Pomo Picks

Top Things to Do in Portland This Week: Oct 22–28

ART returns, the Clinton screens a Bowie vampire classic, the Symphony gets scary, and more

By Conner Reed October 22, 2021

Derek E. Miller (left) and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, who will come to the Wonder Ballroom on October 26

Fall is in full swing, and as Halloween approaches, Portland’s social calendar is ramping up. Artists Repertory Theatre returns this weekend, OMSI's LAIKA celebration presses on, and the Symphony is firing up its string section for a very special presentation of The Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s plenty of other fall fun to be had this week, too—here’s what we have our eyes on. 


The Hunger

7 p.m. Thu, Oct 28, Clinton Street Theater, $7–10 suggested donation

If "Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie in an erotic vampire thriller" isn't enough to get you out the door, may god rest your soul. This ultra-stylish 1983 number from Tony Scott (brother of Ridley, who's having a moment right now) is admittedly silly, but it's also sleek, wild, and steamy—don't miss your chance to catch it on the big screen at the Clinton. 

The Velvet Underground

Various times and dates, Hollywood Theatre, $8–10 

The latest film from sometime-Portlander Todd Haynes is a dazzling, immersive documentary about one of the most influential bands of all time. Skirting the didactic conventions of most rock docs, Haynes pillages archival footage, avant-garde cinema, and a jaw-dropping array of talking heads to conjure a mosaic of New York in the ’60s that illuminates the Velvets’ ascent and importance. It’s available to stream on AppleTV+, but it demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible—why not pick the theater where Haynes himself sits on the board?


The Nightmare Before Christmas

7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, Oct 22–24, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $29–129

Tim Burton and Henry Selick's stop-motion classic is a well-integrated part of the Halloween canon, and this weekend you can catch it in full at the Schnitz (costumes encouraged). What sets this screening apart? The film's iconic Danny Elfman score will be performed live by the virtuosos at the Oregon Symphony, sprinkling a much-loved tradition with a dust of urgency. 

Sleigh Bells

9 p.m. Tue, Oct 26, Wonder Ballroom, $30

Hot on the heels of their fifth LP, Texis, which dropped in September, the sticky/steely noise pop duo will hit the Wonder Ballroom on Tuesday. Expect punishing guitars, sweet melodies, and a lot of people looking to recapture the glory of 2011. (For the record: we don't think this is a bad thing.)

Special Events

The Fear

7–10 p.m. Sun & Thu, 7 p.m.–midnight Fri–Sat through Oct 31, 12301 NE Glisan St, $30–50

This Portland-by-way-of-Vancouver haunting crew (which planted its flag in PDX in 2015) has returned with five new attractions at its NE Glisan warehouse location. Thrill-seekers can subject themselves to a haunted elevator, a creepy carnival, and more, including an “extreme attraction” called “Layers of Darkness” which we are maybe too scared to investigate even though its name sounds kind of like an erotic paperback. For a more complete list of PDX haunted houses, see attached.


The Chinese Lady

7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, Oct 22–23 (runs through November 14), Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage, $15–35

Artists Repertory Theatre returns to the stage this weekend with a production of Lloyd Suh’s play, which won raves when it premiered in New York back in 2018. It tells the story of Afong Moy, a 14-year-old billed as the first Chinese woman on American soil, who was put on display in New York as a curio, performing Western ideas about Chinese life.

Frida ... A Self-Portrait

7:30 p.m. Sat–Sun & Wed, Oct 9–10 & 13, Portland Center Stage, $21–57

Vanessa Severo’s one-woman show about the life and death of artist Frida Kahlo will kick off Portland Center Stage’s first season since the pandemic hit—previews started last weekend, and it opens in earnest on Oct 15. When the piece premiered in 2019 at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Broadway World called it “near perfection.” 

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Play

8 p.m. Fri–Sun, Oct 22–23, Siren Theater, $20–30

Siren Theater founder Shelley McClendon has penned and performed wacky adaptations of several ’80s classics for the stage, and this season, she’s remounting her 2019 adaptation of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm StreetLess likely to haunt your dreams than the original, this adaptation poses important questions like “Why must 30-year-olds play teenagers?”, more relevant now, in the wake of Dear Evan Hansen, than ever.

Visual Art

15 Days of LAIKA

Various times Tue–Sun through 31, OMSI, various prices

To honor the pride and joy of Portland stop-motion’s 15th anniversary, OMSI has put together a special exhibition and screening series that will run through the end of the month (fitting, considering LAIKA’s Coraline and Paranorman are perhaps Oregon’s greatest Halloween exports). You can access the pop-up exhibition—featuring sets and models from the studio’s films—with admission to the museum, and screen each of LAIKA’s five feature films on various dates for the rest of the month. 

The Future of Chinatown

11 a.m.–4 p.m. Fri–Sun through Feb 6, Portland Chinatown Museum, $5–8

This photography exhibit by artist Dean Wong is part of Finding Chinatown, his ongoing initiative tracing the histories of Chinatowns across North America. The Future of Chinatown deals specifically with West Coast Chinatowns, detailing their struggles with gentrification and attempting to chart a path forward for them—especially relevant as Portland's continues to face overlapping crises. 

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