McALLEN — Halloween is when we expect ghosts, goblins and other unfriendly creatures to roam free for the night. But if you’re looking for an early fright, look no further than downtown McAllen.
The RGV Horror Club is back hosting its horror movie nights for the month of October, showcasing two movies back to back every Thursday night at Cine El Rey.
Daniel Menchaca, 35, is the founder of the RGV Horror Club, a Facebook group he started in 2013 but which he didn’t really get off the ground until 2016.
It was that year, in August 2016, that he hosted his first movie night at Kaboom Comics. Then, a wrestler who performed at Cine El Rey encouraged him to move the event to the historic theater. He was skeptical the theater would agree to do it, but he wrote anyway.
“After a few weeks talking back and forth, they loved my pitch and here we are,” Menchaca said.
Since then, the club has held horror movie nights there. That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie nights were canceled for those first two years of the pandemic, making this year’s return of the horror movie nights a triumph.
“I think people kind of took it for granted,” Menchaca said, sensing that attendees are more eager to take advantage now that the event is back.
This past Thursday, several of those attendees found themselves seated in the theater’s balcony after seats and tables on the ground floor were nearly filled to capacity.
They were treated to a double feature of “Killers Klowns from Outer Space,” a 1988 B movie, followed by “Terrifier,” a 2016 film which had its sequel released earlier this month.
Both films center around evil clowns, which Menchaca said was intentional.
When selecting which movies to feature, he said he tries to choose movies that are timely or relevant somehow.
The first year he hosted these movie nights, he played “Near Dark” and “The Lost Boys,” movies about vampire gangs that both came out in 1987.
Adding to the festive nature of the events, Menchaca decorates the theater with props that he makes at home. For this event, he made a replica of a cotton candy cocoon as seen in “Killer Klowns.”
He said the prop took him four days to make using cardboard, expanding foam, paper towels and fake spider webs.
He also knows his way around Photoshop, which he used to edit a poster that features iconic characters from horror movies.
Menchaca’s love of horror came from his father, he said, and he now hopes to continue to connect with the community through that shared interest.
The club held a camp last summer with help from the city of Hidalgo. They hope to grow it and implement horror elements.
“I want to make it a legit campground where we actually teach something,” Menchaca said.
“To kind of sculpt the minds and try to introduce kids to horror and we teach them about special effects and makeup, maybe play some documentary films here and there,” he added. “That’s been one of my bigger goals.”
Aside from those events, the club interacts through its Facebook group, which currently has 7,000 members. There, they connect with people who also love horror and even local filmmakers.
This year, the continued popularity of their movie nights was not in doubt.
Members of the public have also asked the club to increase the frequency of the horror movie nights but they don’t have the venue to support that yet, according to Joe Cruz, one of the administrators of the group.
Cruz, whom Menchaca referred to as his right-hand man, added they do eventually hope to expand to other areas like the Mid-Valley or elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley.
The next and final horror double feature of the month will be held Oct. 27. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with “Night of the Demons” and continue at 8 p.m. with “Trick ‘r Treat.”