Good day and much tides of pestilence, famine, bloodshed, and ritualistic curses to you all.
No it is not a pessimistic comment meant for you all, it is merely but the theme of this particular blog. The one time of the year when the macabre is globally acceptable and celebrated, and it is also dually acceptable to knock on people’s doors in some kind of poor excuse of a costume to either scare or impress, and demand either sweets or money. Yes, Halloween is upon us! And may I start of with a happy Halloween to you all worldwide!
I had a think about topics I could specifically write about for this Halloween themed blog, but then I had the idea instead to come up with a top ten list of cool or horrific things that remind me of this annual festivity! This could be music, films, books, comedy, or just general knowledge that ties in with the theme. So let me show you my top ten list of stuff that remind me of this time of year. I will say right now… that anything to do with The Nightmare Before Christmas is NOT being included in this list. Yes it is cool and all that, and it has spawned a multi-million pound franchise, and the fashionably stereotypical redefinition of the ‘alternative’ lifestyle, but it gets put on every list! So without further ado, here it goes!
1. TYPE O NEGATIVE
For anyone who does not know, I absolutely love this band and everything about them. Whilst not a band anymore due to the sad and unfortunate early passing of frontman Pete Steele in 2010, these lot remain the most pivotal bands to ever have come out of the Roadrunner Records roster, and within the metal scene in general, and yet at the same time the most criminally underrated.
Their doomy brand of metal mixed with psychedelic rock and haunting keyboards, complimented by Pete Steele’s remarkable baritone voice, painted the picture of what could be perceived as the definition of the modern day ‘gothic’ brand of alternative music.
Ironically, the lyrics are a mixture of deeply personal issues, combined with pitch black humour and sarcasm (an amazing trait for an American band to have). They are also extremely funny people in general, so whatever they may say… do take it with a pinch of salt. One such classic case was when they put up on their official website that Pete Steele actually died back in 2007 with an ominous obituary. Regardless, this band are just pure genius. If you can see in between the lines of this band, then you will appreciate the humour and the ruthless deprecation involved.
Like, you see the video above for Black No.1? Even though it was the defining ‘goth’ tune of its time, it is actually a proper beautifully hilarious dig at vain goth girls who love themselves a bit too much.
Additionally with their song ‘Wolf Moon’, they are the only band I have ever, EVER seen that have made an enchanting ‘love song’ about performing oral sex on a lady on a full moon… whilst she is on her period.
2. STRANGE BUT TRUE?
If anyone remembers this, you get some automatic cool points. This was a show that aired during 1993-1997 on ITV and was presented by Michael Aspel (who now is the host of the Antiques Roadshow). It is safe to say that this show gave me many sleepless nights due to its pure creepy story reconstructions about the paranormal. Particular episodes that gave me the actual heebie jeebies was the specials on The Enfield Poltergeist, The Stocksbridge Bypass Incident, Ouija Boards, and The Phantom Hitchhiker.
Even the bits where Mr Aspel is telling the viewer what the stories are about in a dimly lit library are creepy. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING was creepier than that opening theme. They don’t make them like they used to…
3. THE CROW (FILM & GRAPHIC NOVEL) / THE CROW OST
Devil’s Night – 30th October, would forever be immortalised in the first and only reputable telling of James O’Barr’s classic graphic novel. Whilst I admit that I actually saw the film first back in 1994 (as I was not aware of the graphic novel), it still took me by surprise at just how powerful and majestic it actually is. Even when I fast forwarded a decade later to watch it again, it was even better and more relevant than ever before. Hell, even now in 2013 it still kicks ass and does not look dated!
The moody monochrome filters, the bleak urban landscapes, and the dark corruption of society brings a real atmospheric mood to this painful yet emotive tale of revenge from beyond the grave, which focuses on the perils of redemption, justice and pure love. But the way it all falls in around the theme of Devil’s Night / Halloween makes it even more macabre than first imagined.
The film has a great casting too, but sadly one of the most harrowing things about the movie was the death of Brandon Lee, who plays Eric Draven in the film. He was accidentally shot during the filming of the brutal flashback scene, and part of that particular scene is still within the final take of the film.
Additionally, the soundtrack is fucking amazing. With song contributions from bands like Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Machines Of Loving Grace, and many more, it made up for a extremely effective and compelling soundtrack. Even the score written by Graeme Revell had a very Eastern and almost mystical feel to it, which inevitably complimented the scenes within the film. But yes, seriously, if you have not seen this film, for the love of God please make sure you check it out!
4. EDGAR ALLAN POE
One of the most prolific and enigmatic of all poets, Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most revered and critically hailed writers of all time. Whilst he died at the early age of 40, he published such great works like ‘Tamerlane And Other Poems’ (1827), as of course the much applauded ‘The Raven’ (1845). So influential was Edgar Allan Poe that he influenced other visionaries and artists such as Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, William Friedman, Voltaire, and even bands like Queen and The Beatles.
5. OUIJA BOARDS
There are two forces of nature that should never under any circumstances be fucked around with or underestimated. Those forces are… A) Mother Nature, and B) the paranormal & unknown.
Ouija boards are one of the oldest methods of communicating with the dead. The earliest one on record goes back to 1100AD, where it was first introduced in China within the Song Dynasty. The method was known then as ‘fuji’, and has since been passed on and popularised in modern culture, predominantly within the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Ouija boards should never be underestimated. When you get deep in to the subject, it leans towards the arts of psychic power and spiritualist mediumship, which can also affect those who are not spiritually inclined.
