Trick or Treat. For us Monster Kids and Horror Hounds, these words hold the same enchantment as Merry Christmas. Except, rather than opening an elegantly-wrapped package to see what Santa bought us, we open the door of a haunted house to see what Satan conjured up to scare us.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a kid, the anticipation used to begin weeks before that unholy night when the costumes started hitting the stores. I’m not referring to the stores of today that pop up across the area a month before and sell nothing but adult costumes and accessories to satisfy every fear or fetish. Those from my generation remember the cheap-ass costumes our parents used to buy from Woolworth’s or Gorin’s. You know the ones I’m talking about. The crappily-made one-piece body suit with the plastic face mask that your mother always had to enlarge the eye slits on because they were so small. I would stand in front of the display for an hour debating what I wanted to dress up as (I recall over the years being Frankenstein, a robot, and an astronaut). Once purchased, my mother would never let me play with the costume because the material was so flimsy I would be lucky to get one wear out of it, so I was forced to stare at it through the cellophane window of the cardboard box like I was admiring some ancient relic in a museum display case.
Finally that Hallowed Eve arrived and my parents would take me on my rounds (if the weather was cold, my mother would make me wear a coat over my costume, but that’s a story for my therapist). For me it was never about the chocolate. I only ate a small portion of the goodies and let my mother scavenge through the rest. The thrill was parading around town in my costume, pretending to be someone else, and proudly declaring my love for monsters. After that night, I would play with that costume until not even duct tape could hold it together any longer.
While the innocence of those childhood memories is gone, the excitement of the holiday is still there. This is not because the stores are filled with countless decorations that inevitably become part of the permanent décor of my house (my study is on the verge of having just as many statues to famous monsters and fetishes as it does books). Nor is it because television broadcasts monster movie marathons for a month, most of which I record until my DVR is full. Halloween is the one time of the year when the macabre becomes mainstream.
Forty years ago as a bona fide Monster Kid I was an outsider, the geek in school who never fit in. I thank God I had close friends who shared similar interests (Curtis, who was as big of a monster geek as me, and John, who was into superheroes and comic books) plus parents who not only supported my obsession but nurtured it. I never lost my passion for horror and monsters. In fact, over time it intensified until, in 2003, I eventually began writing in the genre. But by then horror was the norm. Conventions celebrating horror, Sci-Fi, fantasy, anime, vampires, zombies, and every other imaginable aspect were held practically every weekend.
The change in the way of thinking reminds me of a scene from Hotel Transylvania. (Yes, I’m citing a cartoon to make my point. And, yes, this is a spoiler alert.) The basic premise of the movie is that, more than a century ago, Dracula had set up a hotel deep in the Carpathian Mountains to provide monsters with a safe haven from villagers who hunted them down, and since then they have lived in isolation from the rest of the world. In the climax, Dracula and several monsters must travel back to the city to prevent his daughter’s boyfriend from leaving Transylvania. The monsters’ apprehension turns to amazement when they stumble upon a festival being held in their honor, and they discover that they are now considered rock stars to the townspeople.
I feel the same way as Dracula did in the movie. For decades my love of monsters and horror was out of the ordinary and firmly placed me in the geek camp, but today I’m more mainstream than ever. So now I’m going to go hang some creepy Halloween decorations, prepare a bowl of candy, and scare the hell out of the trick or treaters.
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Scott M. Baker was born and raised just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Scott M. Baker has spent the last twenty-two years living in northern Virginia. His first zombie novel, Rotter World, was released by Permuted Press in April 2012.
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He has also authored The Vampire Hunters trilogy (The Vampire Hunters; The vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon; and The Vampire Hunters: Dominion) and several short stories, including the chapbook "Dead Water," "Cruise of the Living Dead" (Dead Worlds 3 anthology), "Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly" (Christmas Is Dead anthology), and the soon-to-be-published steampunk zombie story "Last Flight of the Bismarck" (Machina Mortis anthology). When he is not busy writing, Scott can either be found relaxing on his back deck with a good cigar and a cup of iced coffee, or doting on the four house rabbits that live with him.
You can check out his blog at: http://scottmbakerauthor.blogspot.com/
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