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It’s nearly Halloween, which means a cornucopia of horror movies on TV. Most of them are just awful, with a few masterpieces occasionally making the grade. Last night some cable channel featured Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple of zombie features I’d never heard of. Frankly, the horror movie genre is in a slump. It’s zombies, zombies, zombies, all the way down and I’ve never understood their appeal. I have a pretty strong stomach — I always have anchovies on my pizza — but I demur when it comes to people eating people. I just don’t understand how they can be the luckiest people in the world.
For just over 40 years, The Exorcist has been the magnum opus of horror films. I’ve never completely understood how such a frankly religious movie has been transformed into a Halloween staple. Yes, it’s terrifying and — for whatever reason — people love to be terrified. But what makes it a perennial favorite, I think, is the gut deep fear that demonic possession may be possible. Nobody’s going to turn into a zombie or be resurrected as a member of the fraternity of the undead. But at a visceral level, most people believe fallen angels are more than superstition who literally, in the words of the Prayer to St. Michael, “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
Satan is out of style, nowadays, which is a very bad thing. Archbishop Fulton Sheen pushed the idea of the devil with a great deal of fervor. Satan’s untimely death in the psyche of present day man is, he said, his greatest triumph. Modern man may be numbed to evil given the terrors of the present age. But when beheadings are all the rage in ISIS land, it might be wise to re-think our dangerous conceit that evil lives only in the hearts of men. Evil is personal. It may be ISIS policy to chop off heads, but individuals carry out the orders. And it could well be that a person — one of unfathomable power — and who is supernaturally skilled in the art of deception, tempts us to break free from the “superstition.”
It was a gorgeous summer day in Colorado. We were looking for something to do before Chauvinist the Younger goes off to camp, so we took the kids to The Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. This “festival” is actually a summer season theme park for people who really like to dress up in “historical” garb. I mean, really, really like dressing up. Enough to invest. Heavily.
Most of the shops (and that’s mostly what’s there besides food vendors and a few stages for the various theatrical, comedy, magic, and acrobatic acts) sell costumes, footwear, jewelry, hats, and weaponry(!) somewhat loosely related to the Renaissance (whichever one that may be — let’s just say historical accuracy isn’t the imperative). Pirates are a favorite theme, as are knights. The women select costumes ranging from witches to royal ladies. Now, of course, cross-dressing shows up as well — as if gender bending was commonly seen on the streets and celebrated in 14th century Italy. Whatever.
All the dress-up playacting seems like a terrific excuse to show-off one’s tatts, too (heh). Surprisingly, I’ve had enough exposure to the body art culture (mostly at Walmart) that I’m not even terribly disturbed by it anymore, with one exception. Why do so many tattoos portray Satan or seem to celebrate death, with skulls, for example?