For many people, Halloween in the Twin Cities usually means a haunted hayride in exurbia.

Might I suggest some fresh blood this year?

This weekend, two events kick off the Halloween season with a dose of DIY attitude and adults-only urban fun.

One is a massive pub crawl expected to bring 1,500 zombies to the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis. The other is a nontraditional haunted house so scary you have to sign a waiver. Here's a sneak peek.

Zombie Pub Crawl IV

What's the only thing scarier than flesh-eating zombies? Beer-swilling zombies, obviously.

Who knew there were so many of these kinds of zombies out there? The organizers of the annual Zombie Pub Crawl -- where participants don gruesome makeup and fake blood -- sure didn't. Started on a whim just three years ago, this bar-hop has doubled in size each year.

After watching George Romero's 2005 film "Land of the Dead," Claudia Holt and her friends were goofing around, acting like zombies as they left the theater. "Then someone said, 'This would be more fun if we were drunk.'"

And the Zombie Pub Crawl was born. The first two crawls lurched through northeast Minneapolis, but they moved the route last year to the Seven Corners/Cedar-Riverside area to accommodate the surprising swell of zombified bar-hoppers. It'll be the site of this year's crawl, too, which happens this Saturday.

The estimated crowd of 1,500 will meet in Gold Medal Park (next to the Guthrie) for what they call "the undeadening." Zombies will do last-minute touch-ups and get final instructions from organizers before swarming the streets.

For tips on how to survive the crawl, the organizers have put together a fantastic website. On it, you'll find fake blood recipes, how-to videos and a great zombie FAQ.

Sample question: "Will we be doing much walking?"

Answer: "About 1.5 miles. We will be walking like zombies, so it will take longer to get from one bar to the next. Also, you may need to stop to feast on human brains."

The crawl will leave the park when co-organizer Chuck Terhark gets on the bullhorn, rallying the horde with the crawl's official zombie chant:

What do we want?


When do we want them?


The crawl will end at the Cabooze, where Dance Band and MC/VL will perform.

Getting there might be a frenzied affair, however. Terhark said the crawl's itinerary is a loose one, as zombie pub crawlers are traditionally hard to pin down, wandering wherever they may.

"It's like herding cats," he said.

The Haunted Basement

What began last year as a pet project by a group of off-the-wall artists quickly became Halloween's hit haunted house.

It was a sold-out phenom -- turning away more than 100 people some nights -- because it was unlike any other haunted house around. Instead of vampires and mummies, the Haunted Basement preys more on psychological fears.

Located in an old, dirty, cluttered factory under the Soap Factory art gallery, the space was perfect for an adult-oriented haunted house. Groups of four were given a flashlight and told to explore the 10,000-square-foot basement, where they would encounter disorienting pitch-black rooms, squeeze through claustrophobic corridors and run through upside-down cornstalks.

"Last year, we just kind of cobbled it together from garbage," artist Chris Pennington said. "This year, it's a lot more professional."

The Soap Factory gave them a budget this time, which has allowed the group to refine the fright factor. Eric Veldey, a set builder for the Minnesota Opera, led the way, creating elaborate rooms and mazes to freak you out.

Oh, and the clowns are back.

"The clowns have their own room where you can kind of interact with them," said organizer Gabe Shapiro. "Not that anyone would want to, because they're kind of crazy, insane devil clowns."

They've also upped the capacity this year (300 people a night) and stretched the hours of operation. If people get too scared, they can still can yell out the designated safe word ("Uncle") and be immediately escorted out of the basement. It happened several times last year.

"We took the idea that this really is for grownups and ran with it," Shapiro said. "There are a lot of rooms that push boundaries. Every limit of what you think people can stand, we're taking it there." • 612-673-7909