Ah, it’s the season for plastic skeletons, fake tombstones, spiderwebs all over, and rings of dancing ghosties. I like cute or fun Halloween decor, and eerie special effects. Gruesome, horrifying, and terrifying things don’t really need to be in front yards, in my opinion. Now, granted, one person’s “eerie” can be another person’s “terrifying.” But, um, let’s just say that gore isn’t really a great thing to impose on the neighbors.
This is one of those places where my “it’s your property, do what you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone or keep other people from enjoying their property” beliefs collide with “I don’t appreciate that and there are small kids in the neighborhood.” Skeletons are OK, fake tombstones are OK, obviously fake spiders and webs, witches who have collided with trees, dancing ghosts . . . Especially witty things, like the guy with the skeleton in a lawn chair holding a phone and a sign that reads, “Your call is important to us, please stay on the line.” Or the inflatable pirate ship, black cat, dragons, cute stuff that’s kid friendly.
The pretty realistic headless horseman on a horse still held together by scraps of muscle and sinew, with glowing red eyes? Um . . . I was impressed, it was spooky, and there are no young kids on that block that I’ve seen, so hey, go for it. The slightly too realistic dead dude in the tree with a motion detector that makes screaming sounds when someone approaches? No, please.
I suspect my difficulty is that I have an all too vivid imagination at times, and a low tolerance for fake gore. I’ve dealt with real gore, and real-life scary things. Halloween as a public festival should be fun, eerie, a little creepy for the older kids who like creepy. That’s great, and I enjoy costumes and corn mazes and the like. Halloween as a private, or at least indoors, event can be terrifying for people who enjoy that kind of thing. There are some local haunted houses (commercial type) that I won’t go into for love nor money. I do not enjoy that kind of thing, and my reaction to jump scares is probably not what other people want to see. Gore and fake blood isn’t witty or clever, at least not 99% of the time.
Likewise, horror is not a genre that I enjoy most of the time, especially not on screen. Splatter-fests just make me want to reach for firearms or other appropriate means of dealing with the monster of the week. Written horror can be better, but I avoid a lot of it because it pokes places in my mind that don’t need to be poked. Plus, many writers don’t seem to do psychological horror well, at least not the best-sellers I’ve sampled recently. Manly Wade Wellman and H.P. Lovecraft, early Stephen King, they all left things out, left mysteries lurking in the shadows, implied a lot that the reader could fill in for herself. That sort of thing I can appreciate, although King . . . His endings can leave something to be desired, in my opinion.
Bring on the wit, bring on the humor, bring on the spooky! Please leave the gore in the back yard, or indoors.