Hey everyone, been rather incredibly busy this month -- aside from all my Halloween partying, I've recently begun working as a writer for The Indie Game Magazine, plus there's school -- so unfortunately this post will be fairly brief. Normally it's against my code to work on All Hallow's Eve, but I just couldn't let the holiday go by without a single post. Sooo, I present you with the five stories that, in my humble opinion, most perfectly embody the time and place that was my childhood Hallowe'en. (If you didn't grow up with most of these, I offer you my most sincere condolences -- and a gentle reminder that it is always better late than never.) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown gets an honorable mention, because I can't stand not to mention it. Happy Halloween, dear readers.
#5: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Really now, no list of this nature would feel complete without good ol' Tim Burton. This 1993 stop-motion masterpiece was and always will have one of the best Halloween themes -- thank you, Danny Elfman -- and Jack and Sally are still one of my favorite couples. And honestly, what could ever beat the perfect combo of two of the most fun holidays ever? (Well, except for maybe Talk Like a Pirate Day.)
#4: "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
Back when TV music channels still played, you know, music videos, I remember seeing this one a lot around the end of October. Another classic Halloween theme, "Thriller" is as much of a treat for the ears as it is for the eyes. Zombies, werewolves and Michael Jackson, oh my! And it comes with a universally loved dance that's just... to die for. (Yes, I really had to.)
#3: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
I don't even remember where I first heard of this, whether it was the Disney animation or the Wishbone version or some verbal reincarnation of the original Washington Irving short story. In the end, it really doesn't matter. For as long as I can remember, the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman has been a part of Halloween tradition. My favorite incarnation is, unfortunately, not one that I can share, except as an anecdote: My fifth grade teacher gathered the class around him, legs crossed and sitting on the floor, and sat down to tell us the tale in his best creepy elderly man voice. He then told us about how he and his son went to the place the story was based on. (Here, he held up a paper bag with something bulging inside of it.) While they were there, his son discovered a strange, spherical object just off the road... At this point in the story, he yanked the strange round something out of the bag and tossed it into the crowd. The boy next to me caught what appeared to be a disembodied head, and we all had just enough time to yelp and start to scramble away before the boy pulled the Halloween mask off of the basketball and started to laugh. The moral of the story? Playing terrible tricks on small children ultimately makes for the best Halloween memories. Also Washington Irving is awesome.
#2: Hocus Pocus
There are so many good things in this movie it's difficult to decide where to begin. Both Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker witch about in my favorite roles of theirs to date, and Jason Marsden provides the voice for Thackery Binx, the first talking black cat -- protected by magic, thank goodness -- I ever loved. Billy is one of the very few truly likeable zombies that comes to mind, and the film teaches kids a valuable life lesson: NEVER LIGHT THE BLACK FLAME CANDLE. At least not until after you have sex.
#1: Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree
Neil Gaiman put it perfectly when he said that Bradbury was the author who truly made Hallowe'en a place you could visit whenever you wanted, not just one magical night of the year. And for me, the first chill of autumn, that first golden afternoon of fall will always have the same glow as that of the jack-o-lantern filled Halloween Tree. It's hard to say which is better; Bradbury is a master of prose, but in the film you get to hear him basically read his story aloud to you as the narrator of the film, and bonus: Leonard Nimoy is Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, possibly the coolest cloaked old dude to ever fly backwards in time. It's a little bit of history, a little bit of mystery, and everything I loved first and best about All Hallow's Eve. My pumpkin this year, a copy of Pipkin's in the movie, is dedicated to the man whose voice is forever linked in my mind with bags of candy, carved pumpkins, and the red and gold of the leaves that change in the north.