Published 10:07 am Thursday, October 28, 2021
I first tossed around the idea of explaining what Halloween is and how it came to be. However, that has been done to death. I know it started as most holidays do, as a pagan holiday filled with scary images all of which have some sort of mischievous underlying meaning. But, I will not get into all of that. I am a Christian and I see why some would not want to celebrate or participate in it but for some it has been in our heritage so long that the only meaning is to go out with the kiddies and have fun and get a little bit of candy. However, for me, it was about all of the movies — the great movies, the old horror movies. Movies that one has to search for every other month except for Halloween when they show up everywhere. I was speaking with my friend Donna the other day. We were talking about the great old actors that appeared in some of the best horror movies we will ever know and honestly everything till now has been done so there are very few original ideas. For instance, every movie that has Dracula in the title goes back to 1931, the early days of the “Talkies” with Bela Lugosi and his ominous stare and sinister smile. Many have played the part but he will always be Dracula to me.
I was never interested in the “slasher” movies, that in my opinion, hit their respective marks in the late 1980s and have since become more of a parody than anything else. I never thought there was anything scary about someone in a mask that never speaks, chasing teenagers with a butcher’s knife. However, there is the exception of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. That to me was creepy, a man haunting dreams and killing people, but what made these different was the protagonist actually spoke and was funny. So the creepiness and the humor made for a rollercoaster of a movie. I tried watching the current Halloween movie, “Halloween Kills,” but could not really get into it. It felt like something that had been done to death and it’s actually time to lay Michael to rest in my opinion. Those movies have had their day.
The movies I do like and I believe have staying power are movies with atmosphere. The old black and white movies had dark heavy shadows. The ’70 movies had the grainy film that just screamed something bad was going to happen. Watch “Amityville Horror” or the Exorcist and see for yourself. Movies today throw everything at you right out of the shoot and by the end I lose interest in a lot of them. Take one of my favorite old horror movies and as a child it scared me to death. It came out in 1981 and I must have seen it around ’85, since I was only six in ’81. The movie is called “The Howling” and it stars some great old-time actors. Dee Wallace, who was a famous scream queen in her day, John Carradine, the father of David Carradine, Patrick Macnee, one of my all-time favorites who starred in one of my favorite British TV shows, “The Avengers,” and many others. The movie is about werewolves. I know, I know. But anyway, the movie opens with what we suspect is something creepy in a movie theater where a reporter (Dee Wallace) has decided to meet a source. We hear his voice change, we see a silhouette but we never really know what is in there. And then it is killed. The movie never truly shows the wolves until near the end. It just takes its time and builds and builds and then they change and wow are they creepy. If I am not mistaken, this was the first actual on-screen change of werewolves. The old way was stop motion — where makeup was applied, the cameras stopped, and then more was applied. The cameras rolled and so, but this one, wow, when I saw the dog-like face stretch from underneath the human one it was freaky. I even have a small statue of one of the wolves on a shelf in my living room. The movie to this day is a favorite of mine. I highly recommend it. All of the sequels that follows is junk in comparison. They reduced a wonderful scare into a low budget schlock fest.
Well that is it! Halloween is upon us and I hope everyone has fun and stays safe. All of us here at your local paper wish you a happy and safe Halloween!