Tag: Halloween

Movie Review: The Burning Moon


What’s the best horror movie tagline?

In space, no one can hear you scream”? “Who will survive and what will be left of them?” “Be afraid, be very afraid”? When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth”? All good guesses, and we could spend this whole post listing these, but I’d like to give the honor to Intervision’s DVD release of German indie, The Burning Moon, which boasts:

Uncut. Uncensored. Unconscionable.

Film Review: Strange Circus


The Creepiest Show on Earth

“Everything looked like a guillotine,” narrates Mitsuko in the beginning of Strange Circus. She is recounting her childhood living under the torment of an emotionally sadistic father. Like any abused child she is in a constant state of anxiety, worried she may do something to draw her father’s ire. In that situation, even the walls must look dangerous, like armed guards blocking any chance of escape.

Mitsuko’s father, Ozawa, is also the principal of her school where his face is broadcast into the classrooms each morning on a TV screen like a low rent Big Brother. The school hallways are soaked in crimson. Crimson ceiling, crimson drapes, crimson walls, crimson carpet. The walls are textured like dripping blood frozen in place. It’s disquieting when two students slowly wheel a TV down the hall, Ozawa’s stern eyes staring daggers from the screen. These halls show up frequently, sometimes empty of people, other times looking like they’ll drown the pale little figure of Mitsuko.

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For Halloween, I bring back a tale told a year ago. Lights out, gather round for a tale well calculated to keep you in suspense. Pleasant dreams. It was a dark and stormy night. The snow fell heavily – except at occasional intervals, when it was driven sideways by a violent gust of wind which […]

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Halloween, the Boogeyman, and Why ‘Lord of the Flies’ Matters


He served in the British Navy during World War II. Before the war, William Golding was a humanist, assured that people are perfectible, that humans can bring into being some future utopia. In Golding’s words, “All you had to do was to remove certain inequities and provide practical sociological solutions, and man would have a perfect paradise on earth.” After the war, Golding wrote a novel, the theme of which was about what he called “the defects of human nature.”

William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies tells the story of military schoolboys left to themselves on a desert island after a nuclear holocaust. Apart from any adult supervision, the boys devolve into a state of savagery, falling from modern to primitive. Split into two groups the boys vie for power. One group, fighting an island beast, erects a pig’s head on a pole which is soon surrounded by flies. The title of the novel, Lord of the Flies, reveals the true nature of the beast – the monster is not the pig but the boys themselves.

Monster costumes around Halloween are related to Lord of the Flies. The word “insect” comes from the original word for “bug,” later, boogeyman. Movie titles with the words “ghost,” “specter,” “goblin,” or “scarecrow” come from a fear of some beast, some Lord of the Flies. But as Golding and his novel teach us, the real monster, the real beast, is us. We may be haunted by supernatural entities – which do indeed, exist – but our first problem is the problem of our nature. Just like the boys on the island, left to ourselves, we will always be the monster. So, dressing up for Halloween as our favorite monster might be easiest if we just go as ourselves.

The Confectionery Come-On


It began two weeks ago, and it is only getting worse. Up and down these office halls I walk, and everywhere I turn, on every table in the break area, and nearly every door I pass, therein lies a bowl of sadistic sugary seduction. Oh, what foul season this is! … that breaks even the most conscientious of calorie counters. One piece, so small, barely registers on MyFitnessPal, surely can’t hurt – and then one piece becomes another becomes another – those sinister sellers of sweets, foiled again!

Little tiny packages of Snickers, Milky Way, Hershey’s bars (Hershey’s Dark, if you please), Peanut M&Ms, Twix, Butterfinger, Reese’s Cups, and my personal kryptonite – the Kit Kat bar. All are conspiring against me, even the unnamed malted milk balls that are wrapped like little eyeballs – in keeping with the season of course.

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Our last heavily-wooded neighborhood consisted of a large circular, gravel road with night lights only coming from our lamp post and the moon. It was over half built-out, and the few kiddies outgrew trick-or-treating.  Yet every year, we faithfully bought candy, dressed up and I turned up the volume on my spooky tape. I bought […]

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October 29, 2006: Our first snow, first Halloween, and first day moved into our new house. (Read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here,  Part V here,  Part VI here,  Part VII here,  Part VIII here,  Part IX here, and Part X here.) Preview Open

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Halloween and Kids Having Fun!


My neighborhood had a fun and “normal” Halloween.

@bethanymandel has expressed frustration about the number of educational, socialization, and fun things the adult powers-that-be are depriving children these days. In at least one podcast she particularly lamented that some places were banning Halloween trick-or-treating, an activity that is conducted out in the fresh air with minimal brief contact between homeowner and child. So, I thought I’d report our neighborhood’s experience last night.

Halloween and the Monster Pandemic: The HARM of Universal Masking


I live in a very red state now, apparently redder than Georgia and Texas. I live in a neighborhood that I love because there are small homes with neatly mowed lawns near old mansions with roman columns. You could say this area meets the progressive definition of “diverse,” which cares only about neighbors having different hues as they sit on their front porches, as people still do here. But it meets my definition of “diverse,” too, because there are Trump flags galore and Biden/Harris signs staked in the grass, and no one disturbs anyone else’s stuff.

