The James Clayton column: Happy Halloween. Show ’em some horror

Halloween? It should all be about the scary movies, reckons James...

Dear Den Of Geek readers, I bid thee Happy Halloween. Actually, wishing you a “Happy Halloween” probably isn’t proper protocol at all. Some scrote (let’s call him Damien) would no doubt enter the frame if I did and tell me I’ve got it all wrong, then spit on me, pee on my shoes and give me the evil eye for my ignorance.

Really, I’m probably meant to jump up behind you in a Leatherface mask and scream, but then I’m liable to end up disabled by a kung fu reflex self-defence strike or accidently scare you to death and consequently go down on a manslaughter charge. I can’t take that kind of rap, man. Guys like me don’t do well in prison.

The alternative, safer and more socially acceptable Halloween greeting in the 21st century Halloween involves knocking on the door and saying “trick or treat!” (Damien the Devilchild approves of this as well). I’m not going to do that, though, because it strikes me as a dumb, disturbing and, quite frankly, deplorable thing to do.

What kind of a society is this that we consider it okay to impose ourselves on people’s domestic lives and make threats if they don’t hand over candy? How crass. Anyone who does this, and I don’t care if they are under the age of five, deserves to be greeted by a chainsaw-wielding maniac and skinned alive.

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Trick or treat? Ick. That’s no way to celebrate Halloween, the cross-cultural epoch-spanning festival of death, spirits and darkness. That’s ‘gimme gimme gimme’ society at its very worst.

It’s like someone has given license for all the greedy little children to act like Al Capone on E-numbers if they put a white sheet over their head and call themselves a ghost. Suburban shakedown has nothing to do with commemorating the deceased and the supernatural worlds beyond. By the beard of Baphomet! Halloween today is just rampant capitalism dressed up with ironic foam vampire teeth! Despicable!

And you’re expected to acquiesce to the demands of the arrogant prepubescents and push chocolate and jelly babies into their hands? Once upon a lunchbreak, we fed our children real babies and not some saccharine synthetic imitation totally free of nourishment and nutrition. Our primeval ancestors are turning in their graves.

I say slit their gizzards. In fact, I say crank up the chainsaw, dice the little darlings into bitesize bloody chunks and serve ’em to your family. Alternatively, if you can’t summon up the energy to commence the slaughter, stick the young offenders in front of the box and force them to watch Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Initiate the re-education programme provided by Gene Wilder and his überfreaky Oompa Loompas and show them what happens to avaricious tykes who seek only sweets and selfish false needs. That’ll teach them, and the musical numbers will get stuck in their head and they’ll be ravaged from within by earworms, regretting the day they ever showed up at your door in a silly cowboy outfit hoping for a free sugar rush.

Because that’s what 21st century Halloween should be about: scary movies. The hoax calling, candy nabbing and poseur costume parties can all go to Hell because, really, the best way to reconnect with our primal dark urges and commune with the macabre is by engaging with appropriate cultural texts. If you want a full-on sensory experience of sound and moving image, the optimum choice is a horror film (or three).

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The evening of the 31st of October, therefore, presents an altruistic opportunity where you can act for the greater good of the community and provide a beneficial, educational service for the people who will forge the future. If your bell rings, don’t wave off the rabble of badly-costumed kids with a few Mars bars. Instead, I say invite them in and show them your DVD collection.

(Note: I’d like to point out that, in the present day climate of fear, you should take care when talking to minors and ensure that you have parental permission before you involve them in extra-curricular activities. I will not be held responsible for any childsnatching charges readers may gather. Guys like me don’t do well in prison.)

Open their minds to the wonders of motion picture history. Show them the full range of fantastic and grotesque spectacles of the past century. The possibilities are almost limitless and the potential triple bill terror rides are enticing.

You could take them through Frankenstein and The Fly with From Dusk Till Dawn thrown in at the end, if there’s time. How about Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Exorcist and An American Werewolf In London as an evil trio of movies for an eerie evening in with the ickle kiddywinks of the neighbourhood? All hail a line-up that offers House Of Usher, The Haunting and The Host!

Both you and they will experience immense joy as you drag yourselves through a vampiric odyssey of Dracula and Nosferatu adaptations. Experience repeat lycanthrope metamorphosis with every werewolf flick you can lay your claws on and feel the collective euphoric thrill as you watch them.

Zombies, psychological thrillers, demonic possession, alien invasions, stalk ‘n’ slash and monster movies: once you’ve entered the feral rabbit hole and experienced the adrenaline and excitement of the horror genre, you are hooked and never want to return home. You are the mentor and experienced master of the obscene, the unnerving and the abominable. Embrace your vocation. The lost and naïve little ones need your guidance.

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Then, once the movie marathon is done, you can release them into the world with a cry of “Fly, my pretties, fly!”, having twisted their minds and, through the medium of pop culture, brought them to an appreciation of the dark side of the coin. It’s then that they, the children of the night, realise that they’ve been doing this Halloween thing all wrong and consequently act accordingly.

Unleash them to punish the local babysitters who’ve had premarital sex. Let them loose to hold séances with Captain Howdy and the poltergeist in the TV. Send them off to craft and reanimate malevolent homunculi made of stolen corpses and smile at the sight of the wicker men they light, as virgin policemen become sacrificial toast.

Thus, the true spirit of Halloween surges again and sugar coma casualties are curbed. Happy Halloween, hail Satan and, here, have a go with the chainsaw. A new batch of fresh victims arrived half an hour ago…

James’ previous column can be found here.

James sketched a series of movie-spoof comics and they can be found here.