I’m Beginning To Hate Hallowe’en

horror-clown

I’m beginning to hate Hallowe’en.  Why?  Let me count the ways.  But first, a little background.  I remember when Hallowe’en was the second biggest celebration of the year – right behind Christmas.  (St. Paddy’s Day doesn’t count ‘cause — it’s “adults only,” and Thanksgiving and Easter are just too family/family/best behaviour type of occasions.)  No, Christmas and Hallowe’en used to be kick-up-your-heels holidays when kids could be kids and adults could be kids, too.  In short — they were fun.  Unfortunately, these days, a sizeable section of our society has declared war on fun — and Hallowe’en is one of the casualties.  The irony is so thick you have to cut it with an axe.  Here are a few examples.

1 – For weeks before October 31st there’s nothing but wall-to-wall butchery on TV.  Folks! Hallowe’en is not the German word for slaughter.  The last night of October was never about mass murder, serial killers or even the occasional homicide.  It’s All Hallows’ Eve, for God’s sake, and it started out as a religious holiday.

2 – Somehow, a 10-year-old girl dressed up as Pocahontas is offensive, but take that same kid, stick a rubber cleaver in her head (a la The Walking Dead) cover her in red dye and plastic gore and nobody bats an eyeball – even though she’s missing one.

3 – In some places, teenagers are forbidden by law from Trick or Treating.  Forbidden by law?  What are you supposed to do — check ID?  Meanwhile, I’ve had parents push their kids up to the door in strollers.  The little buggers have no clue where they are or why, and chances are good they’re not even eating solid food yet.  So, who’s getting that Mars Bar™, Dad?

4 – I don’t care what your political persuasion is, making a child wear a Trump mask is abuse.

5 – And putting a toddler in a Handmaid’s costume is just creepy.

6 – Giving out sensible treats.  Seriously?  Gluten-free, sugar free, sodium free, oak, flax and quinoa bars!  People, lighten up!  It’s not as if 10 grams of sugar, chocolate, wax and artificial flavouring is going to kill anybody.

And finally:

7 – If you insist on having an “agenda” on Hallowe’en and being a politically-correct pain in the ass about it, why not just turn off your lights, turn on your television and spend the evening watching Jason, Krueger (or whatever they’re calling him this year) dismember a battalion of half-naked, nubile young ladies.  That’s the Hallowe’en you’ve created – why not enjoy it?   It would certainly give the rest of us a chance to go back to having a little fun on October 31st.

The True Meaning Of Halloween

halloweenNobody’s afraid of the dark; we’re afraid of what’s in the dark.  It’s a primitive instinct that goes back to a time when getting eaten alive was part of the human experience.  We are all naturally apprehensive about what we can’t see coming, because at one time, our survival as a species depended on it.  These days, of course, most of us no longer even know what the dark looks like.  (Our technology has put a stop to that.)  But the instinct remains — a combination of tense anticipation followed by an unholy rush of adrenaline.  And for some weird reason — even psychologists can’t figure out why — we have an uncontrollable need to feed it.

Think about it.

The vast majority of horror movies have little or no artistic value, but they are a gabillion dollar industry.  Why?  Because they scare the bejesus out of us.  And it’s not as if we don’t know what’s coming: at some point, some big ugly something is going to jump out at us — guaranteed.  After all, horror movies haven’t changed that much since Prana Film ripped off Bram Stoker to produce Nosferatu in 1922.  The truth is we cozy up on the sofa with our popcorn, our Pepsi™ and Friday the 13t, Parts 1 through 37 because we’re actively searching for that shot of adrenaline.

This is the place Halloween comes from.  It’s part of our intrinsic desire to feel fear.  It reminds us that, despite our manicured lawns, painted fences and bold-as-day streetlights, there are still things lurking in the shadows.  And it doesn’t matter that it’s only some kid in a Walmart Batman costume or his parents as Sexy Bo Peep and her single, sorry-lookin’ sheep.  The point is, there might be something else out there.  Something we don’t see.  Something that doesn’t sleep.  Something whose cold, bony subliminal fingers can reach out from the night and caress the beating flesh of our primeval heart.  Something … that might still be hungry.

