Monday, October 22, 2012

What Halloween Means To Me Day 18: Stephen Biro


With the Halloween love-fest going on here, I figured we might need a devil's advocate.  A voice of contention.  Enter Stephen Biro.  Stephen is the head of Unearthed Films, who distributes some of the most bizarre, obscure, brilliant, controversial, and downright f**ked up movies to be found anywhere.  Go check them out HERE.  Stephen is also an author.  He recently put out his first book Hellucination, which is a memoir of his taking large amounts of hallucinogens, traveling to heaven and hell, and meeting God and Satan.  Unearthed Books is also about to unleash Masters of Taboo: Cannibalism, so keep an eye out for that tasty morsel.  I knew he would bring a unique perspective to the countdown, and he didn't let me down.  So Stephen, what does Halloween mean to you...

      “I was asked to write about what Halloween means to me. I’m sure The Son Of Celluloid was thinking that I was going to gush over the Holiday that so many of us in the horror industry enjoy and wait for all year long. It used to be exactly like that when I was six years old. I would go shopping with my dad for one of those terrible plastic facemasks with the rubber band stapled to it to hold it onto your face and the flimsy plastic raincoat with the Chinese stamp of some character,or even a logo of a TV series character; so, for one night, once a year, you can parade around pretending to be that (often lame) character from that old defunct TV show asking for candy from your neighbors… and getting it. The shock and surprise of finally getting home and dumping out all of that free candy.  Letting your parents inspect it for razorblades and LSD, then give it back to you. As a child, that three to five pounds of candy was like a gift from Heaven. Manna from the skies… and you just never wanted it to end.
      Those were different times. They were wonderful times, and little did I know back then that I was a walking billboard for Frankenberry Cereal. Yes, either at seven or eight years old, I chose to be Frankenberry, and that stamp on my plastic pajamas I so proudly walked around the neighborhood in had a box of Frankenberry as my super hero emblem. I didn’t know it at the time. I was innocent and I loved the cereal.  Dammit, I was going to be the strawberry flavored Frankenstein monster that was a part of a nutritious breakfast while stomping around the neighborhood; demanding everything that was never even close to a vitamin-fortified piece of red-dyed-funky-marshmallow or a stale, processed piece of wheat coated with sugar and passed off as part of my daily food group.
As I grew older, the girls began to dress sluttier and the parties became wilder and Halloween was good again. Once you pass the section of teenage-hood where you can’t bang on doors and demand sugar encrusted treats but you couldn’t go out and party yet - the years between fourteen and seventeen -  usually sucked.  Then the drugs, booze, and sluts took the place of candy consumption.  Then Halloween was good again.  Halloween began to take a turn in the early nineties and began to become fashionable, or should I really say, profitable? As a child, you may not notice that you’re a walking billboard for a cereal company.  But as you get older, you start to see it for what it is; a huge money cash grab that Americans were not only falling for, but were too stupid to realize. The adults were drawn into hosting adult costume parties.  We have parades, haunted houses, make up, costumes, designer jewels, and slut uniforms as far as the eyes can see. Sugar soaked dementia fills the coffers of the candy companies, who only work for that one-month a year where candy sales are thru the roof. There are specialty stores that only open once month a year to sell us rubber spiders, eyeball keychains, plastic wire zombies crawling out of the ground, fog machines, smoke machines, strobe lights, Halloween lights, fake fangs, fake hands, fake wounds, fake smiles, and all of the spooky stuff that we as a society are willing to buy in the name of fun, laughter, merriment and surprise.
      Don’t worry; I’ve fallen into the same pit as you.  Every year, the wife and me hold the ultimate Halloween party, complete with dead bodies, fog machines, and even lasers, strobes and dry ice. It’s easy to get caught up when the damn Chinese make everything and shove it down our throat in the sense that, if we don’t have fun, we don’t loosen up and pretend to be something we are not. Then, we’re failing and not as fun as we should be. Nobody wants to think they’re not fun. Everyone wants to let loose, dress up, drink, flirt and show the inner kid inside; but it’s all a ruse. It’s just a mass cash grab, playing with our emotions as human beings… and we don’t see it. We have been under the sway of big business since we were children, and even the older of us are still lurching ahead as zombies out of a George Romero movie towards the mall.
      The manipulation of mankind has been going on for centuries. Thank De Beers back in 1930’s and 40’s for manipulating society to buy a diamond ring to show that you love the woman you’re going to marry (and how much you spent depends on how much you love her).  In 1872, Julia Ward Howe called for women to join in support of disarmament and called it Mothers Day for Peace and Disarmament.  Then, in 1908, Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia turned it into a day to honor one's mother, which she promoted until it was taken over by Hallmark.  You know… the greeting card company. Commercialization of the holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become and spent all her inheritance, and the rest of her life, fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration. Valentines Day has been taken over. Hallmark and Godiva Chocolates make most of their money for the year from that month. Thanksgiving has been taken over by the NFL, Budweiser, and Frank Purdue.  Christmas… fucking Christmas is just a shove it down your throat expenditure that no one is safe from; spending too much money on their kids, wives and husbands, and everyone else around you. 4th of July? Fuck, back to the Chinese again with their fireworks and smoke bombs and sparklers. Don’t worry, this isn’t an anti-Chinese rant disguised as a Halloween rant, it’s just all the useless stuff we buy to celebrate holidays that are now shoved down our throats are starting to piss me off. And it’s not because I run a horror dvd label either.
      Halloween has never been a big seller for horror companies who release movies, because everyone and their mother release as much horror product into the septic pool I call the retail market that sales are the same. What I am bitching about is the wholesale destruction of a holiday that used to be fun. It was the last Holiday that suddenly began to become so commercialized that it makes me sick. Fifteen years ago, if you wanted a haunted house, you had to make it, props and all.  And if you had a strobe light, you were ahead of the game; especially if you had some sheets to turn into ghosts. Now you can buy inflatable cats as big as Ford trucks, Styrofoam gravestones, mechanical zombies, and even bubbling radioactive barrels with moaning, melting zombies pulling themselves out for a measly $250.00
      If a woman wants to dress like a sexy spider, there is a costume for that.  If someone wants to dress like an old man, there is a costume for that. If someone wants to dress up like a used tampon, there is a ready made, manufactured costume for that.   Toilet bowl, check, Hellboy, check. Hot sauce bottle, check.  Halloween used to be about ingenuity; making shit yourself, being proud of it, and wearing it several years in a row until someone puked on it and then… time to change the costume for next year. You don’t need to make anything, just buy it and set it up, stick your head in it or slip it on, and it’s made to break. When do you see anyone wear the same costume year after year?
      I long for the days when I could dress up as Frankenberry and parade around as a child, not knowing I was a walking billboard. A part of an ever growing system of checks and dollars, corporate strategies and manipulations that would always increase, taking away that wonder and innocence of youth that I try to relive and can never, ever put it back into the box it was once in.
      Now if you will excuse me, I have a two story inflatable cat and ten styro-foam gravestones I need to set up in the front yard.”

9 more days 'til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.  9 more days 'til Halloween.  Silver Shamrock.

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