Let’s cap off Horror Blogger All-Stars week with Ryne Barber. He’s been writing his blog, The Moon Is A Dead World, since 2008. That’s, like, 23 or something like that in blog years. One of my favorite things about Ryne is that he reviews books as well as movies. You don’t see a lot of book reviews on horror blogs. Lots of movies, but literary horror isn’t as well represented. I dig that. I’ve written for him before, both in the last edition of Viewer Vomit and in last year’s Halloween 15. “What is Halloween 15?” you ask. Well, throughout October, Ryne picks 15 movies and 15 bloggers to review them. He then presents the reviews side by side with his, so you’re in luck if you want a second opinion. Last Halloween 15 I reviewed Perkins 14. This year I’m reviewing… well, you’ll just have to wait and see. Alright Ryne, you know the question…
“It’s a windy night after elementary school, the gusts blowing the crackling leaves across my driveway and shaking the cold electric wires. My dad turns the Halloween lights on outside, because in New York on Halloween night it’s already dark by five o’clock. It adds an ambience to the night that I enjoy, with the twinkles of orange and purple lights dancing across the jack-o-lanterns by my doorstep.
I’m getting ready to go out as Frankenstein; it’s a soft foam mask of green that straps to the back of my head. My mom adds bolts to the sides of my neck, and I clump around in my dad’s giant work boots, my feet swimming inside them even with the shoelaces pulled tight. That’s how Halloween is, though - getting dressed up in something that might not fit you on any other day. Whether it be shoes that are too big or a scary mask that belies your otherwise complacent visage, Halloween offers you the opportunity to change into something you want to be, and it only comes one night a year.
After getting dressed in the dark, the rest of that night is lost in my brain. And why, out of all the memories that I could have remembered about that day, do I decide to keep getting dressed in costume so readily available? Who knows - it’s a mystery, but one I don’t want to solve, because Halloween is all about secrets with no answers.
There are other memories too - of rolling down my backyard hill in the days before Halloween with a scary mask over my face to create a more terrifying experience, of playing tag in the dark with my next-door neighbors and telling spooky stories in the night, of watching those corny videos of “safe trick-or-treating” in school on an old malfunctioning projector. They’re all so benign, and yet they make up the whole reason why I love Halloween so much.
It’s difficult to put into words the feelings of nostalgia that I get when I think of something so simple as biting into a Halloween Oreo with a Halloween placemat underneath me to catch the spilled milk. It gives me a thrill, sure, but maybe for you that image evokes nothing of the holiday. That’s what’s so interesting about memories - even the simplest, the most boring, can sometimes spark a flash of pleasure that others wouldn’t feel.
My childhood memories of Halloween are just as scattered as earlier memories of other moments. But for this holiday, they all seem to blend together into one jumbled mass of memories that make it seem like they all happened on one epic Halloween night. Though this means that I can’t necessarily pick out all of the events of a specific Halloween, I kind of like it anyway! There’s something exciting about remembering all Halloweens packed into one.
Even then, I have so many disconnected memories of past Halloweens that I could spend hours documenting them for you. I remember getting so excited for Halloween because I could come home from school and catch a horror movie marathon every night on the USA Channel (this was before Netflix, when I could just watch them whenever I wanted). Even more recent memories, like my mother bringing me a couple boxes of Frankenberry and Booberry in college, fill me with Halloweenie joy.
How about watching The Haunted Mask on a cool October night, then taking a walk to my local cemetery as the leaves crunch underfoot? Or simply getting excited that my mom put my sandwich in a Halloween baggie for lunch at school? Everything about my memories is so disjointed that distant past and near-past merge together to form an uber-cool Halloween.
But one thing I know is that Halloween has meant everything to me from my childhood until now, and there’s not just one thing about the holiday that makes it special. It’s everything, from past to present to even looking forward to the future, that keeps me so connected to the holiday, even when my memories are a disconnected mess like a giant tangle of electrical cords. A love of Halloween isn’t made in one night; it might be a specific night that really turns you on to the holiday, but it’s the whole compilation of Halloweens (in my case, 24) that forges you into the monstrous maniac that you are. I have my parents, my environment, and my fellow horror lovers to thank for that.
Enjoy your Halloween this year, folks, and here’s hoping you hold onto specific moments and combine them with past ones to make a giant web of Halloweenie Memories.”