Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 A debate as old as the holiday itself, it seems. From the beginning, since the first child dressed up in a costume intended to frighten, the first pumpkin broken into to carve out a face-- Halloween, and the closely associated entertainment genre of horror has, throughout history, been attached for being too scary. In the 1950s, horror comic books like "Tales from the Crypt" turned huge profits for their publishers, and movies like "The Thing," "House on Haunted Hill," and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" regined supreme. Much ink has been spilled and many keys tapped opining that horror gained such popularly at that mid-century time as a a reaction to the horrors of World War II. At so many continuing points throughout our history, with an increase in horror's popularity, there is a backlash. Efforts were undertaken to ban and declare horror comics indecent, and the outlandish tales of 1950s horror cinema imparted a stigma the genre faces until this day. More specifically, even today in more strictly religious circles, Halloween is looked at as evil, a holiday of deception, of evil.

 But we children of Halloween know that the meaning, and fun, of All Hallow's Eve is so much more than that. Halloween gives us all a chance to disappear from our lives. Whether that is from our every day work clothes and into the costume of a vampire, or to stop and revel in the fear of a zombie rising from his grave to devour you, instead of the all too real, daily fear of war, terrorism and human evil choosing your neighborhood to visit next. As we go through the cycles of public outcries around Halloween-- this costume isn't appropriate for a child, this movie ("Psycho," "Halloween," "The Blair Witch Project," "Saw") is too scary-- it seems to this Ghost that our trouble happens when the fear, the scare of Halloween comes too close to the real world.

 Meet "The Creeper." A Halloween decoration reportedly sold at Home Depot stores throughout Canada and the United States. The dictation is simple, plastic and works by suction-cupping a man's face, with big peering eyes, surrounded by his hands so he can get a better look. Yes, the face is unsettling-- but it accomplishes this without the help of the supernatural. This man is not a zombie, a vampire or any variety of undead concoction. He's just a man, who shouldn't be there, looking in your window. Intending to bulgarize your home, murder you, or worse. There's even a version with a finger tapping the window, which reacts to your own finger if you tap it against the window.

 The Ghost's reaction to this was complicated. At once, I felt fear and revulsion. This truly is that stuff that ran throw my childhood nightmares. While I loved to read tales of Frankenstein's monster made of dead body parts coming back to life before bed, I would lay in bed and think of how any person could climb up the side of my childhood house and into my bedroom. Nothing could be so perfectly picked out of the pumpkin patch of my most long-held terrors and thrown into Halloween in such a mass market way. While I agree this is scary, "The Peeper" certainty lends itself to the "is this too scary for Halloween?" debate. After complaints in Ontario, "The Peeper" has been pulled from Canadian shelves, and replaced with a supernatural version of the decoration, "The Reaper," which swap out the human peeper for the Grin Reaper. I actually love this version of the prop- looking out your window to see the Grim Reaper peering in, reminding you of the reason for the season. At the heart, Halloween, of course, reminds of us our mortality while allowing us to disappear into the costumed ether of fear.

 The question remains, however. Is "The Peeper" in its human forms too scary for Halloween? Or simply in too poor taste? What purpose does it serve to put in your window, unless you want a visitor to get the jump of her or his life when looking out your window to see a man looking in. While the Ghost is no prude when it comes to Halloween, I have seen displays-- realistic depictions of people hanging by a noose from a tree, or needlessly violent scenes filled with blood. For this ghost, whether something is in poor taste when it comes to Halloween is when a decoration or display or film has a sense of artlessness behind it. A Halloween display exploring a recent tragedy is just that, exploitive and bad art. Whether good art or bad art it is all Halloween art. And this ghost believes he comes down on the side that says "The Peeper" has the potential for being some very bad Halloween art. People are victimized every day by human terrors; let the jump scare your friend receives looking out your window be at the expense of the Grim Reaper startling you before you laugh, instead of a jolt of terror that a real person is looking in, ready to victimize you-- like too many have actually been.

 Buy he Grim "Reaper" instead?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pint-Sized Evil

Zombie Babies, Spirit Halloween Superstore

     A new autumn. What a Witch's little pumpkin has turned one year old. Reflecting on this last year has her thinking about some of the not so adorable moments in her little spawn’s life. Sometimes, kids are just downright creepy. It's no mystery to her why some of cinema's most iconic villains were pint sized terrors. Issac leading his “Children of the Corn,” Damien with his promise of the end times in “The Omen,” Rhoda who just wanted Claude Dagle’s medal in “The Bad Seed” … and her long lost cousin Maccauly Culkin.

"Children of the Corn" (1984)

     The wicked, evil child is a trope that makes for easy subject matter because, What a Witch is finding, everything about kids is unpredictable. We want to believe these cherub-looking, diminutive creatures are innocent and pure. When they are quietly asleep in their cribs, they look as if they couldn’t hurt a fly. But sometimes, even our cutest and cuddliest little guy and girls do things that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and have you running for some holy water.

"The Bad Seed" (1956)

     We've all heard the stories of babies talking and waving to... something. The person in the corner that grown eyes can't see. What a Witch birthed a baby vampire who doesn't let her get much sleep at night. Nothing makes the frequent late night and early morning baby wake ups more concerning than hearing that baby laughing with glee in an empty room, with no light and no toys in the crib. Her giggling little baby has even waved to what should have been empty space behind her, when she picked him up. Even the most mundane of baby stuff is creepy. It's amazing how many things an immobile creature who is unaware of his ears or that he has a nose accumulates. Baby monitors stand high atop this list. It all started when the little pumpkin in question was just a few days old. A very exhausted What a Witch sought late night refuge in the living room and forgot to turn off her baby’s monitor. There, in the lonesome dark, the baby-monitor projected noise in the empty room! Even more alarming is when said monitor captures the last image from before it was turned off. Often What a Witch will be looking at a glowing monitor, showing her an imposter baby, while the real one is slumbering in her arms.

Vampire Baby, 2016

     The vampire’s fun and entertaining toys—the kind that light up and make noises of all kinds-- take a sinister turn when they start turning on by themselves. Many times, the Witch hears the tunes of multiple toys, happy with their inhuman glee, setting off on their own in an empty room. In fact, she is hearing them now.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's here.

     Like the first leaf to darken, drop from the tree. Like the first gone from the air, leaving only a ghost of the dying summer behind. Like the first sweater you pull on over your shoulders, Like the first tombstone that appears on your neighbor's lawn, the first bed sheet ghost hung from a tree. Like the first hand that reaches up from the grave in the cemetery down the street, late one autumn midnight. Fall is here.

    And so, like that dusty, creaking corpse rising out of the crypt, we here at Ghost Upon the Floor will be doing all we can to live western New York's autumn to the its most vibrantly pumpkin orange, corn stalk yellow, spider black and tombstone grey possible. May your Autumn be full of warm mugs, forest walks over leaves, Jack O' Lantern glow and--- always-- things that go bump in the night. Happy Haunting.