Thursday, October 31, 2013

You Don't Know Jack

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns
We haunt the street
And knock on doors
For trick or treat.

Tonight we are
The king and queen,
For oh tonight
It's Halloween!

-Jack Prelutsky

I love that poem, because in a very short amount of time, it seems to get across everything that's so great about this holiday. The ghosts and ghouls, the trick-or-treating, the feeling that something is different from the other 364 days of the year. And most importantly, the power of being whoever or whatever you want to be, if only for one night. It's intoxicating.

However, it also points out something about Halloween that makes it unique among holidays (in fact, Daffy laid it out very well in his last post): there's no central figure of representation. All Hallow's Eve is truly an ensemble cast of monsters, spirits, and other grotesques, and I have to confess that I rather like it that way. It just seems to fit that the holiday for misfits and outcasts would include everyone on the bill. I know some people like to equate a popular horror movie villain with the role, but if their story isn't expressly ABOUT Halloween (and not merely taking place on Halloween night, Mr. Myers), I don't think it works. Many folks think that Sam from the film Trick 'r Treat would be the perfect mascot, and while I do love Sam, he hasn't been around long enough to do the job. Give it a few more decades and we'll see.

He is a cutie though.

Monday, October 28, 2013

King of the Pumpkin Patch

Halloween is sort of an oddity in the holiday world.  It is one of the only national holidays without a set figurehead.  Christmas has Santa Claus, Easter has the Easter Bunny, Valentine's Day has Cupid, even Independence Day has Uncle Sam.  Halloween, however, doesn't have a mascot, a single face that defines the holiday.  It has dozens.  Think about it.  When you think of Halloween, you don't think of a face.  You think of skeletons and jack-o-lanterns.  You think of cemeteries and spider webs.  You think of ghosts, goblins, monsters, costumes, masks, and a tub load of candy.  You think of the general, ghoulish, frightful fun feeling that surrounds the holiday.

Pictured:  The very essence of Halloween.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sugar, Rage, and Razor Blades

Trick-or-treating has got to be one of the greatest inventions the human race has ever come up with. One night a year, we were able to go door-to-door and get candy, for FREE, because of an ancient tradition of leaving out cakes for evil spirits as a sign of appeasement. Halloween is rich with history, and much of it has resulted in truly wonderful things like scoring candy and carving jack-o-lanterns. Unfortunately, that same history and those same traditions have often been twisted and neutered because of a few horrible people who were determined to ruin things for everybody else.

There's enough cocaine in this picture to put down a rhino. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trick or Treat! Smell My Feet!

Trick or Treat!
Smell my feet!
Give me something good to eat!

It's one of the oldest and most sacred Halloween traditions.  As a kid, you put on your best costume, grab the biggest pillow case you can find, and head door to door asking for candy.  When I was kid, Halloween was my favorite time of year because of this grand tradition.  I loved dressing up and getting a huge bag of candy.  I always thought this was a bizarre tradition, though, even when I was little.  This is basically the only time of year where our parents allow, and even encourage, us to take candy from strangers.  Where did this all start?  Like many things, apparently we have Europe to thank for this.

"If this lady gives us pennies again this year, I'm egging her front yard."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Flicking Through Netflix: Mad Monster Party

Rankin and Bass have become a staple of the holidays nowadays.  Every year in November, they start playing them over and over again on TV.  We've seen them so often that some of us have committed their movies to memory.  Rudolph, Santa Claus, Little Drummer Boy, all essential parts of holiday cheer.  Well, you can forget about all that.  It's the Halloween season and I'm not in the mood for a cutesy Christmas story.  I want something I can sink my teeth into.  Something with werewolves, vampires, monsters, and mummies.  Luckily, Rankin and Bass did have one special dedicated to all things Halloween:  Mad Monster Party.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Halloween is Special(s)

Can I tell you guys something?

I LOVE Halloween specials. I mean, we're talking run-back-into-a-burning-building-to-rescue-rare-VHS-tapes-kind of love here. You want to talk nostalgia? All it takes is one viewing of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and I am instantly five years old again, ready to don my own poorly devised ghost costume and go trick-or-treating until the last porch light is shut off. I think this is one area where Halloween has a clear advantage over Christmas. Christmas specials, while also nostalgic and frequently awesome, are more limited by plot conventions. Name one yuletide TV special that doesn't feature a grump trying to ignore the holiday, then undergo an emotional transformation and shed a few tears of happiness. Or the one where the lovable group of misfits heroically save the celebration from being canceled at the last minute. Christmas specials are fun and pretty, but also rather predictable. Halloween specials are in a class of their own. The supernatural air of the proceedings means that basically anything goes, so these specials are typically more imaginative and more visually interesting than anything you'll see in December. Not to mention funnier.

