Monday, October 24, 2011

Saying BOO To Halloween Horror

SO MUCH TRUE TERROR exists in our paradoxically dangerous and nurturing world that I have difficulty understanding the fascination people have for the macabre and with violence.

This is the season when horrific images abound. A company called Spirit Halloween that I visited with my husband recently set up shop in Langley, BC, selling costumes and images of torture, dismemberment and death.

Press a button and ghoulish characters perform dastardly deeds.

A few appear to be clowning around.

Perhaps we are trying to confront our fears and yell back, "Boo ... I refuse to be afraid of you!" As a culture we rarely acknowledge our own inevitable demise or barely speak about dying.

We deny our fate but an unpleasant truth is lurking.

We are not immortal. But if we are lucky ...

we will grow very old, have a good dental plan and come to a peaceful end.

As my mom used to tell me, the dead can do no harm ... and there are no ghosts, zombies or boogie men hiding under the bed.

But there are live monsters in our world.

Evil exists ...

and it isn't pretty.

We try to focus on the sweetness of life. Knowing the unimaginable can strike at any moment, we certainly don't want to dwell on it.

Many sights in the store made me squeamish. But a few made me smile.

My husband tried on some masks. He looked silly as actor Charlie Sheen ...

and more believable as President Obama. We didn't see a mask of Canadian Prime Minister Harper who frightens a lot of people with his policies.

Let's face it ... even I can look scary at times, especially in the morning.

Animals were also at their demonic best.

This kitty cat wasn't cute or cuddly. Although the theme was far from warm and fuzzy, I became slightly less repulsed. The painted plastic objects around me were no more than smoke and mirrors and well crafted illusions.

Desensitization occurs not only at Halloween but daily through computer games and the movies. Technology adds realism to fake horror, blurring fact and fiction. Newscasts are emboldened to show tragedy in the raw.

What effect all this has on impressionable young minds isn't clear. But we know that evil intent is not always recognizable. It doesn't always have an ugly face ... and it can be deceptively charming.

To view more sights from around the globe visit Our World.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms


  1. Ugh....I hear you. And the evil masks repel me more then anything else.
    Remember when Halloweeny meant dressing up with a old sheet, eyeholes cut into it so you could see. And if part of it hung too low to the ground, your Mom would cut it off so you didn't trip.

    I want those innocent days back...

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  2. Great post. I agree that the scary images of Halloween can seem odd and that it may be away of saying boo to fears. I love Halloween but I'm more into the costumes that aren't scary but are just masquerade. I enjoyed your photography and narrative.

  3. Ugh from me, too. I looked at the first few, then scrolled down to the comments section. Could not look any more. I can't imagine why anyone would like these things.
    I'd love to be out there to watch Rob carve a pumpkin, however!
    Maybe some year.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. The seeming glorification of horror and evil at this time of year these days bares little resemblance to the fun we had on Halloween not only when I was young, but when my kids were young. Frankly, I would hate to be raising a little one now. Your captures are terrific and really spell out the ridiculous fascination with evil that raises its ugly head on Halloween in our world today. Hope you have a colorful, innocent Halloween with lots of pumpkins and happy ghosts!


  5. EW! I'm sure quite a few of these characters will turn up at my door on Halloween!

    You are very correct that some of the scariest people pf all don't look scary at all, which allows them to get away with their horrific deeds for much longer than it should.

  6. Very though-provoking post! What a scary display - my Grandchildren would have nightmares for weeks! (I might, too...)

  7. I think Hallowe'en should be left for the little ones, with costumes like fairies and cowboys, not mummies with dismembered parts hanging off. I certainly don't like the gore and I don't think little kids do either.

  8. All that plastic crap is made in China, is not lasting in any sense, and is about as warped as you can get. Haloween, a holiday made by Walmart so that absent parents can buy their kids junk to atone for their poor parenting skills. Great post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Cabada.

  9. I feel so far removed from this kind of horror. But now you've got me a little fascinated about this kind of place (which kind of horrifies me

  10. I find the ultra-violence so common in today's movies disturbing, as violence and murder has directly affected me and it is not in the least entertaining.

  11. Some of them make me smile... somehow children enjoy them more than being scared of them.

  12. Oh my, such interesting masks. This would be a big hit here in Hollywood, especially during this Halloween season.

    I love all your parade of photos. Very well done.

  13. Halloween gives some people license to be weird once a year I guess, hence, the fascination. Halloween here in my part of the world is a day to remember the dearly departed, visit cemeteries, see relatives. It's actually a 2-day holiday--we call it All Souls Day and All Saints Day. But in Manila where the influence of the west is more apparent, malls display these costumes, too, and kids go on trick & treat on Halloween. i'm also not big on Halloween, real life monsters are scary enough.:p

  14. I have the same thoughts with you, Penelope. Trick-or-treating by children must be a lovely traditional events, but I’ve wondered if children get scared and the experience became a nightmare when I see Halloween pictures. I know it’s origin is Celtic festival to make the end of summer. I wonder what happened to its modern day incarnation which looks as if honoring all the things spooky – maybe commercialism to sell these items in your photos? They are really scary!

  15. Halloween looks very interesting and amusing time of the year. Yes, I agree with you that real ugliness cannot be seen always, it is invisible many times.
    All masks and dolls are so scary, but I love to be scared.
    Best wishes,

  16. Oh gosh - some of these costumes are horrific! Too scary. It's much more low-key over here in Sweden.

  17. Wow, that first doll is really scary!

  18. What a fantastic post with so much wisdom. The outfits are indeed scary It's hard to understand that people are attracted to that. I also don't understand why people are attracted to horror movies.

  19. The fascination of some people with such horrible costumes beats me. Todays Halloween bears no resemblance to what we did when I was small.
    Back in 1981 my dh and I went out for dinner on Halloween and the evening was ruined by one nasty creepy man in black attire and hottible creepy mask who sat staring at us the whole evening, I couldn't get home fast enough.

  20. Something for everybody there! Lots of fun.

  21. We talked about this post in one of my classes, Penelope. It was interesting that some of the students (especially those from countries where Halloween isn't celebrated, but a few others as well) confessed they don't really like all the horrific images. Some of the girls were relieved when they saw your photo with the pretty dresses, as many will dress up for Monday's classes, and saw something along those lines as a better option. Thanks to you (and Gillian) for great photo-lessons.

  22. Carol, that is so neat about this post being used in the classroom … even though it no doubt caused much grimacing. Also, I too thought Gillian gave a well-rounded enlightening account for those who need some basic background about the season. :)

  23. This is a super post! I loved looking at all the ghouls in that shop...there is nothing like that here. That's not to say I would like to open my door to one of these hideous creatures. And I don't like blood.

    The scariest thing I ever dressed as was as a witch...and I made sure I was a good witch! I remember a lot of hobos, ghosts and witches when I was young...and the costumes were all homemade.

    I have to say I quite like that cat, though! Heh! xx

  24. This was a thoughtful and interesting post, but what i loved most were the poses complete with masks and peace signs :) Great fun imagining the two of you exploring that shop. I was never a Hallowe'en fan though I did eat my share of our "loot" and could use a better dental plan now because of that :) I was shocked when I moved to Vancouver to learn that Hallowe'en includes fireworks. Ugh! That put the final nail on the coffin as far as my regard goes for this holiday. As for Gary's comment about plastic, lots of head nodding.. "Hear, hear!"


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