October 4, 2011

A Halloween Rant, a bit early

What's up with the  fascination with horror? It seems each year as soon as October rolls around, and even before, we can't seem to avoid images of horror, terror, violence and death leading up to the October 31st celebration of Halloween.  Many television networks are featuring horror films all this month and several frightening ones are opening in theatres over the next few weeks. Quiet suburban neighborhood homes are being turned into "graveyards" with body parts emerging from well manicured lawns, giant blow up monsters and horrifying creatures greet people as they walk down the block, and scary sounds coming from hidden speakers surprise deliverymen and unsuspecting neighbors.

Let me focus on films for a moment.  Personaly I will not watch them. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle singing "Putting on the Ritz" in Young Frankenstein is the closest I'll get to watching horror, if you can call this superb spoof of Frankenstein a horror film." So why do people like horror? Steven King, who is an expert in horror, explained it this way:
"The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark."
The last few words I believe are significant "it all happens...in the dark."  St. Paul reminds us in the first letter to the Thessalonians (5:5) that we are, " all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness."  The world would have us remain in the dark.  Why do we need to cater to our dark side? Why do we need to let evil into our lives, which certainly is what  happens when we focus our thoughts on things that feature the glorification of evil and horror?

Today I received an e-mail from the Museum of Biblical Art, a very fine museum located in New York,  advertising a Halloween Extravaganza at and in a prominent Episcopal Church in Manhattan.  This night will feature a showing of the classic horror film "The Phantom of the Opera" (pretty tame by today's standards) followed by a "procession of the ghouls."  The audience is encouraged to come in their scariest costume. The fact that this event is being held in a church is mind boggling to me. A church is where we celebrate all that points toward Good and Beauty, not ghouls, ghosts and things that frighten our senses.

Even in our Catholic Schools children are encouraged to celebrate Halloween in ways that encourage them to glorify evil, even if it is only in what might be considered innocent fun. Many times they come to school or after school parties in costumes with little restrictions as to what those costumes represent.  When I was in Catholic School, we would dress up as saints for Halloween and parade around the school, ending in the church with a prayer service.  Halloween, after all, is All Hallows Eve, the vigil of All Saints Day when we recognize and remember all those who have gone to their rest and have achieved the eternal reward of forever praising God in heaven.

Yes, we are children of Light, and we should strive to live in that Light always. Our "dark side" does not need to be let free, even if only vicariously by watching people being hacked at by insane mass murderers or terrifying aliens who feast on human flesh.  Our dark side needs to be redeemed by the Grace of Jesus Christ who came into the world to set us free from the darkness of sin and evil.

So, what movies are you going to be watching these next few weeks?  

1 comment:

  1. Definitely not horror. I'm with you. I refuse to subject myself to images of fear and evil. Or maybe I'm just a wimp.