I’ve spent the past few
seconds days thinking about what I wanted to say in this post; it’s not easy, especially since there is already a glut of blog posts out there covering Halloween from every angle imaginable. But the majority of opinions seem fairly black and white, people either love it or loathe it, whereas for me it has always been a very grey area. There are plenty of things I enjoy about Halloween, but invariably these are the very same things that drive me mad and send my lip curling. (Interesting side fact: I’ve found the same to be true of men, in the past.)
Anyway, it seems to me that the best way for me to cover this topic is to make some good, old lists… ignore everything I said about list making in my previous post, I was clearly delirious on permanent marker fumes, or something… and then compare the findings. That sounds fun in an almost scientificky way, doesn’t it? You can even imagine me in a white lab coat, looking at you sternly over the top of my glasses if it helps. Or, since it is nearly* Halloween, I suppose it might be more fitting for you to imagine me as a mad professor in her creepy, be-cobwebbed lab with gross things, like snot, blood and Sunny Delight, bubbling away in flasks and test tubes, whilst cackling madly to myself. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide, whichever you prefer.
Things I Like About Halloween
1. Sweeties: You know who I don’t trust? People who say they don’t like sweets, that’s who. I mean, how messed up is that? If someone tells you they don’t ‘do’ sweets – run like hell! They’re either dead inside or a dentist, and both of those types should be avoided at all costs. Sweets are the fifth best thing that was ever invented (right after crisps, sex, cheese and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the TV series, not the film, obvs.), and St Willy of Wonka is THE coolest patron of stuff to ever have been shot out of a cannon.
There are so many sweets to choose from too, whatever your tastes, be it chocolatey, fruity or minty, there is something for you! Well, OK, if your tastes happen to run to fecal matter then you might struggle a bit… although, I’d recommend that you give the coffee centred Revels or Dolly Mixtures a try as, unlike the rest of us, I think you might be pleasantly surprised. Anyway, every year around Halloween, the kind folk at the sweetie factories bring out a whole new range of goodies to tempt our taste buds and harden our arteries, all in a noble bid to unite mankind with their finely spun strands of sugar – how often does something wondrous and special like that happen? Hardly ever! Well, yes… other than at Valentines, Easter and Christmas, it hardly ever happens. But do you know what the best thing is about Halloween sweeties? They’re FREE! You don’t have to cash in your savings bonds in order to buy a packet of Munchies – just knock on a strangers’ door and they’ll give you stuff in order to make you go away! And if that’s not a whole bag full of awesome, I don’t know what is.
2. Trick-or-treating: It warms the heart, doesn’t it? For one night, the people of this cold, harsh, economically unsound world throw open their hearts and doors to our children. And I truly believe that children are the future; in a few years they will be running the country and making all the big decisions about whether or not we get one scoop or two of grey, lumpy mash with our Meals on Wheels, or whether we’ll need to burn our own slippers in a vain attempt to make it through the winter. So it’s probably best to try to get on their good sides now with a little bit of bribery, right?
3. Dressing up: Aw! I love seeing the little tykes in their Halloween costumes. It’s one of the few things that bring out my maternal instincts and, provided I don’t happen to see that advert for Disneyland in the meantime, makes me long for some tiny-people-that-I-can-dress-up of my own. I love the way the really small ones toddle along, clutching their mum or dad’s hand because they’re a bit freaked out by their own costume and because the thought of knocking on a stranger’s door, something they’ve always had drummed into them is incredibly dangerous and wrong, terrifies them. Nor is there anything funnier than watching a tiny ghost trip over its own bedsheet, or a miniature Frankenstein walk into a lamppost because their mask is three sizes too big and impedes all vision. And in case you’re thinking I’m a bit mean and callous – I will add that there is no more rewarding a sight than a shy little vampire beaming toothily up at you because you’ve just told him he has the best costume you’ve seen all night and have given him enough sugar to keep him hyperactive for the next ten years. That really is the best part of Halloween.
4. Watching horror films: There are only two acceptable ways of spending your evening on Halloween; one is to throw or attend an amazing party and the other is to get a load of snacks and drink in, invite someone special over, and sit in the dark
making out/having sex watching horror films (the second option ties in particularly well with pretending you’re not at home, if the whole Halloween/trick-or-treat thing isn’t for you).
It’s one of those evenings that can be perfectly tailored to you and your guest’s tastes, so if it’s a girly night you could giggle and sigh as you sip cheap Chardonnay and watch Patrick Swayze help Demi Moore to sculpt a giant penis substitute in ‘Ghost’. If your guest is more of a love object in nature and it’s early days in your relationship, then you could invest in a nice Rioja and watch ‘Ring’ (original Japanese version) and pretend you’re a lot more scared than you actually are in order to spend most of the night attached to their face. If it’s a relationship of longer standing and/or more of a case of lust than love – maybe gimlets and a copy of ‘The Sexorcist’ might be more your thing. And finally, if it’s someone you don’t actually like that much but they were the only ones who didn’t have Halloween plans either, then I’d suggest Vimto and ‘The Human Centipede’ – there’s nothing like watching someone’s face get sewn onto another person’s bumhole, whilst drinking warm, flavourless sugar-water to make someone go home early.
