It seems that every Halloween gets scarier and more outrageous as the years passed by. We are beyond the simple dressing up and “trick or treating” anymore. Now its either blood and gore or, to the other extreme with sexy maids, police officers, and vampires. Even Daphne and Velma of Scooby Doo fame are imitated by cosplayers down to their bras and panties (not that I mind) in a stunning retrospect making me question my childhood.
So, what do we make of Halloween? Is it a bastion of the evil and the dead or, like Mardi Gras and other celebrations, a day to dress up, drink, and be merry? I prefer the old traditions of Halloween, when masks were made of flimsy plastic and hugged your face, held in place by a rubber band and a couple of staples. Every house had a porch light on, carved jack o’ lantern on the front step, passing out candy to the kids, and EVERY KID dressed up (not this wearing a hoodie with a hockey mask).
Now, we have pumpkin and cake carving food shows where contestants try to out-gore the other. And movies have gone the way from classic monster movies like “Dracula” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” to scary dolls like “Chucky” and “Annabelle” instead. I guess I am a traditionalist when it comes to holidays. I miss the old traditions that are being shoved aside for gross, gore and fright instead.
Sure, everyone likes a good scare. I remember seeing the original “Friday the 13th” (with Kevin Bacon) and John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and being genuinely scared. My kids watch it and laugh at the poor special effects and giving Dad that look, questioning my manhood, with a sarcastic “This scared you?” But things change over time, and its never good or bad, it’s just different.
It’s like the Grinch said in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the live action Jim Carrey movie) when he said, “Kids today, so desensitized by movies and television…” and its true. The gore and scare factor at Halloween has increased tenfold because kids today have been desensitized by the violence and fear of the world today. Why would they be scared of ghosts and goblins when terrorists and mass murderers could be your next door neighbor? That changes the whole perspective.
As a writer, its nostalgic to think about Halloween past. It’s the myths and legends that inspire me as a fantasy writer. The story of the Celtic festival of Samhain that became our modern Halloween is a part of the mythos we embrace every year when the kids put on masks and go trick or treating. Consider that the lowly Jack O’ Lantern has a story behind it, warding off evil spirts and the like. Even the “Day of the Dead” — el Día de los Muertos — celebrations are steeped in tradition and mythology. It’s these legends, the superstitions, that bring holidays like Halloween to life, but in a good way. Not the blood curdling, gore fest seen in haunted houses across the country.
October brings the falling leaves, the change of the season, and everything pumpkin spice with a month of frights and scares. Let’s bring back more tradition and legends associated with Halloween and less gore and “shock factor” that’s in it. I miss the old ways, the simpler ways, sometimes… Don’t you?
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.