Five questions asked over a glowing Jack o'Lantern, under an Autumn moon obscured by passing clouds...in between mouthfuls of candy corn...with Son of Celluloid...
Why is Halloween important to you?
I’m sure this answer has been given before, but I think it’s how all horror geeks and monster kids feel. Halloween is important to me because it’s the one time of the year when the rest of the world catches up with me. There are actually things I want to watch on TV. Stores actually have things that get me excited. I’m not just playing with my makeup kit at home; I can walk the streets looking as ghastly as I want. The music I like is being played. Theaters are inundated with horror flicks.
Basically, the freaks become the norm in October. Plus, I work in a haunted attraction, Netherworld, in Atlanta, so my Halloween starts in mid September and doesn’t end until the first weekend of November. Whereas most people get to dress up and be a monster on Halloween, I get to do it every night for over a month. I get to terrorize people and do things I would go to jail for normally. It’s the moooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeeear!
Sorry, didn’t mean to break into song there.
Describe your ideal Halloween.
As much as I love working at the haunt, I never work on the 31st. It’s a religious holiday for me. What religion you might ask? Halloween IS my religion. It’s also the only holiday that I have a lot of traditions for. My ideal Halloween would be spent more or less like I normally spend it. During the day I’d carve Jack O Lanterns and watch a tape; yes, a VHS tape I made years ago of my favorite Halloween specials (the three I’ll mention later, plus Beavis and Butthead’s “Bungholio, Lord of the Harvest, King of the Hill’s “Hilloween”, and a bunch of Simpsons “Treehouse of Horrors"). Then in the evening I would eat my Mom’s vegetable soup and cornbread (it was a Halloween tradition when I was a kid, don’t ask me why) and wait for my friends to congregate at my house. Once they got there, we’d put on our costumes and do our makeup. Actually, I’d probably do everyone’s makeup like I always do. That’s not a complaint either, I love it. As the smells of latex, collodion, and greasepaint filled the air, KISS Unplugged would be playing in the background, followed by Rocky Horror Picture Show.
There’s a story behind that combination, but it’s long and I won’t bore you. Once I spent way too long obsessing over every last drop of blood being in the right place, we’d go out hopping from party to party or haunt to haunt, scaring people, having at, and generally raising hell. About dawn, I’d stagger back into my place and fall asleep watching something old, scary, and black and white.
What Halloween collectibles do you cherish, or hate, or both?
There’s a tie for the Halloween decoration I most cherish. One, for sentimental reasons, is a cheesy spider web with a felt spider that was given to me by my Great Aunt Mary shortly before she died. Her telling me ghost stories when I was a kid was my first realization that scary stuff was fun. The other, just because it’s cool, is my pet zombie. I got him 5 or 6 years ago at Spencers. These days I keep him in my car. It’s a lot of fun at drive-through windows, parking lots, red lights, etc. People freak out! It’s hilarious.
While I don’t really dig the cutesy Halloween decorations, I wouldn’t say I hate them. I’ll just go with the one aspect of Halloween that I DO hate: candy. This will be the second Halloween since I was diagnosed diabetic, so all the candy corn and fun-sized goodness taunts me endlessly. Don’t mind me, I’m just bitter.
When was your very first Halloween, the one where you really knew it was Halloween, and how was it?
I kinda discovered what Halloween was in stages. My father was a southern Baptist minister, so I grew up very religious. Luckily they weren’t the “Halloween is Satan’s holiday” types. I got to participate, but the horror aspects of it weren’t kosher in my house.
My first Halloween memory is actually my earliest memory at all. I was four, and was going out trick or treating with the other neighborhood kids. That’s me, the Viking, in the photograph. I remember being fascinated by my friend Joanne’s homemade robot costume. I also remember how much fun it was to get to go out after dark, dress up, and get candy. Then, in 1987, I made a tape off of the TV that included It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, and DTV: Monster Hits.
If you aren’t familiar with that last one, look it up. You’ll be glad you did. Anyway, this became my favorite thing to watch, period. Year round it was playing constantly. These introduced me to the scary “bats, ghosts, and black cats” aspect of the holiday. Halloween was still about dressing up, but from then on it had an air of the arcane, unknown, and forbidden that fascinated and thrilled me.
What's the one Halloween question you want to be asked and what's your answer?
Q: What is the one thing that sometimes drives me nuts about Halloween?
A: Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s the same thing that drives me nuts about some other holidays too. Halloween is October 31. Always has been, always will be. Halloween is NOT “the weekend closest to the 31st.” Halloween is Halloween dammit! When I was a kid, Halloween was whatever night the 31st was on whether it was a school night or not. I don’t care if you have to go to work the next day.
I know I’m not the only one (by a long shot) that’s gone to work with a fresh Halloween hangover. Halloween is supposed to be celebrated on Halloween. When do we open Christmas presents? That’s right, December Twenty Freakin’ Fifth, no matter what day of the week it is. Halloween deserves at least as much respect as Christmas.
On Monday, October 31, 2011, I wanna see people dressed up and having a spooky good time, not saying “well, I did my celebrating over the weekend.” You got that? Ok, sorry folks, I just had to rant for a second. I’ll get off of my soapbox now.
In closing, I’d just like to say, from all of us here at Son of Celluloid (meaning me), HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
SEE! Joe gets it.
Posted by: Nathan | October 06, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Another great interview. And I totally agree - Halloween will ALWAYS be October 31st, not any other day!
Posted by: Caffeinated Joe | October 06, 2011 at 08:37 AM