"Dracula" and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue": Frances Smith Cohen and Center Dance Ensemble present this semiseasonal, semistrange double bill--a little Vlad the Impaler, a little Rodgers and Hart--in performances at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Donning period costumes, the troupe presents an abstract version of Bram Stoker's tale, set to music by David Byrne, and Dead Can Dance. Cliff Keuter choreographed the company's avant take on George Balanchine's "Slaughter" sequence from the 1939 film On Your Toes. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, $7 for students and children, available at Herberger and Dillard's. Call 252-8497 or 678-2222.
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black: Conceptually, this New York-based, co-ed mutant crew is Gwar meets Billion Dollar Babies-era Alice Cooper; musically, according to Peter Gilstrap, it's "Thin Lizzy meets Mtley Cre meets the New York Dolls." Whatever the hell it is, it's the perfect pre-Halloween treat. TVHOKB performs on Thursday at Nile Theater, 105 West Main in Mesa. Stiffs Inc., Jonathan Fire-eater, and Meanface share the all-ages bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Call 649-2766.
NASCAR Winston Cup Phoenix 500: Phoenix International Raceway, a.k.a. the superfast "Phoenix Mile," hosts this multirace package, which starts Thursday at the racetrack, 115th Avenue and Baseline in Tolleson. A.J. Foyt is a surprise entry in Sunday's title competition, and Palmdale, California's Ron Hornaday Jr. will attempt the first-ever PIR 1,000-kilometer run, competing in Friday's NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour 300, Saturday's GM Goodwrench/Delco Battery SuperTruck Series 200 and Sunday's Phoenix 500. Also on the agenda: Mayflower NASCAR Truck Drivers' Challenge on Sunday, and live music by Rich Lloyd Band on Friday and Saturday and Boy Howdy on Sunday. Tickets are available at PIR and Dillard's. Call 252-3833 or 678-2222.
Big Audio Dynamite: Mick Jones' B.A.D. has always run hot and cold, and there's no telling what temperature the former Clash guitarist and his big-beat band will register at Thursday's show at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. B.A.D.'s 1985 debut, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, remains a classic, but that was a decade and many lineup changes ago. Frosted, featuring former Go-Go Jane Wiedlin, shares the bill. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15, available at the door and Ticketmaster. Call 968-8664 or 784-4444.
Valley Art Theatre: Spike & Mike's Original Festival of Animation 1995 (unrated) concludes Thursday at the theatre, 509 South Mill in Tempe. Art for Teachers of Children (unrated), Jennifer Montgomery's dramatic rendering of her affair with a married instructor when she was 14, opens Friday. Valley Art's Friday midnight-movie series continues this week with Night of the Living Dead (1968, unrated). (Dead will be screened again on Halloween, along with The Rocky Horror Picture Show; see Tuesday.) The silent version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925, unrated) plays at 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday; an organist will perform the accompanying score. Call 829-6668.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Arizona Theatre Company has opened its season with Shakespeare's beguiling fantasy about the power of love. Performances begin with a preview at 8 p.m. Friday in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The press opening is at 8 p.m. Saturday; the remainder of this week's shows are at 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday. A discussion follows Sunday's matinee. Regularly priced tickets range from $20 to $30, available at Herberger and Dillard's. A Target Stores "Blue Jeans" performance is slated for 1 p.m. November 12, with tickets priced at $4 and $7. The production continues through November 18. For reservations and details, call 252-8497 or 678-2222.
Vanya on 42nd Street: Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center, hosts the Arizona premire of director Louis Malle's 1994 variation on Chekhov's play Uncle Vanya at 7 p.m. Friday, continuing the monthly MAC Movies 2 series; a group discussion follows. The film is unrated; see the review on page 79. Admission is a suggested donation of $2. Call 644-2242.
Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley and company play the Denver Nuggets in a preseason match at 7 p.m. Friday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are available at arena and Dillard's. For details call 379-7867, 379-7800 or 678-2222.
"Muertos de Gusto! Day of the Dead: Memory and Ritual" and Da de los Muertos Festival: On loan from Chicago's Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, "Gusto!" features 60 mixed-media works by Mexican and U.S. artists celebrating the traditional Catholic day of commemoration for the dearly departed, which falls on November 2. The installation opens Saturday and continues through February 5, 1996, at Heard Museum, 22 East Monte Vista. In conjunction with the opening, the Heard hosts the largest Day of the Dead fest in the Valley from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Shaffer Green and at Scott L. Libby Jr. Amphitheater on the museum's grounds. Highlights include folk art, hands-on crafts, a mercado, performances by Zum Zum Zum and Primavera Dance Company, and "La Danza de Los Voladores" ("the Dance of the Flying Men," in which Los Voladores fly around a pole with ropes tied around their waists). Admission to the outdoor fest is free; craft-making sessions cost $1. Regular admission prices are in effect at the museum proper. Call 252-8840.
