For us hardcore horror fans, the month of October leading up to Halloween is a sacred time filled with celebrations of everything that we love: spooky movies, music, decorations, and more. Halloween is our Christmas! It brings us such joy and during this global pandemic, some traditions have been severely affected, putting a damper on the festivities, and our spirits. Aspects of our annual Halloween traditions had to be altered to protect us, and those we love. Here is what we are up to this month, despite the harrowing worldwide events surrounding us.
One of my favorite aspects of October in Toronto is grabbing a hot, tasty beverage and walking the streets in search of all kinds of spooky related things like Halloween hand towels, mugs, Davids Tea festive blends, and decor (and clothing, honestly) at Spirit Halloween. Now, I am relegated to browsing and shopping online, changing the dynamic completely. Not only that, Toronto is always jam-packed with many events from horror movie screenings, costume parties, the annual Rue Morgue Halloween party, and so much more! I would sit down and plan out the entire month's activities, picking and choosing what I could afford to do. This October I had very exciting vacation plans and holiday pay set up to go to Salem, MA for Salem Horror Fest for the first time. It’s now a virtual event so I could technically still “go” but the excitement has completely been lost on me.
It’s not ALL doom and gloom, thankfully! Since I am stuck inside I can actually successfully participate in 31 Days of Horror, so watch our social media for all of the wackiness that will ensue. Our project has a bunch of other spooky events and interviews planned so Jessica and I will be busy!
Normally I ramp up my horror movie watching for the month of October but since the pandemic started I have watched ~150 horror movies, including my comfort films (a few times each), so….. I will watch some of my all-time favorite horror movies and other horrific delights like: Scream (1996), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Pet Sematary (1989), The Changeling (1980), Halloween (1978) (and subsequent sequels!), The Guest (2014), The Thing (1982)
However, here are my current, top two Halloween favorites and why:
The Monster Squad (1987)
When October rolls around, it’s not just Halloween, but it’s my birthday as well! And every year I watch my all-time favorite horror-comedy, The Monster Squad (1987). Writer/Director Fred Dekker hit an absolute home run with this movie, though sadly not fully realized or appreciated at the time of its release, but it has become a cult favourite. The trope of kids battling classic Universal monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and The Wolf Man in order to save the world is a perfect combination and it brings me life! This is paired with Night of the Creeps (1986), the other wonderfully weird and fun Fred Dekker horror-comedy, for a monster blasting good time. I have also received the greatest news of October (so far) and that’s that the documentary on The Monster Squad is finally getting a physical release set for early November. I have obviously pre-ordered it!
Trick r Treat (2007)
Before Michael Dougherty’s Trick r Treat (2007), the Carpenter/Hill stalker horror classic Halloween (1978) was my go-to film to watch on Halloween (I still watch it if I have time!). However, when the new, adorable Halloween/horror icon Sam walked onto the scene, my favorite day was forever changed - now we have a true mascot! This anthology is spooky, scary, and full of sweet Halloween goodness (screams, death, mayhem and candy!). If child murder doesn’t get you into the Halloween spirit, I don’t know what will.
I have ordered Halloween themed bath bombs as I foresee a lot of hot baths with pumpkin beer (and a few bottles of wine) in the near future as we inevitably head to a second lockdown, or vastly reduced social restrictions. I also have a stack of books to read so I will be starting my “hibernation” curled up on my couch with a BrutaliTeas blend and Satanic Feminism: Lucifer as the Liberator of Woman in Nineteenth-Century Culture by Per Faxneld and My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.
My partner and I are going to make Old Fashions and gorge on a vegan charcuterie board for a joint birthday party, and maybe try our hands at Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board on Halloween night!
My apartment is normally “spooky” with monochromatic aesthetics and skulls, but this year, since I am literally stuck inside of my apartment, I decided to truly spookify it with Halloween specific decorations and orange lighting! I can’t believe I haven’t done this yet as it brings such warmth and joy (along with cats chewing on wires and knocking down decor!).
In the end, the spirit of Halloween is with us horror fans 365 days a year and nothing, even a deadly virus like COVID - 19, can change that.
Happy Halloween, fiends and ghouls!
