Don’t be a Hallowiener I don’t know what your backyard looks like right now, but mine is covered in the tell-tale reds, golds, and yellows that signal fall here in Tennessee. The Farmer’s Market has been overtaken with pumpkins and gourds, and every weekend brings with it another chance to get lost in a corn maze, take a hay ride, and, of course, fight with your friends, roommates, and spouses over football.
As we creep further into October and the sun sets earlier and earlier, talk of fall quickly turns to one subject: a certain favorite holiday of this blogger we like to call Halloween. Whether you’re all about the big scares, like to get good and creeped out, or have a bunch of little ones to entertain... Halloween has something for everyone. (Personally, I’m all about the ghosts. Zombies and vampires may be the new rage, but when I want a good scare, I go for the cheap thrill of the tried and true ghost story.)
So no matter what you’re into, there’s something on this list for everyone (and every family) to stay entertained. Check out my favorites below, and pick out some that are appropriate for you and your family to watch (I put disclaimers on those that aren’t so family-friendly.)
Watch This: For the Zombie/Action/Gore Lover: The Walking Dead - You’ve probably heard a lot about this TV series, which just premiered its second season this past Sunday on AMC. The show follows a group of people who have survived the Zombie Apocolypse. There isn’t a whole lot I can say that won’t give away major plot points, but the series won tons of awards last year and has acquired almost a cult following. I’m hooked. It’s really well done with excellent direction, art, and character development... and ZOMBIES. Lots of really gross zombies. And the good news is... all of Season 1 is available on Netflix! Note: This is DEFINITELY R-Rated. We’re talking language, violence, sex... the whole shebang. Save this for late nights once you’ve put the little ones to bed.
For the Storyteller: Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Remember the Friday nights you spent sitting around the campfire with the Midnight Society? Well, you don’t need Nickelodeon or time travel to the 90s to revisit them, since the series is now out on DVD. And I for one can attest that the urban legends are possibly even more disturbing now that they have some age on them. The show offers clean and creepy fun for older kids and teens, though my watching these at a much younger age probably explains a lot about my ongoing childhood nightlight use.
For the nostalgic who likes a good laugh: Hocus Pocus - This is my absolute favorite Halloween story. The 1993 Disney classic stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the Sandersen Sisters, three witches resurrected after being put to death hundreds of years before in Salem, Massachusetts. They return to wreak havoc on the town in search of children whose souls they can steal to grant them eternal youth, but find instead that kids these days are a bit more saavy than those of the past (plus hilarity ensues when they are faced with modern marvels like public transit and vacuum cleaners). Note: It sounds way more menacing than it actually is, but earned itself a PG rating for a few scary parts and some language.
This is one of my favorite scenes:
For the Entire Family: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - It just wouldn't be Halloween without joining Charlie and the gang for the tale of the Great Pumpkin. In the 1966 classic, Linus spends the night in a pumpkin patch waiting for the appearance of the mysterious Great Pumpkin while the rest of the kids celebrate Halloween in the usual traditions.
A Kiddie Classic: The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey
Ok, I’ll admit this is probably my favorite because of a certain little Weenie Dog named Oscar my family had for over 15 years. Regardless, the little ones will love the tale of another Oscar, a dachshund who, at half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long, can’t wait to be anything but a Hot Dog for Halloween. But unfortunately, his mom has another idea. Cute and funny, this picture book is a fun way to talk about Halloween costumes with the kids.
For Older Readers: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman In this tale by beloved master of morbid kid goth Neil Gaiman, a boy named Nobody Owens is adopted and raised by the occupants of a graveyard after his family is murdered. The book follows Nobody’s adventures as he navigates the headstones, growing up among ghouls and murderers, but loved all the same in his icky version of a family that vows to keep him safe. Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal and much loved by booklovers like myself, The Graveyard Book is a fun and haunting (but also heartwarming and oftentimes very funny) read for older kids, teens, and adults alike.
For the more refined ghost hunters:: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson Jackson is a literary greats, best known for her haunting short story The Lottery, and it has become a tradition for me to re-read her haunted house classic each year. You know - just to ensure I don’t sleep. In this story, four characters find themselves staying at Hill House, a brooding 80-year-old mansion that looks and feels exactly like, you guessed it, a haunted house of lore. Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting, joins Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely soul well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems to be merely a spooky encounter with an old creaky house, but Hill House has surprises of its own, and Jackson’s attention to detail and winding prose will keep you up all night wondering what’s in store.
For the Nostalgic (and especially the nostalgic in Alabama): 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham If you grew up anywhere near Alabama, chances are you’re familiar with the much-celebrated late historian/storyteller Windham and her collection of the state’s most famous haunts. I love to revisit the stories year-round, but there are few better times to reacquaint yourself with “The Hole That Will Not Stay Filled” or “The Dancing Ghost of Grancer Harrison” than Halloween. If you’re daring (and obviously around the area), check out the scenes of some of the more accessible stories. I personally spent an evening in the middle of Coffee County a few years back waiting to hear ole Grancer’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grancer_Harrison posthumous toe-tapping.
What are your family’s favorites, when it comes to Halloween entertainment?
Happy Halloween to you and yours! Be safe, have fun, and send some trick-or-treat candy my way!