Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe
The skies they were ashen and sober
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year.
Ulalume – Edgar Allan Poe
Hi y’all. Toni (Kanzensakura) here as your Pubtender today for Poetics. It is getting towards the end of October which means……Halloween is nigh. The stores are crammed with cheap chintzy costumes for children, adults and yes, dogs. Elephant sized bags of treat portion candies are stacked to the ceiling and all kinds of stuff for decorating is almost crowding out the Christmas decorations now on display. Now that last bit is truly scary! Bowls of treats at the Bar and plenty of hot and cold cider on hand.
Before we go any further, I will make confessions to you all: (1) I was one of those who called in sick and went to a friend’s house for a party to watch the premiere of Michael Jackson’s video, Thriller, on MTV (2) I like a good scare. Not a screaming, fainting, wetting your pants scare – just a good shiver down the spine and sometimes, still feeling that shiver at times a few years later. Like what the movie The Others gave me.
Halloween – All Hallows Eve – the night before All Saints Day – has a long history – too much to go into in this one post. The short version with much cut out of it (pretty much like a Jack’o Lantern), is the Celts had a feast at the end of harvest and the beginning of winter – the beginning of darkness on the earth. The veil between the land of the living and the dead was thin therefore, it was easy for the Druid priest to supposedly predict the future. People dressed in costumes and wore masks to fool the wandering spirits and the spirits would leave them alone. Bonfires and carving up small vegetables, such as turnips, with ugly faces also scared away the spirits until after the stroke of midnight, the spirits departed the earth and returned to their realm. I’m sure all of you have much to add to this.
But for now, in modern times – it’s all about the decorations, costumes, parties, trick or treating for the kids, scary movies, scary stories. As a child, I sometimes went to a sleepover at a friend’s house. After the adults had gone to sleep, we’d gather about one the bed or floor to tell ghost stories. The person telling the story would take a flashlight and turn it on and then place it up under her chin to give a ghostly look to the face and heighten the fear factor. Many urban legends were told. We’d all shiver and squeal and make up stories, each one more lurid than the last. And then we would all cram popcorn and candy and soda into our tummies until we were sick. But it was great fun.
Hammer Films and Pinewood Studios owe a great deal to Poe – they made movies of many of his stories and poems such as The Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Murders on the Rue Morgue. And then the classic movies: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy. In the 1950’s, the fear of radiation, rock and roll, and outer space coming into full play: I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Them, Godzilla, It Came From Beyond…..Now it seems we are more frightened of pandemics that make us crazy or turn us into Zombies. The fear of becoming mindless creatures not really alive and not really dead is a common thread in movies and TV. Here in the States we have The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and what I find most ridiculous – I Zombie – about a zombie coroner.
Stephen King, Clive Cussler, Whitley Streiber, and others write truly frightening books. King is the most frightening because he writes of things that could really happen: a pandemic, a rabid dog, vampires easily taking over a small town.
It’s almost Halloween. For Poetics, let’s write about Halloween: retelling of a ghost story in poem form, going to a costume party, kids trick or treating or taking your child/grandchild trick or treating, an atmospheric poem about full moons and cold winds – stuff that gives you, as we say down here in the South – jimjams, buyng candy half price the next day at the store. I’d also like to hear what your top five scary movies/books are!
So – Have Fun With This because…..It’s a Thriller! I just couldn’t resist.
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