While the Internet has given us many things we could probably have lived without, it delivers plenty of good as well—this site being one of them, of course. But what I’m talking about today is the proliferation of short horror films you can easily find online.
One of the hardest things for those who followed John Carpenter in adding to the Halloween movie franchise to get right has been the mask worn by Michael Myers. Nothing has matched (or even come close to matching) the soul-chilling look of that first mask, the now-famously-modified William Shatner hood that Carpenter used to such great effect.
But, man, if you thought the filmmakers have had a tough time nailing down that iconic look, wait ’till you see some of the misguided attempts from merchandisers.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a bona fide Halloween classic. But what if it was a horror movie?
Back in 2011, the folks at Funny or Die created a trailer that re-imagined the gentle Charles Schultz masterpiece as a gritty horror flick called Blockhead’s Revenge.
Art is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash….you get the idea. Different people see things differently, and few things have as big a dividing line as art…except maybe Halloween. Combine the two and you’re likely to draw some severely conflicting opinions about your work.
There are many things that are integral to Halloween: jack o’ lanterns, ghost stories, Michael Myers and the Great Pumpkin all come to mind. Also, the annual celebration/parodying/lampooning of horror that is the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of “The Simpsons.”
Ah, the ’80s, when heavy metal music was rotting our brains, and Satanic messages were buried in records, just waiting for some poor schmuck to play the album backwards and succumb to its demonic temptations.
Halloween is mostly concerned with made-up horrors—a time to celebrate “safe” scares. However, a CNN article I stumbled across served as a stark reminder that, sometimes, real-life horror intrudes on even the most innocent of occasions.
When I’m writing about Halloween, eventually I’m going to get around to writing about Halloween. While I have a lot of affection for the franchise as a whole—and yes, that includes Rob Zombie’s two entries—my absolute favorite is the original John Carpenter classic.
From Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree:
They rounded the far side of the house and stopped. For there was the Tree. And it was such a tree as they had never seen in all their lives.
It stood in the middle of the vast yard behind the terribly strange house. And this tree rose up some one hundred feet in the air, taller than the high roofs and full and round and well branched and covered all over with rich assortments of red and brown and yellow autumn leaves.
“But,” whispered Tom, “oh look. What’s up in that tree?” For the Tree was hung with a variety of pumpkins of every shape and size and a number of tints of hues of smoky yellow or bright orange.
“A pumpkin tree,” someone said. “No,” said Tom. The wind blew among the high branches and tossed their bright burdens, softly. “A Halloween Tree,” said Tom.
And he was right.
What better time for urban legends—those unproveable, often unbelievable tales that get passed from generation to generation, surviving despite their inherent absurdity—than Halloween?
People spend a lot of money these days to put together scary Halloween costumes. From deluxe masks to professional-grade makeup to screen-ready clothing, it’s easy to drop a bundle if you really want to impress the people at your office costume contest or neighborhood block party.
Back in the day, though, costumes were usually homemade, often assembled with little know-how and not much in the way of supplies. And the effect, in many instances, was far scarier than anything you can buy off the rack today.
Plastic skulls. Ceramic skulls. Candle holder skulls. Skulls that talk. Skulls that glow when you plug ’em in. Right now, you can find just about any kind of skull you want to add to your Halloween decorations.
I think it’s safe to say that the people coming to this site every day to read 0ur stuff (and thanks to all of you for doing so) love Halloween. But, uh, not everybody does.
Edgar Allan Poe is one of the first masters of horror, and, in my opinion, “The Raven” is his masterpiece; for years, it has been captivating and haunting readers with its sense of loss, unease, and mounting dread.
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