Just that lone word is enough to evoke excitement in me. It is one of my favorite holidays, one that was joyfully celebrated in my childhood. It was an agonizing decision, the costume I wanted to wear. Who did I want to be this year? At various times I have been Punky Brewster (much to my classmates’ confusion, and sadly my teacher’s as well), a Punk Rocker, a Greek Goddess, a Rag Doll (I stitched the leggings made of old socks together myself), a Wicked Witch (complete with a foam mask that my father painted and glued to my face) and last year I wore face decals inspired by Dia de Muertos. I love dressing up, it makes me feel like a child again and I get excited seeing the neighborhood children’s costumes when they come to our door for treats. It’s like reliving a cherished childhood memory annually.
My mother would drive us to friends’ and relatives’ houses so that we could receive contributions to our growing hoard of candy. Sometimes we would go trick-or-treating with cousins or friends, and we would admire each other’s guises, all of us teeming with excitement. Those dark and often chilly nights were fun and the rewards…well the rewards were very sweet.
Our candy would be gone through. Too often we heard stories of razor blades hidden in treats, or of pieces of chocolate injected with poison. After our treasure was declared safe, the trading began. There are some candies that I don’t care for but my brother of sister love, so I’d negotiate using some treat of mine to tempt them into giving me theirs. While this exchange happened on the living room floor, a movie would be playing on the TV.
And so began my love of horror movies, a love that I no doubt inherited since both of my parents love a good scary movie. My first horror movie? I can’t be sure which one it was, although I remember seeing Michael Jackson’s Thriller when I was very young and the zombies didn’t scare me as much as Michael Jackson’s yellow contact lenses did at the end of the video. I also remember having nightmares as a result of seeing Creepshow, and still “The Crate” scares me a little. Perhaps that is where my fear of basements sprung from, but of course Stephen King’s IT also gave me a reason to fear dark, damp places. It was a miniseries on TV when I was a child and I remember begging my parents to let me watch it. By the time I had worn them down; part two was on and I had missed the first half. I don’t think that there is anything quite as creepy as a clown.
One of my favorite things to listen too as a child was a Halloween soundtrack I played over and over again in my Walkman. It stirred my imagination, listening to the tour guide audibly transport me into a haunted castle. I can still hear the dead chant: “Give us blood to drink. Give us flesh to eat.”
As an adult, Halloween is different, although still exciting. Usually at the start of October my family and I bring out our caches of horror movies to watch. Our favorites vary depending on the person. One cannot stand “slasher movies” while another grows weary of “ghost movies”. I prefer many different types. I like good “B” horror movies, those that usually go straight to DVD without the pomp of a cinematic release. I Am Omega is an interesting combination of I Am Legend and Resident Evil about a zombie apocalypse and a man who believes he is the sole survivor of the event. Monster is a documentary style movie like Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project (both are favorites of mine) set in Japan. And I also enjoy those glossier movies that are exquisitely made, action packed horror survival movies, and good, old-fashioned creature flicks. I have discovered that I very much enjoyed Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in recent years. Through a dear friend of mine, I found that I like Them and The Strangers as well.
We decorate our house with creative, frenzied flair. Some are homemade, others store bought. We carve pumpkins, and the scarecrow, reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow is erected in the front yard. Candy is thoughtfully purchased and placed in holiday themed bags and nestled into a plastic cauldron for our visitors. These past several years, though, we haven’t had trick-or-treaters. Cars stream by our house, all heading toward town and the well-to-do district or the various events happening. There is the steady rush of traffic for fifteen-twenty minutes and then eerie silence. As the clock strikes 8, the exodus starts and the cars travel home, once more rending the air with the sounds of traffic. It is bittersweet. I enjoy the costumes I have seen in previous years, miss answering the door to hand out candy and hearing the enthusiastic “Trick or Treat!” However, the lack of visitors leaves us with a cauldron of candy to eat while indulging in a scary movie.
What are some of your favorite memories of Halloween?