermometer isn’t screaming apple cider and pumpkin pie, Halloween is fast approaching. So for those who have yet to get their monster mash on, here are a few options that don’t involve the words “sexy nurse” or “overgrown Spiderman”:

Mainstream Haunts

Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure is always a popular choice among amusement park junkies. Come sunset, the usual cast of ghouls and goblins is in attendance. This year, check out the expanded Wheel of Fright, a veritable “try your luck” with such gastronomic “treats” as cockroaches, crickets and tongue-searing hot peppers. “Fear Factor” enthusiasts can also try the Coffin of Fear that encases brave souls in a pile of mealworms. For a stomach-friendly attraction, creep through the Movietown Cemetery Statue Garden, where – big surprise – the statues are not as lifeless as they seem.Villanovans looking for real Philly phantoms can report to Eastern State Penitentiary, a famous locale for paranormal – and television – activity. Featured on Fox’s “Scariest Places on Earth” and MTV’s “Fear,” the former prison has the perfect charm of a haunted house. Inside, visitors encounter ghastly prisoners and wardens around every turn of the radial floor plan. This year’s new attraction, Lockdown, gives a taste of life in the cellblocks; the banging cell doors and echoing shrieks may make some Villanovans long for the Quad. Keep your guard up on Nightwatch, the final stage of the tour, when a flashlight is your only friend. Not a fan of festive heart palpitations? Take a ghost tour of historical Philadelphia for a milder but nonetheless spooky option. Listen to true stories of eerie happenings as the tour stops at our forefathers’ favorite haunts, including Independence Hall and St. Peter’s Cemetery.When Nature Calls

Local farms are also great settings for a Halloween scare. Plus, the profits help the farm provide “agritainment,” or agricultural entertainment, year after year. Arasapha Farms hosts the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride, rated one of America’s scariest attractions by the Travel Channel. Fire-breathing dragons, flying ghosts and bloody zombies are standard, and keep an eye out for the infamous wig-wearing skeleton. The farm also has a haunted corn maze, perfect for big-city Villanovans who get lost wandering the halls of Mendel. Watch out for monsters and goblins as you wind your way toward a haunted graveyard.Shady Brook Farm’s Horrorfest is another favorite among locals. The Hayride of Horror features ghoulish encounters, but the Barn of Horror is reserved for only the bravest. Horrorfest also features a corn maze, this time with “deadtime stories” that give fairy tales a spine-tingling spin. For a different taste of terror, the 3D Alien Encounter trades the undead for the extraterrestrial. As if the attractions aren’t terrifying enough, Villanovans can also participate in “scare-ee-okee” while settling nerves with funnel cake and hot chocolate. Once you’re in the Halloween spirit, come back during the day for some good ol’ pumpkin picking in the patches. If you find the average jack-o-lantern ho-hum, head to Longwood Gardens, where gourd-carving masters have turned 400- to 500-lb. pumpkins into the big daddies of Halloween décor. Then try your best at looking dainty while chowing down on a caramel apple, part of the Taste of Autumn celebration going on now.

Home-Brewed Horror

For those who prefer to avoid the onslaught of zombies, witches and Harry Potters just beyond the campus gates, Halloween in the residence halls can be just as frightening. Start off the annual candy-induced coma with dinner at one of the dining halls, as Dining Services hosts a Halloween-themed soiree. Then gather friends for a movie marathon. Check out some of the classic thrillers that still have an edge: “The Shining” is notorious for making grown men scream, while the spinning head in “The Exorcist” still gets snaps for its spook factor. Squirming for some blood and gore? Watch one of the slice-and-dice installations of “Saw,” or dare to pop in “Hostel” before you turn in for the night. Better yet, watch the movies in Alumni or St. Mary’s Halls, rumored to be haunted, to pump up the party’s paranormal clout. Horror flicks not your style? Try the freakadelic musical “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a favorite among cult classics. Kick the viewing up a notch with costumes inspired by the film – think fishnets and bustieres. Then start a “Time Warp” dance party in the hallway – the lyrics explain the dance steps, so no excuses allowed.