It’s October, which can only mean one thing: time to make that list and check it twice. No, not that list. We’re talking about the horror movie list — the can’t-miss spooky season flicks that’ll have you employing the buddy system to walk down dark hallways; the ones that elicit jump scares from house creaks that in any other month just sound charming.
There is only one thing better than a month-long lineup of the genre’s best, and that’s a month-long lineup of the genre’s best plus a meal pairing. Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?
Midsommar (2019) + Tea Party
This trip of a film calls for a full-blown tea party. Make it happen with a stop at Gong Fu Tea (414 E 6 St, Des Moines) in the East Village. Gong Fu has over 100 teas to choose from, as well as plenty of brewing vessels and teacups for purchase. The Scarlet and Ginger herbal tea may not save a relationship doomed to ceremonial sacrifice, but the blend of woody Schisandra flowers, hibiscus, rosehips and sharp ginger is as bright as a May Queen headdress and results in a blood-red elixir you can ladle out to all your friends.
Beetlejuice (1988) + Shrimp Cocktail
Django’s (1420 Locust St, Des Moines) shrimp cocktail comes packed on ice in a perfect single-sized container with lemon slices, cocktail sauce and six plump crustaceans that we can almost guarantee won’t come to life and latch on to your face. Bonus points if you swing your hips and sing along to Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song while eating.
Psycho (1960) + A Sandwich and Milk
If you’re not pouring a tall glass of milk alongside a toasty cheesy sandwich while watching this 1960s horror classic, you’re doing it wrong. Pick from a plethora of grilled cheeses on the Cheese Bar’s (2925 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines) menu — from the Classic made with a mix of Iowa-made cheeses to the caramelized onions and gooey Swiss Mountain cheese blend of the Alpine. If you, like Norman, enjoy stuffing things, opt for one of the restaurant’s busier sandwiches like the muffuletta, stacked high with layers of cured meats, house-made mozz and olive salad. The Cheese Bar also serves milk from Sheeder Cloverleaf Dairy in Guthrie Center.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003) + Fried Chicken
Better than anything you can get at Captain Spaulding’s gas station and prepared by a friendly and not-at-all murderous kitchen staff, Basic Bird’s Korean-style fried chicken has a crust that crackles and is best double-dunked with both the signature honey butter and tangy gochujang sauces. A meal for two includes nine hefty pieces of chicken, rice and three rotating sides, like house-made cucumber kimchi and a cheesy corn concoction. Basic Bird (2724 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines) only operates one night a week out of the Harbinger kitchen, so give the Sunday Scaries a whole new meaning with this dinner and a show.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) + A Juicy Hamburger
If your city has a zombie-themed burger joint, it’s sacrilegious to not buckle down for a Dead double-feature. Zombie Burger + Drink Lab (300 E Grand Ave, Des Moines) even has burgers with names riffing off the classic cult films for you hardcore on-theme ghouls. Replacing a bun with two grilled-cheese sandwiches, the They’re Coming to Get You Barbara burger is a terrifying and delicious mess of a meal. Try the simple Dawn of the Dead topped with bacon, an egg and American cheese, or level up to the Jaun of the Dead with a cheese- and green-chile-stuffed fried croquette as big as the bun and patty. It oozes when bitten into — need we say more?
(And let’s be honest: you can substitute any zombie movie for this meal deal, so if you’re not into being terrified the entire month, keep it light but still nice and gory with a viewing of Shaun of the Dead instead.)
Get Out (2017) + Froot Loop Ice Cream
Don’t be a Rose Armitage: mix the milk and the cereal for your annual viewing of Get Out with a stop at Totally Rolled Ice Cream (5545 Mills Civic Parkway Suite 103, West Des Moines). This one calls for the Totally Brandon’s Breakfast Special. Vanilla ice cream mix and your choice of cereal (ahem, Froot Loop it) get schmeared onto a freezing surface in a layer thin enough to roll into texturally pleasant — and, dare we say, hypnotizing — spirals.
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This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 007.