By Corinne Wnek
Autumn is when nature puts on a show of electrifying color and the air turns sweet and crisp. It is my favorite season of the year. Fireplaces are cranking up, pumpkins abound and geese are squawking as they make their way to a new winter home. This is as fine a Norman Rockwell scene as it gets around these parts. And then suddenly, there it is in the distance off the highway. Another new Halloween super store has just opened up unleashing a wild display of costumes, monsters and body parts.
Now I love Halloween and I love the fantasy of Druids, witches on broomsticks and ghosts that set out to haunt us. Zombies are pretty cool, too, as long as they keep their distance. But I draw the line when it comes to assorted body parts as the latest signature piece, um, pieces that represent the spirit of Halloween. Yet, this year, chopped up and mutilated body parts, packaged like something you would pick up at Shop Rite, are bigger than ever and have replaced black cats and the usual ghouls and gremlins as the key ingredient to a successful trick or treat experience.
What is our fascination with such depravity? It wasn’t that long ago that wicked witches and other creatures of the night were the crowd pleasers on October 31. Now, it’s gore, guts and all things gruesome. But what’s really disturbing are the human-to-human torture displays that some of the stores are featuring this year in hopes they will make their way to your front lawn. Around those displays, shoppers screech, “that’s sooo disgusting” as they make their way to the next murderous scene.
Maybe it’s all Michael Jackson’s fault. After all, the Thriller video depicting zombies and their missing body parts is still an MTV classic and a perennial October favorite. And the slasher movies of the eighties and nineties brought visions of death, horror and stalking to new heights, de-sensitizing us to evil in the process. Remember lovable Chuckie and the Bride of Chuckie? Thank God there were no children of Chuckie. If there were, I’m sure they would have been gore-geous.
Halloween should be about kids walking the neighborhood together signaling to each other what house is giving out the good stuff. It should also be about fantasy, alter egos and yes, the supernatural interfacing with the natural. So, I’m all for bringing back witches, superheroes and good, old-fashioned monsters like Frankenstein and the Wolfman. But can we please skip the corpses dripping with blood who walk around holding their own fallen limbs.
One upshot from my latest visit to the Halloween store? I am now a vegetarian.
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