5. The sense of occasion: He might have a big chin and poor taste in toupées, but Russ Abbott was spot on when he sang those immortal words “Oh what an atmosphere! I love a party with a happy atmosphere!” Because we all do, don’t we? Well, except for Gary Barlow, that is. Atmosphere is key to a bitching good time. And what better creates a ‘happy atmosphere’ than a couple of continents worth of sugar, some silly costumes and everything decorated with an occult theme? Forget students and Bullingdon Club members, it’s the undead who are the real party animals. And don’t you think Halloween has the best motifs? Forget your namby-pamby Christmas trees and jingly bells, or the sickly twee Valentine hearts… decorate ANYTHING in pumpkins, black cats and flesh-eating zombies and it immediately becomes ACE and desirable. If Awesome Sauce was an actual ‘thing’ you just know it would be coloured orange and black and kept in a bottle-shaped like a deformed serial killer.
6. Parties: Of all the types of party that are thrown, Halloween ones are invariably the most laid-back and enjoyable; people tend to relax and let their hair down more whilst comfortably hiding behind a mask or a costume, there’s not so much of the posturing and trying to look cool that you get at other parties because everyone looks equally stupid and you’re all in it together.
Party food is always good, I could happily exist on an endless buffet of vol-au-vents, crisps, cheese and pineapple on sticks, mini quiches and pizza etc, but there is something unbeatably wonderful about food with a ghoulish theme; give me food that has been vaguely made to resemble guts, worms, brain matter and blood and I will turn pink with actual delight. Similarly, serve me a cocktail with what appears to be an eyeball speared on a cocktail stick and I will be your friend forever.
As for music, any host worth their salt will know that having a good soundtrack can make or break a party. Normally, the first strains of a cheesy song will have party-goers searching for their coats and the nearest bathroom window at the earliest opportunity, but not at a Halloween party! At Halloween parties it’s OBLIGATORY to play stupid songs and get everybody drunkenly stumbling through the steps of the Timewarp at least three times by the end of the night. What’s not to love?
Things I Hate About Halloween
1. Tooth decay: You do realise that the rest of the free world, particularly the Americans, mock the British for having ‘bad teeth’, don’t you? Yes, it is a bit racist, isn’t it. Of course, they’ve all been brainwashed by the Osmonds, can’t spell basic words like ‘colour’ properly and are the most clinically obese country in the world – so it’s not like we take their opinion that seriously, but even so, I think we need to look after our nation’s teeth and Halloween doesn’t really help on that front, with all its sticky, gooey, delicious treats, does it? When it comes to teeth – dentists, toothpaste and dental floss are our friends. Have we learnt NOTHING from the Bee Gees?
2. Trick-or-treating: Essentially, it’s begging. If your kids want to dress up and eat their own weight in sweets – throw them a party. Why should strangers feel obliged to spend money buying treats for kids they don’t even know? Kids who probably make their lives a misery for the rest of the year with the noise of their screaming tantrums and by dropping litter in their front gardens. And think of the elderly folk! They’re not miserable old buggers who have had all the joy systematically sucked out of their existence – they’re miserable old buggers who have had all the joy systematically sucked out of their existence who are entitled to remain undisturbed within the sanctuary of their own homes. Show some respect!
3. Dressing up: Yes, yes, I know what I just said, and I stand by it. Sort of – I just think there should be a cut-off point. Somewhere between the ages of 8-10 I think people should start to actively discourage children from dressing up. Just tell them to “grow up!” and give them a leaflet about ‘How to open an ISA account’. As for adults, once in a while doesn’t hurt I suppose, but not every year. And can we please strive for a little originality and common sense? Especially the ladies; it is acceptable to dress up without making yourself look like a tart, you know. Wearing a sexy nurse or schoolgirl outfit and then dribbling a bit of fake blood on it doesn’t count, you still basically look like mutton dressed as a ho. Here’s a wacky notion… how about a costume that isn’t all about looking sexy? Try the psychotic liquorice all-sort look, or a courgette with an attitude problem – if you really want to look like a strumpet, fine, just save it for the bedroom or the ‘Readers’ Wives’ pages, where the rest of us don’t have to feel bad or embarrassed for you. I’ve only dressed up twice for Halloween, the first time as Lara Croft, a costume perfectly designed for hypothermia and having any and all conversation addressed to your rather blatant, frost-bitten nipples. The second time, having learnt my lesson the hard way, I went dressed as a killjoy. My duffel coat was greatly admired, not to mention toastie warm. Given the choice, I’d much rather feel my fingers and toes than feel sexy.
4. Twilight: I know, it’s not strictly a ‘horror’ film, in fact I’ve seen episodes of Little House on the Prairie that were more hair-raising, but the fact remains that, broadly speaking, it falls into the horror/occult genre, and I am therefore allowed to mercilessly mock it in a Halloween post.
