Oh my god, guys, do you realize it is almost Halloween?! I just got back from a trip to Eastern Europe, and I have to say, despite whatever other things I sometimes feel about the US, I am so happy to live in a country where we have a fun national holiday devoted to the terror, anxiety, and agony of the unknown! I am all about Halloween, because it is the only holiday that really touches on all of my interests:
2. parables and archetypes
4. having everyone admit that everything every day is kind of hideously scary oh my god just the uncertainty of it all, you know?? It’s amazing that we can even get out our front doors sometimes!!
4a. but also admitting that that terror of uncertainty can sometimes be the big sexy thing that keep life interesting and exciting
5. days when it is socially acceptable to tape a headless rubber mummy to your door
6. haunted houses!
7. fake blood in public
I mean, really think about it! Think about the amazing privilege that we all get, a single special day a year when we finally get to tape a headless rubber mummy to our front door (if that is what you strongly personally desire to do all the rest of the year)(I know that I do!).
I know I am basically the Halloween equivalent of someone who spends all of November making little Christmas tree angels out of toilet paper tubes, but I do not care. As far as I am concerned, it is the only holiday that is a celebration of fun and wonder, without being ruined by a really obvious and heavy-handed religious part (yes, duh, I know there is a spiritual history of Halloween, stop interrupting me) or having to do boring stuff with your family. And you can walk around in a dinosaur costume if you want to! Anywhere outside your house that you like! Even into a bar!
Anyway, so since I was away for a lot of October, I am a little behind on my Halloweening, which I normally begin at the very top of October. SO: I am kicking it into overdrive for the remainder of the month. Please get ready for some specialty Halloween programming from me on this blog over the next few days, including: things that are scary, things that are not scary, daily horror movie reviews, non-daily candy reviews, and precious Halloween memories.
First order of business: I have decided to try to watch a horror movie a day for the rest of October. I’m still kind of jet-lagged, which leaves me waking up at the unholy hour of 6:45 am. A terrible time to be awake (if you ask me), but an amazing time to watch horror movies! This morning, I watched a horror movie that was so absorbing I almost forgot to go to work! And that movie was called:
TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007), dir. Michael Dougherty
Holy balls, people, this movie is so good! It is one of those movies that is composed of four vignettes, and I just figured, I’ll watch one or two, and then leave for work, right? Wrong! Omg, so so so wrong. This movie is so fun and goofy and gross and genuinely funny and even really seriously spooky, I could not tear myself away–it gets all the Halloween feelings just right. It’s nothing like most horror movies you see around these days, the ones with all the dumb sex and then girls crying and running and realistic-looking zombies and fake-feeling everything else and weird graphic victimization that makes you kind of uncomfortable. This film takes place in a much campier, more stylized universe, a place that has more in common with “Buffy” and “Tales from the Crypt” than “Saw”–it does real unreality better than any horror film* I’ve seen since “Scream.” Yes, I am praising it that highly!
Set in a suburban midwestern town on Halloween night, the film follows four separate (but interwoven) stories centering on: a campily menacing school principal dealing with trick or treaters, a group of tweens off to do something unsettling with some stolen jack o lanterns, an old man who’s alone in the house (or is he???? omg of course he’s not!) and some Halloween girls gone wild. It’s also not sexist or racist or homophobic–I know that is sort of a weird thing to praise it for–like, shouldn’t all movies be that way?– but as a long time horror fan, I know that I sometimes have to suffer some sexism or other yucky stuff to get through a halfway enjoyable horror movie. I am pleased to report that this movie is not like that all!
It’s also really beautifully shot–it was produced by “X-Men”‘s Bryan Singer, so I am guessing some serious cash went into it, and it shows. The dark color palette is moody and gorgeous, and you know what, it has to be really fucking moody and gorgeous to get me to notice it, because I don’t pay attention to any visual details ever in my life, like sometimes my roommate gets a haircut and it takes me two months to notice. But I noticed how lush and pretty this film looked for a straight to DVD horror movie. And god knows why it was dumped straight to DVD! The movie was originally scheduled to be released in theaters for Halloween 2007, and for whatever mysterious reasons, never saw the light of day until its DVD release this past month. I think it is lame that in a world where something like “Paranormal Activity” gives everyone a boner (even though it lacks craftsmanship or story development or also a lot of other things) just because it is not the same old “Saw Part 47” nonsense, people don’t get to have an amazing Halloween delight like “Trick ‘R Treat” pushed in their faces the way it should be. Well, I am pushing this in your face right now! if you like horror movies at all–say, if you’re unsqueamish enough to watch and enjoy “Scream”–please totally go out and rent this movie this Halloween season, you won’t be sorry. When I walked out of my house, which is on an exremely crowded urban block, this morning right after finishing this movie, I felt the same combination of terror and delicious delight in my own isolation and all the unknown things going on around me that made me first go wild for Halloween as a kid.
Oh also, don’t look at the Wikipedia page, it ruins like every single surprise in the movie. My week of horror movies feels kind of shot now, though–what can I rent that will be as good as this? If you have any suggestions, pleeeeeeeeeeeease leave ’em in the comments!
* I am using the “horror film” qualifier because I think there are a bunch of non-horror directors who do real unreality better, but this isn’t about them!