"But mom, I can't sleep yet! A new one just came on!"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Little Shop of Halloween

Halloween is, to my mind, the holiday that works the strongest nostalgia magic. Christmas has people looking for the newest hot gift. Thanksgiving swirls around the turkey dinner and the mad rush to get home from college or wherever. But Halloween... Halloween seems to always come to us from the past. Even the modern decorations usually have a vintage element to them. What is it about the Halloween experience that makes it so timeless? 

Pictured: every Halloween display since 1958.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Haunted Forest: My First Walk-Through Horror Attraction

It's Real Live Horror week here at the Drive-In!  Earlier in the week, Rabbi went into the history of the spook house and talked about his own personal experience with Scaremare at Liberty University.  He also put the spotlight on a little website where spooks can find a way to spend their eternity with the love of their after lives.  For my part, I'd like to tell a personal story of the first time I ever went through a walk-through horror attraction.  It involves a group you may have heard of but never knew they did things like this:  the Boy Scouts.

When I was younger, I was part of a Boy Scout troop here in Miami.  It was one of the most miserable experiences of my life.  I hated camping and the outdoors.  I was only part of the group because my cousin and, at the time, best friend was a part of it.  I stayed in the Scouts for a while, though.  I'm almost thankful that I did because, without the Scouts, I never would have experienced the Haunted Forest.

Every year around Halloween, the various troops around the South Florida area would get together in one place for one purpose:  Scare the bejeezus out of people.  The setting for this haunted trail was a section of a large campground whose name I've long since forgotten.  Each troop that showed up got to dress up an area in any way they pleased:  a cemetery, a mad doctor's laboratory, the site of a werewolf attack.  Anything the troop could cook up was fair game.  The more troops that joined in, the longer the trail became.

The first and only time I visited this once-a-year attraction, I visited as a spectator.  At 11, I was too young to help out behind the scenes, but I was just the right age to walk on through.  I was excited about the event, but terrified too.  On the drive through the campground, I was so scared that I thought I could see ghosts in the trees. 

I don't remember much about the Haunted Forest now.  Eleven years is a long time and my memory isn't the best anyway.  But I do remember one thing pretty clearly:  I was scared out of my mind.  As a kid that age, I just couldn't differentiate the fake from reality.  I didn't care that the blood and guts were rubber and ketchup,  I thought the zombies were really going to eat me.  It may have been some teen in a mask, but that plastic machete looked 100% real to me.  My fear made every shadow darker and every monster scarier.  And you wanna know something?  I had a blast.  Don't get me wrong, at the time, after the walk-through, I cried like a baby.  But looking back now, I wouldn't have traded that experience for anything.  As we say around these parts, isn't it fun to be a little scared sometimes?

As a man of 22, I freely admit that I'm still scared of haunted house trails to this day.  While the concept of Halloween Horror Nights fascinates me, I have no doubt that I'd need about 15 pairs of pants to change into throughout the night.  Whatever else the Haunted Forest was, it was still frightening and it embedded deep within me a fear of those kinds of attractions.  Still, I'm a guy who believes fears were made to be faced.  Maybe next year I'll have to build my courage and head for a few new haunts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Making A Spiritual Connection

Have you been looking for love in all the wrong places? Hoping to discover that one person to spend eternity with? Have you been dead for a year or longer? Then there's finally a dating website for you!

Find that special something!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Countdown to Halloween 2013: Real Live Horror!

A welcome to our regulars and a special growl of appreciation to all you creepy kids who've made your way here from Countdown to Halloween 2013! I hope you enjoy your time at The Haunted Drive-in, and come back and visit us often. We would love to discuss horror and science fiction of all kinds with you until the sun rises and the projector fades.

We don't plan on posting every single day, simply because Daffy and I are very busy folks, and we want the Drive-in to be a labor of love, not just labor. We do plan on adding new material often though, so please add us to your blogroll, follow us on Twitter and Tumblr, like us on Facebook, and above all else, comment! We love getting feedback and hearing suggestions.

So, to keep our focus during the countdown (and not just write about every single thing we love about Halloween), my writing partner and I have decided to give each week of October a theme for us to work with. This first week we've decided to focus on one of the oldest and most enjoyable of Halloween traditions, the walk-through haunted house attraction.

"Dear God! That guy over there... he isn't wearing ANY hair gel!"