As much as I totally dig all this, I point blank refuse to ever do an ouija board out of the sheer respect and decency not to fuck around with what I do not know. However, if you would like to have a pop at it yourself, by all means go for it. Just make sure you know what you are doing, otherwise you may get some possibly life changing stuff happening to you. And not in a good way!
Roll with me on this one… This is an abbreviation otherwise known as bondage, discipline, and sado-maochism. Sounds outrageous for this to be on here right?! And whilst it personally does not necessarily remind me of Halloween, the sheer general ignorance of sectors of society who seem to think that this area of sex / roleplay actually is for “the fucking weirdos who listen to Marilyn Manson and Slipknot and praise Satan during Halloween and all that shit“, is literally quite staggering! But of course, the alternative darkness and taboo nature of this can often scare the hell out of many a person, which is understandable! But hey, as they saying goes…. “sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains never did!“. As long as you both enjoy it, that is all that matters.
In fact historically speaking, it has been around for quite a long time! So put down your fucking rubbish novel called ’50 Shades Of Gray’, and why not pick up a copy of ‘Salo : 120 Days Of Sodom’ by Marquis de Sade instead. It is safe to say that de Sade is a better author.
On top of all this, I guess a more macabre way of looking at the subject, could be in the thematic dress up style that is seen in such things as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whilst not quite that kind of get up, that is probably the most commercially accessible look in to that world, but in a fun sort of sense.
7. MOST HAUNTED
Come on now, as much as a few of you out there may not believe in ghosts, or believe in the paranormal, you cannot deny that regardless of your belief that this show was just sheer entertainment! With the relentless shrieking of Yvette Fielding and the often hilarious possessions of Derek Acorah whilst investigating haunted houses and castles, this show was just sheer gold in entertainment value. However, this was also a great look at the scientific aspects of things as well, with people trying to find rational explanations for paranormal occurrences. At times, there were some things that were just beyond explanation and sincerely boggled the mind.
Although, lets face it… anyone who saw the ‘Mary Loves Dick’ blunder will probably associate that with the best moment of Most Haunted.
But regardless, there were times when certain episodes were just sheer fucking unnerving and creepy (The Golden Fleece, The Greengate Brewery, Pendle Hill, Clerkenwell Detention Centre, The Ancient Ram Inn, and Brannigans, anyone?). Even the music is so simplistically unnerving, it just added to the tension of it all!
8. ANTON LAVEY & THE CHURCH OF SATAN
Anton LaVey is one of the most prolific and recognised characters in the realms of Satanism and modern alternative culture. Founder of the Church Of Satan in 1966 in California, it is safe to say that he did not necessarily have a quiet life, and that is probably due to the pig ignorant negative press that follows a deeply Christian country.
One of the biggest general misconceptions about Satanism (particularly within religious circles), is that it advocates the works of The Devil, and all that is against the Christian religion. The thing is, Satanism is actually a pretty cool religion, which in its most purest form, celebrates the decadence of life, free will, respect for others, independence, and embracing of nature and enlightenment. One other thing is that Satanism also rejects the ideology of Christian based religion, which is probably why the belief itself, as well as Anton LaVey and The Church Of Satan, received such flack from a very scared public that still buys the heaven / hell stance of life.
I am no Satanist, but I can sure totally respect its stances and way of conforming with every day life. But apparently, rock and roll is the work of Satan. If that is the case, I cannot wait to go downstairs and talk about Slayer with the horned dude, over a nice glass of wine!
9. HORROR MOVIES
Let’s face it, no other movies quite capture the pure spirit and essence of the whole macabre entity of Halloween like horror movies!
In fact it is quite self explanatory really. Some of my own personal favourites include The Shining, Halloween, REC, Scream, and much more. Even when it comes to costumes these days, you cannot help but wonder who will be the next person knocking on your door dressed up as a movie character!
I remember one time, a few years ago, some guy came knocking on our door dressed in nothing but a Kappa shellsuit and a Sainsburys bag on his head with some poorly cut out eyeholes. The fact I laughed at the funny bastard and then shut the door did provoke an egging, but for some reason not at the house. It was bizarrely aimed at the next door neighbours car. No skin off my teeth!
10. SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS
I hear you ask “what on earth does a place in America have to do with Halloween?” Well, a lot actually. Ever heard of the Salem Witch trials? Well basically, a shit load of ladies were tortured and killed, whilst being accused of witchcraft and black magic during the 1692-93. The whole spectacle and stories from this colonial point in time also represented the cultural shift of medieval and post-medieval times and attitudes in response to law and justice.
These days, you will actually realise that the whole Halloween theme is actually none more active and prevalent than in Salem. In fact, it is a celebration not just of the whole ‘trick or treat’ ethos of it all, but also a memorial of the many women who wrongly died and were (300 years later) all cleared and later proclaimed innocent of all charges.
Anyway, that is my top ten things that remind me of Halloween. I am sure I could have slipped in many Slayer, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, or even maybe other band references but I shall leave you with this classic bit ‘Black Metal’ cheese. Here are a couple of those scary and dastardly Norweigan folks having a casual day at the gym.