Halloween Is the Best Holiday but I’ve Kinda Given Up

Halloween: Trick or Treat?It’s Halloween, and that means that by the Frankly Curious Terms of Service, I am required to say: Halloween is my favorite holiday. But the truth is that I am being let down by our society. Halloween could be so much better!

When I was a kid, it was so much better. I remember being on the street with my parents and there being kids everywhere. And then, starting in the late 1960s, every year the local news reported on how dangerous the holiday supposedly was. People gave out candy with poison and razor blades! Most of this was folklore.

What’s more, in as much as it was true, it was based on the folklore. For example, most of the razor blade stories seem to be children putting razor blades in apples and then showing what they “found” in their apples to their parents. And the cases of poisonings have been people murdering children and trying to make it look like some random act. Sick, but hardly the fault of Halloween or, more to the point, society.

Social Decay and the End of Halloween

And that’s the problem with the holiday: we’ve lost the necessary social cohesion to make the holiday great.

For the last several years, the only trick-or-treat child I get is the little boy who lives across the street. And I have been giving out regular-sized bars for a couple of decades. Kids really should want to come to my house!

I understand the fear of parents. Just the same, so much is lost. What’s more, those parents could protect their children by getting to know their neighbors. That’s part of the same thing. It’s all about fear of these unknown people.

Now, I understand that this is hard to do. And our economic situation is a big part of it. We now live in a nation that requires both parents to work. A large fraction of the nation is far too busy just getting by to spend time getting to know the neighbors. And income inequality puts barriers between people. So my disappointment is not focused on how individuals act but on how our society forces them to act.

Still, it sucks. Some of my best memories of my second marriage are our Halloween events. We loved decorating the place. I was always big on creating ghosts — probably because they are the most friendly of scary things. And now, I find I can’t even bother. It was easier with a partner. Even if no kids showed up, at least we had fun with it.

There’s a price to pay for our lack of trust in each other. It’s about more than a holiday — even one as gloriously silly as Halloween.

Halloween Movies That Will Make You Feel Undead

Halloween MoviesGood morning everyone! It seems I have gotten back my evil will to live — others call it their “groove.” And just in time because it is the best holiday of the year: Halloween! And I thought I would share with you a few wonderful clips from my favorite Halloween movies.

The Bride of Frankenstein

Okay: I have to make a disclosure. My favorite Halloween movies really aren’t scary. When I was eight years old, I stayed up late with my older sister to watch Creature Features. They were showing The Bride of Frankenstein. And I was so afraid, that I vomited. Now, of course, I find it one of the most charming films ever made. The monster is not frightening. If you treat him well, he’ll be nice to you. He just wants to be loved!

There is so much to love in the film. But the ending really does sum everything up, “Friend? Friend?” Not that he can’t be riled, as he is soon enough.

The House on Haunted Hill

This one is pure fun. But again, when I was kid, I was very frightened by it. The following video is of the entire The House on Haunted Hill. But I have it set at the very ending because it is so ridiculous. When Vincent Price appears out of the shadows with his preposterous contraption for controlling the skeleton, lesser minds think, “That’s stupid!” But the evolved know that it makes perfect sense that a man would have a small pool of acid and a skeleton marionette. Right?!

The Last Man on Earth

Before Night of the Living Dead there was The Last Man on Earth. In fact, George Romero has said that he was inspired by the film (and the book by Richard Matheson). When I was very young (six or seven), it seemed that The Last Man on Earth was always being played on Creature Features. Now I’ll admit: it isn’t as good a film in terms of narrative. But it terrified me as a child. “Morgan, come out!”

What’s remarkable is just how beautifully the film is shot. I recommend watching it just as an exercise in the craft of filmmaking. The whole film is there.

Bride of the Monster

Okay, Bride of the Monster is a hard film to watch all the way through. People say that Ed Wood was a terrible director. He wasn’t. But he didn’t worry too much about the scripts that he wrote. Most people don’t know this, but Wood published over 80 novels in his life. He was a writing machine — apparently because quality wasn’t that important to him. But he was capable of great work. And that is well on display in this star scene with Bela Lugosi.

Best of the Halloween Movies: A Comedy of Terrors

Of course, I’ve never been a big Lugosi fan. I love Boris Karloff. And we’ve already had one of his films. Also: two with Vincent Price. And one film written by one of the greats, Richard Matheson. So why don’t we throw in Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone and enjoy a whole film, A Comedy of Terrors. It is not at all frightening. It probably wouldn’t even have been to 8-year-old Frank. But it’s wonderful:

Have a wonderful holiday all of you! Use it as an excuse to enjoy some great old Halloween movies. Let’s finish with a song: