Tag Archives: haunted house

Can You Do Halloween Without Buying Into Excessive Consumerism?

We love Halloween. We love getting dressed up. We love carving pumpkins. We love candy.

There is just so much to love, and this year we jumped right into the fray. We even went on John’s first ever haunted house trip, and I had the pleasure of hearing my husband scream in terror.

None of these guys are John, but the same fear is in their eyes.

Unfortunately, Halloween has also become one of the most consumeristic holidays in North America. Here in Canada the amount of money we dish out for Halloween is only second to what we spend on Christmas. Now that Halloween is over, I’ve started to wonder how we could still participate in this holiday without buying in to all the crap we’re told to purchase.

1. Costumes

Back in 2013, when we were still doing CWR roundtables, Evan, Gordon and I debated how we felt about the over-sexualized costumes that pop up every year at Halloween. This year, I’ve noticed a lot of women and little girls responding to the typical sexy Halloween nightmare by dressing as their favourite feminist hero. Some of my favourite feminist costumes this year have been “The Notorious RBG” (baby version) and mini Frida Kahlo.

Real life hero costumes are a great tribute, and usually they only involve a quick trip to the thrift store. However, I love seeing the creative alternative costumes that up-cyclers have come up with in their effort to avoid store-bought costumes.

When it comes to costumes, I’m not too worried. As long as I have a bit of time and creativity, I will always be able to avoid buying a ridiculous dollar store costume. Continue reading

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Fixing Ghost Movies

A while back, we had a discussion on everything wrong with our attempts to make exorcism movies. Good ones, anyways. That done, I figured we might try to keep the ball rolling and talk today about how to repair our stories of ghosts and haunted houses.

Now as a disclaimer, I’m coming into all this with some bias. While I’ve never had anything particularly against these kinds of movies, ghost and haunting stories have always been my least favorite kind of horror. Heavily reliant on jump scares, rather than psychological horror, they’ve always struck me as being not all that much different than an amusement park ride. That’s all just to say that I’m not what you’d call an expert by any means, but I think  we can all agree on some ground rules here.

Let’s get started.

Drop the Victorian Crap

It’s not every ghost story that’ll include junk from this period in time- just most of ’em. If you see the ghost, 9 times out of 10, it’s some woman in ragged-but-unmistakable Victorian garb. This is actually one of the arguments skeptics use to discredit most paranormal claims- we’ve had so many people die since the 1800s that the fact that most every “sighting” is of a specter in turn-of-the-century clothing just shows how deeply ingrained this trope is into our psyche.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the film industry from showing nothing but that.


Granted, in the movie’s defense it looks like it actually is set in the 1800s, so the whole Victorian schtick is at least explained- that still doesn’t make any of it less tiresome.

And it’s not just the ghosts- it’s everything.  The settings, the props- old mirrors, dolls, mysterious antique boxes, little red balls that’ll inevitably roll down the stairs seemingly of their own accord. The moment the audience sees ’em there’s a collective internal groan of “here we go again”.

Right back at ya, Tina…

It’s a question of realism- who even has this kind of stuff anymore? 30 or so years ago, yeah, I could see someone inheriting some old turn-o’-the-century junk, but these days it just feels out of place. Horror can’t be horror unless the threat feels real, and the classic “you’ve inherited a haunted mansion” story is becoming harder and harder to buy.

We don’t exactly have a ton of these things lying around either…

Don’t get me wrong- I understand why people choose these settings. You can’t exactly do a convincing ghost story in a cramped apartment in the middle of the city, and as much as Japan tries to cash in on technology-horror (see One Missed Call or The Ring), it’s still a really tough sell.

There’s gotta be some other options, though. Haunted farm. Ghost town.  Heck, even some new housing development could probably be scary if you added the right twist. I’ve even seen a submarine make for a pretty decent haunting-story. All in we have got to stop relying on these old crutches if we want to make something worth watching. Continue reading