Fowl Play: Fiesta Bowl Duck Race and Hi Jolly Daze Duck Drop: The odds in the wildly popular Duck Race are against you, but if you adopt a rubber duck for $5, and if it's one of three in each 10,000 sold containing a grand-prize promissory note, and if your rubber duck crosses the finish line before the other 64,999 rubber ducks, you win $1 million and a 1995 Isuzu pickup. Prerace activities at the eighth annual event begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at PERA Park, 68th Street and Continental in Tempe, and the duck launch follows at 3 at the nearby Salt River Project canal. Duck-adoption forms are available at all Bank of America branch locations; proceeds benefit Scottsdale Prevention Institute and the Fiesta Bowl. A related Halloween festival starts at dusk and continues until approximately 9:30 p.m. Call 350-0900. The highlight of Saturday's eighth annual Hi Jolly Daze in the desert town of Quartzsite, west of Phoenix on I-10, is a drop of rubber ducks from a hot-air balloon at dusk. Closest duck to the painted bull's eye at Town Park wins the pot. Cost to adopt one of the duck missiles is $5. Lots of other activities are planned throughout the day; call 1-520-927-5600 for details.
The Practical Bohemian: Ed Metzger (Dog Day Afternoon, TV's St. Elsewhere), who also does a decent Hemingway, has been portraying brilliant klutz Albert Einstein in this solo tour de force since 1979. Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $16 and $20, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Fiddler's Dream Folk Festival: A who's who of Valley folk musicians, with a few blues and bluegrass acts mixed in, is planned at this event, scheduled for noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Fiddler's Dream Coffee House, 1701 East Cactus Wren, one block north of Glendale Avenue. John Savoy, Gypsy Wind, Joe Bethancourt, Ned Beatty and the Inbreds and 18 other acts are slated to perform (see Music listing for a complete list and details about other Fiddler's Dream happenings). Admission is $3, free for kids under 12. Call 997-9795 or 277-4991.
Arizona Cardinals: It's a bird fight, as Buddy's Cards host the Seattle Seahawks at 2 p.m. Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Tickets are $29, $39 and $54, available at Dillard's. Upcoming home games are scheduled at 2 p.m. November 12 against the Minnesota Vikings, 2 p.m. November 26 against the Atlanta Falcons, 6 p.m. November 30 against the New York Giants and 7 p.m. December 25 against those gol-danged Dallas Cowboys (the latter match is sold out). Call 379-0102 or 678-2222.
Charlie Musselwhite: San Francisco's Musselwhite is one of the few contemporary blues performers hoeing the deep-blues field--certainly, he's one of the best; see the story on page 109. The "ace of harps" performs on Monday at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Hans Olson opens at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show, available at the door and Ticketmaster. For details call 265-4842 or 784-4444.
"Tales of Mystery, Suspense and Horror": Geoffrey Platts hosts a special, tenth-anniversary edition of his traditional Halloween reading of tales of the macabre and supernatural at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The program includes the best of the decade, including Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death," "The Raven" and "The Cask of Amontillado," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Case of Lady Sannox" and Saki's "The Open Window." Tickets are $10 and $11, available at Kerr and Dillard's. Call 965-5377.
Night of the Living Dead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show: George A. Romero's Dead redefined the term "chewing the scenery." Watching this clammy, claustrophobic flick about a group of people trapped in a farmhouse by zombies trying to scratch their way in is the second-best way to spook yourself on Halloween (the best: finishing the last line of the last chapter of Stephen King's Pet Sematary at the stroke of midnight). A free screening of Dead is planned at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Valley Art Theatre, 509 South Mill in Tempe. A costume contest follows at 10, and a special showing of Rocky Horror (R) follows that; admission to the latter is $5. For details call 829-6668.
Halloween Extra: For details about other Valley happenings on and around All hallows Eve, see the special subsection in Events listing.Mike Watt and the Crew of the Flying Saucer: Former Minuteman and fIREHOSEr Watt and his Crew land on Tuesday at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe, wrapping up their "Shinebox" Tour '95. The tour is the second in support of bassist Watt's album ball-hog or tugboat?. Geraldine Fibbers, and Rentals share the bill. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10, available in advance at Ticketmaster and at the door. Call 968-8664 or 784-4444.
Stars of the Grand Ole Opry featuring Kitty Wells: Just hearing Fifties superstar Wells (real name: Muriel Deason) sing "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" in her fragile vibrato would be worth the price of admission, were there one. Performances are planned at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, in conjunction with Arizona State Fair (see Thursday); Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., Rex Allen Jr., Jim Ed Brown, the Kendalls and a pickin'-and-grinnin' stampede of others share the bill (see Music listing for the complete lineup). The shows are free with regular fair admission; limited reserved seating is available for a fee (see "In General" section in At the Fair listing). Call 268-3247 or 252-6771.
B.B. King: The 70-year-old king of the blues and his queen, the guitar named Lucille, take the stage at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe, at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $20 and $25, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 965-3434 or 678-2222.