The Wide Angle: Halloween fun or bad parenting?

Published 10:27 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

I love Halloween, probably more than any other holiday.

I love embracing every aspect of the holiday. The candy, the atmosphere, the classic horror movies and, yes, even some of the more recent horror movies that fall in the realm of guilty pleasure.

I even watched one of the “Paranormal Activity” movies the other night. It was terrible, but I watched it because that’s the kind of champion I am.

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On a side note, I probably won’t watch anymore. They really are terrible and I’m not that much of a champion.

My love of Halloween and the horror genre of entertainment goes way back. You know, back to those days you barely remember while at the same time remind you you’re getting old. Yeah, that far back.

One of my very first memories is actually a picture my mom took on some form of camera I probably don’t recognize anymore. I was strutting — or probably more accurately stumbling — between yards after a successful sojourn next door  to the Barry’s.

I was dressed as the stylishly evil Darth Vader, complete with a plastic mask that tore kid’s tongues to pieces because for some reason we couldn’t stop sticking our tongues into that tiny air slit at the mouth.

I, of course struck the imposing figure that only a five-year-old could.

Later on my fascination with Halloween and all the horror-themed fun that comes with it was pushed forward thanks to  an admittedly poor decision by my parents to take me to the drive-in theater in Marshall, Minnesota (I think. I’m a little hazy on that part for reasons that will probably become obvious). They dressed me in my PJs and mom made our own popcorn.

I loved going to movies, especially outdoor movies, and so was super excited to see … “The Shining.” Yeah, probably not good for a kid who was still maturing at the ripe old age of seven. I’m not sure why mom and dad thought this was a good idea or if they got mixed up with what was playing. I don’t even remember if we stayed through the whole movie. I spent a lot of the night buried in the backseat wishing our two labs — Barney and George — were with us.

I probably fell asleep, which was probably a blessing, but regardless the seeds of my horror movie fascination were planted.

Another jump forward and another nudge in the scary door of horror movies. My dad was a high school girls basketball coach at that time and every year he took the team up to see a game at South Dakota State University. This particular year a snow storm swept in and stranded us at the college.

As my mom and dad fell asleep, I was left at the mercy of the team — at the now fully mature age of nine. They somehow found “Poltergeist” and another movie that will remain nameless, partly because I don’t remember it and partly because it was on the far end of the rating system. Nope, keep going … further still … nope, that’s only R-rated … Yeah, there you go. That far.

I don’t remember much of that one in general, partly because “Poltergeist” left such an enduring mark. Maybe the girls were using the latter movie as a pallet-cleanser because I do remember it being animated. It failed so cudos to the makers of “Poltergeist,” I guess.

Since then I’ve seen a whole assortment of movies: Some incredibly good like “Aliens,” “The Amityville Horror,” and “The Exorcist.” And some that were incredibly bad, namely anything with “Sy-Fy Original” in front of it.

But the movies are only a small part of the Halloween celebration.

We’ve decorated our house this year and for the first time in a long time I’m going to carve a jack-o-lantern, demonstrating my superior artistic carving skills which will be a horrific display in and of itself.

Maybe this kind of fascination makes me weird. Maybe my love of “It,” “Event Horizon,” and “The Evil Dead,” make you look sideways at me.

Who knows, I just know that I love the feeling of the holiday, the fantasy of it. The idea of something in the dark, waiting to claw at you and drag you further into the depths of the night you can’t fathom.

Or maybe I just really, really like the extra candy.

Yeah, that probably has a lot to do with it.