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Weekend preview: Zombies, squeezeboxes and Snickers pudding cups... Yikes!

Brandon Kittendorf got his first experience in the haunting business at a corporate Halloween party in an abandoned Fort Lauderdale funeral home. He knows spooky.

And the west Miramar native says the new location of his Festival of Souls haunted attraction in downtown Fort Lauderdale is perfect.

“Are you kidding me? It’s like the devil’s playground,” Kittendorf says of the gloomy Riverfront complex. “It already seemed like a ghost town. It’s awesome.”

Beginning Thursday and running through Nov. 1, Festival of Souls will offer the 10,500-square-foot Demon Mansion haunted house, the 6,800-square-foot Pitch Black Maze and the 2,000-square-foot Live Zombie Paintball Shoot, as well as vendors, food and drink, and live music. The event will be set up at Pop Up Las Olas, a rebranding of Riverfront, the 254,000-square-foot mall on the New River (info: PopUpLasOlas.com). Frank Theaters, Argie Grill, Riverfront Pizza and other tenants will remain open during the festival.

The 2012 edition of Festival of Souls drew more than 17,000 people to Gulfstream Park, which told Kittendorf in March that they would be remodeling that space to make way for a steakhouse. He says the Pop Up Las Olas deal, which is offering tenants low-cost, no-commitment leases, was … heavenly.

“Everything went very smooth with the people from Pop Up Las Olas,” he says. “And we get a beautiful location, on the river near all the nightlife, where people come to play and party.”

Kittendorf clearly understands his responsibilities as owner of Fort Lauderdale’s newest nightlife destination.

“We have three full bars … it’s all top-shelf, with live bands every Thursday and Sunday. We have DJs spinning every night and guest DJs coming in,” Kittendorf says. “And we’re working on a 21-plus area at one bar, so those visitors can have their own experience.”

DJ Maximus 3000 is the house turntablist, and local bands scheduled to perform include Hiatus Road, Black Jacket, My Electric Heart and Cadillac Creeps (on Halloween night).

Kittendorf, who just wrapped his already impressive black 2005 Ford Excursion (10-inch lift and 40-inch Toyo tires) with Festival of Souls zombies and skulls, says the attraction has plenty to scare the club-age crowd.

“The Demon Mansion has multiple things that prey on people’s fears. Bugs, spiders, clowns,” says Kittendorf, a former Miramar football player who went on to play lineman for NAIA national champion University of Findlay. “People’s minds will play more tricks on them than we can ever play.”

The Pitch Black Maze passed the ultimate test during a recent walk-through: “Even I got scared,” Kittendorf says, laughing.

Festival of Souls is open 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Nov. 1. Tickets: $30, $15 for 12 and younger. Fast Pass tickets cost an additional $30. Info: FestivalofSouls.com.

HIGH-STAKES POLKA
The second annual Las Olas Oktoberfest, such a blast that it stretches over two weekends this year, continues to offer big squeezeboxes, brats and beers ($5 for 14 ounces and $15 for 32 ounces) under a 4,000-square-foot tent on the Lawn at the Riverside Hotel. Admission to the party, co-sponsored by Fritz and Franz Bierhaus, is free. Hours are 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Yes, there are big TVs showing the games. Info: 954-377-0943, Facebook.com/OktoberfestLasOlas.

TROLLEY GO LIGHTLY
Think of it as a classier bus loop, but nothing’s too classy for you. The third annual Toasts, Tastes & Trolleys event, a Friday-night fundraiser for the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum, allows guests to sample food and drinks at a variety of new spots in Boca Raton, beginning and ending with champagne and hors d'oeuvres at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (with dessert and dancing afterward). Included will be Jazziz Nightlife, Sonoma House and Royal Palm Properties’ elegantly restored 1920s-era home known as Morada Bonita. The event runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Tickets: $125. Info: Call 561-395-6766,  ext. 101, BocaHistory.org.

MUSIC MAKING
There are, of course, many South Florida sounds, but if we had to be defined by just one, Gold Dust Lounge feels about right. Russell Mofsky and his band have created a special rhythm that glows like a flickering old TV or the nostalgic neon of a Miami Beach go-go lounge, all of which is captured in the almost-completed album “Lost Sunset.” The monthlong Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 to complete and distribute the recording will get a sendoff with an “audio brunch” at Sweat Records (5505 NE Second Ave., Miami) 1 p.m. Sunday. There, you can get more information on the album, produced by Aaron Fishbein with contributions from Nigerian musicians Akintayo Akinboro and Oyemade Oluwaseun Kabir from Femi Kuti’s Positive Force Band, Suenalo’s Juan Turros (baritone sax and flute) and Randy Singer on harmonica. And you can drop a few dollars to support the cause, which needs about $5,000 to hit the mark by midnight Monday night. Or you can always donate it here, and check out all the donor giveaways being offered. More info: SweatRecordsMiami.com, GoldDustLounge.com.

SWANKY! (WINK, WINK)
Swank Southern Kitchen, which makes its official grand opening on Wednesday, may be the epitome of the unique alchemy of influences that South Florida is famous for: A former chef at Soi Chinese in Miami with the mellifluous  name Oscar Ferreira running a restaurant in Davie specializing in low-country American soul food. Country-fried chicken with sage and marshmallow sauce? Fried green tomatoes with basil chimichurri? Gator chili?  Snickers pudding cups? Somewhere, Elvis is sitting upright in his grave. Craft beers, bourbons and whiskeys also get special attention here. The beautifully countrified, 200-seat indoor-outdoor space at 4196 S. University Drive makes its formal debut into society with a party 7-10 p.m. Wednesday, when you can get a taste of things to come and see how the versatile DJ Supersede handles a country vibe.  Info: 954-423-3330, Facebook.com/SwankSouthernKitchen.

