This is my favorite time of year
That likely comes as little surprise to anyone who has read this column with any frequency. There are all kinds of reasons for my affinity for October.
There’s the pageantry of college football, i.e. the true Southern pastime. There’s the subtle change in the seasons, when the inferno of summer finally, mercifully gives way to the cooler nights of autumn. And there’s the arrival of my birthday, which is today. (I’m 38. Finally got enough candles on the cake to set off the smoke detector. We’re making progress.)
But perhaps the best part about this time of year is, of course, Halloween.
Yes, I’m going to write a bit about Halloween now. If that’s not your thing, for whatever reason, feel free to turn the page or click away. Also, don’t worry: The Christmas season starts Nov. 1.
For those who decided to stick around, let’s take a look at a couple notable/fun items related to the spookiest holiday of the year.
Halloween is on Halloween -- Seems obvious, right? Well, you’d be surprised.
There has been a phenomenon the last several years, and if you are on any social media platforms, I’m sure you’ve noticed. This year it seems to have reached critical mass. Basically, there are many, many people who apparently don’t know what day Halloween is recognized, or on what night they should take their kids trick-or-treating.
I’ve seen literally dozens of Facebook threads about it in recent weeks. All of them were some basic derivation of, “Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, what day is trick-or-treating?”
I’m not sure where we got off-kilter on this in the last decade or so. Maybe it’s the preponderance of various carnivals and Boo Bashes and church trunk-or-treats and so on. Maybe it’s our culture of helicopter parenting and hyper-vigilance in which going out for an hour or two in the early evening on a school night seems less than optimal.
Whatever the reason, somehow we’ve come to question the tradition, forged over many decades, that Oct. 31 is, indeed, Halloween and is the night that “regular” trick-or-treating is done.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s something from the City of Spartanburg, which felt compelled to issue a statement after its city hall was inundated with questions from residents as to when regular trick-or-treating should take place:
“Our stance is that the city does not dictate the night for trick-or-treating,” the Spartanburg statement read. “The calendar does. Halloween is always Oct. 31. Trick-or-treating always occurs on Halloween. Therefore, trick-or-treating this year will indeed be on Halloween, even though Halloween happens to fall on a Monday night.”
So there you have it. Straight from no greater authority than the Sparkle City.
A plea for reconsideration, Bettie Rose -- One of the coolest parts of the Halloween season, at least for film fanatics like me, is the glut of scary movies that pop up on TV this time of year. Films that rarely hit the airwaves (or the, um, streaming waves?) during the other 11 months always wiggle to the surface in October.
One such movie is director John Carpenter’s searing 1978 classic “Halloween,” which is perhaps the definitive film of the season, for obvious reasons. Carpenter has long been my favorite director, and I have extolled his talents again and again. And why not? Between 1974 and 1988, he helmed “Assault on Precinct 13,” “Halloween,” “The Fog,” “Escape From New York,” ‘The Thing,” “Christine,” “Starman,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Prince of Darkness” and “They Live.”
But the original “Halloween” was what launched him. Shot on a shoestring budget in the spring of 1978, it’s a master class in tension, atmosphere and how the things you don’t see can be scarier than the things you do. It’s cinematic sleight of hand.
But not all agree with my assessment. Several years ago, I wrote a whole big review of Carpenter’s “Halloween” for a Sunday column. It was going to be showing in theaters for a few days, so I went all out in my praise for the film.
Well, a few months later, I was at an early season Lander University baseball game, where I bumped into Bettie Rose Horne, the education administrator, wife of late former Lander hoops coach Finis Horne and friend to many in Greenwood. Bettie Rose and I had often talked about movies (and politics and education and so on) through the years, so my ears perked up that day when she mentioned that she watched “Halloween” based on my review.
Well, she hated it. Despised it. Couldn’t stand it. And that’s OK. That was her opinion, and there’s room for all kinds of opinions in film criticism.
But, there is also room for a change in opinion. And so, my dear Dr. Horne, there is still room for you to climb aboard the John Carpenter appreciation train with me. The original 1978 “Halloween” will air at 10 p.m. Monday on AMC. I’m hoping that you will give it another viewing and perhaps alter your opinion on what is certainly an October classic.
Happy Halloween everyone. Don’t eat too much candy.
Chris Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter@ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.