Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fear Itself

I've spent the entire month of October watching horror movies. Drag Me to Hell, Lunacy, The Frighteners, Re-animator, Pontypool, Demons, The Blob, Dracula, The Dead Zone and many others. I don't know why I did this, but I can't wait to quit starting tomorrow. Four and a half weeks of this shit... It's been brutal. And what have I learned from filling my head with all this horror and evil? Well, not much. But if you know me, you know that I love Halloween and horror films. I believe that Halloween provides us with a time to vicariously live out our deep fears through costumes, scary movies, and jack-o-lanterns. All of the girls who are afraid of being sluts get to dress like hookers on Halloween weekend. Goth kids don't feel like minorities during this month. Gourds receive illuminated faces for some reason. It's a time when nothing is as it seems, and everything is as it should be.


Halloween is a holiday like any other. A time to celebrate life in spite of the awful, boring reality that we endure every other month of the year. It's a time to engage in fearfulness and oddity. We party about things that aren't necessarily concrete, but we all relate to anyway.

Possibly the best movie I watched this month was David Cronenberg's The Brood. Even though virtually ALL horror films/stories do this, The Brood is one of the only horror films I've seen that KNOWINGLY reveals its monsters as psychological manifestations. But this is what Halloween is all about. It's looking at our inner fears and monsters, metaphorically interpreting them, and laughing the metaphors off (thus laughing our fears away). It's about mocking our fear, while maintaining a respect for those demons that haunt every human being.

You all know the feeling. When you get freaked out and jump during a scary movie or when you're surprised by the chainsaw guy in a haunted house, you normally respond by laughing out loud. During those awkwardly quiet, or weird, or frightening moments, we have to react somehow. It's like the sheriff said in No Country for Old Men: "It's alright, I laugh myself sometimes. There ain't a whole lot else you can do". But it's that laughter that signals just how human we really are. We can't look at something absurdly horrifying without reaction. We have to laugh at our fears, otherwise be overcome by them.

None of us are without demons. We all have fears. Halloween gives us the opportunity to interact with those things on a level a little bit closer to the surface. So don't just celebrate "Fall," celebrate the knowledge of your own fears. You're a human, and that means you're afraid of things. When you're dead, you won't get to experience fear anymore. So have fun with it while it lasts.

I've been growing less scared every year though. I think it means I'm getting older. The Muppets would occasionally make me cry when I was a kid, and now, I can't think of anything that really chills my blood. Maybe death. I think death is actually very scary. We fear what we don't understand, right? We'll I don't understand death. I will absolutely experience it, but it will be the last thing I experience. With every other experience, it leads to another. And every past experience informs my present experiences. When I die, it will be a culmination of every single experience I've ever had, but it will not teach me anything. It's like taking the ultimate final exam. Everything you've lived for comes down to this moment. But when it's over, it's just over. You don't get an A or an F. You just finish. And I don't understand that. So I'm afraid. 

On Halloween, I'm afraid. Maybe I'll go write a story about the grim reaper. Or the guy who tosses a coin and tells me that it's over whether I'm ready or not. I'll still be afraid of him tomorrow, but I won't be able to laugh at him.

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