If I may preach to the choir for a moment, allow me to say: Halloween is the best. Of course it’s the scariest night of the year (besides election night, wakka wakka), but you nerds get it: Halloween is much more than a single night. As you may have realized by now, for me the holiday begins roughly...oh, the second week of September and ends…well, come the middle of November I’m still hangin’ on. I can’t help myself. It’s the best.
There are plenty of reasons why I love the holiday that have nothing to do with horror movies. By the end of October, summer has finally released everyone from its fiery death grip and autumn is in full swing. Roaring fireplaces, sweaters, leaves crunching underfoot, hot cocoa…honestly, I’m more than a bit dubious of anyone who claims that fall is not his or her favorite season.
However, the very best thing about Halloweentime- aside from the abundance of candy, which somehow has no calories during October (shut up, it’s true!)- is that the world turns into a magical place full of horror fans. We're no longer alone! Skeletons suddenly appear in the front yards of neighbors (err, fake ones…probably) as lawns are transformed into graveyards. The TV features scary movie after scary movie. Martha Stewart shows us how to make, you know, a corpse out of corncobs or something, and a trip to the grocery store can yield not only frozen pizza, but also a fake machete and some candles of doom. My local grocery store had those “Candles of Doom” for sale, and in case you’re wondering…they’re orange. Shudder!
Throughout the year, I often find that I’ve got to defend my love of horror movies to people who aren’t fans of the genre. This kind of conversation I can understand:
“Man, I really like scary movies.”
“Really? I don’t.”
“Oh. Well then, let’s talk about something else.”
“Okay. Do you believe the children are our future?”
“Why, yes I do. We should teach them well and let them lead the way.”
That's kill-yourself boring, yes, but it doesn’t put me on the defensive. See, this is how it usually goes:
“Man, I really like scary movies.”
“Really? How can you watch that kind of sick stuff? Horror is nothing but women getting butchered!”
You know, I think I’m going to print up some pamphlets to hand to people who make me feel like I’m a social deviant because of something I love. On the front it’ll say, “So, you want to know why I like horror movies…” Inside, I’ll cover such topics as “Horror Movies Are Not Inherently Misogynist”, “Watching Horror Movies Has Not Desensitized Me to Real-Life Violence”, “I Don’t Watch Scary Movies Because I Get Off On Watching Women Being Murdered”, and “You Know What? Movies Like Bride Wars and All About Steve Are Actually Much More Demeaning to Women Than Something Like The Descent, So Shove It”. While they’re reading the pamphlet, I can be off enjoying a fruit smoothie or watching Pieces, which is a much better way to spend my time than trying to convince someone that I’m not a psycho.
Don’t get me wrong- discussion is a wonderful thing. Learning about other peoples’ viewpoints, what makes them tick, what turns them on- let’s do it. I’m all for it- it's one of the reasons why I love getting comments here. Like any other genre of film, horror has its share of masterpieces and its share of crap, its share of offensive movies and its share of enlightening movies. For every Bloodsucking Freaks there’s a Martyrs; while they both do, in fact, show women suffering horrendous violence, they couldn’t be more night and day in their approaches to- and reasons for- that violence. If you want to talk about those movies or any others- which ones can be analyzed under the auspices of women’s studies or queer studies, or hell, which movies are simply a scary good time, I’m here for you, friendo. Anyone who’s got their minds completely made up about the genre, though- well, chances are they’ve never actually seen a horror movie all the way through, and chances are equally high that I’ll never change their minds about anything. For me, that’s when it’s fruit smoothie-n-Pieces time.
Mind you, I’m not solely waving my big foam finger emblazoned with “HORROR #1!” without question. After all, as someone said- I think it was J-Woww, maybe- an unexamined life is not worth living, and from time to time I do ask myself what it is I like so much about horror movies. I thought long and hard about that after I saw Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, in which a family is terrorized in their vacation home by a couple of murderous psychos. The film is, at its core, an effective (if, at times, condescending) indictment of cinematic violence and it examines the audience’s relationship to on-screen atrocities. Love the movie or loathe it, at the least it should get you thinking.
By the way, I love J-Woww.
Don't throw shade, Naomi Watts. I'm not proud of my love for J-Woww. It just is and I've come to accept it.
The point of all this is that during Halloween season, I never feel as if I have to defend my love of horror movies because suddenly everyone loves them, even if for just one night. On the 31st, people who never watch ‘em will turn on Bride of Frankenstein or Night of the Living Dead and simply revel in the fun of being scared. It’s not so bad, huh? See, I’m not a freak because I love horror. Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear that oversized rubber rats and eyeballs are on sale at Target and I’m fresh out of both…