Art Theater’s Shocktober a scream for community members

Sarah Powers

Photo by Sarah Powers | The Prospectus Downtown Champaign's Art Theater brings community members to the screen for its third annual “Shocktober” series with the best of the best horror movies all October.

Photo by Sarah Powers | The Prospectus
Downtown Champaign’s Art Theater brings community members to the screen for its third annual “Shocktober” series with the best of the best horror movies all October.

Staff Writer

The Art Theater Co-op, located in downtown Champaign, has been serving up horror movies on a silver platter for the entire month of October. In addition to their regularly scheduled daytime and late afternoon shows, the “Shocktober” series lights up the screen with gore galore almost every night after the sun goes down.

Created only three years ago, the theater’s late night committee organized “Shocktober” as a way to showcase fun horror movies during the season when people want to see them over other genres.

“With such feature films as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Martyrs,” “Goodnight Mommy,” and “The Descent,” Austin McCann, General Manager of the Art Theater said, “it’s definitely the darkest programming we’ve done, but I’m not surprised that our attendance has been the best so far”

While “Shocktober” brings excellent business for the Art Theater, Jessie Shoraga, a Parkland College anthropology major and Projectionist/Gallery Curator at the theater explained it’s just as important to give back to the community.

“For two years now, we’ve partnered with the Community Blood Bank to hold a blood drive at their site the night before Halloween. Anyone who donates gets a free popcorn next time they visit and are entered into a raffle for two free movie passes,” Shoraga said.

In addition to the blood drive, the first movie of the “Shocktober” series is always a free event for community members, so that if movie-lovers happen to find themselves short on money for a movie ticket, they can still enjoy at least one film to ring in the spooky season.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a 1975 cult classic musical comedy horror, which plays three times during October, has sold out completely for the last two showings and is labeled by staff as the most popular movie of the “Shocktober” series. This year, the Art Theater teamed up with a shadow cast from the University of Illinois Performing Arts Department to perform the production alongside the screening.

Heather Poffenberger, a horror movie enthusiast at the Rocky Horror showing said, “It was a blast! I loved the audience participation, the call-backs were hilarious, and the vibe was amazing.”

For a second year, the late-night committee planned an all night movie marathon, which starts at 10:00 p.m., and shows straight horror movies until first light at 6:00 a.m. Attendees are informed of the first two titles, but the next three are all surprises. Because of a large donation from a co-op member, attendees are treated to snacks, beverages, and even late night burrito runs.

When it comes to planning “Shocktober,” the late-night committee begins brainstorming a lineup of movies about ten months in advance. Special attention is given to the type of horror movies that performed especially well in previous years, but members also put up their favorite films for deliberation.

The Art Theater has always adorned its walls with historic photos of the area, but recently Shoraga has curated their very own art gallery in the front lobby, exhibiting work from local artists. For the next exhibit, she will be working with the Parkland Art Department to feature student work.

For information about titles and showtimes at the Art Theater, visit their website at