Unlike the embarrassing, false and sickly Christmas season Halloween can be enjoyed by people of all religions, ages and both sexes. Although many would claim the birth of Jesus has far greater significance than an event which fundamentally is about people wearing costumes and scaring each other, there are many other reasons why Halloween rocks.
As is fitting for an evening intrinsically linked with mystery, the night itself has murky and mystic origins. It has roots in Celtic, Roman and Christian traditions but also shares characteristics with festivals of the dead that occur in global destinations from Peru to Australia to Japan.
In terms of colours, symbolism and iconography Halloween can’t be touched by any other time of year. Pumpkin orange, vampire bat black, zombie white and severed head red are all out in force inside homes and businesses. Monsters, zombies, witches and deranged killers walk the streets. Goths and emo heads show no fear as they go about their routines looking more understated than usual. Who cares about a dour man in a trench coat listening to My Chemical Romance when there’s a man dressed as death, complete with robe and scythe, walking ominously alone along the northbound Northern line platform at Moorgate tube?
Pop culture would be a duller place without Halloween. Although relatively few movies are specific to the actual date, it’s quite reasonable to claim the whole of the horror canon for October 31. Two extraordinary films where the date figures centrally are the eponymous John Carpenter masterpiece and Donnie Darko, even if the latter movie’s narrative stops on October 30.
More broadly, Scream, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm St, Friday The 13th and countless others are perfect for a spooky night in and should be watched without much or preferably any lighting. A hollowed-out pumpkin with a lit candle inside is acceptable. For the real Halloween experience, the house should be creaky and empty except for the film viewers.
Since 1990 The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes have been something to look forward to, generally being more twisted and violent than usual Simpsons episodes. The three-part structure grates on occasion but the content is usually as faultless as can be expected from Springfield’s fluorescent family.
Musically, Nick Cave, Bauhaus, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen are all great Halloween fodder, while pop would be a duller place without Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Monster Mash or of course, Thriller.
Halloween. Dark, scary, naughty, kinky, murderous, violent, bloody, vicious, evil, filthy and painful. What’s not to love?