I bought the plastic pumpkin you see above while perusing through the Halloween section of a national chain store recently. It's a guilty pleasure if mine, as I'm sure it is many of yours, to walk through these places, even though I know that 100% of what they sell is garbage. As horror fans, we're well aware of what "real" Halloween masks look like, not to mention the proper consistency that high quality fake blood should be. Yet somehow none of that matters on that first day of Fall when you run smack dab into the three or four aisles usually reserved for seasonal decorations, and see that they are now festooned with orange and black and of course, plenty of blood red.
Like myself, many of you probably have childhood memories of these pumpkins. A staple of Halloween in America, they're made of cheapest plastic, cost next to nothing to purchase - in the case of mine, next to nothing ran me about a single dollar - and are the perfect size and symmetry to fit large amounts of Halloween candy. Unless of course you have neighbors who hate fun, in which case I'm sure they're also suitable for pennies and little baggies full of raisins.
Who knows how long these accessories have been a part of the Halloween tradition. It's safe to say if you're reading this site, that they've been around for as long as you can remember. No matter what fancy new decoration or toy they come out with next year, there will always be space on the shelf for these things. In that sense they've reached the heights of seasonal comfort food, in the form of cheap, third-world produced plastic.
Recently, my fiance Laura and I decided to move back North. After living in Upstate New York our entire lives, in 2007 we decided on a whim to quit our jobs, pack up and move to South Florida. There was a lot to like about a place like that. Sun, sand, a major city and a booming job market. Still, it was easily the scariest thing that either of us, to this day, has ever done. Outside of our comfort zones for the first time in our lives, we eventually settled in, made a life for ourselves, and became comfortable. I personally was helped immensely in that department by writing for Bloody Good Horror, which was just starting to get its legs back after a nearly 4 year hiatus.
Just a few months ago we decided that it was time to move closer to our families. The two of us are getting married next year, and are sure to be producing a new generation to warp in due time, so we thought it only fitting to move closer to those who raised us. We moved back the same way we initially went South; saved up some money, quit our jobs, packed up our cars and just started driving. It's a liberating feeling that I would recommend to anyone.
We arrived home about 2 weeks ago. If I'm to be honest, I'm having my fair share of trouble adjusting.
Things are quieter here, things are colder here. The job market is pretty cold itself, to say the least. There are certain feelings, emotions and thoughts that go along with such a large life change, that I wasn't fully prepared for. Despite this we're certainly not struggling. Financially, we're ok for the moment, and we both have wonderful support systems here. Something we didn't have when we moved to Florida. Still, there is endless uncertainty that comes with not knowing how your near future is going to play out. If it's one thing we know as horror fans, it's that nothing breeds uneasiness and fear like the cold chill of uncertainty.
I've been watching a lot of horror lately. I mean A LOT. Suddenly with all this free time to fill between applying for jobs and working on a potential book project, I find myself screening virtual mountains of horror films. Old ones, new ones, classics I've seen a hundred times, even a few I'm just viewing for the first time in my life.
When things are going well for you, it's easy to forget about the escapism that horror can provide. It's a quality unique within the genre, that certain films are able to so engross you as to remove you from this world and place you in a much scarier one. When it is over, you find yourself back in reality, one that somehow feels a lot less scarier than it did before.
It's important to remember that horror means different things to people at different times in their lives. Many times I've pondered whether or not I will continue to be as avid a genre fan as I am now when I get a little older. I've often thought that there must be a time when one has to grow up and move on to more "adult" pursuits. This thought seems to become more prevalent when everything is going right in my life. When that happens, I find that I have much less need for the genre in my day to day routine.
Times are tough all over right now. We have a lot of fans and listeners in the Midwestern US, which is an area that has been particularly hard hit by the recession due to the large percentage of blue collar workers who live there. Through writing for Horror Hound Magazine, and attending a few of their conventions in the area, I can attest to the fact that the Midwest breeds a particularly hearty brand of horror fan. Given my current situation, I feel a deeper camaraderie with them now than I have in the past. I know that Bloody Good Horror IS an escape for many who visit, and I just want to let you know that more than ever I appreciate that we are able to afford you with that comfort.
I suppose it's fitting that we decided to go through with this move in the Fall. There's no better time to escape into a world of masked killers and gooey monsters than the month of October. Pretty soon it will be all over, November will come and Thanksgiving will loom. But right now we're in the thick of it, and at least for another few weeks I get to escape reality to the greatest degree possible. All of us who are out of work will eventually find jobs, this I know. When that does happen, there is one thing I promise to always remember... that there are times in our lives when all of us will need horror - and cheap plastic pumpkins - for reasons more important than entertainment.