Stories For Ghosts

Horror Through a Literary Lens

Category: Halloween (page 2 of 3)

How Other Countries Celebrate Halloween

It’s kind of weird to think of a place where people don’t celebrate Halloween. As Americans, most of us have never known an October 31st that wasn’t observed with a nationwide costume party and ritualistic candy binge-eating. I for one do not remember a time where the 13 Days of Halloween movie marathon didn’t exist, nor can I recall a single time a grocery store wasn’t decked out for Halloween in October.

Of course, there are many reasons why Halloween, a festival with Irish origins, made its way to cultural prominence in America. And there are many reasons why the holiday didn’t spread to other parts of the world.

But as American pop culture spreads across the world, Halloween goes with it. Many countries have begun to celebrate Halloween with their own additions and twists, much to the dismay of some older and more conservative citizens. At the same time that young people and children gravitate towards the fun and macabre aspects of Halloween, people with religious and nationalist concerns regard Halloween with great suspicion, afraid that the American holiday will replace their own traditions.

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Give In to These 8 Wickedly Demonic Movies

*Note: Here be spoilers for these demonic movies*

Of all the creatures in the world of horror, demons might be the scariest. Demons possess us, robbing us of our volition over our bodies. Demons manipulate us, using our own human impulses and emotions to lure us down a doomed path. Demons tempt us, reaching deep into our hearts and laying bare the black truths we don’t care to admit.

We think of demons almost exclusively in a religious context, especially considering how the three major monotheistic world religions have shaped the lore. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have their differing views about demons—how the present themselves, how they became demons, how they wield influence over the human realm. But they all agree that demons are malevolent spirits who have turned away from God.

Through multiple religious texts as well as some literary works, a common narrative has emerged: demons are ruled and led by Satan, a fallen angel. When God created man and exalted him above even the angels, Satan refused to obey God. For his insolence, Satan was cast out of Heaven, forever denied God’s grace. Ever prideful and bent on vengeance, Satan has spent every moment since his fall on a crusade the tempt humanity to turn away from God.

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Halloween Traditions We Should Resurrect (and Some We Shouldn’t)

When I was a kid, my parents had a peculiar Halloween tradition. Every Halloween, after my sister and I had returned home with our hard-earned candy, my parents levied a Candy Tax against us.  We were told that this national tax was paid in exchange for parents inspecting the heaps of Halloween candy children received through trick-or-treating. I went years believing this boldfaced lie, reluctantly “paying” my candy tax of mini Milky Ways and boxes of Dots, while Tootsie Rolls were tax exempt. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what a hilarious and kind of messed-up tradition that was.

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Creep Yourself Out – 10 of the Best Scary Podcasts

One of the regrets I have about growing up is that I no longer experience “Story Time.” It sounds silly, and maybe it is, but I really loved sitting quietly and listening to a teacher or parent tell me a story. Who didn’t love Story Time as a kid? Especially around Halloween, when the teacher might bust out a worn, cherished copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Even as a teenager, when I attended summer camp, we regularly stayed up to tell creepy stories. We took turns telling ghost stories around a literal campfire.

Such stories, told with the human voice, possess their own kind of magic. There’s something genuine and compelling about a lone voice weaving a story in the night, while others listen in complete silence. There is the gravitas of ritual, the authenticity of an intimate story, and the hard-to-deny possibility that maybe it’s real after all. Without the spectacle of movies or the artful words of a book, you’re left with the truth, right? Possibly?

These days, I can satisfy my love for stories with movies, television shows, novels, short stories, and comics whenever I want. But they don’t approximate that shivery joy of listening to a person tell you a spooky story.

That’s why I love podcasts. With the right podcast, I can find that same thrill combined with wonderfully complex, creepy stories that fold and unfold, drawing in threads and characters and events that transport me to an entirely different world. Using only the power of the human voice.

In honor of Halloween, I want to share some of my favorite scary podcasts with you. These podcasts vary from graphic true crime, to macabre accounts of historical events, to fictional audio plays. They’re all compelling in their own ways, keeping readers, including myself, coming back for more week after week.

Enjoy!

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What I’ve Learned From My Favorite Children’s Halloween Movies

In an earlier blog post, I asserted that Halloween is a valuable time of year for children because the holiday, as it has developed, enables children to safely engage in a variety of difficult topics. Halloween gently exposes children to human mortality and sinister forces, because there is no use in pretending these things do not exist. Children should be protected, but they will become adults soon.

I think screening children’s Halloween movies is an important way to engage children with these topics. They don’t always have to be about Halloween nor do they have to be straight up horror films. What these movies do is take scary and creepy stories and weave in uplifting and useful messages for children. These movies package unpleasant themes in a way children can manage and digest. They can absorb important lessons by feeling the age-appropriate shock only a horror movie can give you.

