My friend Melanie Leon returns for a second year of Halloween Horrors!! Okay, so the series had a different name last year, but you get the point.
Once again, Mel has chosen not to focus on a film, but instead provides us with a small piece of Halloweens past… Florida style. As this is a collection of memories from her own life, it can’t get much more personal. As I may have already said, these little reflections of our lives are really what this series is about. We all have our own reasons for enjoying the Halloween seasons, and each is just as important as the next.
As I think back through the years, I remember what made Halloween so exciting & special to me. How I couldn’t wait for the fall season to come upon us with fall school carnivals, the haunted houses that would open up around town, the make shift do-it-yourself gigs people would pull off. I just couldn’t wait for it all to begin.
One special memory was an extremely scary haunted house that was located in Floriland Mall. The line would wrap around the parking lot, but it was so worth the wait. Even as a kid, the adrenaline that one would feel as you entered the unknown would be hard to match, especially so the older you would get.
I would always try to talk my family into doing something for the neighborhood, as well as for the enjoyment of scaring the younger kids. A prop that was always a “good one” involved my grandmother using an old cedar chest as a coffin. She would lay down inside of it, our carport blocked out with black Visqueen and decked out with black lights, glow in the dark paints, spider webs, mannequin heads, and scary Halloween sounds playing on a tape recorder or off an old vinyl record on the record player. The trick or treaters would come up the drive and, with a scary “Rah”, out would reach my grandmother from the coffin, grabbing at the kids and scaring the living shit out of each and every one of them.
That would be the start of a great night filled with fun and excitement, as well as exhilarating and exhausting walks down block after block, gathering up all the candy we could get and sweating our asses off while breathing in our own hot breath through plastic masks held on by elastic strings. (At least, us Florida trick or treaters were sweating our asses off! ) We would then make it home to finish out the night sorting through our candy loot and watching the black and white Universal monster classics, always having to fix the tracking on the VHS player so we could get a good quality picture on the screen.
I also remember just being so impressed by the sets used in these films. They didn’t seem cheesy. They seemed eerie and plausible. The howl of the Wolf Man, the bite of Dracula (who I had a slight crush on, always fantasizing about being bit by him), or feeling like I just wanted to give Frankenstein’s monster a huge hug because he didn’t ask for this life.
The night would fade and the stomach would inevitably ache from all the candy. Another All Hallows’ Eve, with its black cats , bats, witches, candy corn , apple bobbing, haunted houses, and pumpkins galore would be put to rest for another year. Everyone would be depressed for a bit, till the excitement for Xmas would begin. Then the focus would turn to Santa, not Satan. LOL! I always thought the spelling was something to talk about, but that’s another subject. The point is I always look forward to this time of year. Halloween. The world of make-believe. The world of ” pure imagination ” …