The truth is that I rejoice on almost every run through these streets littered with leaves about how plainly American this very mixed neighborhood feels because it’s plain to me that these families have different incomes, different demographics, different opinions, and it is fine. This is a reflection of the country I grew up loving. Unlike the hyper blue bubble of Austin that I recently began to find so suffocating that I had to leave it behind me, this place feels normal.

Sure, All Saints Day Is Christian, but What About the Night Before?


Many Christians have problems with Halloween. There are many reasons for this, but I’ll mention two of the primary ones.

  1. Many Christians find horror and ghost stories and films objectionable. Surely Christians should be thinking about more pleasant things.
  2. In recent years, adults have made the holiday more of their own. With that has come the popularity of the “sexy” costume: “sexy nurse”, “sexy librarian”, “sexy mortician”, “sexy sexiness”, etc. The whole enterprise has become a dirty joke.

But the great apologist C. S. Lewis looked at these things a little differently. Both of these things can be seen as a reason to believe.

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This morning, the wide grin of a little boy in a smart looking batman costume caught my eye. The joy on the child’s face, is unlike that of any boy photos I have in my collection, so a proud grandpa’s boast in a FB post “Have you ever seen a happier Batman?” was not one […]

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In our special Halloween edition of “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Pulitzer-Prize winner Stacy Schiff, whose most recent book is The Witches: Salem, 1692. They discuss why, in Schiff’s view, the Salem witch trials are the “the best known, least understood chapter” of American history, and why the trials, false charges, and finger pointing, remain relevant today in our Internet culture. They review the characteristics of the accused and accusers, and compare them to perceptions passed down through the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Miller, and others. They also explore the connection between Puritanism, with its iconoclastic principles, and the American founding; and how such a highly literate society based on piety and learning could devolve into one that embraces hocus pocus, superstition, and injustice. Schiff delves into the role of gender and race in the witch trials, and what colonial Salem teaches us about how hysteria can foment civil strife and violence. She concludes with a reading from The Witches: Salem, 1692.

Stories of the Week: In North Carolina, a lawsuit was filed against the state’s opportunity scholarship program that provides up to $4,200 a year in tuition assistance for low-income students to attend private schools. Will state legislators succeed in persuading the Court to dismiss the case? In Detroit, a financial review commission has agreed to release the public school system from state oversight after nearly 11 years, a hopeful sign for a beleaguered district.

On today’s episode of COVID in 19, Scott Immergut of Ricochet and Avik Roy of FREOPP talk about the World Health Organization’s new guidance that lockdowns are bad. What took them so long? And with the holidays coming up, Avik explains why his kids will be trick or treating and why he’s even looking forward to seeing his relatives.

A Chicago Trick or a Autumn Treat


How do I spend my Halloween? With Autumn (name changed to protect the guilty), my good friend and all-but-adopted little sister. She is married and an RN, but she likes to joke about being “perpetually 11.” Autumn is what happens when a tomboy stays a tomboy without crazy parents or society interfering. She likes fireworks, amateur bartending (I always get a gin and tonic when there), heavy metal, and talking about politics. Lest you think anything untoward is going on, she is a conservative Catholic married to a conservative Catholic convert with an ample firearms collection. (We were in College Republicans together.) Autumn is affectionate with all her friends, which is awesome, and also loves to dress up for Halloween.

Visiting Autumn’s old place for Halloween is an experience in and of itself. Her parents have a house that is already partway to haunted, and the decorations make the ancient bungalow look positively spooky. Her Mom is a blast and an awesome host, and Autumn is an incredible extrovert and organizer, so the party is always fun, with all kinds of guests. Autumn’s Dad, well, he makes Archie Bunker look like a woke hipster. Getting into politics with him can be either amusing or result in a barrage of invective. The guests are from all over the social/political spectrum – Autumn has maxed-out charisma – so the party would be fun regardless of what we did.

Playing Evil on Halloween


Halloween is not immutable. Common American traditions today bear only the slightest resemblance to druidic rituals and superstitious people casting frightened glances over dimly lit turnips. Trick-or-treating today isn’t even the same today as it was just 30 or 40 years ago. Heck, some families meet in parking lots to distribute candy from car trunks, because walking a neighborhood at sundown is apparently too dangerous for attended kids.

Few today believe in whatever these traditions once stood for. Halloween is not connected to All Hallows’ Day in most minds. It is not about dodging ghosts or nodding to ancestors.

Halloween is simply an occasion for fun. Americans don’t have many holidays; fewer still not initiated by government. Halloween is about candy and silly costumes and pumpkin carving, and all those things that can get little children excited.

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I grew up in a small town in southwestern Montana. In the 1960s, Bozeman had a population of about twelve thousand, plus around four thousand students at Montana State University (go Bobcats!). Geographically speaking, you could walk the circumference of the town in about three hours. I suppose the ease with which the town could […]

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