Though I didn’t quite realize it, children’s Halloween movies taught me some valuable lessons growing up. So I decided I wanted to take a trip back to Halloween Past. I decided I wanted to share my favorite children’s Halloween movies and some of the very personal life lessons I took from them. I hope kids in the future continue to watch these movies and learn from them, as I did.

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Eight Essential Haunted House Movies

The Haunted House Movie is one of my favorite types of horror movies. Multiple factors contribute to my appreciation, but the biggest thing for me is what a haunted house movie accomplishes as a trope. Haunted house movies may not be the scariest genre, but it is certainly the most unsettling in my book. These movies are about the pollution of the sacred sanctuary of a home. Otherworldly forces beyond human control destroy the integrity of a house as a protective dwelling, which terrifies me on a deep level.

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My Favorite Creepypastas to Keep You Awake Tonight

I have this really bad habit where, when I’m home by myself, I hop on the internet and venture into dark corners to find scary stories. Sometimes I go to Wikipedia and fall into a black hole of unsolved mystery pages, emerging hours later. Sometimes I go to true crime sites and then I have to get up and double check to make sure all the doors and windows in my house are locked. If there’s a spooky story on the internet, I’ll probably read it and freak myself out. But, my favorite internet scary stories, hands down, are Creepypastas.

I don’t know why I do it–maybe I get bored, maybe I have an overwhelming case of morbid curiosity. I don’t know why, but I love Creepypastas.

Part ghost story, part urban legend, part cursed email chain, these tales thrive for the same reasons folklore thrives. We love to hear outlandish, frightening, gruesome stories, and even the tiniest kernel of truth puts us under a spell. Creepypastas (so named for its original term of “copypasta” which refers to copy-and-pasted text that has gone viral) are user generated, meaning any random person on the internet has the power to contribute a creepy story.

The internet can be a nasty place, but Creepypastas are one of the nice (albeit weird and terrifying) parts about the internet. People from anywhere in the world can read a person’s strange story and have an immediate reaction. Indeed, Creepypastas are shared everywhere. People who have nothing else in common might bond over the chills they felt after reading a particularly good Creepypasta. Authors have gone on to write whole novels out of their Creepypastas, and Creepypastas have been adapted into short films on Youtube. There are whole communities devoted them writing and sharing them. They spread and grow and develop their own gravitas, their own lore.

In a way, Creepypastas are the 21st century equivalent of ghost stories told around campfire.

So come, gather round and let me share with you some of my absolute favorite awesome Creepypastas. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

 

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October Horror Releases – Halloween 2016 Edition

I’ll come right out and say it – most of the October horror releases are not good this Halloween. In fact, some of these look downright terrible.

I’m not mad, but I am super disappointed. I was looking forward to Rings and Underworld: Blood Wars. I was expecting a release calendar full of solid (or even just serviceable) horror releases, but not this year.

But then Rings was moved to 2017. And then Underworld: Blood Wars was pushed back to 2017. Naomi Watts makes her return to horror in creepfest Shut In, but that doesn’t come out until November.

Which leaves us with this random group of horror movies.

Seriously? I am so very underwhelmed. Not all of these are terrible—Under The Shadow seems promising—but when Boo! A Madea Halloween looks better than 5 out of 8 movies on the October release schedule, something is very wrong.

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11 Halloween Movie Recommendations for Fans and Non-Fans

As a devoted horror movie fan, I’ll be the first to admit that the market is glutted with horror movies, most of them terrible. And not in an enjoyable, over-the-top kind of way.

If you are a horror movie novice searching for a good horror movie, the simultaneous breadth of availability and lack of choice entertainment can be discouraging. Horror fans feel that way all the time, but we know enough that we can make solid recommendations.

With Halloween fast approaching, I decided to compile a list of horror movies with solid scares and terror but that are accessible to a wide audience. The following films are perfect for a Halloween watch party because 1) they are relatively easy to find on streaming services, 2) they’re actually well-made films, and 3) they scare audiences in thoughtful, enjoyable, entertaining ways.

Even if you’re a horror movie buff, I feel like this list is a nicely packaged bundle of great horror movies that present a strong argument for the merits of horror. These movies are harrowing, smart, witty, and funny. They are heartbreaking and profound. They reinforce the magic of telling stories through the medium of film and legitimize a genre that critics loves to hate.

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The History of Halloween, Part 2: Colonies, Immigration, and WWII

In my last post, I explored the historic origins of Halloween before it came to America, turns out, this secular American holiday started out as a Pagan celebration in the British Isles. Thanks to the influence of the Ancient Romans, I persisted into the Middle Ages and the Catholic Church strategically turned the holiday into a celebration of saints, martyrs, and the faithful dead.

There are tons of similarities between present day Halloween and Halloween as it was celebrated hundreds of years ago—costumes to scare away bad spirits, veneration for the dead, respect for the bounty of all before the long winter, and community unification. For a time, Halloween held religious significance for its participants; yet this is not the case for most Americans.

What happened?

Let’s dive in, starting with the birth of America.

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