As Halloween decorations spring up in yards all over the city (and, I assume, the country), I am constantly fighting the urge to critique the displays. Most of the ones I see make me want to fix them.
I see handfuls of “spider web” lazily draped on a fence or bush, and they make me want to cry. They’ve managed to take one of the few commercially available tools for creating authentic looking atmosphere and turn it into a sad statement of decorative apathy.
Where are the true builders of a nightmare? The people who take the time to really stretch those webs to their fullest extent, to make them not only believable, but, make them invisible when the sun goes down, guaranteed to cause a shudder of fear and revulsion to the poor soul who walks into the gossamer threads of pure evil.
In my mind, a Halloween display should tell a cohesive story, one which unfolds like the layers of an onion, the longer you look at it, and the closer you get to the door. I want every element to contribute to the illusion, and not pop the bubble of my growing terror.
In other words, if you are making a cemetery and have a “stone” that reads “Rest in Pieces?” You thought it seemed so clever on the shelf, didn’t you? POP goes my little bubble of disbelief.
My highly refined sense of proper Halloween displays is directly at odds with the predominate decorating theme out there. The kindest description I use to describe it is the “hodge-podge” approach. This method seems to apply the wisdom of Christmas displays to the Halloween season. The motto for this technique? “More is better.”
I hate to break it to you, but with scary? More is definitely not better.
Maybe I’m asking too much. I’ve got the wrong perspective. Most people haven’t contemplated how to actually create a scary setting. Most people just want to put out some nice decorations and have an excuse to pretend that that the Christmas lights they’ve left up for the last year work just as well for Halloween. Maybe most people have lost the true meaning of the holiday: terrifying young people into expensive psychiatric care.
I have no nostalgic memories of spectacularly decorated yards for Halloween. The scary houses were scary year-round, with authentic run-down fences and weeds, and a broken window or two. The most anyone bothered to do in the way of seasonal yard decorations was to make a nice, traditional jack-o-lantern and put it on their porch, where it would usually get covered in a few inches of snow on or about the 31st, and then would sit there until it rotted into a creepy lump of mush.
Now, of course, Americans spend seven billion dollars celebrating Halloween. I just wish they’d gotten better value for their decorating dollars, and tried harder to create a truly memorable experience, instead of a holiday version of a cluttered yard.
Admittedly, I’m not particularly fond of Halloween, so, my disappointment with the assorted yard displays is more than a little ironic. I really have no business being critical of people’s attempt to liven the holiday with a bit of Halloween cheer.
Stranger still? I don’t get this worked up about Christmas decorations.
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