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History, Legends & Myths & The Shows & Movies It Inspired : Holiday Special - Halloween

 Halloween, also known as Samhain wasn't always, the freaky, fun, Hollywood monster filled spooky holiday we all love. No, it was a serious time of year, one for observing the last of the harvest days,  as well as remembering our dead ancestors. 

It is a holiday celebrated on the eve of All Saints' Day, the first of November, and is widely recognized for its mysterious and festive atmosphere. Originating from ancient Celtic traditions, this holiday has evolved over time to become a beloved celebration marked by unique customs and traditions. 

Halloween traces its roots back to the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, as I mentioned.
Celebrated by the Celts over 2,000 years ago, this festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that on this night, the boundary between the living and the dead blurred, allowing spirits to roam freely on Earth.

With the advent of Christianity, the Catholic Church sought to incorporate pagan traditions into their religious calendar. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day. The evening before, October 31st, was known as All Hallows' Eve, later shortened to Halloween.

One of the most iconic aspects of Halloween is the tradition of dressing up in costumes. Dating back to the Celtic festival of Samhain, people believed that wearing disguises would protect them from wandering spirits. This tradition evolved over time, with costumes evolving from scary and supernatural beings to include a wide range of characters and themes.

Trick-or-treating, a popular Halloween tradition, has its origins in both Celtic and Christian customs. In ancient times, people would leave food and treats outside their homes to appease and ward off evil spirits. In medieval Europe, "souling" became a practice where poor individuals would go door-to-door, offering prayers for the deceased in return for food or "soul cakes." This custom eventually transformed into the modern-day tradition of children going door-to-door, dressed in costumes, and collecting candies.

One cannot talk about Halloween without mentioning the iconic jack-o'-lanterns. Originating from Irish folklore, the tradition of carving turnips or potatoes into lanterns began with the tale of "Stingy Jack." According to legend, Jack was a mischievous man who tricked the Devil himself.

As punishment for his trickery, he was forced to roam the Earth with only a carved-out turnip filled with a burning ember. When Irish immigrants brought this tradition to America, pumpkins were more readily available and became the preferred choice for carving these Jack  O' Lanterns. It wasn't just "Stingy Jack" that brought this custom to life, it was also linked to the visual phenomenon ignis fatuus (lit., “foolish fire”) known as a will-o’-the-wisp in English folklore. Used especially in East England, its earliest known use dates to the 1660s. A will-o’-the-wisp is a phenomenon that is often seen in marshy areas at night. It is a light that appears to disappear as you approach it. The phenomenon is caused by the combustion of gases emitted by organic matter in the marsh. 

There is also lore of using  round fruit or vegetable to depict a human face goes back thousands of years in some northern European Celtic cultures. “It may even have had pre-Christian origins that evolved from the custom of head veneration, or potentially even represented war trophies taken from your foes,” says Nathan Mannion, senior curator for EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, in Dublin. “It’s quite macabre, but it may have symbolized the severed heads of your enemies.” on October 31, spirits of the dead were thought to mingle with the living. To ward off restless souls, people donned costumes and carved frightening faces into root vegetables such as beets, potatoes, and turnips—usually plentiful after the recent harvest.  A practical purpose also evolved, says Mannion. “Metal lanterns were quite expensive, so people would hollow out root vegetables,” he says. “Over time people started to carve faces and designs to allow light to shine through the holes without extinguishing the ember.”

  And of course we can't NOT mention Jack O' Lanterns without mentioning “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. It is one of the most famous stories about Halloween. Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is considered one of America’s first ghost stories and one of its scariest. The story takes place in the New York village of Sleepy Hollow, in Westchester County. Irving may have drawn inspiration for his story while a teenager in the Tarrytown region. He moved to the area in 1798 to flee a yellow fever outbreak in New York City, according to the New York Historical Society. He “would have been introduced to local ghost stories and lore at an impressionable age,” according to Elizabeth Bradley, a historian at Historic Hudson Valley. Washington Irving’s inspiration for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is not clear. However, he was particularly mesmerized by the Catskill Mountains, which he described as having a “witching effect” on his imagination, according to his biography. That infatuation greatly influenced Irving’s creation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in a number of ways.

Besides Jack O' Lanterns No Halloween is complete without the infamous ingestion of Candy Corn, The cute, sickly sweet confections which doesn't resemble corn at all. Candy corn was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company. The Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started producing candy corn in 1898.

