"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ... Bogart, Shakespeare, The Maltese Falcon, Those Great Movies

Saturday, October 29, 2011

They Boogeyman Is Here

Halloween was not always about children gathering sweets for the sweet.  Long ago it was the deadly serious twilight of All Hallow's Eve, when demons prowled the night and people disguised themselves in demonic costumes so as not to be recognized as human prey.  At the cockcrow, the demons were banished back to the underworld, and God's light shone on the Day of All Saints.  It was all about the battle between the profane and the sacred.  Two striking images from the famous movie The Exorcist portray this eternal war:

The Profane

The Sacred

Not everyone agrees about the observation of Halloween -- some religions consider it blasphemous, others as just an innocent night of fun and scares for children.  If you believe in the Bible, you know that the sacred wins out in the end.  The question is, why has Halloween changed from serious to fun?  Is it because the culture has abandoned the belief in true evil?  Is it because the culture has evolved to believe that evil is powerless against the sacred at any time?  Or, do we just want the candy?  I know what I think.  I wonder what you think?  I wonder if any of us will be able to sleep tonight after seeing that demon!


  1. What a beautiful and iconic image that second one is! Shots like that spring from gorgeous and brilliant film-making.

    I think that as a society we have come to understand the causes of negative scenarios such as illness, bad weather, etc. as having natural and sometimes controlable causes as opposed to blaming spirits or devils.

    Therefore, Halloween isn't so much a night to avoid or fool the spooks as it is a night to embrace a persona that pulls us out of our normal, work-a-day lives. Sometimes that persona will still be a ghoul, but a pirate, a giant whoopie cushion or Katy Perry can equally fill the bill.

    ...And there's also the candy (and great classic films to watch). :)

    Happy Halloween!

  2. I like to combine the childish excitement of being out after dark with the knowledge of the background of the day.

    After I introduced my daughter to the Universal Movie Monsters, we start thinking of Hallowe'en as a celebration of the art of make-up genius Jack Pierce. It always comes back to movies.

  3. Hi Michelle! I couldn't help but laugh at "the giant whoopie cushion or Katy Perry"! Your point about the evolution of understanding of natural causes is a good one -- it reminds me of the ancient Greek myths, with each god causing particular things like storms and lightning. I agree that the candy and the great movies are the best part!

    CW, you know I agree completely about Jack Pierce! The originals were the best. I feel that same excitement about being out after dark in disguise -- of course nowadays I stay at the door and give out candy dressed like a witch! I love it...

  4. It's the candy, Beckers. It's all about the candy.

    Now if you'll excuse me (grabbing bag) these Butterfinger Crisps and I would like to be alone.

  5. Butterfinger Crisps?! Move over, Shreve, and hand over half that bag!

  6. I'm so glad to live in a time when it is all about the candy. May.. I join you guys with my favorite candy, Three Musketeers and my Halloween witches costume?

  7. I'm glad too, Dawn! Please do join us -- I will be a witch as well when I answer the door. Just don't get too close to Ivan's half of the Butterfinger Crisps...you might lose a hand! LOL!

  8. Face it, Becky: The devil makes us do it. We are all just a bunch of candy-lovin' heathens!

  9. LOL! Flickchick, you have put it perfectly and succinctly -- the consensus is in -- it's the candy!

  10. I'll be Severus Snape handing out candy...if I haven't eaten all of the Reese's Cups. :)

  11. Michelle, what a great idea! Love Snape! Wish I'd thought of it first...

  12. I think there are plenty of people out there that still very much believe in "true evil" - in religion, in politics, and elsewhere. As far as Halloween goes, I agree with Michelle in that science has answered many (not all) of the Big Questions in life, so there's less of a sense of mystery.

    Fear's a powerful thing. We used to tell scary stories to kids because they were metaphors for real-life terrors. And good guys and bad guys are easy to understand. Now it's more about getting your kicks... but those real-life terrors still exist. They're just not as immediate anymore. I'm talking about basic, primal, life-or-death stuff here - the kinda stuff that Halloween, appropriately enough, serves to remind us of.

    And yes, candy is awesome.

  13. Becky, for Team Bartilucci, it's about candy, fun, and catching up with people we don't always see regularly. Siobhan went trick-or-treating with me on her heels dressed as her favorite cartoon character, Sonic the Hedgehog; with her awesome headpiece and Sonic shirt, she got tons of compliments (not to mention candy :-)). Vinnie stayed home to hand out candy and comic books; you'd be pleasantly surprised at how kids' eyes light up when we give them comics!

    You may be wondering why we're talking about Halloween in the past tense when it's only October 30th. Well, in our area they have what Vin and I call "Halloween Observed;" the last Friday of October is when our township sanctions trick-or-treating so that kids won't be running around on a school night. Patrol cars come around, too, in order to prevent the bad kind of Halloween mischief. It makes the day more fun and safe for everyone.

    But most of all for Team Bartilucci, Halloween is especially dear to our hearts because our beloved Siobhan was born 1 hour and 8 minutes before Halloween! Shugie used to have combination birthday/Halloween parties every year. Now that she's a young lady of 15 (!), she prefers to relax and enjoy her gifts and cake with us. :-)

    Happy Halloween, Becks and buddies! :-)

  14. Oh thanks, Becky, for scaring me to death with that creepy picture. Jeez!

    For me, Halloween is all about the kids and their candy. I'm an old curmudgeon and the charms of Halloween have passed me by. Though I do like the occasionally clever decorations.

    I do love the vintage Halloween classic films and tomorrow night I'll be watching THE UNINVITED, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and THE THING.

    Soon as 8:00 (town curfew) comes around I shout 'whoop-te-doo!' and shut off all the lights.

    Unless I run out of candy before. In which case, oh well. Too late!

    But this year:
    My granddaughter and her momma and poppa are coming over. She'll be dressed like a little giraffe. They're going trick or treating here in town. She's only 18 months old so what does she know from Halloween? Oh well, she'll enjoy it simply because we're all doing it together.

    There's snow still left in drifts and on some sidewalks, so it will a dicey night.

    Happy Birthday, Siobhan!! Happy Halloween all!

  15. Rich: I see Halloween as a reminder too, of the fact that evil exists, and the celebration of our ability to overcome it. I think that is why it has become something for fun -- if there is anything the devil hates, it is to be laughed at!
    Dorian: Happy Birthday to Shugie! I'd love to see that costume! I've always loved Halloween, autumn, the trees turning -- the whole season!
    Yvette: I do love Halloween, but it's most fun when you have a little one to enjoy it with. I know you'll have fun. Oh, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the lovely picture -- LOL! I can hardly look at it myself!

  16. For my wife and I it is all about putting costumes on the cats and taking photos (LOL),one of which is posted on my FB page. It's also about watching an atmospheric film to fit the mood. Right now, I can't decide which to watch tomorrow, THE UNINVITED or THE HAUNTING.


  17. I've got to see that cat! You'll have to watch both movies, John -- I love them both. I also think The Haunting (the original) is the best true horror movie ever made!

  18. Well, I watched THE UNINVITED which I have seen a few times before and it is still a wonderful atmospheric film for a dark night with the lights out kind of film. As for THE HAUNTING 9the original, of course) that is one of the few films that creeped me out when I was a young teenager. It was on TV at night, my parents were not home and that the fact that you never seen anything really spooked me out. I kept the lights on that night. I am recording it off TCM tonight thought I had a copy but could not find it) so it will be a belated Halloween treat.


  19. John, I just watched The Uninvited last night for the 100th time! I love the same things about it that you do.. Now, even after many viewings, The Haunting still scares me a lot! It's just the best. Happy horror to you!