28 Oct Halloween: celebrated through film characters
Halloween has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) later morphing into the Roman Feralia and then into the Catholic church’s All Saint’s Day (or All Hallow’s Day/Eve) to honor the dead by placing offerings and candles on graves. In the Northern Hemisphere, the end of October marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter and so druids feared losing crops and so burnt bonfires and dressed in animal skins to keep otherworldly spirits at bay. America has a mashed up history with influences from American Indians, colonial New English and other immigrants until trick-or-treating became the norm; trick-or-treating in itself has a deep history.
What interests me is that when people throw Halloween-themed parties nowadays, people usually dress up as characters from films. When one uses Google for inspiration for a Halloween costume, the results are, for the most part, film (especially classic horror film) inspired. Ghostbusters, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Joker, The Madhatter, Frankenstein, Scream, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Jason, Pennywise, Chucky, Norman Bates, Patrick Bateman, Dracula… These characters and their respective films have laid the foundation for horror dress up because they are so recognizable and iconic.
The reason could be that horror as a genre has been enjoyed right from the late 1800s of silent horror, through pulp science fiction horrors, psychological Hitchcock horrors through to teen horrors and slashers, until now. Horror films transcend all boundaries because they speaks to our inner animal and require us to face the unknown. And, watching horror movies is fun. And since Halloween is seen as a day and night of fun for children and adults, it makes sense to link classic horror character dress up with this festivity.