Candy corn was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company. The tri-colored confection was designed to look like chicken feed and came out at a time when about half of Americans worked on farms. Candy corn’s origins are basically unknown, but it seems most likely to have appeared around the 1880s, a time when candy companies were creating mallow crème and molding the confection into the shape of pumpkins, chestnuts, turnips and other food items. At the time farmers made up about half of the American labor force, and companies marketed food-themed candies to children in farm country all year round. Hence candy corn, was morn which which featured the innovation of three hand-layered colors. People didn’t start calling it candy corn until the 1940s, when trick-or-treating began after WWII. The candy’s harvest hues and low price point made it a popular choice for trick-or-treating, and it quickly became associated with Halloween. With the innovation of many other candies candies, including the mass success of chocolate, candy corn though still a must have Halloween staple lost it's top spot. As a matter of fact, according to grocery retailer Kroger, which sells millions of pounds of candy each year, the top selling candy for Halloween 2022 is Hershey’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And tell me darklings, who doesn't love a good Reese's, they even make Reese's peanut butter pumpkin shaped versions of their cups ?

The bottom line is. Whether you dress up, have parties, take your kids trick or treating or observe the ancient pagan traditions of Samhain; Halloween, with its rich history, traditions, and customs, continues to captivate people around the world. and serves as a captivating blend of superstitions, folklore, and community engagement. Whether it's embracing the spooky atmosphere or indulging in sweet treats, Halloween truly offers a unique and enchanting experience for people of all ages. 

Of course we can't talk about Halloween without also mentioning how this creepy holiday has long
been associated with spooky tales. Over the years, Halloween has exerted a profound influence on movies and entertainment, shaping the way we perceive horror, suspense, and the supernatural. Let's take a look darklings on how, the holiday of Halloween has had an influence on the film industry, highlighting its role in shaping the genre, inspiring creativity, and captivating audiences worldwide.

Halloween, also known as All-Hallows-Eve, has played a pivotal role in the evolution of horror movies, transforming them from mere tales of fright into a genre that captivates and terrifies audiences. The holiday's emphasis on fear, darkness, and the supernatural has provided filmmakers with a rich source of inspiration. Classic horror films such as "Halloween" (1978) and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) owe their success to the holiday's ability to tap into our deepest fears and anxieties. Halloween has become synonymous with the horror genre, influencing the creation of countless films that continue to thrill and chill audiences.

One of the most significant impacts of Halloween on movies and entertainment is the rise of slasher films. The holiday's association with masked killers, such as Michael Myers from the "Halloween" franchise, has popularized the concept of a relentless, unstoppable antagonist. Slasher films, characterized by their high body count, suspenseful chase sequences, and graphic violence, have become a staple of Halloween-themed movies. The success of these films has led to the creation of numerous sequels, spin-offs, and imitations, solidifying their place in the horror genre. Of course Slasher films aren't the only type of horror movies spurred on and released on the 31st of October. Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, demons, and even the now popular anthology stories centred around Halloween are also part of the huge library of films we conosuiers have access to. 

Halloween's influence extends beyond the realm of horror movies, permeating the world of entertainment through costume design. The holiday's tradition of dressing up in elaborate and imaginative costumes has inspired filmmakers to create visually stunning characters. From iconic villains like Freddy Krueger to superheroes like Batman, Halloween has provided a platform for filmmakers to showcase their creativity and bring fantastical characters to life. The influence of Halloween on costume design can be seen not only in movies but also in theater productions, cosplay events, and even fashion trends.

Halloween's impact on movies and entertainment is not limited to the silver screen though my pretties.
The holiday has also given rise to a multitude of themed events and festivals that celebrate the spirit of Halloween. These events, such as haunted houses, corn mazes, and Halloween parties, have become popular forms of entertainment, drawing inspiration from the eerie atmosphere and supernatural themes associated with the holiday. Movies have played a significant role in shaping these events, with horror films serving as a major source of inspiration for creating immersive and terrifying experiences. The success of Halloween-themed events has further fueled the demand for horror movies, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Halloween's influence on movies and entertainment extends beyond the borders of its country of origin, the United States. The holiday has gained global appeal, with people from various cultures embracing its traditions and incorporating them into their own celebrations. As a result, Halloween-themed movies have found a wide audience worldwide, transcending language and cultural barriers. The universal fascination with the supernatural and the thrill of fear has made Halloween a global phenomenon, influencing filmmakers and entertainers across different continents.

 Halloween's influence on movies and entertainment can't be overstated. From shaping the horror genre to inspiring costume design, the holiday has definitely left it's mark on the world of entertainment. It has given rise to iconic characters, popularized slasher, and monster films, and provided a platform for creativity and imagination. Moreover, Halloween-themed events and festivals have become a significant part of popular culture, captivating audiences around the world. As we continue to celebrate Halloween each year, its influence on movies and entertainment will undoubtedly endure, ensuring that the spirit of the holiday lives on in our screens and imaginations. 