We live in a society that works overtime trying to eliminate risk — from antibacterial soaps, sprays and potions to airbags in our automobiles.  Ironically, however, there is a place, deep in our psychological DNA, that defies the marvels of modern science and social engineering.  It draws its power from the pictograph caves of a world lit only by fire, where long macabre shadows dance up the walls.  Where the night outside is solid black and breathing.  We know this place.  It’s part of our cultural memory.  We were born there.  And Halloween is an annual opportunity to keep that world alive.

How To Write A Horror Movie – 2015

horror movieHallowe’en is nearly upon us, so, from here ’til breakfast on November 1st, we’re up to our elbows in the splattering blood of the Horror Movie.  Personally, I don’t watch horror movies.  I’ve had the hell scared out of me for real, a couple of times, and I’m in no great hurry to have that sickening adrenaline rush artificially induced.  However, I’m clearly in the minority: horror movies are a multi-billion dollar business.

So why not cash in?

Here’s a simple guide that will help you write your own horror movie, and depending on how ambitious you are, take you to the very gates of Horror Movie Heaven: The Slasher Franchise.

SPOILER ALERT (If you watch Horror Movies for the storyline, stop reading right now.)

Character — All Horror movies are based on one single character: the half-naked young woman.  Ideally, you need one Alpha female and a couple of expendable friends.  (We’ll call them The Skanks.)  Don’t sweat the details on the The Skanks — they don’t need anything beyond abnormal cleavage and interesting underwear.  They’re just there to flash a lot of skin, do a little screaming and get butchered early on, to show that the villain/monster/psycho is serious.  The Alpha female, on the other hand, does need some character development — perhaps a name or a hairstyle.
You also need an Alpha male (normally a boyfriend.)  He comes with his own set of male friends — a larger, stronger man and an idiot.  The idiot is there to do stupid stuff that invariably attracts the villain/monster/psycho.  The larger, stronger friend is there to get hacked up somewhere around halftime to prove that the villain/monster/psycho is unstoppable.  And the Alpha male is there to … uh … actually, the Alpha male doesn’t exactly have a job — but again, don’t sweat the details.  The Alpha male should have a name, however, so the Alpha female can scream it on occasion.
Finally, you need a villain/monster/psycho.  This guy REALLY doesn’t matter; all he needs to be is somewhat grotesque and have a steady supply of sharp and/or pointy things to stick into people.

Setting — Someplace so dark and isolated that nobody in their right mind would even think about going there.

Plot — The only plot device in any Horror Movie is everybody in the movie (except the villain/monster/psycho) has to be about as dumb as a box of wet hammers.  First, when confronted by a dark, rambling mansion, deserted campsite, scary island or what-have-you, the characters must ignore common sense completely (stuff like, there’s safety in numbers) and split up and go exploring.  Get out the body bags!  Next, as they creep around dark alleys, hallways, basements, attics or derelict buildings, they must never turn on the lights nor carry anything brighter than a disposable cigarette lighter.  Toe tags, anyone?  And finally, even in the heat of battle, the characters must never arm themselves with anything more dangerous than a toothbrush (which — in a land as gun crazy as America — is a good trick.)  In short, they should show all the survival instincts of a lemming.
Meanwhile, the villain/monster/psycho should be equipped with a variety of hacking, stabbing and slashing devices.  He should be able to wield these ingenious weapons with the stealth and dexterity of a ninja; butchering everything in sight until only the Alpha female and (maybe) the Alpha male remain in one piece.  Then, simply shuffle the villain/monster/psycho off into the darkness, and it’s “roll credits” and you’re outta there!

So there you have it.  All you need to do is write it up.  Or, you can forget the whole thing and go buy some old Archie Comics, piece together a couple of their adventures, add a villain/monster/psycho to massacre a few of them, and you’re halfway to Hollywood.