When the pandemic really got underway and we were all in lockdown back in March, I kept thinking that at least by October (if all goes well), lockdown restrictions may be lifted and I can still follow through with my own yearly traditions. I kept this thought as my glimmer of hope to get me through those first six months knowing I will have my spooky season for a reprieve. However, as we started to experience the second wave and every day is a guessing game as to what restrictions will be put back in place, I started to lose that excitement for the season. It also didn’t help that after just a few trips to Michaels and Bath & Body Works to get my seasonal supplies, I activated my seasonal cold. So with feeling sick with a cold, the panic of thinking I had in fact caught the virus, anxious about the second wave and realizing that I would not be able to do what I normally do this time of the year….I couldn’t help but feel angry and depressed. The magic for me was gone.
In a pre-COVID world this would be the time of year that people see me out and about the most. I leave the sanctity of my space to get pumpkin chai lattes and take lots of walks outside admiring the Fall leaves and colours. I make multiple stops to some of my favourite stores to get the regular Halloween supplies and decor to continue adding to my home (Michaels, Chapters, Winners and HomeSense) - gotta get those deals! I would spend a lot of time listening to horror playlists and podcasts while I am crafting up a storm. I would go to places like Odds and Sods and Sunrise Records to find new or used copies of horror movies at great prices to add to my ever-growing collection. I even drag my partner to Spirit Halloween so we can admire the decorations and costumes while taking pictures of us being goofy with the different masks.
I spend a lot of time baking and cooking this time of year, especially around Thanksgiving, and annually invite people over to share in the plethora of pumpkin goodies and indulge in my savory seitan loaf. Among these traditions would be sprinkled with various amounts of horror movies whether at home or attending late-night screenings at the Mayfair Theatre. As well, in the past few years, I have been incorporating various witchy rituals to become part of my Fall traditions. This year, I was even planning on having a Halloween party in conjunction with a housewarming party and each room would have a different spooky theme. But alas, that can not be.
However, as I started to recover from my cold and in conversations with my close friends and partners, I began to think of new ways to celebrate the Fall season during this extraordinary time. Once I started to create that list and seek out what was happening in the virtual world, my month of October filled up fast with spooky events! I bought tickets to Salem Horror Fest and plan to spend a lot of time enjoying the content created while I am crafting or baking some of my favourite pumpkin flavoured treats. I have already planned to attend some Drunken Cinema events with friends, as well as I bought a ticket to participate in Jayme White’s virtual seance Evoke.
As Kelly has already mentioned, we are amping up the spooky for Spinsters of Horror with a few exciting things planned. So keep an eye out for that. In conjunction, I have decided to amp up my social media game by participating this year in 31 Days of Horror. Every year I attempt to do this, but because of all my work and social activities the past few years it has been a challenge to do successfully. But this year, since I rarely leave my apartment, I feel that this is now doable. Extra bonus, the 31 selected horror films are all from my personal collection and ones I had not seen yet but bought on a whim! As well, I plan to watch my Halloween regulars so there will be a lot of movies to watch.
Other things that I have planned are reading Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion, and Worship in Horror Cinema, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s and revisiting some classic Fear Street for nostalgic reasons. As well as catching up on some of my favourite horror and spooky podcasts such as Good Mourning, Nancy, Girls, Guts and Giallo, Ghost in the Burbs, Bedtime Stories and more.
Importantly, I decided to take the time this month to focus on my witchcraft. I have been struggling with getting attuned with myself and incorporating more rituals and spellwork into my day-to-day life. Since I moved I have created a very inviting and comfortable space in my bedroom that has become dedicated to my witch’s altar and working area. As well, last year after a few experiences I had at seances I became more intrigued by the psychic aspects of witchcraft and spirit communication. Over the last year I have gathered materials and literature on the topic to begin attempting this myself. Now I am thinking it is the time to stop reading/preparing and get practicing!
Then of course at the end of the month, I will celebrate Samhain, the Witches New Year - or as the mainstream knows it as Halloween. I have yet to decide how I want to spend that Saturday night, especially since it will be extra special with a full moon, but I am sure an idea will come to me.
In the meantime, drink up witches and ghouls because it is time to get your spook on.