If you are reading this piece, it hopefully means that you will be joining us for this year’s Halloween Horrors series as either a reader or possibly a contributor. I’m very pleased to announce that almost every contributor from last year will be joining us again this year, as well as (currently) 2 new contributors.
I’m beyond thrilled with the response this has been getting, especially the numerous people that have expressed interest, but have not yet “claimed” a project. Their biggest concern has generally been that they were unsure just what they were supposed to do. I attribute this to my not considering that the FB page/site had gained new readers.
I felt that the best way to answer their questions was to re-post the entries from last year’s series. Each entry was significantly different from the next, each offering a unique look at the season and the horror viewing traditions that each of us tend to have. Together, they provided a spectrum of reasons why the Halloween season, and the busload of horror movie viewing that customarily goes along with it, is so special to so many of us.
Unfortunately, I soon discovered that all of previous year’s entries had vanished from the site. Long story short, I probably did something stupid. To further kick me in the balls while I was already down, the pictures used for those posts were still accessible, as were the “keywords”. Blessed I must be, for some of these folks still had the original emails from when they had sent them in. I honestly can not thank each of them enough.
The 1st entry we will be re-posting comes from Dr. Jose of Camera Viscera. I chose to re-post this piece first for 2 reasons. 1. It fully captures what I mean when I say to think “outside the box” of just a normal movie review. 2. It was the 1st piece sent back to me.
Well, enough from me. Let’s give the ball to Dr. J!
As a monotoned and dandruff-caked Ally Sheedy once proclaimed, “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
Perhaps that’s why we nostalgists and retro-ists live in a bygone era and oft harken back to the days of yore — because we want to live forever. If we force ourselves only to exist in the time when we were young and energetic and when life was full of possibility, then perhaps we won’t rot like that pumpkin on the neighbors porch in late November.
In a way, Ally was right. But it’s not that your heart dies (if there’s anything we lovers of the antiquated have, it’s plenty of heart); it’s that time dies. Summer isn’t the same when you’re 30 as it was when you were 8 because you don’t have the same amount of time as you did back then. There were no jobs, no bills, no politics, no love interests, no kids, and — as I type this on a computer — no internet to distract us back then. Aside from that miserable 9-month distraction known as ‘school’, we had utter freedom. From the second we woke up to the time we went to bed, all we had was time. Maybe that’s why holidays feel different now than they did then. They aren’t any worse now, just different. With the endless responsibilities we have, our focus is different.
I try to make the most out of my Halloweens now, and when it really comes down to it they’re probably as good as the Halloweens of my youth, but for entirely different reasons (mainly: alcohol.) If I could somehow combine the naïve, wide-eyed enjoyment of those early Halloweens with the booze-fueled ones I currently enjoy, that would be my Shangri-la, my Elysian Fields. And guess what? I can do just that with this write-up!
I’ll stifle my prattling on about the past for now and get to the point of this whole thing: here now is a breakdown of what my perfect Halloween would be if time, money, responsibilities, and reality didn’t apply!
8:30AM – Wake up to the sound of rain pitter-pattering against the bedroom window. The window is open slightly, so I can feel the crisp air and smell the damp earth. I am buried under mounds of blankets and consider never leaving bed. I peek through a slit eyelid and see that it’s super overcast outside. Off to a perfect start.
9:00AM – I’m up and about. I put on the rainy day stay-at-home uniform: pajama pants and hoodie. I drag my massive blanket to the couch. I fire up some sort of seasonal pumpkin-scented candle on the table. I make breakfast: coffee and a giant bowl of Count Chocula. I watch Halloween 4 and Beetlejuice to kill the next 3 hours and put me in a Halloween state of mind. For added nostalgic effect, I watch them on VHS. I manage to finish the whole box of cereal.
NOON – The rain has subsided. I get a call from a friend; I’m told of a party — a costume party, naturally — happening at some vague time later tonight. Sounds good, but I need something to wear. I keep my hoodie on, throw on pants, go outside — no rain — so I hop on my bike. I pedal over to a grocery store (Kroger, naturally) to check out their seasonal aisle for a cheapo costume. I decide to settle on a simple, rubber vampire mask. Before I leave, I spend some time by the magazine stand. For some reason they only carry MAD Magazine, Cracked Magazine, Fangoria, and The Punisher War Zone, and they’re all from the early-’90s (hey man, it’s my fantasy.) I leave the store, unlock my bike, and — without anywhere to put it but my head — slap on the mask, because why not? In this dream sequence, it’s not dangerous or illegal (plus it makes me look like some deranged badass.)
