Thursday, October 01, 2015

Let The Countdown Commence!

Ah, Autumn. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing color. Fireplaces are lit, snow begins crawling down the mountains, and the winds carry a nice, comfortable chill. The days are pleasantly bracing, but at night windows are shut against the gathering cold, as people turn their homes and apartments into personal caves in which they will pass the long dark winter in warmth and comfort.

Or, at least, those things would be happening were I still back home in Alaska. But now I'm in Southern California, where the leaves are only changing color to due lack of water, fireplaces are only lit to destroy evidence, and the winds carry the distinct feeling you get when you open an oven to check your meal. In general I do not miss Alaska, but the two month period of September and October are my favorite times of the year, not least because it leads up to the greatest holiday ever invented; Halloween. There are many things I love about Halloween, and many of them are forever linked in my mind with my upbringing in Alaska, where most years we would still be waiting for the first snow, and yet winter gear was often required for any real trick-or-treating. For that reason, trick-or-treating has seen a significant decline in recent years, as more and more parents opt for the comfort of indoor malls or Trick Or Treat Towns set up in high school gymnasiums. But those people are missing out, and it saddened me as year after year I would take my daughter Trick-Or-Treating and spend the entire night without seeing another child in costume. On the plus side; she got more candy from less houses than I ever saw in my childhood.

Feeling the holiday spirit in California can be a bit of a challenge, for many of the climate related reasons listed above. It can be hard to get into the creepy, spooky mindset when there isn't a cloud to be seen and temperatures are climbing up into the 90s. And so I must be a bit more proactive and determined in my celebrations. Fortunately, since I've moved down here, I've found gainful employment at Universal Studios, and this marks my second year working the Terror Tram attraction for Halloween Horror Nights. So that means that I get to spend four nights a week surrounded by men and women in gory costumes running around and scaring thrillseeking guests. And, I get to do this on the Bates Motel set, with Mother looking down from her window on the hill at all the excitement below. I don't get to go Trick-Or-Treating anymore, and a lot of my weekend horror viewing must take place in the middle of the afternoon before work, but I think it's a mighty fine tradeoff.

This year also sees me returning to The Countdown To Halloween blogathon, which I've passed on for the past couple years. This year I plan to make a full go of it, though, with as many posts as I can manage over the 31 October days and nights. To that end I've pulled aside plenty of creepy movies, books, comics, and music to form the background of my month, on top of several special events which I will be getting into later. The biggest part of my celebration will involve movie watching. Lots and lots of movie watching. In years past I've planned out certain films to watch, but this year I'm playing things a little looser. With hulu, netflix, amazon prime, and the local library, I have more access to movies than I have in quite awhile, and I'm pretty much going with what appeals to me at the moment. A couple of patterns have already appeared, though. I started my movie watching in earnest on September 18th, to coincide with the first Horror Night, and this year seems to be the Year of the Vampire, as well as the Year of the Franchise. Through a combination of happenstance and planning, I've seen a handful of vampire movies over the past couple weeks, and I'm planning on continuing that trend with viewings of the Universal Dracula sequels, as well as some of the Hammer sequels(of which I've only seen the first). I'm also going to run through a few series, most notably Creature From The Black Lagoon(only three films, so not incredibly difficult to squeeze in), and the Nightmare on Elm Street series. I plan, this year, to have a healthy mix of classic and obscure, new and old, favorites and new-to-me, and a concerted effort to watch some of the big titles that have thus far eluded me. Although 'big titles' might be a misnomer, as so far that has amounted to Cujo and the two Blacula Films.

On the book front, I'm reading the first of the official Nightmare on Elm Street novels. I was gifted an omnibus of three novels several years ago and am only not getting around to reading them. I also plan on reading through a bunch of Lovecraft's short stories, to complement my reading of Providence, Alan Moore's epic treatise on Lovecraft's interconnected mythos. I'm also leaving myself open to whatever might come up during the month, as I may find some hidden gem during one of my weekly trips to the library. As for music, well, my ipod has already become infested with soundtracks and morbid music of all varieties. The surf-rock spook of Satan's Pilgrims or The Bomboras, the prog-rock tinged nightmares of frequent Argento collaborators Goblin, and everything in between.

So yes, this Halloween proves to be a very busy one, full of work and celebration, both of which seem to be interconnected at times. I would also suggest to many people to click on the little Frankenstein mask up in the upper right corner of my blog. That will take you to the Countdown To Halloween blog(you could just click that link, as well), and I encourage you to search around in the list of participants. I haven't had the chance yet, but I plan on scouring through there, but it would be nice of you to give it a glance. We're all going to do our best to make the season a blast for everyone, and I'm hoping you'll come along with me for it.

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