It’s Halloween, and that’s scary – it means stocking up on sweets, ready for kids in ghost masks knocking at the door. An American tradition unheard of in New Zealand when I was a kid myself…but now…sigh…
My wife refuses to let me help them make responsible food choices by giving them broccoli. Even if the parent who’s with them is nodding frantically.
The idea of All Hallow’s Eve in which the ghoulies and ghosties come out to play before All Saints Day can apparently be traced to Celtic Christianity, and may have pre-Christian antecedent, though these days the imagery is framed more by the horror and sci-fi movies we watch and love. As a teenager I used to soak up everything that was going – King Kong, science fiction double features, the lot. My favourites – some still on the cinema circuit then – were from Hammer, a Brit company whose low-budget ethos encapsulated the spirit of Frank Zappa’s ‘Cheepnis’.
Looking back, the fact that Hammer featured great actors like Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee (now the world’s oldest heavy metaller) – didn’t make up for occasionally dire scripts. But they were fun. Later, those movies turned up on late-night Friday TV, introduced by ‘Count Robula’ – New Zealand’s former Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, in Dracula makeup. That was true horror.
I never thought so much of US ‘slashers’ like Halloween (1978), recently re-made by Rob Zombie (the guy who did the soundtrack to Quake II). Not really my cup of tea. The quintessential slasher was Maniac (1980) – which I saw on first release, and wished I hadn’t. This year’s re-make, with Elijah Wood in Joe Spinell’s role, was banned here a few months back.
Have any of you seen these movies?
That said, I’d go to see Return of Son of Revenge of Halloween Magnet Part 483: Myers vs Xena. I figure it’d take 5 milliseconds for Xena to reduce Myers to two cans of dog meat.
But you know the scariest thing about Halloween? It’s my birthday. A birthday I share, seeing as we’re on to movies, with fellow Wellingtonian Sir Peter Jackson. He’s a year older than I am. What’s more, he started with Bad Taste – the splatter comedy that re-defined cheepnis, re-defined slasher/splatter – and, above all, re-defined awesome.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013
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