For pretty much that reason I advise steering clear of the annual Halloween Parade. Though it supposedly has an illustrious history and remains a queer-culture staple, I've never experienced anything at this event besides police barricades?tons of 'em?penning in thousands and thousands of outer-borough beef cattle and woo-girls. Well, at least it's scary. (10/31, from Spring St. to 23rd St. along 6th Ave., starting at 7 p.m.)
As with that other great pseudo-pagan party, New Year's Eve (also doubly dangerous this year because, um, it falls on a Friday), in New York Halloween is better spent in some private gathering with guaranteed entertainment. Trick-or-treaters could do much worse than stopping by the Cypress Hill show at Roseland. Music-critic cutups like to joke about how Cypress is a traveling commercial for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, since they rap about smoking a lot of pot while their sound never develops. That's an ignorant view of this most hardworking team of hiphop professionals?one of a tiny handful of rap groups who've refined and perfected their live act through near-constant touring. With a great percussionist and a bass boom that's blown back Jewfros from coast to coast, Cypress Hill cuts through hiphop's fashion obsessions to deliver the real shit like "real" crews can't. (10/31, 239 W. 52nd St., betw. 8th Ave. & B'way, 307-7171.)
Plenty of children, being children, will more enthusiastically flock to the shows by Kid Rock, Monday and Tuesday at Hammerstein Ballroom. (11/1-2, 311 W. 34th St., betw. 8th & 9th Aves., 307-7171.) Enough has been written lately about Rock, a true original whose time has justly come, but what about that time? Opening for the Kid is Powerman 5000, a ridiculously bad rap-metal band from Boston who had a huge promo push behind their DreamWorks debut a few years ago, to little avail. Now they and Rock ride a wave that took off from Limp Bizkit's Woodstock '99 mass-tantrum, and the grim vision threatened by two decades of perennial rap-metal scares is a reality. Halloween might be the perfect moment to celebrate this authentically atavistic trend in pop culture. I for one am more curious about what all the tantrum rockers will do after they graduate and find themselves to be power-drunk brats in city-kid costumes.
Back in '99, a couple more intimate musical gatherings for the big, ghoulish night: Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf?talk about your atavism?plays CBGB's. A chance to party like it's 1979, maybe, but just like the Cypress show, this one will be all about the music. (315 Bowery at Bleecker St., 677-0455.) And indie-rock heroes Quasi play Maxwell's with Helium's Mary Timony opening?definitely the pick for those who'd like their archaic revival to be a whole lot less patriarchal than most rockers envision it. (1039 Washington St. at 11th St., Hoboken, 201-653-1703; and this show comes to the Knitting Factory on Tues., 11/2.)
And who are we in Heimytown to be concerned with what most rockers think? A whole bunch of the ones I know are seriously over-amped about the debut album by Nebula, To the Center, which hits stores Nov. 2. Nebula features former members of Fu Manchu, and the album, on Sub Pop, was produced by grungemaster Jack Endino. If you're like me (that is, if you occasionally find you've passed out supine on your floor while listening to the James Gang at a ridiculously high volume and wondering why nobody really rocks anymore), you'll find To the Center satisfyingly heavy, but nothing to trade your copy of Kyuss' Blues For the Red Sun in for. I still endorse it. Man does not live by James Gang alone.
While I'm off-topic, I want to go even farther off-topic and say that Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things, will be reading from her new book, The Cost of Living, Tuesday at the New School. (11/2, 6:30 p.m., 66 W. 12th St., betw. 5th & 6th Aves., 229-5611, $5.)
Now I can swing dramatically back to our focus on guaranteed frightening Halloween entertainment for your Saturday night. There are several screenings of classic horror movies. Cinema Classics (332 E. 11th St., betw. 1st & 2nd Aves., 971-1015, $5) will be showing The Haunting at 6 p.m., 9:40 p.m. and midnight. The American Museum of the Moving Image presents Wes Craven's New Nightmare at the unconscionably early hour of 4 p.m., preceded by an even less conscionable 2 p.m. matinee of the "making-of-a-grade-Z thriller" documentary Demon Lover Diary. (35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria, 718-784-0077, $8.50.) Sunday at 7, A Different Light bookstore screens Pit and The Pendulum, starring Vincent Price, which follows a reading by Vincent's daughter, Victoria Price from her book about daddy at 5:30 p.m. (151 W. 19th St., betw. 6th & 7th Aves., 989-4850, free.)
Also, Anthology Film Archives is showing Brian O'Hara's Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein (10/27, 7 p.m., 32 2nd Ave. at 2nd St., 505-5181, $8), and, Thursday night only, the Cine Noir Film Society will screen the disturbing double feature of Suburban Satanist, starring John Holmes, at 9 p.m., and Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man at midnight. (10/28 at the Pink Pony, 176 Ludlow St., betw. Houston & Stanton Sts., 253-1922, $3 for the first film, and the midnight screening is free.) And Wednesday the 27th is the second of a two-night run of Tod Browning's Dracula, with a new score by Philip Glass, performed live by the composer and the Kronos Quartet, 7:30 at BAM Opera House. (30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Pl., Brooklyn, 718-636-4100, $17-$45.) Count on Glass and Kronos to finally de-cheesify this 1931 gothic masterwork with music as good as Bela Lugosi's legendary performance.
Lastly, newly out on video is Freeway 2: Confessions of Trickbaby. If this film played in theaters I missed it, but I was lucky enough to catch the first Freeway?starring Reese Witherspoon and Keifer Sutherland, one of the best B-movies of the decade?during its very brief run in 1996. The sequel boasts a cast of Natasha Lyonne, Vincent Gallo and Max Perlich, and was written and directed by the same guy, Matthew Bright, who did the original. Looks like a perfect rental (as is the original Freeway, if you haven't seen it) for Halloween stay-at-homes.
Remember, someone has to stay at home to give out candy to the tykes. This week more than any other, it's all about the kids.