Wednesday October 12 Favorite haunts: That black pall hanging over the city is a little bit eerie, but...not to worry. It happens every year as people begin to gear up for the ghoulish costume balls and general mayhem of Halloween. And in preparation, several haunted houses are opening their doors this month, including the Colorado Renaissance Festival's Terror Beneath the City, a tongue-in-cheek creep show sure to spook anyone who steps inside. Word is that this spectacle, opening tonight in Tiffany Plaza Mall, 3515 S. Tamarac St., even houses a scene from DIA, replete with ghastly luggage remains. That ought to be a scary sight. Terror Beneath the City will be open every evening (except October 17 and 18) from 6:30 until 10 on weekdays and until midnight on weekends, through October 31; admission is $5 to $6. In addition, on October 29 from noon to 4, there will be a "lights on" tour of the display for those who are smaller and more easily frightened. Portions of the proceeds benefit the nonprofit Make-A-Wish foundation; for details call 688-6010 or 750-WISH.

Thursday October 13 Ready to roll: After sixteen years of this, you probably know the routine--when the Denver International Film Festival returns, it means it's time once again to immerse yourself in film, tramping dutifully from the Czechoslovakian comedy to the experimental video forum to Michael Apted's latest. All this is sandwiched between glitzy opening- and closing-night premieres--this year's festivities begin tonight at 7 with a screening of Woody Allen's new Bullets Over Broadway and wrap up on October 20 with Alan Rudolph's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle--as well as a pile of fun parties for cinematic hobnobbers. Stars scheduled to make appearances during the event include actor Treat Williams and actress Gena Rowlands. Opening- and closing-night screenings will take place at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., while the rest of the festival camps out at the AMC Tivoli, 901 Larimer St. Tickets for the Bullets Over Broadway gala are $75, which includes the premiere and a black-tie champagne buffet afterward, or $15 for the film only; closing night costs $10 to $20, depending on whether you attend the annual Last Reel party. Admission to all other screenings is $7 apiece ($5 DIFF members). For more information call 634-4072.

Friday October 14 The Damon within: It's a little-known fact that Damon Run-yon--the Roaring Twenties newspaper man who charmed readers with his evocative tales of street life, unforgettable characters and classic Brooklynese dialogue--once tapped a typewriter in Denver before pushing off for the Big Apple. So when the Denver Press Club decided to throw a shindig, it chose Runyon, or at least his spirit, as the focal point. It all kicks off tonight at 7 with a Guys and Dolls Costume Party--so put on your widest tie and nattiest fedora and come out for the fun, taking place at the Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl. Admission is $15. Tomorrow the Runyonesque doings culminate with an awards banquet and silent auction at the Brown Palace, 321 17th St., featuring special guest Jimmy Breslin, the Runyon biographer who says he's "the only one who can do it because of the life I've lived." It'll be a night to remember for anyone with a little ink in his blood. Admission runs $50 or $75 (the latter includes a cocktail reception) per person. Call 571-5260.

Like an open book: Those who've spent time trying to read something into visual art will appreciate a pair of gallery shows opening this evening featuring art that you can read. Language Arts, an invitational exhibition opening tonight at CORE New Art Space, 1412 Wazee St., will include book art, collage and two-dimensional works, on display though October 23. Meanwhile, the Mackey Gallery reciprocates with a large and imaginative Book as Art show, an open-juried event also beginning this evening and being held at 2565 Blake St., through Sunday only. Receptions at both galleries will be held from 7 to 10; a good read will be had by all. For information call CORE, 571-4831, or Mackey Gallery, 455-1157.

Soul man: Texas seems to breed great bluesmen, and once in a while, one of those monsters will erupt into an incendiary soul singer. Frankie Lee, who grew up singing in church but admiring people like Gatemouth Brown, Bobby Bland and Junior Parker, is one of those: a consummate stylist who's been traveling the R&B circuit--in this case, from Texas to Oakland and back again--for years. Lee blows into Billy Blues Barbecue Restaurant tonight, and only tonight--where more than mere pig flesh will be smoking. The club is located at 695 Kipling; for additional information call 274-2534.

Saturday October 15 This and that: Big bands don't have to be stuck in stodgy ballrooms--they can also be adventurous or even humorous, modern yet respectful to older influences. Most of all, they can make an elegant noise that pays homage to everyone who ever led a big band--from Duke Ellington to Sun Ra--and get away with it, with flying colors. Boston's ten-piece Either/Orchestra, appearing tonight at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., has perfected this approach, winning awards and acing critics' polls wherever it goes. Tickets to the 10:30 show are $10 ($12 day of show); call 333-7749 or 290-TIXS.

The web they weave: There's something about Celtic music that makes you feel both very, very young and very, very old. No one can take you through that looking glass better than Scotland's Tannahill Weavers, a spritely troupe playing traditional pipes, flutes, fiddles and bazoukis more proficiently than just about anyone else around. The group provides a wee bit o' fun tonight at 8, as guests of the Swallow Hill Music Association, at Teikyo Loretto Heights Theatre, 3001 S. Federal Blvd. To purchase tickets, $13 ($11 members), call 777-1003.

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