Updated Oct. 24
Since the coronavirus pandemic descended upon the world like a horror movie come to life, bars and restaurants have been forced to adapt in new and creative ways. Rather than cancel its traditional Halloween party, The Mai-Kai in Fort Laudedale reached back into the past for inspiration.
True to its roots as a mid-century icon, the historic Polynesian restaurant will reanimate its parking lot as a drive-in monster movie theater, complete with a big screen showing an infamous 1960s-era horror film. The 12th annual Hulaween promises to be one of most devilishly distinctive holiday events to grace the South Florida calendar.
*** Friday, Oct. 30 – Hulaween Drive-In Movie at The Mai-Kai featuring a screening of Beast of Blood, costume contest and prizes, food and drink specials, plus more. Times: Event starts at 6:30, movie at 8 p.m. Cost: $30 per vehicle. Sponsored by Appleton Rum and Drive-In-Sanity Films.
UPDATE: This event is sold out! | Facebook event
The 63-year-old restaurant and its Molokai lounge have been open with limited capacity and social distancing since early June, following an extended closure due to the pandemic. And while business is slowly returning to normal, management decided that the only way Hulaween could reawaken in 2020 was to think outside the box.
A relationship with Drive-in Sanity Films owner David Sehring and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival led The Mai-Kai’s longtime events guru, Pia Dahlquist, to propose something new and exciting.
This socially-distanced drive-in theater event, complete with a kitschy B-movie, is sure to please anyone seeking a safe but scary thrill for Halloween. Vehicles will fill most of The Mai-Kai’s expansive back lot, but parking will be staggered and spaced out to allow a comfortable viewing experience. The film festival will provide a 33-foot screen along with staffing and technical assistance that will include streaming the movie soundtrack (along with a special pre-movie block of music videos) to the FM radio airwaves.
An extensive menu of food and adult beverages will be available from The Mai-Kai’s takeout menu for Hulaween guests. Pre-ordering is suggested to avoid a wait. Your order will be delivered to your car window when you arrive. There will also be a small outside bar with special offerings. The Molokai bar and restaurant will be open as usual, so popping into The Molokai is always an option, especially during happy hour (5-7 p.m.).
Mai-Kai takeout menus: Food | Tropical drinks | Wine
The Atomic Grog: Related blog posts
* The Mai-Kai re-releases signature rum, plus new glassware and spirits menu
* Cocktail quarts join gallons as The Mai-Kai expands takeout menu
* Support Tiki bars now: Visit their online stores, contribute to fundraisers
The wild and wacky costume contest is always a Hulaween hallmark, and 2020 will be no exception. Costumed guests will be able to responsibly join in on the fun, and winners will receive prizes provided by sponsors. These will include a Mai-Kai gift certificate, a bottle of Appleton Rum, a Tiki swag bag from The Hukilau, and a Beast of Blood special edition Tiki mug created by noted artist Thor. The contest will take place immediately following the movie. Contestants must register when they arrive.
With parking limited due to distancing measures, spaces sold out a week after going on sale. Dahlquist, The Mai-Kai’s director of public relations, also notes that larger vehicles, including SUVs and trucks, will be parked in the rear or to the side to ensure clear sightlines for everyone.
There will be enough space for guests to bring folding chairs to sit next to their vehicles. The event is billed as rain or shine (no refunds). All vehicles must be parked by 7:45 p.m., and prime spots are first-come, first-served.
Understandably, there will be no rockin’ live band this year to get the costumed crowd dancing. But you’ll be able to watch videos of toe-tapping Halloween tunes by Mai-Kai favorites Slip and the Spinouts plus a host of other clips programmed by The Atomic Grog, streaming on the big screen for 90 minutes prior to the movie.
The Mai-Kai has announced a lineup of themed Hulaween cocktails, available not only at the event but all month long: Blood Island Green Potion #2 (featuring Appleton 8-year-old rum and a floater of hibiscus-infused red rum), Black Magic #2 – The Witches Brew (classic recipe enhanced with chai coffee and Lemon Hart 151 rum), Black Colada (featuring Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum), and Death by Chocolate Martini (featuring 360 Double Chocolate Vodka).
View this post on Instagram
Hulaween Cocktails! Celebrate Hulaween all month long with our spooky holiday inspired cocktails that are sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Don’t be afraid of the dark. Available until November 1st Black Colada ~ Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum is a darker, bolder spiced rum and 94 proof Death by Chocolate Martini ~ A delicious chocolate overload, featuring Dorda Double Chocolate Liqueur and 360 Double Chocolate Vodka Blood Island Green Potion #2 ~ A tart and potent green colored potion featuring Appleton 8 Year Rum with a floater of hibiscus-infused red rum Black Magic #2 The Witches Brew ~ We have enhanced our traditional magical blend with a subtle infusion of Chai coffee and an evil dose of Lemon Hart 151 rum #hulaween2020 #hulaweencocktails #maikai #maikairestaurant #tikibar #fortlauderdale #southflorida
Guests at The Mai-Kai, whether they’re inside the restaurant or outside celebrating Hulaween, are expected to follow all state and local coronavirus guidelines. Unless seated with their party, they should wear masks and/or practice social distancing at all times. And, as always, please drink responsibly.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Beast of Blood (1970) is rated PG and includes brief nudity and violence. The film and its prequels and sequels were made in the Philippines for the U.S. drive-in market. The plot involves a mad scientist who creates a monster, but after its head is cut off he keeps it alive in a serum he has invented.
