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Dinner and horror meet to create a perfectly terrifying date night this Halloween
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Dinner and horror meet to create a perfectly terrifying date night this Halloween

Crunchy piles of leaves on the ground, jack-o-lanterns glowing on porches, endless strands of fake spider webs stretched across every window in town and an overwhelming sense of dread — thanks to a certain virus that seems harder to kill than Michael Myers — all serve as clear indicators that Halloween is near. And those looking to give their dates a good excuse to hug them a little closer will surely be watching a few classic horror movies this year. And, of course, any proper date should include both dinner and a movie, which leaves you to ponder the following thought: When it comes to horror, which dishes and drinks pair best with which movie?

Luckily we have solved this terrifying conundrum for you. Read on as we pair the best local eateries with their blood-soaked cinematic counterparts.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974):

The title alone is enough to frighten off many, but the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is a brilliantly executed and endlessly influential horror film about a family of murderous cannibals living in rural Texas. Oh, and the sinister family in the film also happens to operate a barbecue stand. What kind of meat are they serving? Well … let’s just say you probably haven’t had it before, and you probably never should.

But one barbecue stand that you definitely SHOULD try is Henri’s Hotts. Located in Hammonton, this down-to-earth spot has arguably the best barbecue in the entire state, and includes a large menu packed with all your favorite, slow-smoked dishes, plus seafood, sandwiches, homemade desserts and a fried chicken that will knock your socks off. With all these options it can be hard to choose — so pick one (try the pulled pork) along with a few sides and give yourself an excuse to come back again. Henri’s Hotts is located at 1003 E. Black Horse Pike in Hammonton. Go to BestBBQSJ.com.

The Exorcist (1973):

Arguably the most frightening film ever made, “The Exorcist” tells the story of a young girl named Regan who has become possessed by demonic forces. The number of truly unsettling scenes in the film is high, but one of the most shocking moments arrives when little Regan has transformed into a blistered and twisted version of herself — thanks to Lucifer — and manages to projectile vomit what appears to be split-pea soup directly onto the face of Father Karras, a priest who has come to help her deal with her, ahem, demons.

Clearly the soup Regan ate didn’t come from Essl’s Dugout, as their version of split-pea is superb — filled with tasty morsels of ham and bacon and absolutely no demons of any kind. This tasty and hearty soup has received rave reviews from adults and creepy little girls all around South Jersey. Why not take possession of a pint or two? Essl’s Dugout is located at 7001 E. Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City. Go to EsslsDugoutNJ.com.

Poltergeist (1984):

This frightening film about a family living in a house haunted by malevolent spirits is memorable for several of its iconic scenes, including one that likely caused millions of clown-related phobias to pop up over the years, but perhaps the most chilling thing in the film is when little Carol Anne utters the infamous “There’re heeeere …” line in order to announce the presence of some seriously terrifying ghosts.

If you have any plans of watching “Poltergeist” this Halloween, we suggest you order a pizza from Manco & Manco’s in Ocean City and Somers Point. Not only is it an obviously delicious spot to order a pie from, but having it delivered will also give you the opportunity to utter Carol Anne’s famous line when the doorbell rings. Manco & Manco’s winter locations are 9th Street in Ocean City and in the Ocean Heights Shopping Plaza at 19 Bethel Road in Somers Point.

Jaws (1975):

You may not be itching to take a swim in the ocean after watching this classic about a man-eating great white shark, but we think that a nice plate of seafood will set the tone perfectly for a watery bloodbath such as “Jaws.” Dock’s Oyster House may not serve up any great white specifically, but they certainly offer many seafood dishes that one would describe as “great.” Indulge in standards like lobster rolls, seared sea scallops, broiled oysters or one of our favorites — the crispy wasabi tuna. Dock’s Oyster House is located at 2405 Atlantic Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to DocksOysterHouse.com

Carrie (1976):

Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie” was also his first to be made into a feature film. The plot revolves around a teenage girl who is tormented by both the kids at school as well as by her overly religious and super creepy mother at home. But Carrie has telekinetic powers, and after having a full bucket of pig blood dumped over her head at the senior prom, she uses her powers to enact revenge in the most dramatic and violent of ways.

Though her name may have been Carrie, we can’t think of a more fitting cocktail to pair with a film that features blood in such an overt way than a Bloody Mary. A classic early-bird cocktail, we suggest ordering one while having brunch at Rhythm & Spirits on the Orange Loop in Atlantic City. Their version features Tito’s Vodka and their own house-made Bloody Mary mix as well as an impressively complex garnish. Rhythm & Spirits is located at 129 S. Tennessee Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to RhythmAndSpirits.com.

Children of the Corn (1984):

Who knew a vegetable could be so scary? This classic ’80s horror flick was based off a short story by Stephen King and revolves around a town in the cornfields of Nebraska where the children ritualistically murder all the adults and are members of a religious cult that worships a malevolent deity known as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”

A decidedly less frightening, but far more delicious use of corn can be found at Miss Connie’s Fire-Roasted Street Corn, a brand new food truck that has been on the receiving end of quite a bit of buzz after launching this summer. Everything from corn chowder to elotes — fresh corn slathered in a variety of decadent and insanely tasty toppings — can be found here. Our pick is the Californian, which consists of fresh corn with mild wasabi mayo, smashed avocado, cotija cheese, bacon, crema, pepper seasoning, lime and cilantro. Have it on the cob or in a bowl and you just might find yourself worshipping the corn gods too. Miss Connie’s Fire-Roasted Street Corn can be found at various farmers markets each weekend, including the CROPS Market at Central Square in Linwood 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 31. Check the Facebook page for other appearances.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991):

Anthony Hopkins’ performance as imprisoned serial killer/cannibal Hannibal Lecter in this film is easily one of the most chilling of the last 30 years. Listening to him wax nostalgic about killing and eating the liver of one of his victims “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” has put chills down the spines of countless viewers since the film’s release in 1991, and has become one of the most quotable lines in movie history.

Those looking for a nice Chianti of their own might want to head to Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern, where several varieties can be found on the wine list, including DaVinci Chianti Reserva and Ruffino. As for the liver and fava beans, they can be a bit harder to come by, so we suggest substituting the veal Florentine along with Angelo’s spicy green bean appetizer to create your own variation on Lecter’s famous feast. Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern is located at 2300 Fairmount Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to AngelosFairmountTavern.com

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