How can you celebrate Halloween on a budget? What sort of films would make a great Halloween party? How about Halloween themed collectibles? Here Andrew Hawnt takes a look at having a creepy night without breaking the bank.
Halloween is almost upon us once again, and the proliferation of celebratory items available in mainstream stores got me thinking- why isn’t Halloween made into even more of an event? Like a spooky Christmas. Think about it- you could have jolly old Satan Claws come and fill your stocking with entrails, surround your Halloween tree with sweets and rotting carcasses, and then you could all sit down to a Halloween dinner of roast pumpkin and Innocent Bystander pie. Or something similar. seriously though, it could be turned into more than just Trick Or Treating and bobbing for apples. Plus, there’s more out there than just toffee apples to give out as Halloween gifts.
It isn’t just kids that can celebrate Halloween. Taking it as the commercial version of Halloween and not the religious festival observed by the pagan community (Samhain, prononced ‘Sow-en’ or ‘Savven’ depending on who you talk to), Halloween can be a blast for kids and adults, and can serve as a bonding experience for families. Involving children in Halloween styled games can be a great way to entertain youngsters and educate them on traditional pastimes (even when their origins have become so obscured by popular culture). Dressing up, getting made up as witches and monsters and the like can be fantastic fun for all involved, and properly supervised Trick-Or-Treating is a great thing for making memories.
Another good method for making a Halloween party night memorable for children would be to gather a group together for a mini Halloween party before going Trick-or-treating. read them a spooky story from the proliferation of kid’s horror series that are on the market, or show a suitable movie.
But Halloween isn’t limited to the domain of kids, and nor should it be. With all manner of themed events on in clubs, cinemas and so on there’s a ton that the adult Halloweener can sink their teeth into (sorry). There’s a great deal of Halloween themed merchandise that would make great gifts for loved ones, such as licensed horror movie memorabilia and other horror merchandise such as action figures, posters, statues, and the movies themselves. You could check out things like the ever-creepy Living Dead Dolls figures, or the movie collectibles created by MacFarlane Toys, NECA and Sideshow Collectibles.
Want a great Halloween evening in? How about you gather a selection of friends, some suitably kitsch horror movies (Go for the cheese more than the hardcore dark stuff- zombie films, cheap B-movies, Chucky, Underworld, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and its billion sequels, films you can shout at), Halloween snacks (stock up on kids snacks and themed sweets- there’s nobody saying the grown-ups can’t have some fun too), add some suitably camp music (I recommend ‘Project 1950’ and ‘American Psycho’ by the Misfits, and anything by the Cramps) and voila, you have the makings of a fun Halloween party in your own home. Granted, that sounds like a pretty regular night in at our house, but still, there are people out there who are more normal. Somewhere. I think. get your place decked out with cobwebs and skulls and make an event out of it.
When choosing movies for your Halloween night, I’d suggest finding a bunch of 80s horror titles, as they really do capture the right fun atmosphere you’d need for an evening making fun of everything with your friends. Why 80s? Listen. While some may argue we are enjoying something of a resurgence in ‘true’ horror movies, with your million SAW sequels and million remakes of classics, I am left wondering what happened to the horror films that would have you yelling ‘COOL!’ amidst your screams. The 1980s are a fine example of an era in which horror films had all the horror stuff down pretty well yet mixed in a liberal dose of humour and fun without becoming parodies. While the horror genre has become either more serious or more bland in recent years (or both), with endless repetitions of the same tired old themes, old gorehounds like myself are left wanting something that isn’t being delivered of late, namely films that you want to watch again.
You see, a major problem with current horror cinema is that companies are making PRODUCT instead of FILMS. You can go into any DVD outlet and find rack upon rack of Wrong Turn/Scream/Hostel/Halloween knockoffs that are cheap and easy to make, and there’s barely a memorable title amongst them.
I’m not just craving the old days though- contemporary horror is missing something. Look at the 80s. Evil Dead 2. Fright Night. The Lost Boys. Pumpkinhead. Elm Street. Hellraiser. Vamp. Return of the Living Dead. Hell, even Rawhead Rex was better than much of the current output masquerading as horror. All of these horror movies had their scares and their gore, but there was a definite fun quality to each of them. They hit their beats so well you could almost pick out the rhythm. I’d love to see a return to that sort of structuring. Many recent films and their subsequent franchises don’t seem to want to do anything new with the format they are beating like a particularly dead horse.
Want a fun evening’s viewing? Check out any of the following horror flicks for some entertainment with your gore:
Creepshow, Day of the Dead, Trick or Treat, Poltergeist, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, An American Werewolf in London, Bad Dreams, Hellraiser, Evil Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead 2: Hellraiser II, A Nightmare on Elm street, Re-animator, Scanners, The Burning, Class of Nuke ‘Em High (okay, this is a spoof but it still kicks ass), From Beyond, House, 976:Evil, Witchboard, Warlock, The Thing, Bad Taste, Cat People, Child’s Play, Cat’s Eye, Chopping Mall (BEST. TITLE. EVER), Dead Zone, The Gate, The Hunger, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Monster Squad, Society, Sorority babes in the Slime-ball Bowl-O-Rama….. Jeez, there’s thousands of ’em. Go seek out some fun.
There are so many ways to make your Halloween a fun night to remember. Kick off with a movie night as suggested, then go along to a Halloween themed party or show. Preferably in costume. Check local listings for events in your area that you can go along to and take part in. If all this sounds like a no-brainer, that’s because it is. With a small amount of effort you can change what has become a relentlessly commercial day into something you can genuinely enjoy without a huge amount of cost. Halloween celebrations shouldn’t be all about handing out sweets to bored kids on your doorstep- it should be enjoyed and relished. I mean, how often can you actually run around with a plastic trident and horns on during the rest of the year? Actually, don’t answer that.
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