Fall is an interesting time of the year. It seems to go by the most quickly of all of the seasons and brings with it the most amount of change. With the thought of winter around the corner I tend to make more effort than usual to enjoy this season.
There is something very nostalgic about fall. It brings back a lot of memories of starting school, of times spent walking across the campus of UW-Stout, of plans to see friends and enjoy long evenings hanging out together. It’s less fun now that we’re all working full time and living far apart, but we manage to make the most of it.
Fall also means pumpkin spice things (don’t judge) and cute sweaters, and a ton of other stereotypical things that people love about this season. But we can’t forget about the most important thing of all: Halloween.
I don’t know what it is about this holiday, but to me it just seems the most fun. It’s usually not ridiculously cold out so things like corn mazes and getting pumpkins are actually pretty enjoyable. And its history is especially interesting. It has primal roots, simply meant to celebrate the time between the warm season and the cold one; the time of growth and harvest and the time of darkness, so to speak.
The ancient Celts celebrated this Gaelic festival, known as Samhain, around 2,000 years ago. They viewed this time as one when the boundary between the spirit and mortal world were weak. It was also meant to show hospitality to the souls of loved ones who may come back to visit. Take a look at this neat article if you would like to read more.
It wasn’t always the evil-themed holiday that movies make it out to be. It had a logical meaning to the Celts, and over time it was adopted with good reception by other countries and religions, namely Christianity. It was originally meant to honor the dead and celebrate the harvest, which seems pure enough. It blended from different exposures and viewpoints, and eventually became the commercial holiday it is today.
Part of me likes Halloween because I enjoy creepy things and scary movies. The aspect of mischief, tricks, and stories that make your hair stand on end; it’s fun and entertaining to me. Another part of me likes it because it’s meant to be a time to respect the spirit world or remember the ones that are no longer with us. And mostly it’s about acknowledging change, and I enjoy that thought because it’s the natural thing to do, whether we like it or not.
So here we are, another Halloween coming up shortly. As a kid I used to be scared of so many things related to this holiday. It was fun dressing up and trick or treating, but I’d see commercials on TV for horror movies that would give me anxiety for days. One time in school when I was around 9 years old we got the opportunity to choose a movie for the class to watch. Somehow the
class opted to watch one called The Dollhouse Murders. Let me tell you, that messed me up. I barely made it through and had nightmares for days, because the dolls freaking moved and left messages for this little girl so she could figure out who murdered her grandparents. And I was like, dang. This is terrifying.
As I got older though, scary movies started seeming more silly to me. My ex-boyfriend and I watched dozens of them in high school, and I became more interested in how and why we deemed certain things scary. Everyone has their own reasons for either liking or not liking scary things, and that’s absolutely fine. I’m just one of the weirdos that is too curious for my own good.
At this point I am critical of most movies that are deemed “horror” since a lot of them play on the same tropes over and over again. There are the gorey ones, the supernatural ones, the ones that are suspenseful and make you watch 60 minutes of boring acting before anything creepy happens, and others that include the paranormal, the “psychopaths”, traditional slashers, cult favorites, good ones that slipped under the mainstream radar, and bad ones that got too much spotlight and hype. Eventually they all borrow so much from each other that coming up with something uniquely frightening gets more and more difficult. All around they are usually not that great, and weak plot holes are a massive point of contention for me no matter how scary a movie may try to be.
And yet, I keep watching them.
In college all of the dorm buildings had cable. This meant that I could watch AMC’s Fear Fest for the month of October, which I was pretty hyped about. Over the course of the season I’d leave that channel running in the background while doing homework or getting ready in the mornings before going to class. There were some pretty awful movies with maybe one or two good ones scattered around in there.
I came to the conclusion that making something genuinely scary wasn’t easy given the fact that so many horror movies are dreadful sequels or, even worse, prequels. Some remakes are all right, but not all. The ones that scare me the most are definitely the paranormal ones. I love the unexplainable, the vengeful demon, the exorcism gone wrong. But the ones that really bother me are the ones that humans are capable of, because that shit could be real. Remember Hostel? Try to forget Hostel. (It’s actually just a terrible movie in general.)
So how does this tie in to Halloween? Apparently it is the commercialized season of fear. Personally, I am fine watching a scary movie any time of the year, but around Halloween just seems to be the best excuse to get spooky. Tis the season when it is more acceptable to enjoy fear so that idiots like me can go watch something terrifying and get all hopped up on adrenaline from the thrills, then judge the crap out of it as soon as the movie ends.
The best is watching scary movies with people who get scared easily. This happened last year when a friend and I convinced my boyfriend, Tyler, to come with us to see Annabelle: Creation in theaters. That movie actually scared me, so Tyler was beyond freaked out. He bounced his knees throughout the whole movie and jumped at every single jump scare. There is a part in that movie where one character is ringing a little bell (don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s creepy) and Tyler particularly hated that. Later that night we were laying in bed about to go to sleep when we hear this faint ringing noise coming from the living room. Our cat was just playing with a toy, but Tyler was having none of it and went and put it in a drawer. He was not pleased. I did feel bad for bringing him to that one, but he’s fine now.
Another thing to love about this time of year is how over the top things are with Halloween and with fall in general. No one is allowed to judge me when I wear my favorite sweater and scarf and get a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks, and I get to decorate with cool Halloween themed things around the house. I’m a big fan of vintage Halloween styles and decorations, gotta have lots of that. And it’s usually nice enough out to enjoy an Octoberfest beer on the front steps once in a while. There’s also Inktober, which is an annual drawing challenge on Instagram that I look forward to, and we can’t forget pumpkin carving and Halloween parties. Basically, I treat Halloween like most people treat Christmas. But Christmas sucks and is overly stressful, while Halloween is honestly just fun.
There is a unique vibe to fall in the midwest. We get to see the leaves fully change color and experience the weather turn a pleasant, tolerable chilly before it gets too cold out. It’s meant for making memories, enjoying spooky things (if that’s your thing) and enjoying time with friends and family before everything changes as winter settles in. And of course, as with each year, nothing is ever quite the same again in the spring. So enjoy the now, because this time goes by too fast. Share it if you can, or enjoy moments alone. Halloween itself is a great holiday, but it’s the season of fall and the nostalgic vibes it brings that makes it memorable.
Renee Brown is a freelance writer living in Southern Minnesota who really does have more interests than being a member of her generation, but you’d have to ask her about that. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JinjahSnap.