Trick/Treat: Saturday-night State Street
Oh, the glory that is downtown Madison when the Halloween celebration is in full swing. No other holiday gets city officials, the police department, hotels and student newspapers into a comparable tizzy. No other non-denominational holiday (or is paganism a religion?) brings people of all backgrounds together quite like this one. And no other celebration gets people drunker.
This one’s a split decision. On the one hand, you’ve got the endless parade of eye candy. Girls, despite sub-zero temperatures every year, thankfully adhere to the sacred rule that more skin equals better costume, and no other day of the year gives guys the privilege, nay, the right to proudly wear a diaper.
On the other hand, Halloween’s lecherous townie/out-of-towner/alumni quotient is rivaled only by that of Homecoming weekend. So don’t you pay no mind to that big feller over there in overalls, chewin’ on a corn shuck. He hain’t dressed up in no costume; he just done come in from Leon this mornin’ to see whut all the fuss ‘s ‘bout.
And you never knew how many friends you had in Oshkosh, La Crosse and Eau Claire until Oct. 31 rolls around, when they’re all looking to pass out/puke on the same couch in your living room.
Oh, and good luck kicking them out Sunday morning.
Treat: foreign films
Halloween might be the only time of year your friends don’t look at you like a pretentious a-hole when you suggest renting a foreign film, as anyone well versed in the art of gore will tell you American horror flicks have got nothing on spooks from abroad. Sure, we’ve got our Alfred Hitchcock, Jason Voorhees and Rosie O’Donnell, but foreign horror films have always had a certain intangible that makes you sleep that much more uneasily at night.
Italian Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is frequently considered a rival of “Psycho” and “The Exorcist” as the scariest movie of all time, and long before he was making a killing off of hobbits, kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson was pouring on the gore in “Dead Alive.”
Foreign superiority in horror is also evident in the increasing number of remakes of foreign products. The Japanese cult hit “Ringu” was remade as “The Ring,” and “Vanilla Sky” is an Americanized version of Spaniard Alejandro Amenábar’s “Open Your Eyes.” If you really want nightmares, Amenábar’s freshman effort, “Thesis,” makes “The Silence of the Lambs” look like a Muppet dinner party.
Trick: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K…”
What is it about this time of year that makes everyone act a little spooky?
A bunch of exhibitionist hooligans are raking it in at the box office, Adam Sandler may or may not win an Oscar, and 25 years after his death Elvis Presley is jockeying for the top spot on the Billboard charts.
What’s more, earlier this week Disney chairman/CEO Michael Eisner hoisted the World Series trophy a mere eight years after his company made a movie (“Angels in the Outfield”) lampooning the ineptitude of the very team whose prize he held in his hands. What’s next, Kirby Puckett as the keynote speaker at the next NOW convention?
Treat: “The Simpsons” Halloween episodes
The original “Treehouse of Horror” in 1990 can justifiably called the greatest holiday-themed episode of any series of any time, and, thankfully, it almost always resurfaces sometime this week in rerun format. The extra tractor-beam-needed-to-abduct-Homer gag is priceless, and an entire generation too young for “Star Wars” and/or too cool for 19th century literature will surely forever associate the booming baritone of James Earl Jones with “The Raven.”
Despite its increasingly ingratiating efforts to stay relevant, “The Simpsons’” present-day incarnations of the “Treehouse of Horror” manage to provoke a smile no matter what your level of cynicism is and provide a welcome sign that Halloween is upon us.
Trick: gimmick bands
Halloween is quite probably the one day out of the year that justifies the existence of poseurs like Mudvayne and Slipknot. DMX has to bark when he can’t think of lyrics; these guys just put on masks to hide their shame for all their music.
Treat: candy corn
With the possible exception of Valentine’s Day hearts, no other holiday candy’s arrival is so feverishly awaited. These little orange, white and yellow concoctions are pure confectionary bliss in a convenient cone shape.
Though frequently accompanied by its somewhat cumbersome partner, the candy pumpkin, candy corn can ably stand alone as finger food, midnight snack or, depending on your trick-or-treat haul, this week’s groceries.