Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Be Haunted by the Halloween Spirit and Watch The American Scream

I ran across a documentary appropriate for the season. It's called The American Scream. The documentary profiles three families in Fairhaven, Massachusetts as they transform their homes and yards into Halloween Haunts for the enjoyment of revelers young and old on Halloween night.

People who do this are called home haunters. They build big displays in their yards and sometimes even guide visitors inside their houses. They frighten and delight people with elaborate props and costumed actors. One family in particular is led by an obsessive man who is a perfectionist. He works year round developing his sets and monsters. His home is filled top to bottom with all his haunting equipment. Although his wife appears less than enamored with the lifestyle he has sucked her and their daughters into, she remains supportive. She sews costumes. She does the makeup on all the staff. Yes, he has a payroll. He also has thousands of people go through his home haunt every Halloween, and they love it.

I found myself rather sympathetic to him despite the excesses of his haunting obsession. He was so dedicated to his art. It made me reflect on the sacrifices I have inflicted on my own family by being a novelist instead of just about anything else. In him I saw my own conflict which is a total commitment to a craft yet recognition of the burden it places on others. 

Two more families are also featured in The American Scream. They act as foils to the super obsessed man, who obviously needs to transform this craft to his profession. These families were in it for the good time. Things did not have to be perfect. It was their way of celebrating the wonderful Halloween holiday with their community. And Halloween is about community. It's a holiday about culture. It's when the folk are supposed to get out and make some lore.

Halloween also helps us psychologically deal with fear and death in a safe way. Death comes for us all. Halloween lets its participants accept this into their spirits while celebrating the thrill of being alive.

I recommend watching The American Scream this week while you're carving pumpkins, baking treats, and putting the finishing touches on your costume. This documentary shows that Halloween is by far the best holiday of the year.