So let’s get right down to it; I only have three issues with the Twilight film franchise: the plot and the actors who play its two main characters.
WHY have they messed with the vampire legend? As legends go, vampires are right up there with The Curse of The Pharaohs, The Lost City of Gold and Dennis Wise vandalising the Blue Peter garden. You don’t mess with stuff like that! Vampires don’t go to High School! They are famously creatures of the NIGHT; if a vampire moves into the sunlight he doesn’t go all pretty and sparkly and become a walking shampoo ad, he goes up in a screaming ball of flame. Everybody knows that. Yes, it’s all fantasy and legend and therefore open to interpretation to a certain degree, it’s just a big fairytale for adults, but like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! For goodness sake, you might as well make a film about Big Foot and have a shaved midget play the lead.
And how come nobody notices that little Eddie Munster and his family are really, really pale and weird and not put two and two together? The father is a doctor, so they can’t even blame it on a nasty case of undiagnosed anaemia. And why have they made them all trendy looking except for poor Jasper, who looks like he wandered out of an 80’s music video by mistake and couldn’t find his way back?
Now then, let’s talk R-Patz… what the actual heck is all the girly adoration about? I honestly don’t understand it. Where did he get his bone structure from? The Missing Link? He seriously needs to get his monobrow waxed, and isn’t he a bit scrawny and pasty? He looks like the sort of guy who would invite you round to his place on a first date, where you’d discover that he still lives with his mother, has the bedroom of a 14-year-old and that his idea of a ‘fun night’ is playing World of Warcraft whilst eating Pot Noodle and drinking flat Tizer.
As for Kristen Stewart… does she even know how to smile? She has the sort of face my dear old Nan would have described as “like a smacked arse”, which is shame, because she’s a very pretty girl. Also, her acting leaves a bit to be desired. I find it horribly distracting, even when faced with a scene involving a twinkly vampire running up a hill, Wile E Coyote style, it’s her slack-jawed, permanantly-on-the-brink-of-hyperventilating delivery of lines that I find myself laughing at.
I like anything mythical or fantasy based, but at times Twilight not only asks you to suspend disbelief, but also to positively dangle it from the moon by cheese strings and call it Pinocchio. Honestly, all obvious silliness aside, would any girl pass up the buff, brooding Jacob for a spangley, tree hugging, deer muncher? Hell to the no! They’d be demented to do so. I know Jacob is probably almost young enough to be my son, not to mention a werewolf, but sheesh! Look how pretty he is! How nice and sparkle-free does he look with no shirt on? And I bet he hardly ever gets fleas or humps your leg at family gatherings. Wake up and smell the testosterone, Bella!
I do enjoy the films in a slightly brain-dead, pure escapism kind of way and no doubt I’ll watch any that follow in the saga. All I’m saying is that if the Wolfy Gang don’t make Chum out of Bella, if the wan and not-so-interesting vampire family don’t take Edward off to make pouty TV ads for hair gel or the Hitler Youth or something, and if the cool, if somewhat psychotic, red-haired, vamp chick doesn’t come and show young Jacob what a real woman’s made of, there could be trouble in this little corner of Norfolk.
5. Cynical commercialism: The greatest trick the devil ever played was making us believe we needed a glow in the dark skull that doubles as an ashtray. You’d have to be pretty naive not to realise that Halloween, just like all the other publicly celebrated days, is driven by commercial companies manipulating us with our increasing obsession with possessing tacky shite we don’t need. As much as you might like to own a set of spoons shaped like a bone and decorated with bats and spider webs, try to remember that any kind of manipulation is bad for you – except for the chiropractic kind, which is good for you. If carried out by a registered and properly trained professional. Probably.
6. America envy: Not so long ago, certainly when I was a kid, Halloween was no big deal at all. We were aware of it, but there was no celebrating it, no gaudy decorations, no pumpkins or sweets, there was definitely no trick-or-treating, that was just something those crazy Yanks did. If we’d suggested to our parents that it might be fun to dress up like a car crash victim and wander the streets, knocking on strangers’ doors and inviting them to give us edible goods we would have been told not to be so silly, soundly slapped round the knees and sent to our bedroom to ‘think about’ our behaviour. It’s all America’s fault that things have changed, it has dazzled our youth, generation by generation, with its pointless festivities, glossy television, and shallow pop music so that we are now a nation of wannabes. I hate that about us. Why can’t we just go back to being the joyless, prudes with perennially stiff upper lips that we used to be? *sigh*
Wow! Sorry, this turned out to be a bit of a long read, a horror in itself, if you will – well done if you made it this far without bleeding out of your eyes and/or losing consciousness. If it’s any consolation I think we’ve all learnt some valuable lessons here today, namely:
- Split personalities don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
- Halloween is a little bit country. But also a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.
- Sweeties are ace but so are toothbrushes.
- I’m rubbish at writing short blog posts.
Oh well. Whatever your thoughts or feelings are about Halloween… I hope you have an enjoyable one.
*Note that I said it is “nearly” Halloween, all you people who have been going on about it for WEEKS.