12:45PM – I have the whole afternoon open, so I bike around the neighborhood. I explore the dead ends, the nooks and crannies. The trees are orange and yellow and red, and the wet streets are polka-dotted with the fallen leaves. It’s still crisp outside, it even smells cold. I bike by the little corner shops and every school I went to. I bike through the little town square, near the train tracks. I bike alongside the woods for awhile. At certain points, it feels like I’m the only person in the town.
3:00PM – I decide to stop for a quick coffee to warm me up. I park and head into a tiny local coffeeshop. They’ve got hot cider, so I opt for that. They also have cider donuts, coated in granulated sugar, so I grab a few of those. I sit by the window and watch the people outside. Sun’s high now, but only has a few hours to burn. People walk by, chatting. Some are lugging pumpkins, others are with children fresh from school, and are heading home to make costumes or are going to the store to buy them.
3:30PM – A friend — different from the first one — calls me and asks if I wanna come over and carve pumpkins with him and his family. I have a few hours to kill, so I head over. By the time I get there they’re already wrist-deep in the pumpkin and their kid has managed to get the innards snot all over the table. My buddy offers me a beer; I open their fridge and it’s stocked with a variety of fall beers! Wahoo! I open one and help them scoop seeds. Once finished, we pop them in the oven.
4:30PM – We relax on the couch while the seeds bake. Their kid is excited to show me his costume, a superhero get-up. Some horror movie marathon plays on the T.V. in the background. Eventually, it starts to get dark out — but not completely dark. It’s that time of evening when the navy blue, the orange, the pink, and the lavender are melding in the sky. Porch lights are going on, jack-o-lanterns with tealight candles are being put out on the stoops, the street lights flicker to life. The seeds are done.
6:30PM – It’s almost time for my friends to take their kid trick-or-treating, and it’s almost time for my other friend’s party. I hop back on the trusty bike, put the vamp mask back on, and head across town to the apartment where the party is going on. On the way I pass multiple groups of kids going trick-or-treating. Huddled masses and single file lines, heading door to door. Some led by parents, some old enough to venture on their own for the first time. Ghosts, witches, monsters, aliens, robots. I spot kids tossing toilet paper in trees. Did one of them just throw an egg at me? I pedal faster and the cold wind really bites at my eyeholes and knuckles.
7:00PM – I show up in need of warmth and desperate for an alcoholic beverage. The party has a decent turnout. All my friends are there! And again, the fridge is stocked with high-end seasonal beers. And there’s even a punch bowl of cider and grain alcohol! What a fantasy this is. Everyone is dressed up, there are old horror movies playing on the living room T.V. and hokey Monster Mash-style music is coming from a nearby stereo. People think I’m supposed to be Kurt Cobain for some reason, maybe it’s because of my red flannel shirt and Chuck Taylor high tops? After a few beers and thoroughly defrosting, we decide to head to the roof.
9:00PM – It’s not too cold up on the roof as we look over the twinkling lights of the little town. I am the perfect amount of intoxicated. Someone mentions they’re showing A Nightmare on Elm Street at one of the revival movie theaters in town in an hour. Suddenly I have a new plan: go to the movies. I have a few more beers and then announce I’m heading to the movie. A few friends want to join. They have a car, but I decide to bike it.
10:00PM – Me and my friends are now in the theater, dead center — perfect seats. It’s pretty empty, only a few patrons scattered throughout the big room in this classic, vintage theater. We had enough foresight to sneak in a six-pack of (you guessed it) seasonal beer. The good stuff, too. Gotta end the night on a high note. We pretend to cough or clear our throat to mask the “chk-pssh!” sound every time one of us opens a beer. With nowhere to put the empties, we just carefully place them on the floor near our feet. The “clink!” of glass bottle meeting cement floor is distinct and noticeable. After awhile, we are snickering and drunkenly mumbling about Freddy Krueger. And then it happens: one of us accidentally kicks over one of the empties. It makes a loud “CLACK” as it falls onto to its side. But it’s not over. Slowly it starts to roll down the slope of the theater floor towards the screen. Wub-wub-wub-wub, the sound of each revolution as it gains speed. We hear a faint ‘thud’ as it finally comes to rest against the base of the screen. We almost die from trying to contain our laughter.
MIDNIGHT – The movie is over and we’re shuffling out into the brisk night. We hug and laugh. They leave. I get on the bike and head home. The town is dead again. The trick-or-treaters are home in theirs beds, stomachs full of candy. Porch lights are off. The occasional lit-up jack-o-lantern blurs by. I finally reach my place. It’s warm. I microwave day-old pizza and crack open one final beer. I pop in Creepshow, wrap up in blankets, and plop down on the couch. Can’t think of a better way to have spent the final day of October.
And that’s my perfect Halloween.
Follow the good DR. at http://www.cameraviscera.com