october 18
Pretty Girls Make Graves Horror doesn't get any weirder than Dario Argento's over-the-top Suspiria. The film's huge, decadent sets spill over with primary colors. The soundtrack -- by an Italian rock group called the Goblins -- is an assault of frantic rhythms and agonized wailing. The plot is best when it's nonexistent: namely, the first half-hour, a torrent of bloody chaos with no logical explanation. Prefiguring Wes Craven, Suspiria blurs the borders between dream and reality; fleeing an unseen murderous force, characters stumble into surreal nightmares -- snail-shaped hallways, rooms filled with coiled wire. A wide-eyed Jessica Harper heads a great cast of oddballs: Udo Kier (as a blind man); the queenly, ultraposh Joan Bennett; and Alida Valli, a Teutonic taskmaster with a scary set of bright white bicuspids. See Suspiria at 2, 7:15, and 9:20 p.m. (also 7:15 and 9:20 p.m. Thursday) at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $3-5.50; call 668-3994.

Moaning With Mona Penned by the late Philip-Dimitri Galas (Diamanda's bro), Mona Rogers in Person is a one-woman show starring Helen Shumaker. A wicked comedy about knee-slapping topics like misogyny, self-loathing, and mother hatred, Mona earned Shumaker a cult following when it premiered in 1985. Now, after working with Ethyl Eichelberger (R.I.P.), Karen Finley, and Joan Cusack, Shumaker returns to direct and star in the show. See Helen as Mona at 8 p.m. at Cable Car Theatre, 430 Mason, S.F. Mona Rogers in Person continues Thursday-Sunday through Nov. 26. Tickets are $14-18; call 956-8497.

Chatting With Christopher Unlike Ian Softley's godawful Backbeat (which also starred Ian Hart as John Lennon), Christopher MYnch's The Hours and Times doesn't even attempt to capture the Beatles' music. Instead, wisely, it speculates about a small private detail: manager Brian Epstein's unrequited love for Lennon. Low-key and poignant, Hours graced many 1992 top-10 lists; MYnch's new flick -- Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day -- is due this fall. The latest installment in Film Arts Foundation's "Meet the Mavericks" discussion series features MYnch and producer Andrea Sperling; they'll talk at 7:30 p.m. at 346 Ninth St, S.F. Tickets are $10-12; call 552-8760.

Mighty Mark The Mark Morris Dance Group's original and often outrageous fusions of classical music and modern dance have earned comparisons to Balanchine. Choreographed to Henry Purcell's 1689 opera about love and war in Trojan times, Dido and Aeneas casts Morris in dual female roles: Dido, the queen of Carthage, and her nemesis, the Sorceress. A collaboration with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Dido and Aeneas starts at 8 p.m. (continuing through Saturday) at Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft & Dana, Berkeley. Tickets are $26-42; call 776-1999.

october 19
Killer Playthings It's easy to see why Walter Robinson describes his wood sculptures as "Quarantined Toys": They're cute, colorful, and deadly. Robinson likens the sculptural process to "the extraction of meaning from the subconscious." Well, Freud would have a field day with Robinson's Motherland, which depicts a huge, bendable, scissorlike object trying to cut through a kidney-shaped breast/missile thingy. See "Quarantined Toys" and Evri Kwong's "It's a Beautiful World" -- a collection of colorful paintings in which human-robot hybrids are disciplined -- from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Morphos Gallery, 49 Geary, S.F. Both exhibitions continue through Dec. 5. Free; call 399-1439.

Headless Love Critical sensitivity informs Trinh T. Minh-ha's essays and short films. Her first feature, A Tale of Love, follows the life of a Vietnamese immigrant who works as a model for a photographer who idealizes headless female bodies. Feminism, voyeurism, and cultural consumption are at play in the film's self-conscious narrative. Minh-ha will attend the S.F. Cinematheque premiere of A Tale of Love at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Kabuki 8, 1881 Post, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 588-8129.

Teen-Age Pics In a collaborative program with Southern Exposure, mixed-media artist Alfonzo Moret worked with Mission-based young adults, helping them use cameras autobiographically. A group show of the resulting work, "Mission Voices" features images by Luis Coria, Claudia Cruces, Luis Hernandez, Sergio Rivas, Rosa Rodriguez, Tamara Sanchez, and Moret. A reception for the show lasts from 7 to 9 p.m. at Collision, 417 14th St, S.F. "Mission Voices" continues through Oct. 27. Free; call 431-4074.

october 20
Veronica/Victoria/Eva OK, readers, you got three options: Veronica's Room is a suspenseful play by Ira Levin, featuring distinguished campster Flynn, the star of Theatre Rhino's recent production of Camille; Victoria Jordanova is an innovative, internationally known harp composer and performer who experiments with electronics and percussion; Eva Festa is a performance artist who plays the violin in the nude while swinging on a trapeze. You can see Veronica's Room at 9 p.m. at Climate Theatre, 252 Ninth St, S.F. Tickets are $10-12; call 978-2345. You can see Victoria at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Tickets are $6-8; call 626-5416. You can see Eva (in the girl, the devil, her violin) at 8 p.m. at Dance Group/Footwork, 3221 22nd St, S.F. Continues Friday-Sunday through Oct. 28; tickets are $8-10; call 824-5044.

Boombastic With 1993's "Oh Carolina" single and Pure Pleasure LP, Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-grown Shaggy offered a humorous, self-deprecating alternative to the macho stance of other dancehall artists. Boombastic, Shaggy's new LP, is rougher and closer to roots reggae, but it still has pop elements (R&B backup singers) and weird genre-mixing experiments ("Jenny" combines reggae with lounge music). You can hear him at 8 p.m. at Club Townsend, 177 Townsend, S.F. Tickets are $18-20; call 974-6020.

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