Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Halloween Means To Me '13 Day 29: Edward Lee

After college, I was so burned out from reading tome after tome of pretentious academic film analysis that, and I hate to admit this, it was a couple of years before I read a book for pleasure again.  About the same time that I discovered horror punk and psychobilly (see yesterday’s post), I got the itch to read again.  I was talking to someone in some long defunct chatroom when I mentioned that I dug stuff by Clive Barker, David J Schow, Poppy Z Brite, and others that often fell under the banner of “splatterpunk.”  They told me that if I liked them, I absolutely had to check out Edward Lee.  I wish I knew who that person was so I could thank them profusely, because they introduced me to my favorite current horror author.  I picked up Flesh Gothic, was blown away, and began to read all of Lee’s work that I could get my hands on.  Admittedly, this was mainly his mass market stuff like The Chosen, The Backwoods, Creekers, and Monstrosity due to the fact that much of his oeuvre had been released in limited runs by small presses and fetched prices that were far too rich for my blood.  Eventually I managed to snag a copy of The Bighead, and the doors to the world of hardcore horror were flung open for me.  Actually, they were kicked off their hinges.  Since then I’ve rabidly consumed everything Lee that I can, and I’m truly excited to have him on the countdown.  So, Edward, what does Halloween mean to you?

German poster for The Black Abbot
”EARLIEST HALLOWEEN MEMORY: When I was about 4 years old, I somehow got to stay up late one Halloween and I watched this movie called THE BLACK ABBOT.  I think it had Klaus Kinski in it, and it’s about this murderer walking around in an old abbey, dressed in a black cloak and hood, stabbing people.  The image of that guy in the cloak haunted me for years.  Has anyone heard of this movie, or did I dream the whole thing? I remember a couple years later in first-grade art class, we’re supposed to fingerpaint something, so I paint this guy in a black hood, holding a bloody knife.  All the other kids paint flowers and trees and dogs and cats.  I paint the BLACK ABBOT.  How’s that for healthy formative imagery?    

FAVORITE HALLOWEEN MEMORY: That’s easy.  I was in eighth grade, Montgomery County, Maryland, circa...well, I won’t say the year, just that it’s when Johnson was running things. (No, not Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys, President Johnson).  Anyway, it’s Halloween, about 4:15 in the afternoon.  Like every eighth-grader back then, we’d all jump off the bus and run home fast as we could to catch the last ten minutes of DARK SHADOWS.  Cool show.  But as I’m jumping off the bus, I trip on some kid’s leg–which was probably extended on purpose.  I look to see that it’s this punk greaser kid in a leather jacket named Cois.  (Cois?  What kind of a thug name is that?)   Instead of saying “Keep your leg out of the aisle, you useless waste of space,” I say, “Oh, sorry, Cois.”  Why?  Because Cois is the biggest thug-hood-punk-bully in the entirety of Sligo Jr. High School.  His fat side-kick grins at me.  But Cois ain’t grinning.  Cois looks at me like an executioner and says: “Next time I see you, I’m kicking your ass.”  And the fat side-kick giggles and says, “Yeah.”  So, I figure I’ll just have to avoid Cois for the rest of my life.  Nothing’s going to screw-up my Dark Shadows jones, and I run home and catch the last ten minutes and, of course, it’s cool.  (It was one of the I Ching episodes.)  But I’m doubly excited, see, ‘cos it’s Halloween, and I got invited to a party in Layhill Village, where all the rich kids live, and there’s this hot eighth-grade chick (but with a bosom like maybe a college chick) who’s gonna be at the party–I think her name was Jeri–and word is she’s got a crush on me.  I figure the best way to impress her is make the scene in the BEST friggin’ costume I can devise. 
I’ve planned this for weeks, see, and I already know what I’m going as: a vampire.  But not just ANY vampire.  I’m going as Barnabas Collins–the COOLEST vampire ever.  Mom helps me, of course, (she even got my hair to look like Barnabas’ saw-tooth style bangs), and by 6pm I’m looking damn good; I’m looking about as close to Jonathan Frid as any eighth-grader could hope for, plus I snagged a pair of those foldover glow-in-the-dark fangs that were the rave back then.  I don’t even bother trick-or-treating (aw, that’s for kids!); instead I go straight to the party.  Gotta admit I was a little nervous; after all, I was only in the eighth grade and there’s this chick named Jeri at the party who’s got hooters like–well...like I said.  I stand out in front on the sidewalk for awhile–actually, probably, like, an hour.  Kids trick-or-treating kept walking by, saying my costume was great, so at least that was a confidence builder.  But just when I decide it’s time to go inside...Cois and his fat side-kick come loping down the sidewalk.  Oh, no!  Those soul-dead, spiritless thugs aren’t even wearing costumes; they’re wearing their leather jackets!  They’re clearly not trick-or-treating (and there’s no way THEY’D be invited to the party), they’re just out causing trouble.  At first they don’t recognize me in my great costume, and I feel relieved, but then Cois pauses and says something like “My, my, my, look who’s here.”  The fat side-kick says, “Yeah.”  Cois punches me in the nose–hard!–and the fat side-kick pushes me down.  (That’s an eighth-grade ass-kicking).  Then they lope away, laughing.  Meanwhile, I’m lying there with my nose bleeding like a tap.  I can’t go to the party now!  What a ripoff!  I start to walk home, wondering how I’ll explain a bloody face and shirt to my parents.  But in a few minutes the bleeding stops and...I get an idea.  I wipe off my nose and upper lip with a handkerchief and go BACK to the party.  I’m a vampire, right, and vampires have blood running down their mouth and shirts, right?  I figure I’ll go to the party and say it’s fake blood!  (Pretty smart, huh?)  Anyway, I make the scene, everyone raves about my costume, and as I recall I even won a prize.  Jeri wasn’t there, though–the bitch.  And that’s my favorite Halloween story. 

TRICK OR TREAT: When I was a kid I remember getting these wax figures (bats, witches, ghosts, etc.) that were filled with some kind of juice, and you just bit the heads off and drank the juice.  Those were the days!”

 2 more days ‘til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.  2 more days ‘til Halloween, Silver Shamrock.

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