Confessions of an adult Hallo-weenieThe first horror movie I remember seeing was “The Haymarket Strangler,” and that’s all I remember about it, except that it had dark, thickly misted streets and alleys and low-pitched organ music that made it seem the villain was in every shadow and behind every tree.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
The first horror movie I remember seeing was “The Haymarket Strangler,” and that’s all I remember about it, except that it had dark, thickly misted streets and alleys and low-pitched organ music that made it seem the villain was in every shadow and behind every tree.
The first horror movie I watched with a plot I can still remember was “Tarantula,” a really cheesy (looking back 55 years or so) knee-knocker about mad scientists in a laboratory hidden somewhere in a Southwest desert who mess around with nature’s plan and grow gigantic, man- killing spiders. The movie opened with a long camera pan across an empty desert, the necessary organ music and then a man stumbling around in the cactus and falling. He landed on his face. That was enough for me, because his face and arms were covered with spider hair and he was looking pretty tortured.
Mike Goldammer and I went to that movie together. We walked home along River Street. My house was about three blocks past Mike’s, but two of those three blocks were past a deep gulch on one side and the river bank on the other. Thinking back, I can’t recall a single street light in that stretch, although there must have been one or two. After I left Mike, I sauntered down the middle of River Street until I heard his door close, then I broke into a dead run, hoping to reach the corner and sprint to my back door where, I prayed, the outside light burned. I wasn’t worried that a giant spider would capture me. Who believes in that stuff? I did have a deathly fear that the collapsed guy with the tortured face would rise out of the gulch and that he would be able to outrun me.
From that night to this, horror movies have gotten that kind of rise out of me. It’s foolish. I’m an adult. Spider men don’t lurk in the bushes. I know those things. I just don’t trust the common sense behind them. Whenever I can avoid a scary movie, I do.
Comes, then, Halloween. For three or four hours one night each year, the streets are alive with oddly dressed boys and girls, many of them wearing ugly masks that put the lie to the sweet voices saying, “Trick or treat.”
I’ve described many times how our house on the corner is a trick-or-treater magnet. Across the street from the governor’s residence, we don’t get half the business the governor and first lady see on a typical Halloween. We get 500 or so visitors, though, and that seems to be quite a lot of witches and goblins and ghouls and ghosts tramping up the steps and across the porch to ring the doorbell and hold out plastic sacks and pillow cases and shopping bags.
I rather enjoy the early part of Halloween most years. That’s when the little kids show up, many of them dressed as princesses and Power Rangers and Transformers and assorted other comic book or television heroes and villains I’ve not seen before. Many of these youngsters have moms or dads or big brothers or sisters waiting at the foot of the steps or out near the curb. OK, sure, open the sacks, kids. We have treats all around.
Later in the evening, the shadows deepen, the breeze turns chilly and the little ones disappear like spirits. They are replaced by the older children, many of whom travel in packs. I can handle most of those groups, although I’m a bit more hesitant to step away from the porch light than earlier in the evening. It hasn’t helped recently to have had a couple of granddaughters go crazy over the “Twilight” series, the books and movies about Bella, your typical teenaged girl who just happens to love a vampire and have a wolf for a best friend. Even so, I brave out Halloween each year, sticking pretty close to Nancy through the evening.
When the street empties, I let out a deep sigh. She asks what’s wrong, and I say it was a tiring night. How do I tell her I’m relieved to have escaped the spider-guy one more year?
Terry Woster’s columns are published on Saturdays and Wednesdays in The Daily Republic.