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Confessions of a Working Director - 11/2/2009


Confessions Of A Working Director
By Eric Stanze

October 31, 2009

This is the best time of the year.  Fall colors are in the trees.  The hot and humid summer has passed, but the freezing cold has not yet descended.  And suddenly, being a horror geek is in fashion.  All up and down my street, the usually rather conservative neighbors have strung spider webs over their front windows, planted tombstones around the driveway, hung dead bodies from the tree branches, strategically placed red, blue, and white strobe lights around the house, and allowed a zombie or two to crawl half-way out of the front yard.

I've spent past Halloweens in a variety of places.  Often on or around Halloween, I can be found at the Skyview Drive-In Movie Theater, located in Belleville, Illinois, where most Halloweens they pack each of their two screens with a triple feature of bloody terror.  This is the nearest operating drive-in to me, I believe, and it is a good thing.  Because of the Skyview, I've had the great joy of seeing some classic horror films, complete with lo-fi sound and scratchy, beat up prints, projected onto the massive drive-in screen - which is how, I'm pretty sure, God intended these movies to be seen.  The early Friday The 13th and Elm Street films, all of the Alien films, The Exorcist, Carrie, and the 1953 House Of Wax with Vincent Price have all graced the screens at the Skyview for their Halloween "Slashfests."  There is just something awesome about watching a horror classic at a drive-in, while dining on that incredible, barely-edible drive-in food.  The hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and nachos are superb at the Skyview.  A fountain soda - with a couple shots of rum from home splashed in - caps the experience off nicely.

On other Halloweens, I've gone with a group to a local haunted house attraction.  If you choose your house of fright wisely, this can be a fun time.  One year we hit Creepyworld, one of the best in the St. Louis area.  For about 20 bucks a head, we received a good hour or so of working our way through what is actually a haunted theme park comprised of four separate attractions.  From a haunted mansion, to a creepy corn field, to an old western town, to the laboratory catacombs of Silo X where you're terrorized by bloodthirsty mutants, Creepyworld is well worth the money.  The line wasn't even that long.  Only 20 or 30 minutes.  There are other attractions in St. Louis that cost the same, but offer a shorter experience inside the attraction... and at times require a three to four hour wait in line, which sucks. 

And yet another Halloween adventure of years past has been the great drunken Halloween party.  I've hosted a few of these over the years, and attended many in homes of both friends and strangers.  No big surprises here - lots of booze, loud music, occasional nudity, a few people barf...  These parties can be a blast, of course, but this year I wasn't in the mood.  And for a variety of reasons, I decided to not attend a haunted house attraction or the drive-in this year.

I'd been thinking that this year I could engage in that simple, ol' fashioned tradition of handing candy out to trick or treating children.  Two nights ago, I somewhat reluctantly sat down to watch the new horror release Trick 'r Treat with Anna Paquin.  I know a lot of people have been raving about this movie, but newer horror movies tend to leave me dissatisfied.  Also, the Trick 'r Treat trailer that I saw did nothing for me.  But I was pleasantly surprised by Trick 'r Treat.  Aside from some obvious homages, Trick 'r Treat succeeded in being very original.  It was atmospheric, dramatic, scary, entertaining, and beautifully shot.  So that made up my mind.  This Halloween would be all about handing candy over to trick or treaters.

The sun is going down.  Darkness is creeping in.  Time to get those Snickers out.  Don't want to get egged.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze