"Having just returned home from Netherworld, my second haunted house of the 2014 Halloween season, and with a full moon approaching, I couldn't think of better time to tell the Son of Celluloid what Halloween means to me. Halloween has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. And as I'm sure is the case with many of the other people on this year's What Halloween Means To Me list, Halloween is something that I celebrate throughout the year in some fashion.
But to tell you what Halloween means to me is a somewhat intimidating endeavor. I mean, Halloween means wearing costumes, watching horror movies, going to haunted houses, partaking in various pumpkin spice flavored things, eating candy, carving pumpkins and all the other innocent and fun traditions. Who doesn't like all those things? But for me it's always been about something more than that. I don't want to say I've always had an unhealthy obsession with Halloween because that has negative implications. I have, however, always been very enthusiastic about Halloween.
Aside from my earliest years when I wore store-bought costumes of The Incredible Hulk and He-Man (the plastic ones that would be be torn to shreds after a night of trick-or-treating), I usually spent a good deal of time modifying costumes or creating my own. Whether I was slicking my hair back with Vaseline as Dracula, trying to find something more realistic than a plastic sword for my pirate costume or wrapping aluminum foil around the plastic blades of my Freddy Krueger glove in hopes that they would look like real knives, I always wanted to have the best costume in the neighborhood. And once I got to that awkward age where people started telling me I was too old to go trick-or-treating, I still had to have a new Halloween costume each year. Thankfully I had a younger brother, so I could always just say I was dressing up to take him trick-or-treating. I especially enjoyed the year I tied colorful shoestrings around his arms, put a wig on him and applied equally colorful makeup to his face to make him look like the Ultimate Warrior. I think that was the same year I went as Norman Bates and wore a dress, which freaked my mom out quite a bit.
But costumes were only part of my Halloween experience. While most of the neighbors were content with Jack O' Lanterns and maybe some of that cottony spider web stuff (usually displayed in manners that in no way resembled how actual spiders spin their webs), my uncle and I would piece together masks and leftovers from previous years' costumes and create front yard displays that, on Halloween night, would have some kids running in fear rather than knocking on the door for candy. A homemade graveyard, some dry ice, Walt Disney Studios' Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House and a few scarecrow-like creations made of rubber masks, rubber hands and old clothes stuffed with newspaper, made for several memorable Halloween's at my house. I guess we were more trick than treat.
As I got older, my love for all things Halloween never wavered. In fact, it has continued to permeate every facet of who I am. While I am probably more inclined to listen to the Misfits, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie in October than other times of the year, horror rock, industrial and heavy metal (especially of the theatrical variety) are things I listen to on a regular basis. Horror movies and thrillers are certainly viewed more this time of year, but I'm drawn to monster movies all the time. Now that I'm thinking about it, one of the first (if not the first) article I ever wrote was a review of Netherworld for my college newspaper. So Halloween has influenced me both personally and professionally and continues to do so. As soon as I finish writing this article, I'm going to post Wrestling with Pop Culture articles about Chambers of Horror, Netherworld and Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse.
I could go on and on with Halloween nostalgia and how it influences me to this day. But I'm still not sure if I am actually telling you what Halloween means to me. Knowing now what I didn't know as a child (most Halloween traditions are rooted in honoring the dead or just celebrating seasonal harvests) only makes me appreciate Halloween that much more. But I guess what I'm struggling with is why all these things appeal to me so much. I've never enjoyed Georgia's summer heat, so part of it probably has to do with the cooler temperatures. But to examine a little deeper, I think facing fear has a lot to do with it. We learn a lot about ourselves and others when we are forced to experience things that frighten us or cause us discomfort. Also, I love the creativity involved with Halloween. Some of the most interesting and inspiring people I know are involved with special effects, makeup, costumes, body painting and haunted houses (or other theatrical endeavors). While it could be argued that wearing masks, makeup and costumes gives us something to hide behind, I feel like it tends to make us more comfortable and allows us to be ourselves. For some, this comfort zone is only available around or on Halloween. Once it's time to take off the costume, the uniform goes back on and the routines resume. What Halloween means to me, however, is facing fears and staying in that comfort zone all year long. As long as Halloween's good nature remains and no harm is done to anyone else, there's no reason we can't all have year-round Halloween fun."
23 days 'til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. 23 days 'til Halloween. Silver Shamrock!