A Tribute to Halloween: Jenny Colgan
“Halloween is an ancient druidic holiday, one the Celtic peoples have celebrated for millennia. It is the crack between the last golden rays of summer and the dark of winter; the delicately balanced tweak of the year before it is given over entirely to the dark; a time for the souls of the departed to squint, to peek and perhaps to travel through the gap. What could be more thrilling and worthy of celebration than that? It is a time to celebrate sweet bounty, as the harvest is brought in. It is a time of excitement and pleasure for children before the dark sets in. We should all celebrate that.”
Music for Halloween: Blue Oyster Cult
A Political Tribute to Halloween: The Flying Governor
A Tribute to Halloween: A Scottish Prayer
A Halloween Movie Recommendation – Part I of III: “Night of the Living Dead”
This 1968 horror movie, directed by George A. Romero, defines the term “classic.”
A Tribute to Halloween: Washington Irving
“What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did he eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with snow, which, like a sheeted spectre, beset his very path! How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him! and how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scourings!” – “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Music for Halloween: Michael Jackson
A Halloween Movie Recommendation – Part II of III: “Trick ‘r Treat”
This clever and uncommonly intelligent American-Canadian horror film was written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who worked on the scripts for “X2” and “Superman Returns.” It will both enthrall and terrify you.
A Poetic Tribute to Halloween: John Keats
“The roaring of the wind is my wife and the stars through the window pane are my children.” – John Keats, English poet, who was born on 31 October 1795, articulating perfect family values.
John Keats did not write a Halloween poem, but the final three stanzas of “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad” capture something of the spirit of the day:
“I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Thee hath in thrall!’
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.
Music for Halloween: John Carpenter
A Tribute to Halloween: Erin Morgenstern
“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.”
Friends: Do NOT look at the photograph below, which shows a vengeful Japanese ghost. If you do, she will enter your home after dark tonight and force you to watch re-runs of “Fox and Friends” until, in an agony of boredom and intellectual despair, you cut your head off.
A Halloween Movie Recommendation – Part III of IV: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”
The presiding genius of Halloween captured on film.
Music for Halloween: Echo and the Bunnymen
This version of The Doors’ song was featured in “Lost Boys” – a good movie choice for Halloween viewing.
A Tribute to Halloween: William Shakespeare
“Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
A Halloween Movie Recommendation – Part III of III: “Halloween”
Directed and co-written (with Debra Hill) by John Carpenter, who also composed the haunting music, “Halloween” (1978) is a cinematic masterpiece in the horror genre. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut as Laurie Strode, the brilliant English actor Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis, and Nick Castle, Jr. as the sinister Michael Myers (billed as “The Shape” in the end credits).
A note: “Halloween was produced on a budget of $325,000. It grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States and $70 million worldwide (equivalent to $250 million as of 2014). Pleasance was paid $20,000 for his work, Curtis $8,000, and Castle earned $25 a day.
A Tribute to Halloween: Edgar Allen Poe
“Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.” – “Spirits of the Dead”
Music for Halloween: Question Mark & the Mysterians
The video below might not frighten you, but it is almost certain to unnerve you. Look at those dolls! (But not too closely!!)
A Tribute to Halloween: Walter de la Mare
‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
Celebrating Halloween with Art – Part II of II: Yoshitoshi, “The Witch”
A Halloween Treat – Part I of II: Bela Lugosi
“Listen to them!”
Music for Halloween: Warren Zevon
A Halloween Treat – Part II of II: James Earl Jones
In truth, Halloween, the most remarkable day on our calendar, is not at all about the baseless fear of “dark forces,” but rather, it is an occasion for remembering many commonly-overlooked facts: that the universe is always in flux, that boundaries and frontiers are frequently illusory, that social roles are arbitrary, that personal identity is fluid, that the world is a delightfully tricky place, and that we are always in some sense wearing a costume. And here is the sweetest treat Halloween bestows upon those who participate in its rituals: Everything celebrated today – fantasy, fun, disguise, theater, puckishness, freedom, antinomian spirit, and playful eroticism- offends the rigid, rule-bound, insecure, repressed, life-hating Puritans of the world. Again – Happy Halloween!