A “BAD” CROWD
Why watch Sunday’s series finale of "Breaking Bad" alone, when you can do it with your hermanos. There’s a watch party, hosted by your friends at JLPR,  at Will Call (700 NE Second Ave., Miami), which will feature  Heisenberg cocktails, a "Pollos Hermanos" inspired menu, "A1A" car washes in the parking lot, a “Breaking Bad” costume contest (with prizes) and, of course, plenty of debate of over how it will end. Bring a dirty car: Proceeds from the car wash benefit  the wheelchair basketball team Miami Heat Wheels. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission: free. Info: WillCallMiami.com.

WORLD VIEWS
The FAT Village Art Walk makes its monthly return to that churning section of downtown Fort Lauderdale that is changing in dramatic ways right before our eyes. A stone’s throw from all the cranes and cinder blocks, Saturday’s walk will offer the quiet virtues of photography collected by the staff at C&I Studios (541 NW First Ave.) when they went to work with orphans in Guatemala. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. The show is paired with the opening of “Retazos & Patrones [Remnants & Patterns],” a multimedia collaboration by artists Francisco Sheuat and Julio Green. Tickets: $6, $4 for fans of C&I Studios on Facebook. While you’re there, you can donate some old books (any, though hardcover preferred) for a “secret project.” The FAT Village Art Walk is free and will have the doors open from 7 to 11 p.m. Info: Facebook.com/FatVillageArtsDistrict.

YOUR SKTCHY FRIENDS
You may not be much of an artist, but you eat and drink beer and you have a phone. That’s all you really need for Thursday night’s Sktchy Launch Party, both an exhibition and a tutorial on the wonders of selfie-portraiture via Sktchy iPhone app at The LAB Miami (400 NW 26 St. in Wynwood). Art,  music, food (Ms. Cheezious!) and free beer from  Estrella Damm will flow from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday (Sept. 26). They supply the art supplies. Info: Sktchy.com/launch.

FANTASY ISLAND
We hear that tickets remain for Ron Jeremy’s Pimp and Ho Party during Fantasy Fest in Key West on Oct. 25, which is a little surprising. When he sells out, Fantasy Fest has your back with an appearance by South Florida-spawned porn icon (and onetime California gubernatorial candidate) Mary Carey, hosting the ABC (Anything but Clothes) Party at Bare Assets on Oct. 23, and the Kinky Couples Party led by latex-dipped fetish model Rubber Doll (also a South Florida product) on Oct. 26. Info: FantasyFest.com.

IT MIGHT GET LOUD
Metallica live in IMAX 3-D. What more need be said? Apparently, the film “Metallica: Through the Never” includes a story involving a young roadie on an urgent mission during one of the band’s incendiary live shows. But, really, it’s Metallica in IMAX 3-D. It opens this weekend at Muvico Parisian 20 (545 Hibiscus St., West Palm Beach), AMC Aventura 24 (19501 Biscayne Blvd.) and Regal Sawgrass Stadium 23 (2600 NW 136th Ave., Sunrise). More info: ThroughTheNeverMovie.com.

SOUNDS GOOD
The multilayered Miami-based duo Awesome New Republic will do a free all-ages show 7 p.m. Friday at Sweat Records (5505 NE Second Ave., Miami) with Sweat’s resident funnyman Daniel Reskin making with the jokes beforehand. Info: 786-693-9309, SweatRecordsMiami.com.

LAND OF MILK AND HORNY
The title track from the Weeknd’s “Kiss Land” is a gloomy dispatch from the dark edge of the rock star universe, a landscape littered with all the self-indulgent, misogynistic cliches: sex, booze, drugs and strippers. Naturally, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are called out by name. But wrapped in his candy-sweet vocals it seems even this can be forgiven. Listen up on Saturday night when the Weeknd and opening act Banks perform at the James L. Knight Center (400 SE Second Ave., Miami; 305-416-5970). Tickets: $37, $47 at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster outlets and the box office. More info: TheWeeknd.com.

OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Two rock legends, Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck, duel at Hard Rock Live on Friday. You win. (MyHRL.com) …  Cowboy Mouth, a party in your mouth, plays the Culture Room on Friday (CultureRoom.net) …  “Gossip Girl” actress Taylor Momsen brings Pretty Reckless to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Friday (JointheRevolution.net) …  Christopher Titus offers  new insights at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Hard Rock Thursday (Sept. 26)-Sunday (FTL.Improv.com) … French  comic Gad Elmaleh does the Fillmore on Miami Beach Saturday. Very funny. (FillmoreMB.com) … The Stage is always a good place to catch the Spam Allstars, there on Saturday (TheStageMiami.com) …   The even-more-loveable-now Go-Go’s are at Seminole Coconut Creek Casino on Saturday (SeminoleCasinoCoconutCreek.com) …  Beenie Man and Freddie McGregor lead a reggae party at Revolution Live on Saturday (JointheRevolution.net) ... Jazz trailblazers Spyro Gyra play Jazziz Nightlife in Boca Raton Wednesday-Thursday (JazzizNightlife.com) … Country singer and comedian Rodney Carrington will do whatever he wants at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino next Thursday (SeminoleCasinoCoconutCreek.com) … Comic Carlos Mencia begins a multinight run at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Hard Rock next Thursday (FTL.Improv.com) …

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com, on Twitter at @BenCrandell and Instagram /BenCrandell.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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