This year will not be the first appearance of Beast of Blood and Drive-In Sanity Films at Hulaween. In 2018, Sehring provided some ghoulish touches to the event while promoting the Severin Films Blu-ray release of The Blood Island Collection, a boxed set of B-movie horror films. Prizes and giveaways included Beast of Blood swizzle sticks from Royer (which are returning this year), T-shirts, and official Beast masks. There was even a special cocktail, The Mad Doctor’s Green Blood Potion.
According to IMDb, The Blood Island films “are iconic as the original drive-in grindcore B-Movie Monster archetypes,” influencing generations of horror filmmakers. Producer/promoter Sehring, who is credited with reviving these classics, has said he plans to produce a series of low-budget, serialized features made exclusively for the drive-in and revival market. He said he hopes to “embody the fun and feel of the original films” and their notorious marketing campaigns.
The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, one of Broward County’s major cultural institutions, has produced its annual showcase of independent films since 1986. It also operates two popular art-house theaters in the area. The 35th annual festival is scheduled for Nov. 5-22 with a “hybrid format” in a variety of venues to accommodate social distancing. These include some traditional theaters, drive-in movies, a “boat-in” event, dinner-and-a-movie at local restaurants, plus virtual screenings and online events.
Appleton Estate Rum is an iconic brand from Jamaica that is featured heavily on The Mai-Kai’s rum and cocktail menus. As a longtime sponsor, Appleton has always ensured that Hulaween guests enjoy the festivities with free rum and cocktail samples, bottles of the latest delicious expressions for contest winners, plus other support.
Previous coverage: What we learned at Appleton master blender Joy Spence’s rum tasting
The Hulaween 2020 poster is the handiwork of Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli, artist and owner of Altered State Tattoo in Boynton Beach. Signed copies will be available to Hulaween guests, with possible future sales in The Mai-Kai’s gift shop, aka the Trading Post.
Also available exclusively to Hulaween attendees before the general public: The Beast of Blood mug designed by Thor and produced by TikiBauer Pottery of California. Ticket-holders received an email link giving them early access to the 60 pieces of art, which are actually two mugs in one.
The Beast of Blood Tiki mug stands 8 inches tall when stacked, but it can be separated into a disembodied head and torso, in keeping with the movie’s ghoulish plot. The head will hold around 4 ounces, while the body can contain 8 ounces of a deadly cocktail. These Tiki collectibles sold out in a matter of days.
Hulaween has been held annually in The Molokai bar since 2009, featuring live bands and a fun and festive atmosphere that has made it a Halloween staple in South Florida. While 2020 will take a slight detour, it promises to be a unique experience with the same retro Tiki vibe and lighthearted attitude that’s much-needed in today’s dark and depressing times. As usual, The Mai-Kai keeps us sane with classic escapism at its best.
2020 media coverage
* Beast of Blood celebrates 50th anniversary with killer Tiki mug + Florida drive-in screening
* Beast of Blood drive-in screening at Fort Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai restaurant includes new Tiki mug
The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, on the west side between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. For more information on Hulaween, call (954) 646-8975 or email email@example.com. For general reservations and info, call (954) 563-3272.
* Official site | Trading Post | Twitter
* Facebook: Official page | Friends of The Mai-Kai group
* Instagram: Restaurant | The Molokai bar | Trading Post
* Mai-Kai history: Book and official website | Facebook page
* Google Maps: Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D
Recent press coverage
* The Mai-Kai: Keeping the Rum Flowing (Fort Lauderdale Magazine)
The living dead came to party at The Mai-Kai’s Hulaween 2019 luau
After 10 years, we know what to expect from The Mai-Kai’s infamous Hulaween party: Kooky costumes, rockin’ tunes and many cocktails consumed in The Molokai bar. The 2019 bash lived up to those standards.
>>> Full recap and photo gallery
More Hulaween recaps, photos
* 2018: Back from the Dead: Hulaween turns 10 with another ghoulish gathering
* 2017: Monstrous mayhem at the ninth annual Hulaween party
* 2016: A hauntingly good time at The Mai-Kai’s 8th annual Hulaween party
* 2015: The undead get lively at The Mai-Kai’s seventh annual Hulaween
* 2014: A ghastly good time at The Mai-Kai’s sixth annual Hulaween party
* 2013: Partygoers raise hell at The Mai-Kai’s fifth annual Hulaween
* 2012: Hulaween was hoppin’ all night at The Mai-Kai
* See all the past Hulaween coverage
More photos on Facebook: 2011 | 2010 | 2009
Eerie and evil tunes for your Halloween shindig
Skinny Jimmy Stingray gives us his picks for the most sinister surf songs. “Nothing echoes quite as ghoulishly as the sound of a reverb-soaked electric guitar.”
>>> AUDIO/VIDEO: See and hear Jimmy’s top five
More on The Atomic Grog
The Mai-Kai re-releases signature rum, plus new glassware and spirits menu
The Fort Lauderdale restaurant hosts virtual seminar with The Real McCoy Rum creator Bailey Pryor. Also check out our 12-year-old rum showdown plus info on the summer cocktail menu.
* Cocktail quarts join gallons as The Mai-Kai expands takeout menu
Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
Hurricane Hayward reviews and rates the historic restaurant’s current and past tropical drinks, plus reveals a treasure trove of ancestor and exclusive tribute recipes.
>>> A DEEP DIVE INTO THE COCKTAILS OF THE MAI-KAI
>>> List of all 100+ recipes
UPDATED: The Tiki Times: Exclusive 2020 events guide
The Tiki Times calendar features live online meet-ups, interviews and happy hours, plus benefits helping those in need.