With that darklings its time to take a look at a couple of my must see movies on Halloween besides the original Halloween (which in case you missed it I covered earlier this month. ) Those 2 movies would be Hocus Pocus and Trick R' Treat. Let's take a look at Hocus Pocus first.

According to video-on-demand service Vudu, Hocus Pocus is the most-watched Halloween movie of all time. It’s a campy Disney Halloween classic that makes chatty black cats and goofy witches the epitome of Halloween fun.

Hocus Pocus

The inspiration for “Hocus Pocus” came from the bedtime story
producer and cowriter David Kirschner would tell his kids

“Hocus Pocus” is a 1993 American comedy horror fantasy film directed by Kenny Ortega and written by Neil Cuthbert and Mick Garris. The film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as three witches who are resurrected from the dead by a teenage boy named Max Dennison (Omri Katz) in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night.

The main characters in “Hocus Pocus” are:

Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson

Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson

Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson

Omri Katz as Max Dennison

Thora Birch as Dani Dennison

Vinessa Shaw as Allison Watts

Sean Murray played Thackery Binx

Stephanie Faracy played Max and Dani’s mother, Jenny, and Charles Rocket played Max and Dani’s father, Dave, Unfortunately in October of 2005 Charlie was found dead in a field near his home, they determined it to be suicide. 

Other fun facts.

Mary Vogt designed the costumes in "Hocus Pocus"

Kenny Ortega directed “Hocus Pocus” and Hiro Narita was the cinematographer.

James Horner composed the song that Sarah sang in “Hocus Pocus” and Brock Walsh wrote the lyrics

“Hocus Pocus” grossed $44.1 million at the box office

Here are some interesting behind-the-scenes events from “Hocus Pocus”:

The Sanderson sisters were originally the main characters

Bette Midler’s cursing was improvised

They mingled with the “Home Improvement” cast

Rosie O’Donnell almost played Mary Sanderson.

Thora Birch had a problem with Binx

Doug Jones had real moths in his mouth

Old Disney costumes were used on set

Thora Birch crushed on Sean Murray

I Loved this movie and still due to this day, you only have to watch it once to understand why it's such a staple at Halloween. There's not one thing in my opinion that has one wrong thing with it. From the writing and acting to the cinematography, directing and location. Hocus Pocus is the epitome of Best of Halloween Movies for kids and Adults alike. And NO I won't be addressing the piece of crap that was HP2. 

On to Trick 'r Treat, a very not so kid friendly movie. 

Trick 'r Treat is a 2007 American anthology horror film written and directed by Michael Dougherty and produced by Bryan Singer. It was written in a nonlinear narrative, with characters crossing paths throughout the film.  It tells four Halloween horror stories with a common element in them: Sam, a strange trick-or-treater in a burlap pajama costume with a giant orange sucker,  he makes an appearance in each of the stories whenever one of the other characters breaks a Halloween tradition or somehow mocks Halloween or Trick or Treat. It' seems to follow this over-arching  message that Halloween traditions should be respected and followed, and what you give out you get right back.

The main actors in Trick 'r Treat are Dylan Baker as Principal
Steven Wilkins, Rochelle Aytes as Maria, Anna Paquin as Laurie and Brian Cox as Mr. Kreeg. 

The supporting cast of Trick 'r Treat includes Quinn Lord as Sam / Peeping Tommy, Lauren Lee Smith as Danielle, Rochelle Aytes as Maria, Britt McKillip as Macy, Isabelle Deluce as Sara, Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Schrader, Alberto Ghisi as Chip, Samm Todd as Rhonda and Leslie Bibb as Emma

The cast all does a great job at sucking you into the story, with the younger cast portraying their characters well beyond the scope of their years.

Trick 'r Treat is framed by Halloween night in the fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio. It's cinematographer  is Glen MacPherson did a beautiful job getting across the deep rich colours of autumn, and the sinister stories of anthology, weaving them together like a tapestry of mayhem. 

The source inspiration it's said for Trick 'r Treat
was Michael Dougherty and his obsession with Halloween. It was a script he worked on for 5 years. He wanted to create a movie were the spirit of Halloween came out. I'd say it was a success, and I also think that's why I love it so much. You can tell how much he loves Halloween, and how much care and effort went into every aspect of the film. Of course you can see this care in all of Michael Dougherty films including  Krampus (2015), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and co-wrote the story for its sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) just to name a few. 

Give it a watch if you haven't already, and if you have, I hope you make it a Halloween traditional watch, like I have . Until next time darklings, have a darkly, delectable Halloween!