Halloween: It’s not just for kids!

Michael Varrati | October 20, 2017

It should come as no surprise that we here at the House of Hammer are big fans of the Halloween season.

When you exist in the world of vampires, monsters, and creepy castles, the end of October isn’t just another calendar holiday, it’s an intrinsic part of your DNA. More so, the older we get, the more we find ourselves getting into the spirit of celebrating all things spooky.

…and we’re not the only ones.

Although the roots of modern Halloween festivities can be traced all the way back to ancient Celtic rituals (with particular regard to Samhain, a Gaelic celebration marking the end of harvest), most of the more contemporary traditions of the day tend to be designed with children in mind.

https://imgur.com/CriSqWm

Take, for example, the notion of trick or treating: Although rooted in a 16th century tradition of costumed individuals traveling door to door and performing for food & drink, the modern version of the practice didn’t officially take hold until the 1920s. Though adults may have once participated, these days the promise of candy for donning a disguise is particularly geared with the younger contingent in mind.

That is not to say that the grown-ups missed out on all the fun, but with the slow rise of more family friendly traditions, Halloween took on an onus of frivolity that many would eschew as they grew into adulthood. With the cultural notion that the bulk of the day was about wearing costumes to gather sweets, many older folks felt there was a point when Halloween was simply no longer for them.

Luckily, that’s not true.

Although there has always been an element of Halloween that has been geared more toward an adult audience (costume parties, horror films, etc), the marketing in pop culture, by and large, has always been for the younger set. One could argue this is by design. For an occasion centered around all things spooky and macabre, it takes the fear out the holiday for the little ones when the focus is placed on candy colored imagery and fun.

However, in recent years, there has been a shift in cultural attitude and the zeitgeist seems to finally be embracing something we’ve known all along: Adults love Halloween as much as kids. If not more so.

Across the world, seasonal “haunts” (walkthrough attractions akin to the annual neighbourhood haunted house) are cropping up, geared towards a more adult experience. More than just mere strobe lights and grease paint monsters, these attractions are focused instead on engaged, intellectual, and existential scares. Take for example the prestigious Creep LA, located in Los Angeles, California. More than just a walk through haunted house, Creep is an immersive theatre experience, engaging the participants in a slow burn situation of encroaching dread [1].  Similarly, Hammer’s own recent attraction at Hoxton Hall, The Soulless Ones, invites audience members to enter the world of a Hammer film. More than just a mere performance, the show allows participants to live inside the movie. Both attractions centre on the notion of a more detailed, immersive scare. These aren’t the haunted houses of yesteryear. They’re incredibly detailed, livable experiences for true connoisseurs of chills.

If living the fear isn’t your idea of a good time, there are more celebratory ways to spend one’s Halloween. Across the world, carnival-like events occur annually. Parades and street festivals that are more about a well-crafted cocktail than a few pieces of candy corn (please celebrate responsibly).

…or, if you’re a film fan looking for a more sedate experience, October is truly a time of year when you can dig in and appreciate a cinematic overload of horror. From new releases at the local multiplex to curated event screenings at repertory theatres around the world [2], October sees an array of screening opportunities that will encourage you to get the kids a babysitter and go out and celebrate Halloween with the monsters of the silver screen.

So, in summation, what’s the best way for adults who want to hold on to the spirit of the holiday to celebrate?

Haunted houses, costume parties, and scary movies, of course!

“But,” you may ask yourself, “…isn’t that also what the kids are doing?”

…and to that we say: Exactly.

Halloween is for everyone, young and old, living and undead. So this holiday season, cast aside any reservations, and celebrate like only ghosts are watching. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and one more thing:

Happy Halloween.

[1] It should also be noted that Creep LA played an instrumental part in creating a live experience around Lore, which recently was launched as a new narrative horror TV series.

[2] We hear Quentin Tarantino is hosting a Hammer double feature at his own cinema in Southern California at the end of October!

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